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States with the Highest Pay

Updated on June 15, 2013

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Many jobseekers and new college graduates are understandably concerned with how much they can potentially make in their careers so they can live comfortable lives and justify the tens of thousands of dollars spent on education. One way of maximizing earnings is to locate states with high pay and pursue a career in those places.


The state with the highest average wages for all occupations was Massachusetts, with annual mean pay of $54,740 per year, or $26.32 per hour. This was as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and applied only to the 50 states. The ranking did not include territories or possessions.

  • The highest wages in the state belonged to the surgeons who made an annual mean $237.170, or $114.02 per hour.
  • The highest paid occupational group belonged to management, with averages of $121,470 per year, or $58.40 per hour.


The occupational group that has traditionally contained the highest-paying occupations has been healthcare practitioners and technical occupations.

  • For example, the highest average wages in the country belonged to anesthesiologists, averaging $234.950 per year, or $112.96; surgeons at a mean $231.550 annually, or $111.32 hourly; and obstetricians and gynecologists at an average $218,610 yearly, or $105.10 an hour.
  • The state with the highest average wages for all healthcare occupations was Alaska, with mean wages at $89,360 per year, or $42.96 per hour. It was followed by California at an average $87,260 annually, or $41.95 hourly, and Nevada, at a mean annual $84,500 or $40.63. Incidentally, California also contained the most jobs for this group, with over 9 percent of the over 7.5 million total healthcare positions.


The occupational group with the most workers was office and administrative support, which contained 21.3 million out of the country’s total 128.2 million workers. This category included administrative assistants, secretaries, office clerks and computer operators.

  • Average wages for the group in the entire country was $34,120 per year, or $16.40 per hour.
  • The state with the highest pay for office workers was Connecticut at an average $39,660 per year, or $19.07 per hour; followed by Alaska at a mean $39,380 yearly, or $18.93 hourly; and Massachusetts at a mean $39,210 yearly, or $18.85 per hour.
  • If all U.S. territories and possessions are included in the tally, then the highest-paid location for office workers was the District of Columbia, with averages at $46,070 per year, or $22.15 per hour.


The most populous state in the Union, California, also boasted the greatest number of workers, with over 14 million jobs averaging $51,910 per year, or $24.96 per hour.

  • The highest paid occupations in the state belonged primarily to healthcare practitioners, including obstetricians and gynecologists, at a mean $222,960 annually, or $107.19 per year; anesthesiologists, averaging $221,990 per year, or $106.73 per hour, and surgeons at an average $216,350 yearly, or $104.02 hourly.
  • The highest-paid non-medical profession belonged to chief executives, ranking fifth for pay, with mean earnings of $201,030 per year, or $96.65 per hour.


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    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Great information here! I get questions about salaries and jobs, due to some church volunteer work I do, and it's helpful to have some data to draw on now & then. Voted up!

    • lifetips123 profile image

      Praveen P.V. Nair 5 years ago from Trivandrum

      Thats a great information about salary packages brother. voting up and useful

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      It was interesting to read about the salary in different occupations. I would also consider the climate, but that's just me. Very well done -- as always!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      So...the east coast, Massachusetts and Connecticut...or the west coast, California and Alaska are the places to be. Of course the cost of living is higher in all of those (not sure about Alaska) so it probably evens out with lower paid positions for the same work in lower cost of living states. That must be taken into consideration also. Houston where we live there is a HUGE medical center that attracts all kinds of top notch health professionals. We pay no state income tax and our housing prices are really low. So they can afford to earn a few dollars less and still come out on top. Interesting hub!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      So the highest paid healthcare workers are anesthesiologists in Massachusetts? Who would've thought?!

    • VeronicaFarkas profile image

      Veronica Roberts 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I'm honestly surprised that Mass has the highest avg. annual mean.

      This is great & useful info!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was pretty certain Washington wasn't going to rank high. :) Good job and interesting as always.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks for sharing this information. Apparently I need to move to Connecticut or Massachusetts since I usually work as an admin. Maryland is not so bad, but definitely not as good as those states.