The 25 Highest-Earning Careers Ranked

What do you want to be when you grow up? Although often posed to kids, it’s a question that adults frequently struggle with as well. Whether you’re entering the working world for the first time, or already have a career but are looking for a change of pace, plenty of high-paying options are available.

Here’s a closer look at 25 high-earning careers and what requirements are needed to obtain them:

Health Care Jobs

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, now is an excellent time to work in the health care field. Roughly half of the highest-paying jobs in the US are health-care related.

The US population is aging and according to the Rural Health Information Hub, one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030. As the population ages, health care needs increase overall, making health care not only a high-paying profession but one with long-term projected growth.

1. Anesthesiologist

Taking the top spot is the job of anesthesiologist, which is the person who administers and monitors sedation during medical procedures. Anesthesiologists earn on average $267,020 a year.

However, getting this job requires patience and education. It requires a four-year medical degree plus another four years of specialization via residency.

2. Surgeon

With only 34,000 surgeons in the US, it’s no surprise this highly-specialized skill is also highly-paid. Surgeons earn an average of $255,110 a year.

3. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

One of 10 dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons perform wisdom tooth extractions and many jaw and bite-related procedures. They earn $242,370 a year on average.

4. Obstetrician-Gynecologist

With an average salary of $238,320, OB/GYNs are another high-paying profession. As a specialized medical professional, you’ll need to complete four years of med school plus a four-year fellowship or residency.   

5. Orthodontists

If you have teens or pre-teens, you probably already know all-too-well how expensive orthodontic work can get. It’s no surprise orthodontists make pretty good money, averaging $225,760 a year.

However, if you’re thinking of entering this profession, know a good chunk of your income might go towards overhead and expenses for your practice, at least when you’re first starting.

6. Psychiatrist

As mental health awareness increases, so does the demand for mental health services. Psychiatrists saw a 33% salary increase over the previous year, with an average salary of $220,380.

7. General Practitioners

Family doctors and general practitioners are typically the first doctors a patient sees when a problem develops. They’re also the ones you visit for a check-up. They make around $210,000 each year.

8. Internists

These doctors deal with problems related to internal organs. Interestingly, unlike many of the professions listed so far, their salary actually decreased from the previous year by about $2,000. Still, with an average annual pay of $196,490, an internist is a high-paying career. 

9. Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist is another dental specialist. They fix missing teeth and related issues with implants, crowns, dentures and more. They earn around $191,000 a year.

10. Pediatricians

Although they have the same schooling as general practitioners, pediatricians typically earn less than their peers who treat adults. Pediatricians average around $183,000 a year, making this a lucrative profession.

Active Jobs

So far, we’ve mainly focused on medical professions. But what if that’s not your interest? A 2019 report from CNBC lists high-paying, active careers which don’t require years of medical school:

11. Astronomer

Believe it or not, astronomy is a highly lucrative profession. Astronomers earn an average salary of $105,680. Even better, jobs in the field are expected to grow by 10% by 2026. 

Education is required, though. The top jobs in research and academia almost always require a PhD.

12. CEO

CEO is the highest non-medical-related job in the country. Of course, these jobs are difficult to get, but top earners make $100 million a year or more. If you’re willing to take a risk, you can start your own company!

13. Airline Pilot

Take to the skies! Airline pilots average $115,000 a year.

While military service is one way to get a job as a commercial pilot, it’s not required. To get your foot in the (cockpit) door, you need a bachelor’s degree, commercial pilot’s license, and ATP certificate. Most beginning pilots start by hauling freight before transitioning to any of the major airlines.

14. Air Traffic Controller

An air traffic controller is one of the highest-paying jobs which doesn’t require a college degree. You can earn upwards of $124,000 a year, or more than $50 an hour.

15. Gaming Manager

Watch other people lose big as you rake in the money as a gaming manager in a casino. Salaries average around $70,000, and the job only requires a high school diploma.

16. Automotive Technicians

Mechanics and other car care professionals can earn between $60,000 to $70,000 or more a year. Typically trade school is a requirement. 

17. Elevator Repair Person

Here’s a job you probably never knew existed. Elevators are everywhere, and they require specialized skills to repair and maintain. After a four-year apprenticeship, you can expect to make $79,000 a year or more.

18. Power Plant Operator

Power plant operators earn an average of $74,000, and the job only requires a high school education.

19. Postal Employee

Contribute to your community while earning a handsome salary. Supervisors can earn over $70,000 a year. A willingness to work in the rain, sleet and snow is a must. 

Blue-Collar Jobs

If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you can earn big in a blue-collar job. Salary.com and Dirty Jobs guru Mike Rowe teamed up to list some of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs:

20. Executive Housekeeper

You can clean up financially by cleaning up after others. A head housekeeper averages around $42,000 a year. 

21. Derrickman

If you’re willing to hang out all day on the mast of an oil rig, you can earn upwards of $46,000 a year.

22. Firefighter

It’s dangerous and exhausting but also rewarding beyond measure. Plus, you only need a high school diploma (or sometimes just a GED) to earn about $44,600 annually. 

23. Locomotive Engineer

You can earn over $62,000 a year conducting a train. It requires trade school and certification courses. 

24. Personal Trainers

High-end personal trainers can earn up to $53,000 a year or more. Plus, the job has an added perk of keeping you in great shape! 

25. Plumbers

Plumbers start around $40,000 a year, but the sky’s the limit with experience and specialization. Most states require certification or an apprenticeship.

No matter what interests you have or the education level you’ve obtained, a high-paying job is out there for you. Best of luck on your job hunt!

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