The 25 highest-paying jobs in the USA

Posted by | June 28, 2017 | Recruiting

C-Suite executives are known for pulling in a pretty penny. But as it turns out, doctors make even more.

That’s right: On average, those sporting scrubs and stethoscopes bring home fatter paychecks than those donning suits and ties, according to the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates survey.

The survey, which reflects May 2016 salary and employment data gathered from more than 1 million businesses, found that nine of the nation’s top 10 highest-paying occupations are in the medical field.

The best-paying job of all: anesthesiologist.

On average, anesthesiologists in the US earn an average annual salary of $269,600 — which is more than five times what the average American earns.

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, these medical doctors are responsible for the safety and well being of patients before, during, and after surgery. In the US, they’re required to complete a four-year undergraduate college degree, four years of medical school, and a four-year anesthesiology residency program. Most anesthesiologists become board certified, and many complete an additional fellowship year of specialty training.

A 2014 physician compensation report by Medscape found that nearly 80% of anesthesiologists spend 40 hours or more per week with patients.

Here are the 25 highest-paying jobs in the US— all of which bring in more than $135,000 a year, on average:

25. Sales manager

Mean annual pay: $135,090

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 365,230

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 5.1%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Sales managers plan, direct, or coordinate the actual distribution or movement of a product or service to the customer.

24. Natural sciences manager

Mean annual pay: $136,150

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 54,780

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 3.3%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Natural sciences managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, statistics, and research and development in these fields.

23. Financial manager

Mean annual pay: $139,720

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 543,300

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 6.8%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Financial managers plan, direct, or coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities, and other financial activities of a branch, office, or department of an establishment.

22. Lawyer

Mean annual pay: $139,880

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 619,530

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 5.6%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Lawyers represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions.

21. Architectural or engineering manager

Mean annual pay: $143,870

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 178,390

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 2%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields.

20. Podiatrist

20. Podiatrist

Tomas Bravo / Reuters

Mean annual pay: $144,110

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 9,800

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 14.1%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Podiatrists diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot.


19. Marketing manager

Mean annual pay: $144,140

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 205,900

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 9.4%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Marketing managers plan, direct, or coordinate marketing policies and programs, like determining the demand for products and services offered by a firm and its competitors, and identify potential customers.

18. Computer and information systems manager

Mean annual pay: $145,740

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 352,510

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 15.4%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Computer and information systems managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming.

17. Petroleum engineer

Mean annual pay: $147,030

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 32,780

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 9.8%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Petroleum engineers devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs.

16. Airline pilot, copilot, or flight engineer

Mean annual pay: $152,770

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 81,520

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 1.1%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Airline pilots, pilots, and flight engineers pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo.

15. Nurse anesthetist

Mean annual pay: $164,030

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 39,860

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 19.3%

Education requirements: Master’s degree

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia, monitor patient’s vital signs, and oversee patient recovery from anesthesia.

14. Prosthodontist

Mean annual pay: $168,140

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 750

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 17.8%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Prosthodontists construct oral prostheses to replace missing teeth to correct natural and acquired deformation of the mouth and jaws; to restore and maintain oral function, such as chewing and speaking; and to improve appearance.

13. Dentist (all other specialties)

13. Dentist (all other specialties)

Scott Olson/Getty

Mean annual pay: $171,900

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 5,380

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 8.5%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

These specialist dentists not listed separately can include pediatric dentists, periodontists, and endodontists.

12. Dentist (general)

Mean annual pay: $173,860

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 105,620

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 18%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

General dentists examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums.

11. Pediatrician (general)

Mean annual pay: $184,240

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 26,960

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 10.3%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Pediatricians are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent children’s diseases and injuries.

10. Chief executive

Mean annual pay*: $194,350

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 223,260

Projected decline (2014 – 2024): 1.2%

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Chief executives 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.

* While the average chief executive earns almost 200,000 a year, the top-earning CEOs in the US earn tens of millions of dollars. In 2015, for instance, Dara Khosrowshahi, the highest-paid CEO according to Equilar and The New York Times and CEO of Expedia, raked in $94.6 million. 

9. Psychiatrist

Mean annual pay: $200,220

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 24,820

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 14.9%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.

8. Family and general practitioner

8. Family and general practitioner

Getty Images

Mean annual pay: $200,810

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 122,970

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 10.2%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Family and general practitioners are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population.

7. General internist

7. General internist

REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Mean annual pay: $201,840

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 45,290

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 9.4%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

General internists are physicians who diagnose and provide non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. They provide care mainly for adults who have a wide range of problems associated with the internal organs.

6. Physician or surgeon (all other)

Mean annual pay: $205,560

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 338,620

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 14.9%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

These specialist physicians and surgeons not listed separately can include allergists and immunologists, dermatologists, neurologists,ophthalmologists, pathologists, radiologists,sports medicine physicians, and urologists.

5. Orthodontist

Mean annual pay: $228,780

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 5,200

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 18.3%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Orthodontists examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies.

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Mean annual pay: $232,870

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 5,380

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 17.9%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions to treat diseases, injuries, or defects.

3. Obstetrician and gynecologist

Mean annual pay: $234,310

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 19,800

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 17.6%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Obstetricians and gynecologists are physicians who 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.

2. Surgeon

Mean annual pay: $252,910

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 41,190

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 19.8%

Education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree

Surgeons are physicians who treat diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive, minimally-invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods, such as using instruments, appliances, or by manual manipulation.

1. Anesthesiologist

Mean annual pay: $269,600

Number of people who hold this job in the US: 30,190

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 21%

Education requirements:Doctoral or professional degree

Anesthesiologists are physicians who administer anesthetics prior to, during, or after surgery, or other medical procedures.

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Dimi has a pretty great answer, but I think that we can go deeper to help you hire top candidates for your startup … faster, easier, and better.

Let’s enhance some of his tactics with modern recruiting software built for teams that would appreciate things like a free tier and a free trial … soooooo, startups :).

I’ve got a few more tips of my own that I outlined in this post:

What are some really smart recruitment methods?

But no need to go searching around, I don’t mind re-typing 😉

And don’t forget about your future here … hiring is never really a one-and-done situation, so make sure you’re tracking where your best candidates are coming from – that’s where Breezy’s built-in recruiting analytics come in.

We’ll let you know exactly which sources (paid, unpaid, social, referrals, whatever) are giving you your most successful candidates, so when it comes time to hire again, you don’t need to test out new places to find great people .. you’ll already know where to, uh, startup 🙂


It’s some combination of these reasons :

1. You, or your client aren’t paying enough
2. Your, or your client’s expectations are too high or are disjointed from reality
3. You, or your client’s aren’t willing to let anyone learn things on the job

Ask yourself :

1. What qualifies someone as a “top” data scientist?

My guess is that everyone has a different answer here because there isn’t any agreed on definition of what a data scientist does, nor is there any
agreed on way of valuing a data scientist.

Consider academic research for a moment. How do you value a researcher? They may have 10 failed experiments for every 1 success. The 10 failures teach you a lot about your problem, and the 1 success can open whole new avenues of research. In science sometimes things that aren’t immediately applicable open up whole new industries later.

That’s sort of how data scientists operate–on the fringe of what your company knows and what they think is possible. There will be long stretches of time where a data scientist is researching solutions to a problem before they solve it and the research can be just as valuable as the end product or problem solved.

You can’t apply the same metrics to a data scientist that you apply to a developer if you want to get a good data scientist.

2. Do you actually need such a person?

A lot of value can get added to your data just by munging it and/or using simple models. That can be done by a data analyst or statistician. You don’t necessarily need someone with a PhD in machine learning to answer business questions or create new data products.

Many companies don’t even have the foundation needed to benefit from a data scientist fully, and instead might be better off hiring an analyst and/or a solid “big data” engineer first. Or, they might want to shift focus and build a data science team.

3. Does such a person actually exist?

Data scientists are not usually expert database developers, software engineers, statisticians and PhD academic researchers. You can’t replace a “data science” team with one data scientist. Likely you wont even find such a person.

Further to that, a data scientist is usually a generalist developer with well above average mathematical knowledge. The skill set is general and abstract. You probably aren’t going to easily find a data scientist that knows 5 different frameworks and 5 languages inside and out. In fact, that would be close to the opposite of what I’d expect out of a good data scientist and more of what I’d expect out of a higher-tier engineer.  On the scale of pure application to pure theory, data scientists are halfway in-between.

Data scientists have an abstract framework to think about problems in, namely mathematics. In math you can scale in to, or out of smaller problems within a larger picture using a common set of tools. You won’t necessarily remember every detail because it’s impossible, but you have the tools to dive into the details if you need to. A good data scientist will retool their brain for the problem at hand.

Basically, I’d say that you shouldn’t look for someone with 10 years of experience in A, B, and C languages and X, Y, and Z frameworks. Look for mathematical aptitude and understanding instead. Look for academic research experience. Look for someone that knows data structures and algorithms rather than language B or framework Z. They can learn the rest when they solve problems, and you aren’t hiring an engineer. If your job description is closer to that of an engineer, then change the title and hire an engineer.

4. Would it be possible to relax your expectations and let someone develop into the candidate you want over time?

Too many companies want to hire someone that is ready to hit the ground running or has a very specialist skill set. That’s effectively the same thing as saying “I want to poach someone from my competitor and pay more money, or I’ll just wait X years for someone to catch up to my expectations”.

People meeting many employer’s expectations either don’t exist, or they already have jobs and they are paid well. You won’t find such a person until your competitors make such a person, and/or you’ll have to poach them from a competitor (in the labor market) which means you have to offer better incentives.

Those that exist may not even be looking for new opportunities which makes it harder to find them. To add to that problem, good “data science” candidates may not even have that title even if they have most of the qualifications.

Simply put, you could probably hire someone that doesn’t meet all your requirements and then train them to be the candidate you want over 3 months, rather than wait for 6 months to a year to fill a position and also have to pay a larger salary on top of that. Keep in mind part of data science is research–they will learn what they need to learn to solve a problem.

As I mentioned before, you might also have better luck hiring 2-3 people to make up a data science team. Hire an engineer and a statistician for close to the same price you’d pay a PhD with 5 years of data science experience and get the added benefit of having twice as many person-hours available to solve a problem.

5. Are you offering compensation that someone fitting your expectations would find attractive?

A person with 5 years of experience and a PhD in Machine Learning probably already has a sweet deal going with their current employer. You need to beat it, or they won’t be interested. It’s unfortunately not an employer’s market right now.

Established, bigger companies seem to employ a head of HR who in turn may hire internal recruiters, but leaner, VC backed, fast growing companies seem to go for a VP Talent Acquisition …. what’s the difference in roles?

Workable answers this, and a few other related questions in our recent FAQ: Talent Acquisition vs. Talent Management vs. HR: an FAQ guide

What is the difference between Talent Management and Human Resource Management?

Talent Management is a distinct function of Human Resource Management. HRM’s objective is to hire the right people and manage them effectively through thoughtful policies and procedures. Talent Management focuses on ways to develop employees by mapping out career paths and training programs.

Are HR and Talent Management two independent operations?

Talent Management is a function within HR, and HR attracts, selects, onboards, trains and evaluates employees. Talent Management comes into play as teams grow, when it becomes crucial to decrease turnover rates, retain employees and engage them to achieve bigger goals.

Effective Talent Management begins with a strong HR department. Likewise, a carefully planned Talent Management strategy can help you develop talent pipelines to facilitate HR department operations.

Who is in charge of Talent Management at a company?

Everyone is. While HR roles are responsible for designing career paths and organizing training programs, a Talent Management strategy requires company-wide participation. Team leaders should identify high-potential employees and address their training needs. Also, upper management should promote a learning culture throughout the company. Then, it’s the Talent Management team’s job (consisting of HR Generalists and Training Coordinators) to develop employees.

The Head of HR is entrusted with several pieces of Human Resources; Benefits, Compensation, Policies and Procedures, Payroll, 401k, Training and Development, Culture, “Talent Acquisition” & overall HR Budget.  Talent Actuisition reports to the head of HR and is responsible for the Talent selection process; recruitment budget & strategy, Orientation and Onboarding of Talent.  Both roles are critical to the Human Capital Management strategy of any organization.  The Head of HR can also be the Head of Talent Acquisition.

CEOs and founders, cards on the table please! How hard do you have to work to get a good developer on your team (in silicon valley, for example)? “Good” means good enough to make a good hire that you won’t regret. How much time does it take? Does it get frustrating? Do you feel there’s a shortage of talent? An abundance?

Very hard, and if you’re a startup in Silicon Valley, they can’t just be “good”. You must have a 10x developer or engineer join your team. Anything less and your already long odds of success fry faster than a snowflake in hell. Let me repeat: You don’t want only good developers.

The 2013 Source of Hire Report indicated that the best source of qualified candidates is referrals, as high quality individuals tend to find each other. However, it could take you forever if you’re new in town, as demand and competition for these developers is exceptionally intense, leaving the supply scarce. Even if you do manage to identify such a developer, convincing them to join you and share your vision is a non-trivial problem. They may already be well-paid and comfortable in their current role.

The hiring strategy you are looking for is called “topsourcing”, a rigorous process that tests natural work abilities, does not make compromises on quality of talent, and incorporates candidate reviews by industry experts.

First, you must test for technical acumen. You can screen candidates using available testing interfaces such as Codility, or give them challenging interview questions in the language you will be developing in (e.g., Python, JavaScript, Java, PHP, Node.js). If they pass, you can give them a small test to do something that isn’t time-sensitive or mission critical. The small task, should include an optional opportunity to go above and beyond. This is a good test to see if they take initiative and see how well they do at the bonus task(s). In organizations I’ve led, after technical acumen, I’ve looked for dedication, initiative, and ethics. You can also try putting them in a compromising situation (a safe one) to see how they handle real-life interpersonal difficulties. If they are recommended from a trusted source and have a portfolio to show, it helps even more.

At the same time, as swiftly and decisively as you should bring top talent in, you should just as quickly remove them if they do not hold themselves to a high standard professionally or personally. Elon Musk just days ago stated at SXSW that the biggest mistake he’s ever made had to do with hiring the wrong people (related to only hiring for technical acumen and not balancing for kindness).

A shortage of these top developers exists since they are quickly snatched up as soon as they’re identified and often offered incredible sums of money to jump between companies (sometimes multipliers of their previous salaries for the best and brightest). The best developers will contribute ideas, communicate seamlessly and effectively, add value 10x their cost (or more), and constantly make you glad you decided to hire them. Topsourcing isn’t easy, but companies like Toptal specialize in doing it for you (disclosure: I will be working with them when I graduate). They solve the talent shortage problem in Silicon Valley by rigorously screening thousands of freelance developers each month, accepting just 3% of candidates. That may be your best place to start.

So, don’t just hire someone good. Topsource and hire a 10x developer.