Sunday, May 1, 2011

High Paying Careers In US

Let's face it, if given the opportunity many of us would choose the highest paying job possible. We live in a world where money is exchanged for goods and services, and that means a higher paying job allows us to buy more of the things we need or want.
In this article, we're going to provide several lists of the highest paying jobs in America, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We're also going to slice and dice that information several different ways to allow you to see what we believe are some interesting trends in the information.
And yes, we do realize that money can't buy happiness, but we're going to set that notion aside today so we can concentrate on answering the question: What is the highest paying job today? Later in this article we're also going to help answer the question: What's the value of a higher education?

Highest Paying Jobs

As mentioned earlier, the information in our lists is based on data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics here in the United States. That current data is gathered via a survey conducted in May 2009 and the results of that survey are published in 2010. We expect the 2010 information to be available around May of 2011, at which point we will update this article.
The salary information presented here is based on what are called Standard Occupational Classification codes. These codes give those conducting the salary survey a consistent way to describe certain careers, or professions, as well as a way to group similar jobs into larger categories. In many of the tables below, we'll not only provide the average salary for each job type, but also the percentage change in salary from the prior survey.

Highest Paying Careers in America

To demonstrate how this works, our first list will contain what we're going to call the highest paying careers in America. This particular list ranks the categories of occupations, similar types of jobs, from the highest to lowest paying, on a National basis:

High Paying Careers / Occupations

Career / Occupations Average Salary
Management Occupations $102,900
Legal Occupations $95,820
Computer And Mathematical Science Occupations $76,290
Architecture And Engineering Occupations $73,590
Healthcare Practitioner And Technical Occupations $69,690
Business And Financial Operations Occupations $65,900
Life, Physical, And Social Science Occupations $65,660
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, And Media Occupations $51,720
Education, Training, And Library Occupations $49,530
All Occupations $43,460
Construction And Extraction Occupations $43,350
Community And Social Services Occupations $42,750
Installation, Maintenance, And Repair Occupations $42,210
Protective Service Occupations $41,740
Sales And Related Occupations $36,020
Production Occupations $33,290
Office And Administrative Support Occupations $32,990
Transportation And Material Moving Occupations $32,180
Healthcare Support Occupations $26,710
Building And Grounds Cleaning And Maintenance Occupations $24,970
Personal Care And Service Occupations $24,680
Farming, Fishing, And Forestry Occupations $23,990
Food Preparation And Serving Related Occupations $20,880
We thought this list would be a good place to start with, because it provides you with a good sense for the ranges of salaries across all occupation types. This information should also help you to get a good feel for the types of jobs you can get with, and without, a college degree as well as how much money you can expect to be paid for each type of job.
One item we found interesting in the above table was that medical careers as described by "Healthcare Practitioner and Technical" only ranked fifth on this list. But as you'll soon see, that ranking can be deceiving.

Highest Paying Jobs - All Types

Next up is the list that many will agree is the single most interesting statistic published on wages and salaries. The highest paying jobs in the U.S.:

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs

Profession Average Salary % Change
Surgeons $219,770 6.3%
Anesthesiologists $211,750 7.2%
Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons $210,710 10.7%
Orthodontists $206,190 5.8%
Obstetricians And Gynecologists $204,470 6.1%
Internists, General $183,990 4.1%
Physicians And Surgeons, All Other $173,860 5.4%
Family And General Practitioners $168,550 4.4%
Chief Executives $167,280 4.3%
Psychiatrists $163,660 6.2%
As you can see from this list, healthcare professionals dominate the rankings, and take nine of the top ten spots on the list. So what conclusions can we draw from this kind of information?
  • If you want to make a lot of money, and claim to be among the highest wage earners in America, then you need to be in the medical profession.
  • Despite all the healthcare industry claims otherwise, medical doctors are the highest paid professionals in the working world today.
But what about individuals that don't have a medical degree - what can they hope to earn?

Highest Paying Jobs - Excluding Healthcare Professions

To answer that question, we've provided a second list of high paying jobs. This time we've removed all of the medical professions to see what's left over:

Top 10 Highest Paying Non-Medical Professions

Profession Average Salary % Change
Chief Executives $167,280 4.30%
Lawyers $129,020 3.40%
Natural Sciences Managers $127,000 3.10%
Engineering Managers $122,810 1.80%
Computer And Information Systems Managers $120,640 1.60%
Marketing Managers $120,070 1.60%
Petroleum Engineers $119,960 0.70%
Airline Pilots, Copilots, And Flight Engineers $117,060 -2.20%
Financial Managers $113,730 2.80%
Sales Managers $111,570 1.10%
It's no surprise that chief executive officers made this list. But what we found interesting is that airline pilots also placed in one of the top 10 spots. A trend we see in this ranking is professions with the term "manager" in the title. If you want to make a lot of money, then you need to have what it takes to be a manager or a leader.

Computer / Information Technology Jobs

Since we're publishing this information on the World Wide Web, we thought we'd add something extra for all of those IT and Computer professionals surfing the Internet. To help all those aspiring computer professionals out there, we put together a list that outlines the higher paying computer / IT careers:

Highest Paying IT Jobs

IT Jobs / Professions Average Salary % Change
Computer And Information Scientists, Research $105,370 4.4%
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software $96,620 2.2%
Computer Software Engineers, Applications $90,170 2.6%
Computer Systems Analysts $80,430 2.0%
Computer Specialists, All Other $78,010 2.6%
Network Systems And Data Communications Analysts $76,560 3.7%
Computer Programmers $74,690 1.7%
Database Administrators $74,290 1.9%
Network And Computer Systems Administrators $70,930 2.0%
Computer Support Specialists $47,360 2.1%
From the above list you can see that computer scientists and engineers are the top paying professions in the IT world. It's no surprise individuals that are learning trades, such as computer support specialists, earn the least.

Money and Education

While we were busy gathering up all of the highest paying job information we could find, we came across one other bit of information we thought would be interesting to take a closer look at: How much someone is paid versus their investment in an education.
Here again we were able to grab data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this time the information is current as of the first quarter of 2008. The data we're going to provide is for persons engaged in full-time employment, both salaried and hourly workers. All of the following information is for workers that are 25 years of age and over.

Value of an Education

This first table is the median annual salary for workers separated by the level of education attained. Remember, that the median is the midpoint of the salary range - roughly half of the individuals in the group earn more than the median and half earn less. Many statisticians prefer to state this type of information using median as opposed to using the mean, or average.
Earnings by Education Level
Education Median Salary
No Diploma $22,620
HS Diploma $31,980
Some College $37,180
College Diploma $52,624
Advanced Degree $65,468
You'd read the above table like this - individuals without a high school diploma earned around $23,000 per year, while individuals with a college diploma earned around $53,000. That means a college graduate earns more than twice the money each year when compared to a high school dropout.
We thought that last statistic was so interesting that we took the information one step further. We wanted to see how much each progressive level of education was worth. So we put the following table together:
Comparison of Annual Pay versus Education


No Diploma HS Diploma Some College College Diploma Advanced Degree
No Diploma $0 ($9,360) ($14,560) ($30,004) ($42,848)
HS Diploma $9,360 $0 ($5,200) ($20,644) ($33,488)
Some College $14,560 $5,200 $0 ($15,444) ($28,288)
College Diploma $30,004 $20,644 $15,444 $0 ($12,844)
Advanced Degree $42,848 $33,488 $28,288 $12,844 $0
The above table is interpreted in this manner. An individual with a high school diploma can expect to earn $5,200 less than someone that has taken some college courses - for example someone holding an associate's degree. A person with a college diploma, a bachelor's degree, can expect to make around $20,644 more money each year compared to someone with a high school diploma. Clearly there is a great deal of value to be derived from getting a college diploma.

Final High Paying Jobs List

We'd thought we reward all of you that read this entire article with one last piece of information - and it's a big one. We've taken the information published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compiled a list of the average salaries for all professions covered. This is not a list of the top 20, 50 or 100 professions - but this list covers nearly 800 different jobs.
We've sorted our list of average annual salaries in descending order - meaning the highest paying jobs are ranked at the top of the list. The spreadsheet also contains five worksheets. The first represents the most current information published today. The next three worksheets contain information for prior years. Finally, the last sheet compares each year, and calculates the increase in average salary for each career type. As is the case with all of the information we publish, it's yours to download for free.

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