The 30 highest-paying jobs in America

The 30 highest-paying jobs in America

March 31, 2021
  • Some US professions have workers earning a lot more than the annual average salary of $56,310.
  • We found the occupations in America with the highest mean annual salaries in May 2020.
  • The following are the highest-paying occupations based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

30. Postsecondary law teachers

Average annual salary: $134,760

Number of people employed: 14,930

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in law.

29. Public relations and fundraising managers

Average annual salary: $135,580

Number of people employed: 81,110

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities designed to create or maintain a favorable public image, raise issue awareness, or raise funds for their organization or client.

28. Compensation and benefits managers

Average annual salary: $137,160

Number of people employed: 16,340

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate the compensation and benefits activities of an organization.

27. Physicists

Average annual salary: $137,700

Number of people employed: 16,160

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.

26. Advertising and promotions managers

Average annual salary: $147,560

Number of people employed: 22,490

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate advertising policies and programs.

25. Sales managers

Average annual salary: $147,580

Number of people employed: 390,170

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate the actual distribution or movement of a product or service to the customer.

24. Lawyers

Average annual salary: $148,910

Number of people employed: 658,120

What they do, according to O*NET: Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions.

23. Podiatrists

Average annual salary: $151,110

Number of people employed: 9,710

What they do, according to O*NET: Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot.

22. Financial managers

Average annual salary: $151,510

Number of people employed: 653,080

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities, and other financial activities.

21. Petroleum engineers

Average annual salary: $154,330

Number of people employed: 27,850

What they do, according to O*NET: Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production.

20. Marketing managers

Average annual salary: $154,470

Number of people employed: 270,200

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate marketing policies and programs.

19. Natural sciences managers

Average annual salary: $154,930

Number of people employed: 75,870

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and statistics, and research and development in these fields.

18. Architectural and engineering managers

Average annual salary: $158,100

Number of people employed: 195,900

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering.

17. Computer and information systems managers

Average annual salary: $161,730

Number of people employed: 457,290

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming.

16. General dentists

Average annual salary: $180,830

Number of people employed: 95,920

What they do, according to O*NET: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums.

15. General pediatricians

Average annual salary: $184,570

Number of people employed: 27,550

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent children’s diseases and injuries.

14. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

Average annual salary: $186,870

Number of people employed: 83,550

What they do, according to O*NET: Pilot and navigate the flight of aircrafts.

13. Nurse anesthetists

Average annual salary: $189,190

Number of people employed: 41,960   

What they do, according to O*NET: Administer anesthesia, monitor patients’ vital signs, and oversee patient recovery from anesthesia.

12. All other dentist specialists

Average annual salary: $194,930

Number of people employed: 5,610   

What they do, according to O*NET: Various dental specializations.

11. Chief executives

Average annual salary: $197,840

Number of people employed: 202,360   

What they do, according to O*NET: Develop policies and provide direction for a company or organization.

10. General internal medicine physicians

Average annual salary: $210,960

Number of people employed: 50,600  

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose and provide non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems.

9. Family medicine physicians

Average annual salary: $214,370

Number of people employed: 98,590  

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population.

8. Prosthodontists

Average annual salary: $214,870

Number of people employed: 530

What they do, according to O*NET: Construct oral prostheses to replace missing teeth and other oral structures.

7. Psychiatrists

Average annual salary: $217,100

Number of people employed: 25,540  

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.

6. All other physicians and ophthalmologists, except pediatric

Average annual salary: $218,850

Number of people employed: 375,390 

What they do, according to O*NET: Various medical specialties.

5. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Average annual salary: $234,990

Number of people employed: 4,120  

What they do, according to O*NET: Perform surgery and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions.

4. Orthodontists

Average annual salary: $237,990

Number of people employed: 5,040 

What they do, according to O*NET: Examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies.

3. Obstetricians and gynecologists

Average annual salary: $239,120

Number of people employed: 18,900

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who provide medical care related to pregnancy or childbirth and those who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases of women.

2. Surgeons, except ophthalmologists

Average annual salary: $251,650

Number of people employed: 37,900

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who treat diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive, minimally invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods.

1. Anesthesiologists

Average annual salary: $271,440

Number of people employed: 28,590

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who administer anesthetics prior to, during, or after surgery or other medical procedures.

Method and data source

Using the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program (previously called the Occupational Employment Statistics program), we identified the 30 detailed occupations with the highest mean annual salaries as of May 2020, the most recent period for which data is available.

Although data is for May 2020, the pandemic’s effects on employment are not fully captured in these figures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote in the news release about the latest data that these “estimates do not fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” as previous surveys from periods in 2017, 2018, and 2019 were also used. 

The 30 highest-paying occupations all earned an average of six figures annually, all above $130,000. Anesthesiologists, which ranked No. 1, earned more than triple the average annual salary for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations of $85,900 with an average annual salary of $271,440. All 30 of these occupations also make more than the overall average for all occupations in May 2020 of $56,310.

In addition to ranking the average salaries, we also included the estimated number of people employed in each occupation as of May 2020, and a brief description of the occupation from the Labor Department’s O*NET occupational database.

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