Charting Your Career Path: 20 of the Highest Paid Jobs in the U.S.

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Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

7 min read

Charting Your Career Path: 20 of the Highest Paid Jobs in the U.S.

Charting Your Career Path: 20 of the Highest Paid Jobs in the U.S.

Whether you are still in college and trying to plan your career path or are already employed and thinking about a change, it is likely that compensation will be a major factor in your decision-making process. After all, getting ready to pursue most careers requires an enormous amount of both time and money, so it is important to understand what type of return you can get on that investment. But how can you quickly identify the highest-paid jobs in the United States? Relax—we’ve got you covered!

In this post, we will focus attention on 20 of the highest-paid jobs in the U.S., based on aggregated data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salaries listed reflect the median annual pay as reported by the BLS.

A focus on healthcare

The first thing you will probably notice as you review the listings below is that most of the highest-paid jobs in this country are found in the healthcare industry. That makes sense, since healthcare positions require some of the most stringent educational qualifications, and the industry has experienced continual growth for many decades. That latter trend is expected to continue well into the future.

Highest-paid jobs in healthcare

1.      Cardiologists

These surgeons work to manage and treat diseases involving the cardiovascular system. They reportedly earn a median salary of around $353,970 a year. According to government experts, demand for these specialists is expected to expand by around 3% over the next decade.

2.      Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists earn a median annual salary of roughly $331,000. Their job involves the administration of anesthetics throughout the surgical process. Job growth in this area is expected to be 1% over the next 10 years.

3.      Emergency medicine

Physicians who work in emergency medicine work long hours and deal with any number of unexpected, stressful emergency situations. They are well-compensated for their work, earning more than $310,000 each year. Demand for these professionals is expected to grow by 3% through 2031.

4.      Orthopedic surgeons

These surgeons work tirelessly to treat and prevent diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system. Their median annual salary is around $306,000, and jobs in the field are expected to grow at roughly a 3% rate in the next ten years.

5.      Radiologists

The job of the radiologist involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases identified through the use of medical imaging. The role pays a median salary of $301,000 per year, and job growth is expected to rise by 4% through 2031.

6.      Obstetricians and gynecologists

These professionals provide reproductive health services, including childbirth. The profession is one of the highest-paid jobs in America, with practitioners earning roughly $296,000 per year. The job outlook forecasts roughly 2% growth in the next decade.

7.      Pediatric surgeons

Pediatric surgeons perform surgery on youthful patients, in community medical centers and children’s hospitals. They earn about $290,000 a year. Demand for these practitioners is expected to rise by 3% by 2031.

8.      Ophthalmologists

These professionals provide medical treatment and diagnosis for ailments afflicting the eye and earn a median salary of $270,000. The BLS anticipates that demand for ophthalmologists could increase by as much as 6% in the next ten years.

9.      Neurologists

Neurologists can earn a median salary of around $267,000 a year for their work diagnosing and treating ailments of the nervous system and brain. Like many other medical positions, demand for neurologists may rise by about 3% in the coming years.

10.     Pathologists

These physicians are responsible for conducting lab tests used to identify diseases in the human body. The median salary for these professionals is more than $267,000 a year, and demand for trained pathologists could increase by 4% between now and 2031.

11.     Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical practitioners who deal with mental health issues of all kinds. Their median salary is around $249,000. This profession is expected to be one of the fastest-growing medical roles, with job demand expected to rise by as much as 9% in the next ten years.

12.     General internal medicine physicians

These primary care doctors treat adult patients for a variety of medical problems, earning a median salary of $242,000 per year. Job growth is expected to remain steady over the next decade, with roughly 2% growth.

13.     Family medicine physicians

This type of physician largely deals with preventive care, helping patients to maintain wellness throughout their lives. They earn about $235,000 each year. Job growth could expand by about 3% by 2031.

Highest-paid jobs in other industries

We have also included some non-healthcare jobs to ensure that we present a broader array of potential job options. The goal is to provide you with the best possible overview of the highest-paid jobs in the country, including positions and roles in multiple industries.

1.      Chief executive

Chief executives have one of the highest-paid jobs in the non-medical world, earning a median salary of around $213,000. These high-ranking company officials are expected to remain in high demand, with job growth for CEOs expected to rise by 6% in the coming decade.

2.      Airline pilot

Airline pilots can earn a median salary of $198,000 after receiving their bachelor’s degree and earning enough flight experience. Thanks to retirements and job changes, the industry is expected to experience roughly 6% job growth for pilots and flight engineers over the next ten years.

3.      Information systems manager

These computer systems managers oversee a whole host of computer-related activities and earn a median salary of $162,000 a year. As technology continues to transform the American economy, experts predict roughly 16% growth in this field.

4.      Judge

For legal professionals, the role of a judge can represent the pinnacle of success. These kings of the courtroom can earn a median salary of more than $148,000 per year. It is important to note, though, that this can be one of the longest career paths in any industry.

5.      Software engineering manager

These tech professionals can earn roughly $138,000 a year for their essential role in leading technology teams. Job growth is expected to be robust in all technology-related fields, and that includes software engineering managers.

6.      Actuary

Actuaries can earn as much as $108,000 a year and play a vital role in analyzing financial costs and risk assessment. Over the next ten years, growth in this sector is expected to rise by 18%.

7.      Veterinarian

Veterinarians earn a median salary of just under $100,000 across the United States. Largely due to America’s ongoing attachment to domestic pets, job growth in this industry is expected to be around 9% through 2031.

How can you get one of the highest-paid jobs in the U.S.?

Of course, you might be wondering how you can get one of these highest-paid jobs in the United States. First, recognize that most of these positions require a tremendous investment in education and time. Most will require you to complete an advanced degree of some sort, with some only available to those with PhDs. If you are serious about obtaining one of these high-paying jobs, it is important to fully commit yourself to years of study and sacrifice.


The good news is that the highest-paid jobs in the U.S. are open to anyone with the drive and desire to complete the educational requirements. Still, if you are committed to earning high compensation in one of these professions, you should be prepared to put in the effort needed to obtain the right qualifications.

Looking to change careers to one of the highest-paid jobs on this list? If so, get your free resume review today and let our experts ensure that your resume tells the compelling story you need to land your next interview.

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Written by

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.

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