Top 10 Best-Paying Jobs

African American dentist

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The best-paying jobs include positions in healthcare, information technology, management, finance, engineering, and law.

Why do workers in these occupations earn the most? In short, it’s because they have valuable skills—and employers must pay a premium for them.


You won’t just stumble into a high-paying job, but if one of these occupations is a fit, you’ll be well-compensated for your efforts.

If you’re set on earning a high salary, you might consider one of these career paths. But be advised: most require advanced education (which significantly increases your earning potential), training, extensive work experience in the field, and/or licensure. 

Key Takeaways

  • Many of the best-paying jobs are in healthcare, specifically in physician jobs like psychiatrist, obstetrician/gynecologist, surgeon, and anesthesiologist.
  • Most high-paying jobs require advanced education and training; many require licensure or certification. 
  • Non-medical jobs that offer high pay include airline pilot, chief executive, computer and information systems manager, and physicist. 

Top 10 Best-Paying Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is an independent statistical agency that tracks unemployment and other essential data about the U.S. job market. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ career resource. It offers information about wages, job growth, and educational requirements for most occupations.

To find the best-paid jobs in the U.S., we looked at the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s list of highest-paying jobs, as well as the OOH’s A-to-Z index. 

According to recent data, these are the occupations that pay the most:

1. Physicians and Surgeons

If you’re looking for a high-paying job that gives back, follow your mom’s advice: become a doctor. Physicians and surgeons hold more than half of the roles on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ ranking of highest-paying occupations.

A few high-paying physician job titles include psychiatrist, obstetrician/gynecologist, surgeon, and anesthesiologist.

Doctors diagnose and treat illnesses in hospitals, urgent care facilities, group, and individual medical practices. They prescribe medications, perform surgical procedures, make referrals to specialists, perform medical assessments, and educate patients and their families.

2. Dentists

Dentists take care of patients’ teeth and gums, diagnosing and treating issues like tooth decay and gum disease. They may repair damaged teeth or remove them and replace them with implants or appliances like dentures. Dentists typically work as part of a team that includes dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental lab techs.


While some dentists work as general practitioners, others focus on a specialty such as prosthodontics, orthodontics, or oral surgery. Specialists typically have more training and education, as well as additional licensure, and earn more than general dentists.

3. Chief Executives

Chief executive officers (CEOs) provide the direction for the company, setting goals, creating policies, and steering the corporate ship. CEOs often report to boards of directors and manage other leaders such as chief operating officers (COOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs).

Fortune-500 CEOs make a mint; in 2018, the Associated Press reported that the average CEO compensation at top companies exceeded $11 million per year. However, even CEOs of smaller companies tend to do quite well.

If you have your sights set on a chief executive role, be prepared to get your MBA and plenty of work experience. 

4. Nurse Practitioners and Other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Nurse practitioners (NP) assess patient symptoms, diagnose illnesses, prescribe, and administer medications, treat minor injuries, consult with physicians regarding complicated cases, and refer patients to other medical professionals.

NPs are one of several types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs); other types include nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists. APRNs have master’s degrees in their specialties and are licensed by the state in which they practice. 

5. Airline Pilots

Airline pilots do a lot more than just fly the plane. Typically, they’re also responsible for a lot of the hard work that goes into making sure the plane flies safely and smoothly, including submitting flight plans, performing pre-flight aircraft checks, navigating in the air, and responding to emergencies and other changes in flight.

Airline pilots typically have a bachelor’s degree and must have the appropriate licensure from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Most start their careers as commercial pilots. 

6. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Often called IT managers, these professionals are responsible for an organization’s information technology. Different types of IT managers have different responsibilities, which may include assessing the organization’s computer needs, making recommendations for fixes and upgrades, hiring and managing other IT professionals, and ensuring system security.

7. Architectural and Engineering Managers

Working at architectural and engineering firms, these managers hire, train, and supervise teams of engineers. They also coordinate the efforts of project teams to develop and execute plans for product development and re-engineer processes and methods of production. Architectural and engineering managers create and control budgets and conduct ongoing value analyses to identify new opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings.

8. Judges

Judges typically work in federal, state, and local courts, where they preside over trials and other hearings. Depending on where they work, judges may be elected or appointed to their job. Typically, judges have a law degree and a great deal of experience practicing law. They may serve for a fixed term, e.g., four years, or life.

9. Physicists

Physicists research the interactions between energy and matter. They develop theories, perform research, analyze data, write papers, and present findings. Physicists may also design new software or equipment related to their research. Physicist job titles include atomic physicist, computational physicist, medical physicist, particle physicist, and quantum information physicist. Regardless of their area of focus, physicists need a Ph.D. 

10. Podiatrists

Podiatrists are physicians who are focused on foot health. They diagnose and treat disorders of the feet and lower legs, perform surgeries, and prescribe orthotics. Podiatrists earn a special medical degree, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), and complete a three-year residency. They must be licensed to practice in their state.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Highest-Paying Occupations." 

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook." 

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Dentists: Pay." 

  4. The Associated Press. "For CEOs, $11.7 Million a Year in Compensation, on Average, Is Just Middle of the Pack."

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners.” 

  6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Airline and Commercial Pilots.”

  7. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "What Physicists and Astronomers Do." 

  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Podiatrists: How To Become One." 

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