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What are the highest paying jobs?
CNBC Highest Paying Jobs 2011
Listed with average annual salary (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

1. Doctors and Surgeons: $165,720-$225,390
2. Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $173,350
3. Dentists: $158,770
4. Lawyers: $129,440
5. Natural Sciences Manager: $129,320
6. Petroleum Engineer: $127,970
7. Architectural Engineering Manager: $125,900
8. Computer and Information Systems Manager: $123,280
9. Marketing Manager: $122,720
10. Financial Manager: $116,970
11. Airline pilot, copilot and flight engineer: $115,300
12. Sales Manager: $114,110
13. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $114,040
14. General and Operations Manager: $113,100
15. Physicist: $112,020

CNBC Highest Paying Jobs 2010
Listed with average annual salary (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

1. Surgeons: $219,770
2. Anesthesiologists: $211,750
3. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons: $210,710
4. Orthodontists: $206,190
5. Obstetricians & Gynecologists: $204,470
6. Internists: $183,990
7. Physicians & Surgeons: $173,860
8. Family and general practitioners: $168,550
9. Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $167,280
10. Psychiatrists: $163,660
11. Pediatricians: $161,410
12. Dental Generalist: $153,570
13. Dental Specialist: $153,570
14. Podiatrists: $131,730
15. Lawyers: $129,020
16. Natural Sciences Managers: $127,000
17. Prosthodontists: $125,400
18. Engineering Managers: $122,810
19. Computer and Information Systems Managers: $120,640
20. Marketing Managers: $120,070

Forbes Magazine: America's 25 Best-Paying Jobs 2009
Listed with average annual pay

1. Surgeons: $206,770
2. Anesthesiologists: $197,570
3. Orthodontists: $194,930
4. Obstetrician and Gynecologists: $192,780
5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: $190,420
6. Internists: $176,740
7. Prosthodontists: $169,810
8. Physicians: $165,000
9. Family and General Practitioners: $161,490
10. CEOs: $160,440
11. Dentists: $154,270
12. Psychiatrists: $154,050
13. Pediatricians: $153,370
14. Specialist Dentists: $142,070
15. Podiatrists: $125,760
16. Lawyers: $124,750
17. Natural Sciences Managers: $123,140
18. Engineering Managers: $120,580
19. Pilots: $119,750
20. Petroleum Engineers: $119,140
21. Computer and Information Systems Managers: $118,710
22. Marketing Managers: $118,160
23. Financial Managers: $110,640
24. Sales Managers: $110,390
25. Air Traffic Controllers: $108,090

Jobs That Pay the Most
The 2004 United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Statics' Occupational Survey revealed the 25 highest paid professions fall into five categories:
  • Medical and dental
  • Business and technology and management
  • Airline and space
  • Law
  • Engineering and science


Medical and dental specialists top the list of the highest paid professions, as they hold numbers one through eight of the 25 highest earning jobs as well as five other rankings on the 2004 list. Anesthesiologists are number one, internists number two and obstetricians and gynecologists number three of the top professional earners in the United States. Oral surgeons take the fourth spot, orthodontists the fifth and prosthodontists the sixth. Psychiatrists are listed as the seventh of the highest paid professions, while surgeons are ranked as the eighth. The average 2004 income for these eight professions is more than $145,600 US dollars (USD).

Family and general physicians, with their average annual 2004 salary listed at $137,090 USD, place tenth on the Survey. Pediatricians, at an average income of $135,730 USD in 2004, are ranked eleventh. Thirteenth on the list of the highest paid professions are dentists, with an average annual 2004 salary of $125,060 USD, while podiatrists are ranked eighteenth with an average income of $94,400 in 2004. According to the Survey, optometrists, with an average salary of $88,410 in 2004, are the twenty-third highest paid professionals in the United States.

Business and technology management professions occupy three of the 25 highest paid professions listed on the Occupational Statistics Survey. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), with an average annual salary of $140,350 USD in 2004, rank as the ninth highest paid professionals. Computer and Information Technology (IT) managers rank as the twentieth highest earning professionals with an average 2004 income of $92,570 USD. Marketing managers, with average 2004 earnings of $87,640 USD, are ranked twenty-fourth out of the 25 highest paid professions on the Survey.

Airline and space industry jobs are listed as the twelfth, fourteenth and sixteenth highest paid professions in the United States. Airline pilots, copilots and airline engineers earn about $129,250 USD, according to the 2004 statistics. The 2004 average salary of air traffic controllers is about $102,030 USD per year, while astronomers earned an average of $97,320 USD in 2004.

Law-related professions rank seventeenth and nineteenth on the 2004 Occupational Statistics Survey. The average 2004 salary of lawyers is listed as $94,930 USD. Judges and magistrates earn an average of $93,070 USD, according to the 2004 Survey.

Engineering and science professions account for four of the 25 highest paid professions listed on the 2004 Survey. Engineering managers, with an average 2004 annual salary of $97,630 USD, rank as the fifteenth highest earning professionals. Natural Science managers are ranked at the twenty-first highest paid professionals at an average income of $88,660 USD in 2004. Petroleum engineers are listed at number twenty-two on the list due to the findings of their average income at $88,500 USD in 2004. A physicist, with an average annual 2004 salary of $87,450 USD, is the twenty-fifth highest earning professional of the 25 highest paid professions on the 2004 Survey.

Additional Input:
  • One of the jobs that is generally considered to be one of the highest paying jobs is an ACTUARY. That is someone who works in the insurance industry who computes rates according to probabilities based on statistical records, and various other factors.
  • One thing to keep in mind about actuaries is that when you see the median salary for an actuary, this salary given is not accurate since you are not really an actuary until you obtain your associateship or fellowship in the professional society you are studying for. If you are an actuarial analyst you are an actuarial student in training to become a certified actuary. The median salary of certified actuaries (Associates or Fellows in the Society of Actuaries, etc.) would easily be among the top ten lists above. [It would be similar to including the salaries of medical residents, 34-55K per year, into the salary of physicians. Were they to do this, the median salary for physicians would be much lower.] In addition, actuaries often get promoted to executive positions for the companies they work for which further elevates their salaries.
  • Corporate attorneys at the nation's top law firms have starting salaries of $180,000 per year. This would be a 25-year-old, directly out of law school. By their 7th year, they are making $320,000. If they are elected to a partnership at the end of their 7th or 8th year, they will make a respectable amount of money; a partner a top firm is well worth $2,000,000 a year.
  • Actuary: Once a fellowship has been obtained and after 10 years of experience, someone in this field can earn $150,000+, and after 20 years one can earn $250,000+. It also depends on what type of actuary you are. Some consultants earn more than traditional actuaries. See the Related Links below to see actual salaries for actuary positions currently available.
  • One high paying job that never makes a list due to the extremely competitive and relatively secretive nature of Wall Street is Sales & Trading / Investment Banking. A starting salary out of college/university for is $75,000 for the top investment banks with an annual bonus of $40,000-60,000. By the time of your first promotion (around 3 years), you can earn >$250,000. Top industry players make $1,000,000 per year.
  • CEO, COO, VP's of companies. The average CEO's salary is 600k and an average COO makes about 300k and a VP makes over 200k.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, as cited by Forbes magazine, the top five highest paying jobs are: 1.) Physicians and Surgeons 2.) Dentists 3.) Chief Executives 4.) Airline Pilots 5.) Podiatrists. Note that these are salaried jobs. Bonuses for some industries (e.g. for Wall Street traders) and profits in others (e.g. entrepreneurs who start their own businesses) can be much higher. And don't forget movies, music and sport.
  • I found that an Actuary has a pretty high paying job for a starting salary less then 1 yr exp would be approx 40+. 20 yrs exp approx 250-350K.
  • The President makes $400,000 dollars a year. HOWEVER, you must also consider the following: They never pay a mortgage or rent, NEVER buy gasoline, never buy food, never pay for a car, car insurance, entertainment, and a whole host of "perks". Add all the free perks and you're talking a couple million bucks!
  • DEFINITELY ACTUARIES. AN INDIVIDUAL WHO BELONGS TO THE WORLD'S HIGHEST PAID PROFESSION CAN EARN BETWEEN $250000 TO $500000 BASE SALARY WITHIN TEN YEARS OF STARTING PROVIDED THEY PASS ALL 8 EXAMS SWIFTLY TO BECOME AN FSA. IN ADDITION THERE ARE STOCK OPTIONS AND BONUSES THAT COULD REACH 100 - 300% OF BASE SALARY.
  • Entrepreneurs are (deservedly) the highest earners in the US. People like Bill Gates or Michael Dell, whose companies have become household names, top the Forbes list repeatedly.
  • While it is true that actuaries are well paid, there are many other professions with equally impressive salaries. Many medical professionals earn large salaries (though they also put in a decade or more of training after high school). For instance, experienced anaesthesiologists, cardiologists, and surgeons may make $500K/yr or more in larger cities. However, the biggest salaries are usually the chief executive officers (CEOs) or chief operating officers (COOs) of large businesses. They routinely achieve salaries that range into the multimillions annually, not including incentives most people only dream of. Entrepreneurs who set out on their own can achieve large salaries as well, though most of them probably fall under the category of CEO for their own company. One more interesting fact: While the president and members of congress do make impressive salaries ($200K-$400K/yr), more than half of them took a pay CUT to take a political office. This is due to the fact that most of them held high positions within industry before they took office. Politicians are generally in it for the power, not the money.
  • I would have to respectively disagree. I say an anaesthesiologist.
  • I think professional sports players make much more money than the other professions listed here. Actors can make over $20 million per film. That's maybe a couple of months of work for that much money. It's quite impressive.
  • Quite frankly I do believe that surgeons have the highest paying jobs in the US. Cardiovascular surgeons can rack up to 500,000 dollars per year as median pay.
  • David Beckham gets $500,000 per week.
  • You cannot give one example like Bill Gates and say CEO is the highest-paying job. Same goes for athletes and actors. There are millions of actors in the US; only a few dozen get paid in the millions. There are thousands of CEO's in the world; only a few get paid in the millions or billions. Same goes for athletes. However, there are millions of doctors in the US and each one of them gets paid at least 100 K a year and most of them, probably around 200 to 250 K. On average, medical doctors are the highest paid, on a basis of consistency.
  • I think the "highest paying job in the U.S.A" (leaving out an individual, who is extremely wealthy for their "special talent" i.e. Movie stars, Sports greats, Bill Gates etc...) I would have to say the highest paying job in the U.S.A. would be a C.E.O. of a MAJOR corporation. They make MILLIONS; have STOCK OPTIONS worth MILLIONS, and retirement packages worth MILLIONS.
  • Anesthesiologists. Welcome to the real world, not everyone can be movie stars, athletes or Bill Gates.
  • Among regular professions, the most lucrative in my opinion are CEO or other executive position, surgeon, some specialized sales (such as of condo developments), some stock brokers (such as those who receive 10% commission and manage several hundred million or more), some coordinators (such as of celebrity weddings or rock band tours)
  • Interventionist's cardiologists make between 600-1.2 million a year in most places. $850K is average.
  • Car sales & real estate; sales managers are routinely well into six figures. Sales person has six figure potential but most (that stay in) are 40k+. Sales mgrs. at competitive dealerships are 200k/year + (some up to 500k+). Real estate - in big cities, you have bigger, more expensive homes; commission is usually around 3%; million dollar home = 30k commission. Not bad for selling a house. Again, average yearly is probably closer to 40-50 though.
  • Playing third base for the Yankees pays pretty well... $25M a year?
  • Some of the people here did state some very important facts. However, I am a real estate developer, and investor. From opening my company and doing 8 developments and property management, I was able to net 68.3 million dollars, for myself; along with paying all my employees 100K+.
  • A UPS 747 Captain with 10 years seniority makes $198 an hour working 20 hours a week.
  • Pilots only get paid when the airplane is closed up with passengers on board and the brake is released. No pay for time on ground between flights, pre-flight's, drives to hotels, time on the ground, etc. So 198 may look like a lot per hour, but if you look at an average pilot who is gone from home an average of 75 hours per week and do the math you will find the highest paid pilots make about 50 to 60 bucks an hour. A starting pilot after a 100,000 dollar education and proper licenses makes about 1000 per month to start and about 8 bucks an hour based on time away from home. Check out the website airlinepilotcentral.com if you would like all the details and add three zeros to the hourly rate to get the annual rate. Basically in the past few years pilots have taken a 50% pay cut and are working at least a 4-5 day week AWAY from home. Gone are the gravely days. You might be surprised to know your pilot of small jets and prop planes make about 18,000 a year to start. Military pilots and Cargo pilots generally get paid more than commercial carrier pilots now.
  • I think actuary is the highest paying job of all.
  • My wife is a salaried dentist in California and makes 232k and gets 300k after bonuses. We have seen Oral Surgeon (specialty dentists) job offers for 5000k per day mostly doing implants. I agree with the averages because there are 300,000 physician and dentists that make good money and few CEO's that make crazy money. I have an MBA from a top 20 school and am the CFO of a mid-size company and make 160K after bonuses.
  • People are obviously unaware of the salaries and wages in the car business. A typical (California) Business Office Manager for a medium to larger sized car dealership earns in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $150,000 per year ($50.00 to $75.00 an hour). This is for someone (typically female, there are relatively few male Business Office Managers at car dealerships) with no college training, but 10-15 years of business office experience. The General Manager of a new car dealership (again, usually very street-smart, but no formal education beyond High School) can easily earn in excess of $300,000 a year with salary and bonuses. New Car Sales Managers can easily earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year. Some earn even more, in very high-volume dealerships. The car selling business is something of a Wonderland, due to the outrageous salaries paid to relatively uneducated individuals. The manager of the parts department at most new car dealerships earns substantially over $150,000 per year between base salary and bonuses.
  • I am a Pharmacist and I made $52/hr working 7 days on and 7 days off on the night shift at a chain drugstore. If I wanted to work more hours the week I was off I was more than welcome. Some pharmacists averaged 60 hours per week. This can be accomplished right out of pharmacy school so they are 23 or 24 years old. That is just retail chain pharmacy. My wife works for a Pharmaceutical company and with bonus gets just over 100K; that is not including paid holidays, unlimited sick days. She spends most of her day searching the net works 9-5 and no weekends and gets 100k for it. There is a lot of money in drugs.
  • Most of the numbers mentioned above are pretty low by Wall Street standards. I made over $1 million during my fourth year as a trader at investment bank Goldman Sachs. GS paid out $16 billion in bonuses last year - most of the money went to roughly 6,000 bankers and traders - which averaged out to be over $2 million per professional. But even bankers and traders at GS envy the kind of money top hedge fund and private equity fund managers make. At least fifty hedges made over $100 million last year. Two former colleagues from Goldman who started their own funds each made over $25 million in a good year. Lower on the totem pole, most moderately successful investment bankers, and institutional traders made over $1 million last year.
  • From what I've seen, the hours Wall Street bankers, traders, hedge fund managers, analysts, etc, are not what most people would be willing to live with. I've been in software sales for many years, and this year I've made over $300,000, and its only May 23rd. I'm home most every night (I travel out of town on average 1-2 nights a month), and home every weekend. The previous poster is correct if all you care about is making a lot of money, but if you want balance in your life, sales in any number of fields (not just software) can be very lucrative.
  • I think it is obvious that these numbers are either entry level and/or in poor job markets. All of these professions within 2-5yrs make a lot more in New York and California, which by the way make up a large avg. of salaries nationally in these listed professions.
  • Successful oral surgeons who remove wisdom teeth and place dental implants make between 1.4 and 1.7 million dollars per year while working a 30 hour week with minimal hospital or weekend call.
  • Heir apparent to the throne of England, but I think the position is filled.


Other High Paying Jobs
1. Movie Directors: $185.71/hr; $956,050/yr
2. Bank CEO : $111.42/hr; $567,050/yr (entry level)
3. Actors: $91.15/hr; $357,430/yr
4. Athlete: $71.31/hr; $131,680/yr
5. Computer programmer: $64.3/hr; $126,940/yr
6. Actuaries, certified: $57.52/hr; $119,680 (base salary only)
7. Pediatricians, general: $56.03/hr; $116,550/yr
8. Psychiatrists: $54.60/hr; $113,570/yr
9. Family and general practitioners: $52.89/hr; $110,020/yr
10. Dentists: $53.28/hr; $110,820/yr
11. Pharmacists: $53.00/hr; $110,240/yr
12. Chief Executives: $51.77/hr; $107,670/yr
13. Airline pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers: (N/A); $99,400/yr
14. Steamfitter (L.U. 638): 47.65/hr; hr wages double after 2pm daily; $150/yr
15. Podiatrists: $45.43/hr; $94,500/yr
16. Lawyers: $44.19/hr; $91,920/yr
17. Optometrists: $42.35/hr; $88,100/yr
18. Computer and information systems managers: $40.33/hr; $83,890/yr
19. Physicists: $40.26/hr; $83,750/yr
20. Air traffic controllers: $40.07/hr; $83,350/yr
21. Petroleum Engineers: $39.33/hr; $81,800/yr
22. Nuclear Engineers: $38.56/hr; $80,200/yr
23. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates: $38.24/hr; $79,540/yr
24. Marketing Managers: $37.70/hr; $78,410/yr
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