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Highest-Paying Jobs in America

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Anesthesiologists earned the highest average salaries from 2010 - 2020.

Anesthesiologists earned the highest average salaries from 2010 - 2020.

Highest-Paying Jobs in Corporate America

The highest echelon of high-paying jobs in America resides among corporate CEOs of various titles such as:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Information Officer

This stratospheric level of employee compensation is protested by the Occupy Movement and includes high salaries and even higher bonuses, plus extensive benefits, perks, and additional incentives.

Out of Reach for Most

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 these jobs, and the maximum annual compensation for some positions is indefinable.

In order to reach the magnitude of compensation enjoyed by these various top-paid CEOs, Americans can start their own businesses. Several have done so without even completing college—such as 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.

Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson earns much more than the average CEO's salary! Some of the highest salaries will be in aerospace industries in the 2010s - 2030s.

Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson earns much more than the average CEO's salary! Some of the highest salaries will be in aerospace industries in the 2010s - 2030s.

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, 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.

Dentists and orthodontists have been highly paid professionals in the US.

Dentists and orthodontists have been highly paid professionals in the US.

Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in 2019 and Median Salaries

  1. Anesthesiologists $261,730
  2. Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists $252,040
  3. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, including dental surgeons $237,570
  4. Obstetricians and Gynecologists $233,610
  5. Orthodontists $230,830
  6. Prosthodontists $220,840
  7. Psychiatrists $220,430
  8. Family Medicine Physicians $213,270
  9. Other Physicians and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric $203,450
  10. General Internal Medicine Physicians $201,440

An interesting contrast in income is that of Number 11 on the list:

11. Chief Executive Officer, median salary $193,850

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Read More From Toughnickel

Comparison: Average Salaries of U.S. Top 10 High-Paying Jobs in 2012


Highest-Paying Jobs Available in America

We see that the highest-paying jobs possible are not always the highest-paid jobs available in America. What are the best and highest paid jobs advertised in America in the early 2020s, and what are the federal employment projections for the decade?

Projections for 2018 - 2028 with Median Salaries

  1. Physician assistants $112,260
  2. Nurse practitioners $109,820
  3. Actuaries $108,350
  4. Mathematicians $105,030
  5. Information security analysts $99,730
  6. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary $97,320
  7. Statisticians $91,160
  8. Physical therapists $89,440
  9. Operations research analysts $84,810
  10. Genetic counselors $81,880
  11. Speech-language pathologists $79,120
  12. Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary $74,600
  13. Market research analysts and marketing specialists $63,790
  14. Occupational therapy assistants $61,510
  15. Respiratory therapists $61,330

The demand for the highest-paying U.S. jobs has changed and will change again.

From the end of the Great Recession in 2010 through June 2011, the physical therapist was the most in-demand worker across the country, with some salaries running to six figures, plus benefits. Travel PT positions paid even more and offered perks such as payment of rent or mortgage for up to 12 months. Truck driving took over the top spot of high demand from 2011 through 2017.

From 2017 through mid-2020, the highest-demand occupation alternated between registered nurse and physician, and from March through June 2020, retired doctors and nurses re-entered the workforce to help with a viral pandemic, COVID-19.

Some physician specialties in and out of the pandemic offered the highest American salaries of all jobs after 2019. As healthcare becomes a greater priority in America because of an aging population and expected future pandemics, such physicians will remain the highest-paid people in the U.S.

Aerospace engineers are also among the highest paid people in America, partially in response to the success of NASA's Commercial Crew of nearly different large companies. Engineers in 2020 also came into higher demand with the formation of the U.S. Space Force.

American leaders intend for the U.S. to be the first back to the moon by 2024 and soon afterward, in the first colony on Mars. Meanwhile, an American-Japanese space partnership launched in 2019.

The total number of highest-paying jobs advertised is only about 20% of total jobs advertised in America.

Jobs With Lowest Pay: 45% or More of All Advertised Positions

The lowest-paying jobs include those paid at Federal and State Minimum Wages and those that pay below minimum wage, such as waitstaff that depend on tips for the bulk of income.

Another low-paid category is sometimes the Independent Contractor or IC, especially freelance writers 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. However, the largest numbers of jobs advertised fall into the $20,000/year salary range, effectively minimum wage at full-time hours. Perhaps another 40% of advertised jobs fall into this range, perhaps more, and on, the figure calculates to 45% for March 2020.

Outlook Data on Relevant Jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in changing job demand in America. Some jobs seem to nearly go extinct while others increased, and new jobs were created.

Grocery and other food delivery and shipping and/or daily delivery of nearly every sort of product increased abruptly across most of America in March 2020. This was followed by shuttered companies reopening to produce ventilators, medical gowns, health-related face masks, face shields, latex and non-latex gloves, and more. Some distilleries changed product manufacture to hand sanitizer. Pharmaceuticals came into high demand, and various companies began developing COVID-19 tests and vaccines as well.

Healthcare will remain a creator of great numbers of jobs for decades. The pandemic called more attention to the medical needs of senior citizens and other at-risk populations, and the job market will reflect these needs.

As for high-paid jobs, the top 10 best positions are not in the top 10 high-demand occupations presented by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Highest Growth Rate Jobs and Median Salaries

  1. Solar Panel Instalers $42,680
  2. Wind Turbine Technicians $54,370
  3. Home Health Aides $24,200
  4. Personal Care Aides $24,020
  5. Occupational Therapy Assistants $60,220
  6. Information Security Analysts $98,350
  7. Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners $107,030 to $108,610
  8. Statisticians $87,780
  9. Speech-Language Pathologists $77,510
  10. Physical Therapist Assistants $58040

Of the above top 10 projected high-demand jobs, the following have been in the top 10 most-advertised lists from 2010 - 2020:

  1. Home Health Aides
  2. Food Preparation and Service Workers
  3. Registered Nurses
  4. Physical Therapy Assistants
  5. Occupational Therapy Assistants
  6. Speech Therapists

The remaining four job titles of the advertised top 10 include truck drivers, sales and other clerks, and various healthcare aides.

Take your ideas to TV's Shark Tank.

Take your ideas to TV's Shark Tank.


In order to lock in a salary among the highest in the nation, Americans should do one of the following:

  • Start their own businesses (even appear on TV's Shark Tank)
  • Succeed in medical school
  • Pursue business degrees and enter a company where they can progress "up the ladder" to an executive position.

Job seekers may find it more rewarding and less frustrating to work toward a position leading to a career in a less-than-highest-paid field of work.


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.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 24, 2013:

Good luck to all your family members in their careers, Faith Reaper. I'll be doing follow-up research every few months.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 24, 2013:

Very insightful and well researched hub here! I will surely pass this along to family members. Thanks for putting all the hard work into this hub, as it shows.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 24, 2013:

Thanks for your comments. Some areas of the US really are creating jobs, so I hope they step up the pace.

movingfinger on January 23, 2013:

Well researched and written article! At least one knows one stands as far as jobs go. I guess, its better not to worry too much about how much each job pays and then study for it because If you don't like your job, you anyway shall not be paid at the top end, but will also not make a name for yourself. Its better to do what you like and enjoy life ( the money shall come , trust me). You only need to Believe..!!!

ignugent17 on October 21, 2012:

Great information! I am sad that teachers are not included in high paying jobs. I do hope I can persuade my niece to be a doctor and my nephew to be a pilot.

Have a nice day!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 19, 2012:

Can your granddaughter take a dual specialty in pediatrics and anesthesiology? She could become the leading Pediatric Anesthesiologist in the country and/or still be able to practice both specialties.

So-called "Headhunter firms" or executive placement agencies often search for the CEOs and some of them still charge the applicants a fee, so the general population could not afford these services. Some companies still advertise for CEOs in newspapers and some do advertise on the Internet, but I think not many. The classified in business journals are another good source.

Thanks for reading, tillsontitan! I wanted to get the facts of high pay in America.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 19, 2012:

thecashadvance - Pay rates may fluctuate year to year, but the brain surgeon cannot do his job without the proper anesthetic and the proper delivery of same; neither can any surgeon.

Mary Craig from New York on October 19, 2012:

That's a lot of research Patty! Isn't it pathetic that the highest paying jobs (CEO's etc.) are not even available to the public? Understandable it is always a good practice to promote from within granddaughter wants to be a pediatrician and I keep telling her to be an anesthesiologist, now I have your hub to show her!

This is an excellent, well researched hub AND your listing of the highest paid job positions for America in mid-October 2012, self-aggregated, is more than impressive.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

thecashadvance on October 19, 2012:

Anesthesiologists are the highest paid? I didn`t knew that really.. What about the brain surgeons??

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 16, 2012:

Hi carol7777 - Wouldn't it be great for HP Writer to be in the Top 10 or 20 Jobs? I think writing is not yet appreciated enough in our country, but hope that that may improve with time. Wouldn't surgery be cool, if school was not so expensive and we'd not have to stand for so many hours in the OR?

carol stanley from Arizona on October 16, 2012:

Very interesting though not totally surprising. I guess writers for Hubpages didn't make the cut-off. You did a great job on your information and presentation. I guess we should all go back to school to become a surgeon. Voted UP.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 16, 2012:

Wesley Clark - I understand your friend's ideas about staring down people's throats and into mouths - it seems too confining to me as well. It's fortunate that he likes his customer service position, but he spent a lot of time and money on his dental training didn't he?

Faith Reaper - Highest pay is not the best thing about the job if you don't like to do the job, so you are probably happier as a paralegal. I hope you receive regular pay raises for your important work!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 15, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I already knew dentists were paid very well, as I have been to one several times and wow it hurt - not the procedure, the paying of the huge bill!! LOL I knew my paralegal job is nowhere on the scale, as the attorney is the one who is paid, when it is the paralegal who does the work. My dad always told me to go on and be an attorney, but I didn't listen and plus really did not want to do that, so it is of my own choosing this profession. Ha.

God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Wesley Clark on October 15, 2012:


Very well written, informative article. If someone is interested in looking for high paying career's, your article would be one for them to definitely read. Your article mentioned: "Dentists and Orthodontists are the second most highly paid professionals in the US." A long time ago, when I worked as a manager at a software company, I worked with a great guy who worked as a customer service rep. at the same company. Very friendly, funny, perfect guy to be in customer service. He really enjoyed his job. One day, when we were talking, he shared that he had been a dentist for some time. I asked why he would give up such a lucurative paying job and be a customer service rep? Understand, I didn't say it in a demeaning way, but all the work and effort he put forth in regards to education, etc., I just didn't get it. He said he came to the conclusion after working awhile as a dentist, that he didn't want to be looking down into people's mouths for the rest of his life. He was perfectly content in doing what he did as a customer servie rep. for a living. As far as I know, he is probably still working at the same place. Great guy!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 15, 2012:

Crystal - I see you wrote for "Dallas" at age 6 - yes, not professionally, but it s a start, wasn't it?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 15, 2012:

Thanks, Suzie HQ! - I will be looking at this often, since I was surprised by the jump in advertised jobs in early October.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 15, 2012:

Crystal Tatum - My, but that was a very blunt comment from your professor. I take it that you really like your work and find it rewarding.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on October 15, 2012:

Hi Patty,

A great in depth article looking at the top earners and what the lower income groups consist of. I certainly would have guessed the medical profession would have been well up the ladder. Well researched and great info on what careers are paying well and what is actually available. Interesting reading!

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on October 15, 2012:

I'm not even a little bit surprised that my job isn't on the list! Sigh. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - my very first class at university, the professor said, "If you're here for the money, leave now!"

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