high paying jobs

When considering a career, or a career change, you’ll want to examine how much a particular job will pay. There are a variety of factors to consider. For example, look at starting salary, which is a typical salary for a new graduate moving into that field. Next, look at mid-career salary which is where you can expect to be once you’ve gained a fair amount of experience in your field. Finally, consider any additional training or formal education that may be required along the way. Take a look at our roundup of the highest paying jobs in the fields below.

“A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” These words were written by Jonathan Swift, author of the classic novel “Gulliver’s Travels.” This statement is meaningful because it serves as a reminder to look for high-paying jobs in a field that gives you fulfillment rather than seeking a career based solely on pay. You are more likely to excel, succeed and continue to see financial success when you are happy with your work. The good news is that high-paying jobs are offered in nearly all areas. You just need to know where to look.

The Search for High-Paying Jobs: Getting Started

You are here because you want to find the highest paying job. One might argue that job is to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company or quarterback on a professional football team. While someone has to fill these roles, it might be wise to set your sights on something that is a bit more attainable.

Think first about your own interests. What gives you a sense of meaning and accomplishment? What career is interesting to you? Do you like working with people? Do you like solving problems? Are you interested in technology? Are you more of an artist? It’s okay to be interested in multiple areas and it’s okay to be unsure. That just gives you more opportunities for finding high-paying jobs!

Once you have narrowed down the industry that holds the most interest for you, think about your skills. What training do you have? What experience do you have working in the industry? What level of education do you already have under your belt? More importantly, ask yourself what lengths you are willing to go to for the high-salary job of your dreams.

Next Steps: Resumes, References and Reputation

Once you have found the career you most desire (more on that later), you need to beef up your resume. Make sure you have any degrees that are typically required. For instance, one of the highest paying jobs is as a physician. You can’t walk into a hospital with no medical degree and expect to leave with a salary and benefits package. You will need to plan for school and perhaps look for related jobs that will give you some hands-on experience.

You may also want to add some volunteerism into your daily grind. Working with organizations related to your chosen field is an excellent way to gain some experience for your resume. It may be a few months or even a few years before you have the ability to seek out the high-paying job you want. You simply need to keep in mind that you have a long-range goal that you can reach. Your effort now will be rewarded. Working, volunteering and schooling also gives you access to people who are experts in the field. Make sure to make an impression on them, as they can be valuable sources for references down the road.

Your reputation is something that does need to be considered in the age of the internet. Take care to cultivate a reputation online and off that won’t prevent you from receiving the job offers and promotions you rightfully deserve.

The Highest Paying Jobs: A Definitive List

When considering a career, or a career change, you’ll want to examine how much a particular job will pay. Along with the many factors to consider is the starting salary. That refers to the typical salary for a new graduate moving into that field. Next, look at mid-career salary which is where you can expect to be once you have gained some of experience in that particular area. Take a look at our roundup of the highest paying jobs in the fields below.

The Top 10 Highest Paying Health Care Careers

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Physician or Surgeon
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree
Average Salary Per Year: $300,000

2. Dentist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree
Average Salary Per Year: Between $170,000 and $180,000

3. Veterinarian
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree
Average Salary Per Year: $95,000

4. Pharmacist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)
Average Salary Per Year: $125,000

5. Nurse Practitioner
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP)
Average Salary Per Year: $115,000

6. Podiatrist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
Average Salary Per Year: $208,000

7. Physician Assistant
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Master of Science (MS)
Average Salary Per Year: $112,000

8. Optometrist and Ophthalmologist
Required Degrees and/or Skill: An ophthalmologist must have a Doctor of Medicine (DM) degree. An optometrist must have a Doctor of Optometry (DO) degree.
Average Salary Per Year: Salaries for optomtetrists are about $120,000 while ophthalmologists can earn about $250,000 per year.

9. Forensic Pathologist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) plus at least one year of residency in a forensic pathology lab.
Average Salary Per Year: $103,000

10. Anesthesiologist
Required Degrees and/or Skill: Doctor of Medicine (DM) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
Average Salary Per Year: $208,000

The Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Business

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Small Business Owner
Required Degrees and/or Skill: There are no skills that are required, but bachelor’s degree in business or finance can be a great asset. On-the-job experience is a good plus as well.
Average Salary Per Year: The average salary is about $71,000, but the exact amount greatly varies.

2. President and/or Chief Executive Officer
Required Degrees and/or Skill: Different companies may have specific requirements for this position. Most will require at least an undergraduate degree. Many will only look at an applicant who holds an MBA. Still others have no educational requirements at all. You can expect to need to have several years of job experience under your belt before you are considered for this position.
Average Salary Per Year: $155,000

3. Consultant
Required Degrees and/or Skill: Work experience is necessary. A degree, specifically an MBA, is desirable.
Average Salary Per Year: $77,000

4. Certified Public Accountant
Required Skills: An undergraduate degree in any field with at least 24 credit hours in accounting. A passing score on the CPA exam.
Average Salary Per Year: Average salary for a CPA varies from $79,000 to $120,000 depending on your state of residency.

5. Chief Financial Officer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A future CFO will need to have significant work experience in the finance industry. Most have at minimum an undergraduate degree in a financial field.
Average Salary Per Year: Average salary is about $135,000 per year, though top earning CFOs can easily make three times that amount.

6. Salesperson or Sales Manager
Required Degrees and/or Skills: No educational background or work experience is required to get started with a career in sales.
Average Salary Per Year: The national average for sales is about $50,000 per year. That figure can be significantly higher in certain industries. A sales manager averages about $99,000 per year.

7. Marketing Director
Required Degrees and/or Skills: An undergraduate degree in marketing or a related field is good, but not required.
Average Salary Per Year: $108,000

8. Financial Advisor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related area is required by most places hiring financial advisors.
Average Salary Per Year: $87,000

9. Actuary
Required Degrees and/or Skills: An undergraduate degree in finance, mathematics, statistics or a related field
Average Salary Per Year: $108,000

10. Human Resources Director
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree and some experience working in human resources.
Average Salary Per Year: Roughly $70,000 to $115,000 per year depending on the size of the company

Top 10 Highest Paying Criminal Justice Careers

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Attorney
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Undergraduate degree, Juris Doctorate (JD)
Average Salary Per Year: $120,000

2. Police Officer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: High school diploma or GED; some areas may require an undergraduate degree
Average Salary Per Year: $67,000

3. Police Detective or Private Investigator
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A police detective will need to have served on the police force or otherwise have experience in criminal justice. Most detectives will need to have a high school diploma or GED and, at minimum, an associate’s degree. Private investigators or often self-employed and do not need to have specific education. They may need to have a license.
Average Salary Per Year: Police detectives earn about $83,000 per year. Private investigators can earn up to $50,000.

4. Judge
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Any person who wishes to become a judge should practice law first. They will need a Juris Doctorate (JD) and to work as an attorney. Depending on the location, a judge is either appointed or elected. Judges are not legally required to have law degrees, but the best way to earn a judgeship is through the courts.
Average Salary Per Year: $133,000

5. Paralegal
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Paralegals must complete a paralegal training certificate program. Most places require at least an associate degree. Others insist on a bachelor’s degree prior to taking the required paralegal training courses.
Average Salary Per Year: $50,000

6. Forensic Science Technicians
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in a natural science field as well as on-the-job training.
Average Salary Per Year: $59,000

7. DEA Agent
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Prospective DEA agents must pass drug tests, background screenings and a physical fitness assessment. A DEA agent does not have to have a college degree if they have ample on-the-job experience.
Average Salary Per Year: $92,000

8. Corrections Officer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Requirements vary by state. It is standard for states to require corrections officers to have a high school diploma or GED. They may also need either two years of experience working in a criminal justice field or an associate degree.
Average Salary Per Year: $43,000

9. FBI Agent
Required Degrees and/or Skills: FBI agents must meet physical and age requirements. They must have either a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience or an advanced degree and one year of experience.
Average Salary Per Year: Varies from $63,000 to $189,000

10. Forensic Psychiatrist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Doctor of Medicine (MD) followed by four years as a psychiatric resident and two years as a fellow in forensic psychiatry
Average Salary Per Year: $209,000

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs for Arts Majors

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Art Professor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A minimum of a Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Average Salary Per Year: $72,000

2. Photographer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: No degrees are required to become a photographer, but you must have excellent photography skills and high-end equipment.
Average Salary Per Year: $66,000

3. High School Art Teacher
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor degree in art education and completion of a teacher certification program
Average Salary Per Year: $45,000

4. Illustrator
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Some illustrators with exceptional talent can find high-paying jobs with only a high school diploma or GED. Most will need a bachelor’s degree in a a fine art area.
Average Salary Per Year: $42,000

5. Video Game Designer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in game design or computer science. Fine arts majors can pursue this career if they have significant knowledge of programming, software engineering and graphic design.
Average Salary Per Year: $65,000

6. Interior Designer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in interior design is preferred, but employees may have a degree in any area as long as they can display knowledge of interior design.
Average Salary Per Year: $50,000

7. Graphic Designer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in graphic arts, graphic design or a related area
Average Salary Per Year: $46,000

8. Art Gallery Dealer or Curator
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in art or art history. Many galleries prefer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Average Salary Per Year: $53,000

9. Advertising Designer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in a graphic design or related field. Knowledge of both design and marketing are required.
Average Salary Per Year: $58,000

10. Architect
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor of Architect degree or a bachelor’s degree in any field followed by a master’s degree in architecture
Average Salary Per Year: $89,500

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs For Liberal Arts Majors

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Psychologists
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Some psychologist positions require a master’s degree in psychology. Others require a PhD or PsyD.
Average Salary Per Year: About $77,000, but varies by state

2. Writer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: No formal education is required but writers must have a robust portfolio in order to find steady employment.
Average Salary Per Year: $50,000

3. College Professor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: The degree required to teach at the university level depends upon the field of study. Most college professors must have terminal degrees in their discipline. Others can find employment with a master’s degree.
Average Salary Per Year: $70,000

4. Translator
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s in a foreign language or proficiency in that language
Average Salary Per Year: $47,000

5. Attorney
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree in history, philosophy or political science followed by a Juris Doctorate (JD)
Average Salary Per Year: $120,000

6. Public Relations
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree in communications is a good basis for a career in public relations.
Average Salary Per Year: $61,000

7. Archaeologist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree in history, anthropology or archaeology. A master’s degree or PhD may be required for some jobs.
Average Salary Per Year: $80,000

8. Politician
Required Degrees and/or Skills: There are no degrees required to run for public office. However, it is recommended to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like political science, history, communications or philosophy. Many politicians go on to achieve a Juris Doctorate (JD).
Average Salary Per Year: The variation in political positions means salaries can be fall nearly anywhere on the pay scale. The average rate for a politician in the United States is $81,000.

9. Sales
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Most business-related employment fields do not require business degrees. This is particularly true of sales, which arguably benefits more from the wide-range of knowledge gained through liberal arts.
Average Salary Per Year: $50,000

10. Journalist
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in journalism
Average Salary Per Year: $41,000

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Computers and IT

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Computer Repair/Technician
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A degree is not required for a job in computer repair. You must have the ability to show proficiency in troubleshooting.
Average Salary Per Year: $35,000

2. Data Modeler
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer science and at least three years of on-the-job training
Average Salary Per Year: $97,700

3. Network/Cloud Architect
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or a related field
Average Salary Per Year: $146,000

4. Application Developer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer science
Average Salary Per Year: $124,750

5. Network Security Administrator
Required Degrees and/or Skills: At minimum, a network security administration will need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field. It is beneficial to hold a master’s degree as well.
Average Salary Per Year: $149,000

6. Data Security Analyst
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering.
Average Salary Per Year: $134,000

7. Database Manager
Required Degrees and/or Skills: It is best to hold a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field. However, some individuals who can display their abilities may be able to find an excellent job as a database manager with an undergraduate degree in a non-IT area or with only an associate degree.
Average Salary Per Year: $137,500

8. Systems Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field along with network experience
Average Salary Per Year: $107,000

9. Site Reliability Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in a computer science field
Average Salary Per Year: $123,000

10. Chief Information Officer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in a computer science field followed by a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and significant work experience.
Average Salary Per Year: $174,000

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Education

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Superintendent
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but a terminal degree in education is best. You will also need several years of teaching and administration under your belt before you are named superintendent of schools.
Average Salary Per Year: $164,000

2. College Professor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: The degree required to teach at the university level depends upon the field of study. Most college professors must have terminal degrees in their discipline. Others can find employment with a master’s degree.
Average Salary Per Year: $70,000

3. Primary or Secondary Teacher
Required Degrees and/or Skills: A bachelor’s degree in any field and teacher certification.
Average Salary Per Year: $60,000

4. English as a Second Language Teacher
Required Degrees and/or Skills: The required degree depends on where you seek your job. Colleges and universities will likely require a master’s degree. Other educational institutions may ask for a bachelor’s degree. If you choose to be a freelance ESL teacher, you do not need a degree.
Average Salary Per Year: $45,000

5. Higher School Principal
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but a terminal degree in education is preferred. Teaching experience is required for principal positions.
Average Salary Per Year: $92,000

6. College Dean
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Most higher education deans are former professors Therefore, it is wise to plan to have a PhD and a few years of employment as a professor before seeking one of these coveted positions.
Average Salary Per Year: $150,000

7. Guidance Counselor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Master’s degree in counseling, school counseling or family counseling
Average Salary Per Year: $56,000

8. Daycare Provider
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Depending on where you work, you may not need a college degree. You will need to have completed any certification courses required for licenses in your state.
Average Salary Per Year: $23,000 is the average for daycare providers who work in nursery schools or daycares. Those who have their own, in-home daycare facilities can expect to make about $29,000 per year.

9. Private Tutor
Required Degrees and/or Skills: No degree required. However, in order to gain a steady student base, you may need to have a bachelor’s degree in the field you are offering tutoring.
Average Salary Per Year: $20,000 for part-time tutoring

10. Librarian
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Master of Library Science (MLS)
Average Salary Per Year: $51,000

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Engineering

Ultimate Guide to Finding the Highest Paying Jobs

1. Mechanical Engineer
Required Skills: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $71,400

2. Petroleum Engineer
Required Skills: Bachelor’s degree in petroleum, chemical, mechanical or civil engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $137,000

3. Computer Hardware Engineer
Required Skills: Bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $117,000

4. Aerospace Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $116,500

5. Nuclear Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $104,600

6. Materials Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in materials science or related engineering field
Average Salary Per Year: $93,000

7. Chemical Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $108,000

8. Electrical Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $98,000

9. Biomedical Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in bioengineering
Average Salary Per Year: $91,000

10. Environmental Engineer
Required Degrees and/or Skills: Bachelor’s degree in environmental, civil, mechanical or chemical engineering
Average Salary Per Year: $86,300

There are numerous jobs in virtually any career that offer excellent pay. Find the type of work that gives you meaning, and then use this guide for finding the highest paying job in that field.

Related Resources:

Sources:

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics