Highest-Paying Jobs in the U.S.
Highest-Paying Jobs in Corporate America
The highest echelon of high-paying jobs in America resides among corporate CEOs of various titles: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, and many others of this nature. This stratospheric level of employment compensation that is protested by the Occupy Movement includes high salaries, even higher bonuses, extensive benefits, perks, and additional incentives and payments.
Not all of these positions are listed on the open job market and the general public does not receive notice of all such openings. Few people will secure such jobs and the maximum annual compensation for some of these positions is indefinable.
In order to reach the magnitude of compensation enjoyed by these various top-paid CEOs, individuals in America can start their own businesses and build from the ground up. Several have done so, without even completing college. These include Bill Gates, Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's Hamburgers, who earned a GED later in life), the most successful actors and sports figures, and some television evangelists, among others.
Yet, few individuals are able to accomplish this success and the top-level pay grades or compensation packages remain out of reach.
Alternate Route to High-Paying Jobs
Without being in line for a corporate leadership position and without having a great business idea that will build billions of dollars in revenue, the highest-paying jobs in the USA require extensive education, post-education training, and experience. Examples are attorneys and physicians and other healthcare practitioners.
One exception is the successful salesperson that may not require school above the 4-year college degree and who may work themselves into high sales commissions and onto the executive sales level of high compensation.
Figure 1. Average Salaries Of the Nation's Top 10 High-Paying Jobs
BLS Statistics: Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in 2011
The Bureau of Labor Statistics collected salary ranges across the US in 2011 and calculated average annual income as follows (see Figure 1. above for a visual comparison):
- Physicians and Surgeons - Anesthesiologists are the highest-paying of these healthcare professionals, averaging $234,950 in 2011. Average overall wage is $168,650-$234,950, with just over 618,000 doctors employed in 2011. This indicates 1 doctor or surgeon per 505 people in 2011. More workers are needed and an increase was seen in 2001 - 2012 in Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistants that relieved worker shortage and reduced costs of office visits and transportation, especially in the rise of neighborhood clinics in drug stores and supermarkets.
- Dentists and Orthodontists - $161,750-$204,670. The 2011 figures state that only 101,000 people were employed in these job titles in 2011, while the US population was 312,000,000. This comprises a shortage of workers in this high-paying sector, 1 orthodontist or dentist per 3,090 people.
- CEOs - $176, 550; although CIOs (Chief Information Officers) in many companies earn higher salaries in 2012.
- Petroleum Engineer - $139,000. In 2011 and 2012, these jobs increased sharply in North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, in that order.
- Attorneys - $130,490
- IT Architectural and Engineering Managers - $129, 350
- Managers in the Natural Sciences (and Maths)- $128,230
- Marketing Managers - $126,190
- CIS Managers (Information Technology) - $125,660
- Industrial/Organizational Psychologists - $124,160
Additional High-Paying Jobs:
- Financial Managers - $120,450
- Commercial Airline Pilots & Related - $118,070
- Sales Manager - $114,460
- Air Traffic Controller - $114,460
- Pharmacists - $112,160
Job Trends Through 2022
The demand for the highest-paying jobs in the USA has changed.
Until mid-2011, the physical therapist was most in demand across the country, with some of the offered salaries running to six figures, plus benefits. Travel positions paid even more and offered perks such as payment of rent or mortgage for up to 12 months and several others.
RN Nurses were also in top demand but were not as quite as highly paid, even through travel positions. In the medical field, demand changed to Physicians, many needed by the US military branches as well as by hospitals and private group practices.
The employment demand overall changed to high-paying Engineers, partially in response to the gearing up of space exploration and travel via NASA's Commercial Crew of 63 different large companies (as of May 2011). Engineers also became more in demand in the energy, automotive, IT and biomedical industries. Many engineering salaries offered in job postings are as high as those of doctors.
The listing below shows the highest-paying job positions in America in mid-October 2012. These include all jobs listed anywhere on the Internet, aggregated by two top job search engines and those results cleared of overlap between the two search engines (I do this myself, by hand).
Job search engines to use are SimplyHired.com and Indeed.com, both of which crawl all the other job sites extant for USA, along with individual company sites, newspaper classified ads, and other Internet postings across the nation.
The total number of highest-paying jobs advertised is only 19.49% of total jobs advertised in America.
Highest-Paying American Jobs: 19.49% of All Advertised Jobs
- Nearly 1/5 of all jobs advertised in the US in mid-October 2012 were in the top tier of salaries and required extensive Education and Training after high school.
- This finding may support the data at the end of this article that shows that middle-skills jobs have been replaced by either low-paid low-skilled jobs or high-skilled jobs for which few job seekers are already trained.
American Jobs With Lowest Pay: 45% of All Advertised Jobs
The lowest-paying jobs include jobs paid at Federal and State Minimum Wages, along with positions that pay below minimum wage, such as waitstaff positions that depend on tips for the bulk of income.
Another low-paid category is sometimes that of Independent Contractor, especially freelance writers that find themselves working for low rates and merchandisers who find that the hours needed to place their merchandise are often much longer than those pre-approved for payment.
It is difficult to pull an exact number of lowest-paying jobs from daily total online advertisements, because of the large number of job titles and categories paying low wages; but, the largest numbers of jobs advertised fall into the $20,000/year salary range, effectively minimum wage at full-time hours.
I estimate that at least another 40% of advertised jobs fall into this range, perhaps more, and on Indeed.com the figure calculates on 10/15/12 to 45%.
This corroborates the statements further below that low-skilled jobs may have replaced middle-skilled jobs in recessions, including the Great Recession.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Patty Inglish MS