25 Highest Paid Occupations in the U.S.

25 Highest Paid Occupations in the U.S.

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1. Anesthesiologists

The BLS defines anesthesiologists as physicians who “administer anesthetics and analgesics for pain management prior to, during, or after surgery.” This highly specialized career has topped the list of highest-earning professions. Work hours for an anesthesiologist follow the schedule of the operating room, 

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1. Anesthesiologists

which can be long and unpredictable.  That’s because anesthesiologists need to be there for both scheduled surgeries and emergency procedures, such as traumatic events and childbirth.

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2. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat a wide range of diseases, injuries, and defects in and around the mouth and jaw.  Among the more common problems they’re likely to manage are problematic wisdom teeth, misaligned jaws, tumors, and cysts of the jaw and mouth. They may also perform dental implant surgery.

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3. Obstetricians-Gynecologists

Doctors specializing in vaginal, ovarian, uterine, and cervical reproductive health and childbirth, known as obstetricians-gynecologists, or OB-GYNs, make slightly more than the annual wages listed for general surgeons. Successful OB-GYNs are good at communicating information to patients that improve their health and that of their babies. 

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3. Obstetricians-Gynecologists

They also excel at handling high-stress situations—most notably childbirth—that can occur at odd hours of the day.

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4. Surgeons

Although becoming a surgeon requires several years of specialized training, these elite physicians are rewarded with one of the highest-paying careers. Surgeons may find themselves working long, irregular hours, depending on their specialty. While those focusing on preventative and elective surgeries may have a more 

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4. Surgeons

predictable schedule, surgeons working in fields such as trauma or neurosurgery often work extended, even overnight, shifts.

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5. Orthodontists

Orthodontists specialize in corrective measures for the teeth and are often referred out by the patients’ dentists. These doctors frequently take X-rays, apply braces, create mouth guards, and perform other procedures as needed. High-achieving orthodontists require good communication skills, as they work with patients directly, plus strong 

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5. Orthodontists

analytical and problem-solving abilities.  While some work for large orthodontic offices, others own their own practice, which requires strong management skills.

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6. Physicians (Other)

If you take the mean salary of all physicians working in all other specialties, they would come in sixth place. This “other” grouping includes jobs as varied as allergists, cardiologists, dermatologists, oncologists (who treat cancer), gastroenterologists (digestive system specialists), and ophthalmologists (eye specialists). It also covers 

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6. Physicians (Other)

pathologists, who study body tissue for possible abnormalities, and radiologists, who analyze medical images and administer radiation treatment to cancer patients.

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7. Psychiatrists

While all psychiatrists help treat mental health issues, it’s a field with a vast range of specialties. Some work on child and adolescent psychiatry, for example, while others specialize in forensic (legal) psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, or consultation psychiatry, which occurs in a medical setting. Others specialize in psychoanalysis, where the 

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7. Psychiatrists

psychiatrist helps the patient remember and examine past events and emotions to better understand their current feelings.

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8. Internal Medicine Physicians

Internists, who often serve as primary care doctors or hospitalists, specialize in the care of adult patients. As with other general practice physicians, internists who work in a primary care capacity see a lot of patients and need to treat a range of ailments, from asthma and diabetes to high cholesterol and hypertension. With visits often lasting 15 or 

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8. Internal Medicine Physicians

30 minutes, quick decision-making skills are a must.

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9. Family Medicine Physicians

The BLS defines this category as physicians who "diagnose, treat, and provide preventive care to individuals and families across the lifespan." These medical doctors often refer patients to specialists for advanced treatments. Family medicine physicians, also known as primary care physicians, are typically where patients go for periodic exams 

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9. Family Medicine Physicians

and the treatment of common health ailments, such as sinus and respiratory infections, as well as chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.

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10. Chief Executives

Chief executives represent the highest-paid profession outside of the medical or dental fields.  As the highest-ranking employee of a company, the CEO’s job is to make critical decisions regarding the management team, steer the organization toward new markets or product areas, and interface with the board of directors.

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10. Chief Executives

While highly paid, many chief executives have daunting schedules. A Harvard Business Review survey found that the average CEO spends 62.5 hours per week on the job, with about half their time spent in the office and half traveling.

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11. Nurse Anesthetists

Nursing tends to pay well in general compared with most other career paths, although nurse anesthetists do particularly well.  Per the BLS, nurse anesthetists “administer anesthesia and provide care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures.” While their role is similar to that of an 

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11. Nurse Anesthetists

anesthesiologist, they don’t complete the same level of training. That means becoming a nurse anesthetist takes less time and money than going to medical school and becoming a physician. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) may work in a broad array of different settings, including hospital surgical suites, 

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11. Nurse Anesthetists

obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, doctor’s offices, and pain management centers.

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12. Pediatricians (General)

Pediatricians—physicians who specifically treat children—make less than internists and general practitioners but are still among the highest-paid professionals. These general practitioners perform checkups and exams for younger patients, treat common ailments, and administer immunizations. They often refer patients to a 

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12. Pediatricians (General)

specialist when their health issues are more complex.12 Pediatricians require strong critical-thinking skills, especially given the large number of patients they often serve, as well as excellent interpersonal skills and empathy.

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13. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

Working in the aviation industry can mean a lot of time away from home, but it also leads to a nice paycheck in many cases. The BLS lumps airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers into one category. The pilot, or captain, typically has the most experience operating a plane and oversees the other members of the flight crew. The copilot is the second 

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13. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

in command during the flight and helps the captain with responsibilities in the cockpit. Flight engineers do preflight checks, monitor the plane’s cabin pressure, assess how much fuel is being burned, and perform other important duties. However, because of the increased amount of automation in new aircraft, there are fewer jobs for flight 

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13. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

engineers than there used to be.

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14. Dentists (All Other Specialties)

Dentists who specialize in other practice areas also get compensated quite well. The BLS lumps these other specialists into one group.  Among the practitioners included in this category are endodontists, who perform root canals and other procedures dealing with the inside of the tooth, and periodontists, who treat the gums and bones around the teeth.

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15. Dentists (General)

Dentists often show up in lists of the best jobs in healthcare. While the pay tends to be attractive, the combination of relatively low stress and flexible scheduling certainly adds to the appeal. In a typical week, dental practitioners might find themselves analyzing X-rays, filling cavities, extracting damaged teeth, and 

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15. Dentists (General)

administering sealants. It’s a job that requires a strong grasp of best practices in the field, attention to detail, and the ability to develop a good rapport with patients.

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16. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems (IS) managers oversee functions such as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming. They evaluate the information technology (IT) needs of a business or government body and work with technical staff to implement computer systems that meet those objectives.

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16. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Successful managers need to develop sound plans that mesh with the goals of the organization, as well as the ability to motivate employees who are under their supervision.

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17. Architectural and Engineering Managers

These managers are charged with coordinating all the technical aspects of architecture or engineering projects. That can include consulting with clients and preparing specifications for the project, analyzing the feasibility of work being proposed, and reviewing contracts and budgets. In addition to having strong 

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17. Architectural and Engineering Managers

administrative skills, managers in these fields need a background in architecture or engineering to understand the demands of a particular project.

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18. Natural Sciences Managers

Moving up the organizational chart is the ticket to a good payday in just about any field, and the sciences are no different.  Professionals who supervise chemists, physicists, biologists, and other scientists are in the top 25 of all occupations when it comes to mean pay. Natural sciences managers can have any number of titles, 

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18. Natural Sciences Managers

including health sciences manager, laboratory manager, research and development director, research manager, senior investigator, and senior scientist.  What they have in common is a responsibility to coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and production and to oversee research and development.

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19. Financial Managers

The finance department plays a pivotal role, especially in medium- and large-sized organizations. Among their responsibilities are planning investment activities and assessing market trends to maximize profits while controlling risk. They also create financial reports that help the senior management team make decisions and 

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19. Financial Managers

inform shareholders. Jobs that fall within the fast-growing financial manager category include controllers, who prepare financial reports such as income statements and balance sheets; treasurers, who devise investment strategies for the organization; and risk managers, who use various measures to limit the company’s exposure to financial or currency risk.

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20. Marketing Managers

Products and services don’t sell themselves. It takes talented professionals to analyze how much demand there is for a particular offering and find ways to bring it to market.  These functions are crucial to a business's bottom line, so it may not be a surprise that marketing managers are among the highest-paid professions in the U.S.

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20. Marketing Managers

To flourish, marketing managers have to demonstrate a blend of creativity and business acumen. Day-to-day activities include everything from acquiring market research to planning promotional activities to developing websites and social media campaigns.

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21. Physicist

Physicists can often be the most important person on a project as they conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories. In short, they make sure things both work and work well. While many work in an office 

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21. Physicist

environment, it isn't always desk work. Physicists can find themselves jockeying between paperwork and working in research labs.

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22. Judges

Judges don't only swing the gavel. They preside over hearings, determine the relevance of information presented, apply laws and precedents to seek judgments, and write opinions on their decisions regarding cases and disputes. Judges are also required to guide a jury when a jury is selected to decide the case. 

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22. Judges

When there is no jury, the judge makes the final ruling. They ensure that hearings and trials are conducted fairly and that the legal rights of all involved parties are protected.

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23. Podiatrists

Podiatrists diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the foot, ankle, and lower leg. They provide medical and surgical care. Most podiatrists work in offices of podiatry, either on their own or with other podiatrists or health practitioners. Others work in private and public hospitals, in outpatient care centers, or for the government at a federal executive branch.

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24. Petroleum Engineers

Energy sources, including fossil fuels such as oil and gas, are the lifeblood of the economy. However, extracting those important resources efficiently requires some serious know-how, and petroleum engineers play a big role. Their main goal is to develop methods to pull oil and gas from new deposits below the Earth’s surface and design new 

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24. Petroleum Engineers

ways to extract fossil fuels from existing wells. Typically, the responsibilities of a petroleum engineer include ascertaining operational methods, performing a cost-benefit analysis for a given project, and analyzing survey or geographic data.

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25. Prosthodontists

Prosthodontists fix damaged teeth or missing teeth with artificial devices such as dental implants, dentures, bridges, crowns, and veneers. Physicians who thrive in this specialty have a strong inclination toward science, are able to diagnose complex dental problems, and possess the mechanical acumen to properly address ailments. 

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25. Prosthodontists

Many of them work with cancer patients, making it important to understand the needs of surgical patients and treat individuals going through radiation or chemotherapy.

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