When weighing a potential job opportunity, one of the primary factors is compensation. For those who wish to maximize their income, which jobs offer the highest salaries?
Using the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center, CareerTrends found the 25 highest-paying occupations. Employment data from the BLS is from May 2014, while salary data from the FLCDC is from June 2015.
The FLCDC uses four categorizations for experience level: entry level, qualified, experienced and fully competent. For this list, we focused on the fully competent-level salary of each career in order to show each job's highest possible compensation. Experienced workers typically have multiple years of experience (three years or more) in their careers and require less on-the-job supervision than entry level or qualified workers. Fully competent workers have five or more years of experience and require little to no on-the-job supervision.
Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by health-related careers. Various specialized health positions — such as psychiatrists, dentists and anesthesiologists — were among the jobs with the highest salaries. Each career in the top 10 had a fully competent salary of at least $200,000. Also included with each occupation's salary is the job description from the BLS.
Keep in mind that there is no employment minimum for inclusion on this list. Therefore, there are six jobs with fewer than 10,000 total employees, making them even more difficult positions to land.
Notes on the data:
- The salaries are based on the BLS’s overall categorization of jobs. However, for the careers listed in this piece, we have used O*Net's more specific classifications. Note that O*Net often lists multiple career titles within each overall BLS category. For each slide, we have chosen one specific title to represent the overall BLS category.
Fully competent salary: $129,908
Current employment: 290,780
Job description: Dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and provide information to patients about medications and their use. May advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosage, interactions and side effects of medications.
#24. Sales Managers
Fully competent salary: $130,619
Current employment: 358,920
Job description: Plan, direct or coordinate the actual distribution or movement of a product or service to the customer. Coordinate sales distribution by establishing sales territories, quotas and goals and establish training programs for sales representatives. Analyze sales statistics gathered by staff to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor the preferences of customers.
Fully competent salary: $132,266
Current employment: 1,660
Job description: Observe, research and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.
Fully competent salary: $133,435
Current employment: 33,340
Job description: Diagnose, manage and treat conditions and diseases of the human eye and visual system. Examine eyes and visual system, diagnose problems or impairments, prescribe corrective lenses, and provide treatment. May prescribe therapeutic drugs to treat specific eye conditions.
#21. Marketing Managers
Fully competent salary: $134,609
Current employment: 184,490
Job description: Plan, direct or coordinate marketing policies and programs, such as determining the demand for products and services offered by a firm and its competitors, and identify potential customers. Develop pricing strategies with the goal of maximizing the firm's profits or share of the market while ensuring the firm's customers are satisfied. Oversee product development or monitor trends that indicate the need for new products and services.
#20. Engineering Managers
Fully competent salary: $138,668
Current employment: 179,320
Job description: Plan, direct or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields.
Fully competent salary: $145,918
Current employment: 16,790
Job description: Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.
#18. Law Professors
Fully competent salary: $154,079
Current employment: 15,990
Job description: Teach courses in law. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.
#17. Petroleum Engineers
Fully competent salary: $157,520
Current employment: 33,740
Job description: Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs. Oversee drilling and offer technical advice.
Fully competent salary: $171,196
Current employment: 8,910
Job description: Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot.
Fully competent salary: $175,620
Current employment: 630
Job description: Construct oral prostheses to replace missing teeth and other oral structures to correct natural and acquired deformation of mouth and jaws. Provide care to restore and maintain oral function, such as chewing and speaking, and to improve appearance.
#14. Nurse Anesthetists
Fully competent salary: $180,121
Current employment: 36,590
Job description: Administer anesthesia, monitor patient's vital signs and oversee patient recovery from anesthesia. May assist anesthesiologists, surgeons, other physicians or dentists. Must be registered nurses who have specialized graduate education.
#13. Chief Executives
Fully competent salary: $193,496
Current employment: 246,240
Job description: Determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private and public sector organizations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. Plan, direct or coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management with the help of subordinate executives and staff managers.
#12. General Dentists
Fully competent salary: $195,804
Current employment: 97,990
Job description: Examine, diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.
#11. Specialist Dentists
Fully competent salary: $197,269
Current employment: 5,450
Job description: Specialist dentists include oral pathologists, endodontists and periodontists.
#10. General Pediatricians
Fully competent salary: $203,817
Current employment: 31,010
Job description: Diagnose, treat and help prevent children's diseases and injuries.
Fully competent salary: $205,817
Current employment: 30,060
Job description: Administer anesthetics prior to, during or after surgery or other medical procedures.
Fully competent salary: $211,284
Current employment: 25,080
Job description: Diagnose, treat and help prevent disorders of the mind.
#7. General Practitioners
Fully competent salary: $214,758
Current employment: 124,810
Job description: Diagnose, treat and help prevent diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population. May refer patients to specialists when needed for further diagnosis or treatment.
#6. General Internists
Fully competent salary: $221,944
Current employment: 48,390
Job description: Diagnose and provide non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. Provide care mainly for adults who have a wide range of problems associated with the internal organs.
#5. Other Physicians & Surgeons
Fully competent salary: $224,916
Current employment: 311,320*
*Note: Other physicians and surgeons include allergists, immunologists, dermatologists, hospitalists, neurologists, nuclear medicine physicians, ophthalmologists, pathologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, preventive medicine physicians, radiologists, sports medicine physicians, and urologists. The BLS groups all of these specific occupations into the same category.
#4. Obstetricians & Gynecologists
Fully competent salary: $226,517
Current employment: 21,740
Job description: Provide medical care related to pregnancy or childbirth and those who diagnose, treat and help prevent diseases of women, particularly those affecting the reproductive system. May also provide general medical care to women.
#3. Oral Surgeons
Fully competent salary: $228,019
Current employment: 5,120
Job description: Perform surgery and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions to treat diseases, injuries or defects. May diagnose problems of the oral and maxillofacial regions. May perform surgery to improve function or appearance.
Fully competent salary: $229,273
Current employment: 41,070
Job description: Treat diseases, injuries and deformities by invasive, minimally-invasive or non-invasive surgical methods, such as using instruments, appliances or by manual manipulation.
Fully competent salary: $232,847
Current employment: 6,190
Job description: Examine, diagnose and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies. Design and fabricate appliances to realign teeth and jaws to produce and maintain normal function and to improve appearance.