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Highest Paying Jobs in the U.S.

Updated on June 7, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is an award-winning Employment & Training pro with regional records and tens of thousands placed into gainful employment.

Anesthesiologists earn the highest average salaries in the US in the 2010s.
Anesthesiologists earn the highest average salaries in the US in the 2010s. | Source

Highest Paid Jobs In Corporate America

The highest echelon of high paid jobs in America resides among corporate CEOs of various titles: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, and many others of this nature. This stratospheric level of employment compensation that is protested by the Occupy Movement includes high salaries, even higher bonuses, extensive benefits, perks, and additional incentives and payments.

Not all of these positions are listed on the open job market and the general public does not receive notice of all such openings. Few people will secure such jobs and the maximum annual compensation for some of these positions is indefinable.

In order to reach the magnitude of compensation enjoyed by these various top-paid CEOs, individuals in America can start their own businesses and build from the ground up. Several have done so, without even completing college. These include Bill Gates, Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's Hamburgers, who earned a GED later in life), the most successful actors and sports figures, and some television evangelists, among others.

Yet, few individuals are able to accomplish this success and the top-level pay grades or compensation packages remain out of reach.

Dentists and Orthodontists are the second most highly paid professionals in the US.
Dentists and Orthodontists are the second most highly paid professionals in the US. | Source

Alternate Route to High Paid Jobs

Without being in line for a corporate leadership position and without having a great business idea that will build billions of dollars in revenue, the highest paid jobs in the USA require extensive education, post-education training, and experience. Examples are Attorneys and Physicians and other healthcare practitioners.

One exception is the successful salesperson that may not require school above the 4-year college degree and who may work themselves into high sales commissions and onto the executive sales level of high compensation.

Figure 1. Average Salaries Of the Nation's Top 10 High Paid Jobs


BLS Statistics: Top 10 Highest Paid Jobs in 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics collected salary ranges across the US in 2011 and calculated average annual income as follows (see Figure 1. above for a visual comparison):

  1. Physicians and Surgeons - Anesthesiologists are the highest paid of these healthcare professionals, averaging $234,950 in 2011. Average overall wage is $168,650-$234,950, with just over 618,000 doctors employed in 2011. This indicates 1 doctor or surgeon per 505 people in 2011. More workers are needed and an increase was seen in 2001 - 2012 in Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistants that relieved worker shortage and reduced costs of office visits and transportation, especially in the rise of neighborhood clinics in drug stores and supermarkets.
  2. Dentists and Orthodontists - $161,750-$204,670. The 2011 figures states that only 101,000 people were employed in these job titles in 2011, while the US population was 312,000,000. This comprises a shortage of workers in this high paid sector, 1 orthodontist or dentist per 3,090 people.
  3. CEOs - $176, 550; although CIOs (Chief Information Officers) in many companies earn higher salaries in 2012.
  4. Petroleum Engineer - $139,000. In 2011 and 2012, these jobs increased sharply in North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, in that order.
  5. Attorneys - $130,490
  6. IT Architectural and Engineering Managers - $129, 350
  7. Managers in the Natural Sciences (and Maths)- $128,230
  8. Marketing Managers - $126,190
  9. CIS Managers (Information Technology) - $125,660
  10. Industrial/Organizational Psychologists - $124,160

Additional High Paid Jobs:

  • Financial Managers - $120,450
  • Commercial Airline Pilots & Related - $118,070
  • Sales Manager - $114,460
  • Air Traffic Controller - $114,460
  • Pharmacists - $112,160

While CEOs are Number 3 on the Top 10 List, Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson earns much more than the average salary! Some of the highest salaries will be in aerospace industries in the 2010s - 2030s.
While CEOs are Number 3 on the Top 10 List, Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson earns much more than the average salary! Some of the highest salaries will be in aerospace industries in the 2010s - 2030s. | Source

Highest Paid Jobs Available In America

We see from the above that the highest paid jobs possible are not always the highest paid jobs available. What are the best and highest paid jobs advertised in America in the 2010s and what are the federal employment projections for the decade?

For a frame of reference, the number of Internet-posted job listings decreased from six million advertised in 2007 and 2008 soon to approximately 4.3 million from 2009 through September 2012. Then, numbers of jobs increased to over five million advertised openings on October 2 and 3 of 2012. The increase included mainly jobs in engineering/aerospace, sales, IT, and healthcare. Many jobs in each category were advertised as highly paid positions.

Nowhere in the news media was the 1.4 million increase in advertised jobs in early October mentioned.

The media were locked onto a completely different figure: The Bureau of Labor Statistics September Jobs Report and its citation of a 114,000 increase in new jobs created.

The BLS Jobs Report, BLS Employment Projections, and actual advertised jobs in the US are three different sets of numbers and the third set is unrelated to the first two sets. Further, with few exceptions, the employment projections in most US States and the advertised job titles for any state have shown little match-up from 2007 - 2015.

Job Trends To 2022

The demand for the highest paid jobs in the USA has changed along the timeline from the late 2000s to the early 2010s.

Until mid-2011, the Physical Therapist was most in demand across the country, with some of the offered salaries running to six figures, plus benefits. Travel positions paid even more and offered perks such as payment of rent or mortgage for up to 12 months and several others. RN Nurses were also in top demand, but were not as quite as highly paid, even through travel positions. In the medical field, demand changed to Physicians, many needed by the US military branches as well as by hospitals and private group practices.

The employment demand overall changed to high paid Engineers, partially in response to the gearing up of space exploration and travel via NASA's Commercial Crew of 63 different large companies (as of May 2011). Engineers also became more in demand in the energy, automotive, IT and biomedical industries. Many engineering salaries offered in job postings are as high as those of doctors.

The listing below shows the highest paid job positions for America in mid-October 2012. These include all jobs listed anywhere on the Internet, aggregated by two top job search engines and those results cleared of overlap between the two search engines (I do this myself, by hand). The job search engines used are and, both of which crawl all the other job sites extant for USA, along with individual company sites, newspaper classified ads, and other Internet postings across the nation.

Refresh Your Memory

Total number of highest paid jobs advertised is only 19.49% of total jobs advertised in America.

Highest-Paid Advertised Jobs, 2012 - 2015

The years 2012 - 2015 showed large increases in numbers of jobs advertised across the USA.

In October 2012, the total number of job listings found in all Internet sources totaled just over 5,100,000. An influx of seasonal jobs, many part-time, began to be posted during the second week of October. Of the 5.1 million jobs listed, at least 277,000 were part-time/seasonal and another 6,000 were labeled as "Volunteer" positions without pay.T his brings the total of full-time meaningful employment below 5.1 million jobs.

By August 2015, America had over 9,000,000 jobs advertised across Internet sites that list jobs. At least 1,000,000 openings were for truck drivers.

By the end of October 2012, 90,000 job openings appeared for babysitters, nannies, after-school tutor/babysitters, aupairs, and in-home housekeepers and this is a major increase in such jobs in 2012; full-time positions in these job titles paid in the neighborhood of $20,000 - $30,000 annually, some with live-in accommodations. The trend toward increase in these jobs continued.

The highest paid jobs have offered salaries of over $120,000 annually, plus benefits. These include yearly averages 2012 - 2015 of:

  1. Engineers - 700,000+ jobs that include Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, IT and other engineering jobs; also includes CIS Managers and Architecture Managers. Advertised largely by Cybercoders, Deloitte, Kelly Services, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), HP Hewlitt Packard, Deloitte Development, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, and Amazon, with smaller numbers at other companies.
  2. Physicians - 270,000+ job listings at CompHealth, Advanced Medical,, Enterprise Medical Service, Hayman Daugherty Associates, Enterprise Medical Services, New England Physician Recruitment Center, Seaboard Physician Search, HCA, and others.
  3. Dentists - 20,000+ jobs advertised by the US Armed Forces and Reserves, Dental Jobs Today, ETS Dental, Aspen Dental, Pacific Dental, and others. Immediadent is also a fast-growing chain of dental practices.
  4. Chief Officers - Approximately 7,000 openings advertised nationally. Includes CEO, CIO, CFO, CNO (Chief Nursing Officer), and others.
  5. Attorneys - 5,000" jobs in Litigation, Corporate, Intellectual Property, Mortgage, Patent, Tax, Real Estate and other Law Specialties.
  6. Natural Scientist Managers (Sr. Scientists, etc.) - 2,000 jobs available in job listings.
  7. Industrial/Organizational Psychologists - At least 1,000 jobs open.

Figure 2. Division of Advertised Jobs Among High, Moderate and Low Paid. October 2012: Total Jobs = 5.1 Million.

Highest-Paid American Jobs: 19.49% Of All Advertised Jobs

  • Nearly 1/5 of all jobs advertised in the US in mid-October 2012 were in the top tier of salaries and required extensive Education and Training after high school.
  • This finding may support the data at the end of this Hub that shows that middle-skills jobs have been replaced by either low-paid low-skilled jobs or high-skilled jobs for which few job seekers are already trained.

American Jobs With Lowest Pay: 45% Of Advertised Jobs

The lowest-paid jobs include jobs paid at Federal and State Minimum Wages, along with positions that pay below minimum wage, such as waitstaff positions that depend on tips for the bulk of income.

Another low-paid category is sometimes that of Independent Contractor, especially freelance writers that find themselves working for low rates and merchandisers who find that the hours needed to place their merchandise are often much longer than those pre-approved for payment.

It is difficult to pull an exact number of lowest-paying jobs from daily total online advertisements, because of the large number of job titles and categories paying low wages; but, the largest numbers of jobs advertised fall into the $20,000/year salary range, effectively minimum wage at full-time hours.

I estimate that at least another 40% of advertised jobs fall into this range, perhaps more, and on the figure calculates on 10/15/12 to 45%.

This corroborates the statements further below that low-skilled jobs may have replaced middle-skilled jobs in recessions, including the Great Recession.

Relevant Jobs Outlook Data

Reuters 10/15/2012:

"General Electric Co, Alcoa Inc, Boeing Co and Lockheed-Martin Corp (italics mine) said they would provide financial support to the "Get Skills to Work Coalition." It will initially aim to train 15,000 veterans, who will be hired by the four companies or matched to other jobs. Open jobs will be listed on LinkedIn." Reference: here.

Note: Three out of the four companies (-Alcoa) work with NASA. This program begins during 4th QTR 2012 in Cincinnati near that city's GE plant and spreads to an additional 10 cities throughout 2013. Ohio has already enjoyed an upsurge in manufacturing and energy jobs under Governors Strickland(D) and Kasich(R) in the 2000s - early 2010s.

Economists Nir Jaimovich of Duke University and Henry Siu of the University of British Columbia; 08/2012. Reference here.

Summary: From roughly 1992 - 2012, American companies frequently laid off middle-skill-level workers during each recession, but did not bring back those lost jobs during the ensuing recoveries. Lost jobs slots were replaced most often by unskilled or low-skilled, and high-skilled jobs.

Note: Many of the jobs available at the beginning of 4th QTR 2012 demand higher levels of Education and Training (see below).

Wall Street Journal; 10/15/2012

"The job market's weakness in the second quarter of this year may have been just a temporary slowdown, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker said in a speech Monday. "

Note: Interestingly, jobs advertised shot up at the beginning of 4th QTR 2012 after the first 2012 Presidential Debate in early October.

© 2012 Patty Inglish


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Good luck to all your family members in their careers, Faith Reaper. I'll be doing follow-up research every few months.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Very insightful and well researched hub here! I will surely pass this along to family members. Thanks for putting all the hard work into this hub, as it shows.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Thanks for your comments. Some areas of the US really are creating jobs, so I hope they step up the pace.

    • profile image

      movingfinger 4 years ago

      Well researched and written article! At least one knows one stands as far as jobs go. I guess, its better not to worry too much about how much each job pays and then study for it because If you don't like your job, you anyway shall not be paid at the top end, but will also not make a name for yourself. Its better to do what you like and enjoy life ( the money shall come , trust me). You only need to Believe..!!!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Great information! I am sad that teachers are not included in high paying jobs. I do hope I can persuade my niece to be a doctor and my nephew to be a pilot.

      Have a nice day!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Can your granddaughter take a dual specialty in pediatrics and anesthesiology? She could become the leading Pediatric Anesthesiologist in the country and/or still be able to practice both specialties.

      So-called "Headhunter firms" or executive placement agencies often search for the CEOs and some of them still charge the applicants a fee, so the general population could not afford these services. Some companies still advertise for CEOs in newspapers and some do advertise on the Internet, but I think not many. The classified in business journals are another good source.

      Thanks for reading, tillsontitan! I wanted to get the facts of high pay in America.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      thecashadvance - Pay rates may fluctuate year to year, but the brain surgeon cannot do his job without the proper anesthetic and the proper delivery of same; neither can any surgeon.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      That's a lot of research Patty! Isn't it pathetic that the highest paying jobs (CEO's etc.) are not even available to the public? Understandable it is always a good practice to promote from within granddaughter wants to be a pediatrician and I keep telling her to be an anesthesiologist, now I have your hub to show her!

      This is an excellent, well researched hub AND your listing of the highest paid job positions for America in mid-October 2012, self-aggregated, is more than impressive.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • thecashadvance profile image

      thecashadvance 4 years ago

      Anesthesiologists are the highest paid? I didn`t knew that really.. What about the brain surgeons??

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Hi carol7777 - Wouldn't it be great for HP Writer to be in the Top 10 or 20 Jobs? I think writing is not yet appreciated enough in our country, but hope that that may improve with time. Wouldn't surgery be cool, if school was not so expensive and we'd not have to stand for so many hours in the OR?

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Very interesting though not totally surprising. I guess writers for Hubpages didn't make the cut-off. You did a great job on your information and presentation. I guess we should all go back to school to become a surgeon. Voted UP.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Wesley Clark - I understand your friend's ideas about staring down people's throats and into mouths - it seems too confining to me as well. It's fortunate that he likes his customer service position, but he spent a lot of time and money on his dental training didn't he?

      Faith Reaper - Highest pay is not the best thing about the job if you don't like to do the job, so you are probably happier as a paralegal. I hope you receive regular pay raises for your important work!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Very interesting hub. I already knew dentists were paid very well, as I have been to one several times and wow it hurt - not the procedure, the paying of the huge bill!! LOL I knew my paralegal job is nowhere on the scale, as the attorney is the one who is paid, when it is the paralegal who does the work. My dad always told me to go on and be an attorney, but I didn't listen and plus really did not want to do that, so it is of my own choosing this profession. Ha.

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Wesley Clark profile image

      Wesley Clark 4 years ago from Bellevue, WA


      Very well written, informative article. If someone is interested in looking for high paying career's, your article would be one for them to definitely read. Your article mentioned: "Dentists and Orthodontists are the second most highly paid professionals in the US." A long time ago, when I worked as a manager at a software company, I worked with a great guy who worked as a customer service rep. at the same company. Very friendly, funny, perfect guy to be in customer service. He really enjoyed his job. One day, when we were talking, he shared that he had been a dentist for some time. I asked why he would give up such a lucurative paying job and be a customer service rep? Understand, I didn't say it in a demeaning way, but all the work and effort he put forth in regards to education, etc., I just didn't get it. He said he came to the conclusion after working awhile as a dentist, that he didn't want to be looking down into people's mouths for the rest of his life. He was perfectly content in doing what he did as a customer servie rep. for a living. As far as I know, he is probably still working at the same place. Great guy!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Crystal - I see you wrote for "Dallas" at age 6 - yes, not professionally, but it s a start, wasn't it?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Thanks, Suzie HQ! - I will be looking at this often, since I was surprised by the jump in advertised jobs in early October.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Crystal Tatum - My, but that was a very blunt comment from your professor. I take it that you really like your work and find it rewarding.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Patty,

      A great in depth article looking at the top earners and what the lower income groups consist of. I certainly would have guessed the medical profession would have been well up the ladder. Well researched and great info on what careers are paying well and what is actually available. Interesting reading!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      I'm not even a little bit surprised that my job isn't on the list! Sigh. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - my very first class at university, the professor said, "If you're here for the money, leave now!"