Healthcare professions claim the top spots for the highest-paying jobs in America, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a robust 13% growth in healthcare occupations from 2021 to 2031, which translates to approximately 2 million new job opportunities.
If you’re on the hunt for the most lucrative career options, let’s explore the 20 highest-paying jobs in the United States as per the BLS’s May 2022 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
A physician, medical doctor, medical practitioner, or simply doctor, is a health professional who practices medicine and is responsible for promoting, restoring, and maintaining health through the study, prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury, and any other physical and mental impairments.
Every physician must undertake medical school following their undergraduate studies (with podiatrists attending specific podiatry schools) and then complete a residency or postgraduate training program, during which they are mentored and supervised by more experienced doctors. Only after completing these steps can they embark on their careers as practicing physicians.
Now, let’s delve into the highest-earning positions within the field of medicine in the United States.
2. Dentistry (Dentists and other dental specialists)
Dental specialties include endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons, dentist anesthesiologists, and more. They refer to any medical professional concerned with the prevention and treatment of oral diseases.
Following their undergraduate studies, dental specialists enroll in dental school, and depending on their chosen area of specialty, they may be required to undergo further education and training, including possible residencies.
Some of the highest-earning dental professions in America include:
3. Chief Executives
Chief Executives, commonly known as chief executive officers (CEO), represent the highest-paid job outside of the medical or dental fields. As the highest-ranking employee of a company, the CEO oversees the company’s operations, sets its mission and vision, and makes critical decisions regarding the management team.
CEOs are typically highly educated individuals. Worldwide, according to Study.eu, 98% of CEOs hold at least a bachelor’s degree, 66% have master’s degrees or equivalent qualifications (including MBAs), and 13% have earned doctoral degrees.
4. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
The BLS categorizes airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers together as one occupational category. Airline pilots are responsible for operating aircraft for major airlines, serving on both domestic and international routes. Copilots support the pilot in various flight duties, while flight engineers are in charge of monitoring the aircraft’s equipment and flight controls.
To become an airline pilot, individuals need to earn a bachelor’s degree and obtain an Airline Transport Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Following this, they must accumulate a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience before becoming certified to operate commercial airliners.
5. Nurse Anesthetists
A nurse anesthetist delivers anesthesia care to patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. They administer medications to induce and maintain anesthesia, ensuring patients remain unconscious or pain-free during surgery, and continuously monitor all vital functions of the patient’s body.
To become a nurse anesthetist, nurses start with a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) and obtain their RN license. Afterward, they pursue advanced education in nurse anesthesia. To become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), a master’s degree and at least one year of full-time experience as an RN in critical care is required.
6. Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers are responsible for supervising various aspects of information technology, including electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming. They assess the IT requirements of a business or government organization.
The majority of these professionals have earned a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Some have completed their education through management information systems (MIS) programs, which incorporate business-focused coursework into normal computer programming and software development.
7. Financial Managers
Financial managers look after different profit and money-related tasks for a business organization. They perform data analysis and supervise senior managers on profit-maximizing ideas. Responsible for the organization’s financial health, they prepare financial reports and develop long-term financial plans and investment activities.
The majority of financial managers typically possess at least a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. However, the specific educational requirements can vary based on the company’s nature and scope, with some positions necessitating advanced degrees.
8. Natural Sciences Managers
Natural science managers with scientific backgrounds oversee research and development projects, including activities such as quality control, testing, and production. They collaborate with the company’s leadership team to define goals and manage a team of researchers and scientists to achieve them.
Natural sciences managers typically hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline, such as biology or chemistry, or a related field, such as engineering. Some may also benefit from possessing an advanced management degree, such as a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degree.
9. Architectural and Engineering Managers
Architectural and engineering managers leverage their expertise to oversee and coordinate construction activities at building sites, as well as various operations related to production, testing, quality assurance, and maintenance at manufacturing facilities.
Such managers generally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering or architecture. Some may choose to enhance their skill set by pursuing a master’s degree in engineering management (MEM or MsEM), technology management (MSTM), or a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) to acquire valuable business management skills.
10. Lawyers and Judicial Law Clerks
A lawyer is a professional who is trained and licensed to handle various legal matters, including preparing, managing, and representing clients in court actions, whether in prosecution or defense. They also provide legal advice on a wide range of issues, some of which may not necessarily involve going to court.
To practice law, lawyers must complete a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and pass the bar exam in the state where they intend to practice. In contrast, law clerks often hold a Juris Doctor degree and a master’s degree in law, which provide them with specialized knowledge and qualifications for their role in assisting judges.
11. Marketing Managers
Marketing Managers invest their expertise to develop, implement, and execute strategic marketing plans for an organization or lines of business and brands within an organization. Their goal is to draw in potential customers and maintain relationships with existing ones through well-crafted marketing strategies.
Most marketing managers possess at least a bachelor’s degree, with many opting to pursue a master’s degree to enhance their competitiveness in the job market. Aspiring marketing managers often choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a closely related field as a foundation for their career.
12. Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists are involved in exploring computing-related problems and developing theories and models to address those problems. They collaborate with scientists and engineers to resolve intricate computing issues and ascertain computing requirements and system specifications.
Certain computer scientists specialize in computer languages. For most such professionals, a minimum requirement is a master’s degree in computer science or a closely related field. However, in some roles within the federal government, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for specific jobs in this field.
13. Broadcast Announcers and Radio Disc Jockeys
Broadcast announcers and radio DJs are responsible for delivering music or news updates and providing commentary on significant current events. Announcers who host talk shows engage in research and discussion with guests and audiences on various subjects such as sports, health, personal finance, or politics.
The profession typically requires a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, journalism, or communications. Nonetheless, some jobs may be available for individuals who hold a high school diploma or equivalent. DJs, except radio, often need to have a high school diploma and some on-the-job training.
14. Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates play essential roles in the legal system by arbitrating, advising, adjudicating, or administering justice within a court of law. They may sentence defendants in criminal cases as per government statutes or sentencing guidelines and determine the liability of defendants in civil cases. It’s important to note that a magistrate is also a judicial officer but possesses limited judicial powers compared to a judge.
Most of these occupations demand graduate school. They may require advanced degrees such as a master’s, Ph. D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree). They also require related experience and the development of extensive skills, knowledge, and expertise to excel in their respective fields.
15. Marketing and Sales Managers
The marketing and sales manager is engaged in leading the team of professionals involved in the sales and marketing activities of the organization. They keep records of market developments, develop strategies, set up and implement sales plans, and maintain customer relations.
While most companies don’t specify educational requirements for sales managers, a bachelor’s degree is usually preferred, although some roles may accept a high school diploma. Taking courses in business-related subjects like law, management, economics, accounting, finance, math, marketing, and statistics can be beneficial.
A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which deals with the interactions of matter and energy across all scales of time and space in the physical universe. They plan and conduct various scientific experiments and research to test theories and uncover the properties of matter and energy.
To pursue a career as a physicist, a doctorate in physics is typically essential. However, aspiring physicists can begin their careers as research assistants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree while concurrently working towards their Ph.D. This allows for practical experience and skill development in the field while advancing their education.
17. Public Relations Managers
A public relations manager (PR manager) is a mid-level management role for individuals with 6-8 years of experience in the related field. They are tasked with creating and preserving a favorable public image for their employers or clients by effectively communicating programs, achievements, and viewpoints to the public.
While some schools offer undergraduate programs in public relations, employers generally hire entry-level PR professionals with bachelor’s degrees in fields like communications, business, or social sciences. Having a master’s degree in public relations is not mandatory, but can lead to career advancement.
18. Operations Specialties Managers
Operations managers play a vital role in enhancing efficiency within a company by supervising and streamlining day-to-day functions and processes. Depending on the organization, their responsibilities may involve identifying operational inefficiencies, revamping processes, and establishing and implementing new policies and procedures to boost overall productivity.
For positions as operations managers, the typical educational requirement is at least a bachelor’s degree. This undergraduate degree often falls within the realm of business administration or a related field of study such as management or accounting.
19. Astronomers and Physicists
Astronomers explore all aspects of the universe, ranging from planets and stars to galaxies. Their work involves direct observations of celestial events, such as tracking comets through telescopes, as well as the creation of computer models to test various theories about the universe.
Most research astronomers hold doctorate degrees in physics or astronomy, supplemented by bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in physical sciences, typically in physics or astronomy. The educational journey to become a research astronomer takes about a decade beyond the standard high school education.
20. Advertising and Promotions Managers
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers typically carry out tasks that involve collaborating with department heads or staff to address matters like budgets, creative strategies, marketing plans, and media purchases. Additionally, they strategize promotional campaigns, including initiatives such as contests or giveaways, aimed at increasing brand loyalty and expanding the customer base.
Some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism for advertising management positions. Relevant coursework may include marketing, sales, consumer behavior, communication methods and technology, market research, visual arts, art history, and photography.