25 Top-Paying Jobs in the U.S.


Just about everyone wants a high-paying job. They’re found in a wide variety of fields. Many of these careers also provide challenging, satisfying work. Most of the highest-paying jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and some require a graduate degree.

The salaries and employment growth forecasts are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please note that the average employment growth rate for all the listed occupations for the coming decade is projected to be in the range between seven and 13 percent. Thus, a projected growth rate of more than 13 percent indicates a forecast of above-average demand for the career in question, while a projected rate of less than seven percent indicates a forecast of below-average demand.

Here’s our list of 25 of the most attractive top-paying jobs in the United States, with up-to-date information on average annual salaries, description of duties, necessary qualifications, and employment growth prospects:

AVIATION CAREERS

Airline Pilot: $115,300

Most airline pilots transport passengers and cargo. The field includes international, national, and regional pilots. Some pilots fight fires, test new planes, or perform police work.

Education and training: Airline pilots need an FAA commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating. To obtain the license, candidates must have at least 1,500 flight hours or complete a program at a flight school.

Employment growth: 12 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Air Traffic Controller: $108,000

Air traffic controllers work in the vast National Airspace System, coordinating the movement of air traffic to ensure airplanes stay a safe distance apart. They also efficiently direct planes in order to minimize delays. Some air traffic controllers regulate airport arrivals and departures while others regulate air traffic through particular airspaces.

Education and training: Candidates without any experience can enter the field after completing an aviation-related program of study via the FAA’s Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. Over 30 schools offer the program. AT-CTI program schools provide two-year and four-year degrees. Graduates of the program must also pass an FAA-authorized pre-employment test.

Employment growth: 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.
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BUSINESS CAREERS

Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $165,100

CEOs establish a company’s objectives and policies in collaboration with other top executives. Chief executive officers create strategies to ensure the company’s goals are met. Their work is closely monitored by the board of directors. Chief Executive officers rely on a staff of highly skilled employees.

Education and training: Most CEOs have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a specialized field. Many CEOs have an MBA or other master’s degree. The specific type and level of education needed depend on the type of company or organization.

Employment growth: Little or no employment growth from 2008 to 2018.

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Operations Manager: $113,100

Operations managers oversee all aspects of the day-to-day workings of a business. One of their primary responsibilities is finding ways to make a company more productive.

Education and training: Most companies require at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field. Typically, large companies require an MBA. Experience is also vital.

Employment growth: Steady employment in the coming years.

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Financial Manager: $103,900

Financial managers manage the financial activities and transactions of companies and organizations. They deal with income statements, budgets, and balance sheets. They also oversee accounting and auditing, and monitor cash flow.

Education and training: They typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or economics. However, many employers seek candidates who have a master’s degree in one of these subjects.

Employment growth: 8 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Human Resources Manager: $99,200

Human resources managers develop and oversee issues such as employment programs, salary compensations, benefits, job evaluations, promotions, education and training programs, and equal opportunity initiatives. In large corporations, they typically oversee one of these areas, whereas in small companies human resources managers typically manage all areas of human resources.

Education and training: Many human resources manager positions require a master’s degree in human resources, personnel administration, or labor relations. Some positions may require a specialized or technical background in science, engineering, law, or finance.

Sales Manager: $98,500

Sales managers set objectives and quotas, assign sales territories, and develop training programs for sales people. They also determine sales potential for products and inventory requirements, and strive to maximize profits. Sales managers work in practically every industry.

Education and training: Some sales manager positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing. In highly technical industries, including electronics and computer manufacturing, employers typically prefer applicants who have a business and a technical degree. In partnership with colleges and universities, numerous marketing and related associations sponsor national or local management training programs.

Employment growth: 15 percent from 2008 to 2018.

COMPUTER CAREERS

Computer and Information Systems Manager: $115,800

Computer and information systems managers manage the computer-related activities in a company or an organization. Computer and information systems managers also plan and oversee the development of computer networks, the installation and upgrading of hardware and software, and the implementation of Internet and intranet sites. They’re also involved with the security and maintenance of networks.

Education and training: They need technical knowledge and a strong foundation in business and management principles. Typically, employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree and numerous years of experience. Some employers—especially, large companies—seek candidates with an MBA, with technology as a main component.

Employment growth: 17 percent between 2008 and 2018.

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Computer and Information Research Scientist: $100,700

Computer and information research scientists research and develop new technology for consumers, as well as for business and scientific needs. They also look for new ways to use computers to meet the needs of users. Some computer and information research scientists work on projects such as designing robots.

Education and training: Due to the focus on research, most jobs require a PhD in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field. Students in a master’s program in computer science typically focus on a specific area of computer science, such as computer graphics, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, or scientific computing. Those in a doctoral program usually focus on research.

Employment growth: 24 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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Computer Hardware Engineer: $98,800

Computer hardware engineers design and develop computer hardware, including circuit boards, chips, and computer systems. They also design and develop related equipment, such as keyboards, routers, and printers. Computer hardware engineers are involved with equipment utilized for commercial, industrial, scientific, and military purposes.

Education and training: Computer hardware engineers typically have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer engineering, systems engineering, or computer science.

Employment growth: four percent from 2008 to 2018.

ENERGY CAREERS

Petroleum Engineer: $114,100

Petroleum engineers design methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits located below the earth’s surface. The field includes numerous specialties from geological through construction engineering. Petroleum engineers work with others to determine the best drilling method for a particular project. They also monitor drilling and production operations.

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for most entry-level positions.

Employment outlook: 18 percent from 2008 to 2018 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

LAW CAREERS

Judge: $119,300

Judges oversee the legal process in courts and apply the law. They make sure rules and procedures are followed. They preside over cases regarding just about every aspect of society. Judges also work outside the courtroom in their chambers or in a private office. Their duties vary based on the extent of their jurisdiction and powers.

Education and training: Judges typically need a law degree. Most judges have been lawyers. Most state and federal judges are required to be lawyers. In addition to their legal training, judges receive special judicial education and training.

Employment growth: four percent from 2008 to 2018.

Lawyer: $112,800

Lawyers represent their clients in criminal or civil court cases, provide legal advice, and draft legal documents. Many lawyers have a specialty.

Education and training: Lawyers need a bachelor’s degree and complete three years of law school.

Employment growth: 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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MAREKTING CAREERS

Marketing Manager: $112,800

Marketing managers plan and oversee the marketing activities of a company’s products and/or services. They also identify markets for a company’s goods and/or services. Marketing managers also estimate the demand for products and services offered by their employer and by competitors.

Education and training: Many employers prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing. For some positions, employers prefer to hire a person with a master’s degree, with a specialization in marketing. Some employers don’t require a degree for the job. Many employers require candidates to have several years of work-related experience. Sales experience is beneficial.

Employment outlook: 12 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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Public Relations Manager: $91,800

Public relations managers oversee publicity programs that protect or enhance the public image of a company, an organization, or an individual. Public relations managers employed in industries often answer questions and provide information to groups such as consumers, the general public, and stockholders. They work in nearly all industries.

Education and training: Many public relations managers have an advanced degree in the field they’re employed in. Some public relations managers employed by a government agency have a master’s degree in public administration. Many employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in public relations or journalism.

Employment growth: 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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MATH CAREERS

Mathematician: $99,400

Applied mathematicians solve scientific, economic, business, government, and engineering problems using mathematical theory, algorithms, computational techniques, and computer technology. Theoretical mathematicians advance mathematical knowledge without necessarily considering its practical use; however, their contributions to pure and abstract knowledge have been important in bringing about many engineering and scientific achievements.

Education and training: Most jobs in private industry require a doctoral degree in mathematics; however, there are job opportunities for those with a master’s degree. Entry-level jobs in the federal government require at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or 24 semester hours of mathematics courses.

Employment growth: 22 percent from 2008 to 2018.

MEDICINE AND HEALTH CAREERS

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $210,710

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who diagnose and treat diseases, defects, and injuries of the jaw, mouth, neck, and other soft tissues in the head.

Education and training: After completing dental school, they’re required to obtain four to six years of additional formal university training. Four-year residency programs provide a certificate of specialty training in oral and maxillofacial surgery, whereas a six-year residency program provides a specialty certificate along with a medical degree.

Employment growth: 15 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Surgeon: $166,400

Surgeons use minimally-invasive and invasive surgical methods to treat injuries, diseases, and deformities.

Education and training: Candidates are required to complete four years of undergraduate school, complete four years of medical school and three to eight years of internship and residency depending on their specialty.

Employment growth: 20 percent and higher for some specialties from 2008 to 2018.

Orthodontist: $166,400

Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing dental problems and realigning teeth. They improve patients’ dental appearance and improve the functioning of their jaws and teeth.

Education and training: Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in any field, although students should study the basic and biological sciences. Orthodontists are required to complete four years of dental school. Students acquire practical experience treating patients in clinics during their last two years of study.

Employment growth: 20 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Prosthodontist: $118,400

Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures such as bridges, crowns, and dentures. They also help in the treatment of facial abnormalities.

Education and training: Candidates need to complete dental school, as well as a three-year post-graduate program in prosthodontics, to obtain licensure and certification.

Employment growth: 28 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Pharmacist: $111,600

Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and provide information to customers about the usage of drugs and their side effects. Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies. Some pharmacists specialize in specific drug-therapy areas, including geriatric, oncological, and nuclear pharmacy. Some pharmacists perform research for pharmaceutical manufacturers, while others work in sales and marketing.

Education and training: Pharmacists need a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy. Applicants for a Pharm.D. program must have completed at least two years of specific professional study. Typically, Pharm.D. programs are completed in four years. Besides classroom learning, students work with licensed pharmacists in a variety of practice settings.

Employment growth: 17 percent from 2008 to 2018.

SCIENCE CAREERS

Natural Sciences Manager: $116,000

Natural sciences managers oversee the work of natural scientists, including chemists, agricultural scientists, geologists, biologists, physicists, and medical scientists. They oversee research and development projects and coordinate activities including testing, production, and quality control.

Education and training: Natural sciences managers may have a bachelor’s, master’s, or a doctoral degree in a scientific discipline. Some may also complete special training programs in the natural sciences that incorporate business management skills. Typically, they’re required to be specialists in the work they manage.

Employment growth: 15 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Physicist: $106,400

Physicists identity basic forces and laws of nature. They investigate subjects such as the structure and behavior of matter, motion and gravity, the behavior of gases, and the generation of energy, as well as the interaction between matter and energy. Physicists solve problems in medicine, defense, industry, and other fields. Many physicists have a specialty.

Education and training: Most physicist positions require a doctoral degree in physics or a closely related field. Most physicists specialize in a subfield while in graduate school. Although not required, additional training and experience in a postdoctoral research position is important for physicists seeking a permanent position in research in universities and government laboratories. Some master’s degree programs train students for physics-related research and development that doesn’t require a doctoral degree.

Employment growth: 16 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Astronomer: $93,340

Astronomers use the principles of mathematics and physics to learn about the nature of the universe and its components, such as the sun, planets, moon, stars, and galaxies. Astronomers also solve problems in space flight, navigation, and satellite communications.

Education and training: Most positions require a doctoral degree in physics or a closely related field. Although not required, additional training and experience in a postdoctoral research position is important for astronomers seeking a permanent research position at universities and government laboratories.

Employment growth: 16 percent from 2008 to 2018.

SOCIAL SCIENCE CAREERS

Political scientist: $107,400

Political scientists perform research on a wide variety of subjects, including the institutions and political life of nations, the relations between the United States and other countries, and the decisions of the U.S Supreme Court. They often work as policy analysts for government agencies or in political, labor, or professional organizations. They assist in the planning, development, review, and interpretation of industry and government policies.

Education and training: Those with a bachelor’s degree may qualify for some entry-level positions. Those with a master’s degree in applied specialties are qualified for many administrative and research jobs. Those with a doctoral degree are qualified to teach at colleges and universities.

Employment growth: 19 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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