The 20 Highest-Paying Jobs in the World

When you set out to choose a career, you’ll likely be considering three factors: is it personally and professionally rewarding? Is it exciting? And does it pay well?

Well, these 20 careers tick all three boxes, particularly the latter.

In fact, they are the highest-paying jobs in the world.

So, if you’re looking for some inspiration – whether you’re considering your options after school or toying with the idea of changing careers – you’ve come to the right place.

Without further ado, these are the 20 best-paying jobs across the planet, along with what they entail and how much they pay.

20. Investment banker

Salary potential: $209,000 (US) / £123,000 (UK) / C$102,000 (Canada)

Depending on their seniority and the division they work in, investment bankers have different responsibilities.

As an entry-level professional, you would start as an analyst or associate and gradually climb up the investment banking ladder to become a vice president, director or managing director. As for your tasks, they will range between doing market research, creating and analysing reports, and performing financial models.

In order to become an investment banker, you’ll need excellent mathematical skills and a minimum of an undergraduate degree. However, if you want to progress beyond a junior analyst role, an MBA degree will prove useful.

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19. University professor

Salary potential: $209,000 (US) / £92,000 (UK) / C$168,000 (Canada)

If you’re passionate about a specific subject and academia, you could combine the two by becoming a postsecondary educator.

The life of a college professor is a multifaceted one. Beyond teaching students and leading seminars and workshops, you will also conduct research, carry out faculty projects and represent your university at external panels and boards.

In order to become a professor, you need to possess a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and while in most cases a PhD degree is also mandatory, there are a few entry-level opportunities that won’t require one.

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18. Senior software engineer

Salary potential: $153,000 (US) / £74,000 (UK) / C$121,000 (Canada)

In the digital age, software engineering is a highly sought-after job. It is no surprise, then, that it made its way onto this list.

Software engineers possess an impressive skillset; their knowledge is based on computer science, mathematics and engineering, as they apply engineering principles to design, test and develop computer software.

The path towards becoming a software engineer has changed over the past few years. Although traditionally a degree in computer science was the way to go about this, many aspiring software engineers are opting to complete intensive coding bootcamps.

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17. Computer hardware engineer

Salary potential: $128,000 (US) / £81,000 (UK) / C$115,000 (Canada)

Here’s another tech-savvy role for your consideration.

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for creating, testing and analysing physical computer systems. Other responsibilities include troubleshooting and developing electronic circuits and assemblies.

This is a rather competitive job, with roles usually available in computer companies and component manufacturers. Therefore, you need to be able to meet a certain list of criteria. At entry-level, positions require an accredited bachelor’s degree in computer science or electrical engineering, while bigger firms might also require a master’s degree.

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16. Aerospace engineer

Salary potential: $128,000 (US) / £53,000 (UK) / C$104,000 (Canada)

Aerospace engineers focus on designing airborne objects such as aircraft, spacecraft and satellites. To do this, they must create and test prototypes as well as oversee the building process of their projects. They must also evaluate designs to make sure that they’re in line with engineering principles.

As if their job description isn’t cool enough, they’re also some of the highest earners in the world.

A bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering will help you progress into a fruitful career and, in many cases, universities offer five-year courses that allow you to attain both a bachelor’s and a master’s.

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15. Senior data scientist

Salary potential: $160,000 (US) / £81,000 (UK) / C$127,000 (Canada)

Data scientists are analytical data experts that work across multiple fields. They’re mainly tasked with organising and analysing information, and they use their skills in statistics, programming and mathematics to find feasible solutions based on available data. This, in turn, helps businesses and organisations increase revenue based on their findings. It’s no wonder, then, that there has been a huge increase in demand for data scientists over the past decade.

If this sounds like an ideal career for you, you’ll need to first attain a bachelor’s degree in a subject like computer science, physics or mathematics, followed by a master’s in a related field, before gaining experience in the sector you’re interested in.

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14. Petroleum engineer

Salary potential: $171,000 (US) / £91,000 (UK) / C$175,000 (Canada)

As you may have predicted, there’s a lot of money to be made in the Big Oil industry – and petroleum engineers play an instrumental role within it.

They are mainly concerned with developing technology to extract oil and gas from natural deposits; in order to do so, they are required to travel to different drilling sites around the world and carry out research.

As with any engineering role, petroleum engineers are expected to have an excellent grasp of mathematics and science. While a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering is the most ideal option, you could also get away with a degree in mechanical, civil or chemical engineering.

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13. Pharmacist

Salary potential: $135,000 (US) / £46,000 (UK) / C$118,000 (Canada)

A day in the life of a pharmacist involves a series of tasks. From distributing prescriptions to advising patients on medication, theirs is an indispensable healthcare career. It’s no surprise, then, that they have a spot on this list.

In order to become a pharmacist, there is a series of steps to take. To begin with, you need to complete a doctoral degree before embarking on the training required to get licensed. There are also different paths to take within this role, as you can be a pharmacy assistant before progressing into the role of a pharmacist.

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12. Airline pilot

Salary potential: $240,000 (US) / $116,000 (UK) / C$154,000 (Canada)

Yet another profession that is increasingly growing in demand.

There’s a good reason why airline pilots are one of the highest-paid professionals. They must not only go through vigorous training but also meet specific physical requirements regarding vision, hearing, speech, height and weight.

Although college degrees aren’t required from most regional airlines, it will be a requirement by major carriers. Plus, it will give you a competitive edge. In order to be an eligible candidate, however, you will typically need to be over 21 and have a Class 1 Medical Certificate, along with your commercial pilot licence.

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11. Air traffic controller

Salary potential: $149,000 (US) / £106,000 (UK) / C$162,000 (Canada)

If you’d like to keep your feet on the ground and still work in aviation, why not consider a career as an air traffic controller?

An air traffic controller’s primary concern is safety, as they’re responsible for coordinating aircraft, informing pilots on take-off and landing, and keeping them in the know with other critical information.

If you want to enter this field, you’ll need to complete a series of training. The requirements vary depending on the country you work in; in the US, for example, candidates need a bachelor’s degree from the Air Traffic Collegiate training programme and are required to complete examinations at the Federal Aviation Administration academy.

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10. Marketing manager

Average salary: $99,000 (US) / £50,000 (UK) / C$87,000 (Canada)

A marketing manager’s role is pretty straightforward. Nonetheless, it consists of a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. These include monitoring budgets, managing employees, analysing marketing campaigns and creating new promotional strategies for products and services.

Charismatic marketing managers have the potential to earn a high income while doing what they do best, and this profession is expected to grow in demand.

Experience is a key element in order to attain this role. While a bachelor’s degree in the field you want to enter would be useful, it isn’t necessary nowadays. Indeed, there’s no linear path to take when it comes to this role.

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9. Corporate lawyer

Salary potential: $240,000 (US) / £101,000 (UK) / C$152,000 (Canada)

If you’re an aspiring lawyer, consider specialising in corporate law. Not only is it an exciting career, but it also pays well!

Corporate lawyers are essentially legal business advisers, as their main job is to counsel businesses on their legal rights and responsibilities. You will mainly be handling legal issues such as liability, ownership, contracts and employment.

Getting a law degree is the first step towards the right direction. After that, there are different routes to take, depending on where you’re based. Nonetheless, once you’ve begun training as a lawyer, you can focus on your chosen area of law.

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8. IT systems manager

Salary potential: $127,000 (US) / £55,000 (UK) / C$121,000 (Canada)

IT managers hold an integral part of any business model, making them highly sought-after professionals. An IT manager’s main role is to protect office networks from hackers and malware, maintain software and hardware through regular upgrades, and resolve any technical issues that may arise.

This is an ideal career path if you’re passionate about information technology, you’re an excellent problem solver, and you possess good interpersonal skills. There are many ways to enter this profession but having a bachelor’s or a master’s degree related to the field is a good place to start.

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7. Engineering manager

Salary potential: $149,000 (US) / £89,000 (UK) / C$109,000 (Canada)

Among other things, engineering managers need to supervise different projects, work with diverse teams and communicate with clients. In other words, you not only need to be a highly experienced professional but also possess a variety of important soft skills.

If you’re an engineer, you can gradually progress into this position, although you can also pursue an MBA or, more specifically, an MEM that will give you the right foundations to become an engineering manager.

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6. CEO

Salary potential: $310,000 (US) / £176,000 (UK) / C$259,000 (Canada)

There’s a good reason why CEOs earn lucrative salaries. Their role is one that requires a diverse skillset; from leadership to communication and decision-making to business management skills, it takes a lot of dedication in order to become a successful CEO.

If you’ve got your heart set on a C-suite job, then you need to be prepared to put in the hours. Although there are no specific educational requirements, a relevant degree or course in your chosen sector is a good start. Nonetheless, the most important factor here is experience and natural charisma.

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5. Dentist

Salary potential: $213,000 (US) / £98,000 (UK) / C$206,000 (Canada)

With a spot in the top five highest-earning careers, jobs in dentistry are experiencing substantial growth.

A dentist advises patients on good dental care, maintains their dental hygiene, and diagnoses and treats problems. When necessary, they also carry out minor procedures.

Once you’re a qualified dentist, you can also choose to specialise in a particular area, but to start, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in dentistry and complete all the necessary practical training.

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4. Orthodontist

Salary potential: $304,000 (US) / £291,000 (UK) / C$245,000 (Canada)

Orthodontists specialise in fixing crooked smiles, aligning teeth and treating dental disorders. They examine patients and fit them with the appropriate braces and retainers, helping them adjust the structure of their teeth and jaw.

Orthodontists go through the same training procedure as dentists. That said, they also need to complete a postgraduate orthodontist course after their initial dental degree.

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3. Physician

Salary potential: $227,000 (US) / £102,000 (UK) / C$252,000 (Canada)

Physicians can be divided into two different categories: general practitioners and specialist physicians. The former is usually the first point of contact for patients. Their broad knowledge of different conditions allows them to help patients suffering from the simplest cold to a rare disease. Specialist physicians, on the other hand, focus on clinical medicine and have extensive knowledge in the area they specialise in.

In order to become a physician, you need to complete a medical degree and join a residency programme before obtaining your physician licence. It might seem like a long road, but it is undoubtedly a rewarding one!

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2. Surgeon

Salary potential: $496,000 (US) / £120,000 (UK) / C$180,000 (Canada)

Surgeons are highly regarded medical professionals. For them, a typical day at the office involves carrying out preoperative diagnoses, performing surgical procedures and checking in with patients, post-operation. This is not a career for the faint-hearted, as you are expected to work long hours, deal with life and death situations, and be always on call.

In order to become a surgeon, you not only need to complete medical training to become a doctor but also spend an additional amount of years specialising in a specific field.

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1. Anaesthesiologist

Salary potential: $411,000 (US) / $192,000 (UK) / C$408,000 (Canada)

Just like surgeons, anaesthesiologists are trained physicians who specialise in perioperative care. They play an instrumental role within a surgical procedure, as they must ensure that the patient receives the correct type and dosage of anaesthesia while under the scalpel.

Becoming an anaesthesiologist is quite a long and exhaustive process, which usually requires 12 to 13 years of medical training. It’s no wonder, then, that they’re the top earners in the world!

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It takes a lot of dedication to achieve true career success. However, if you’re determined and prepared to put in the work, you could find yourself earning a lucrative income!

On that note, it’s important to remember that a high income should not be the only considerable reason when settling on a career path. Indeed, there’s a non-exhaustive list of factors you need to consider in order to find the perfect job for you!

Do any of these high-paying jobs take your fancy? Join the conversation below and let us know!



Salary information is based on data supplied by PayScale.

This article is an updated version of a previous article originally published on 27 February 2015.