Naturally, when choosing a career, you’ll want to go for the one that pays well, and that’s both exciting and fulfilling. However, landing such a position isn’t as easy as it sounds. After all, most high-paying jobs command the big bucks for a reason: they require years and years of education and hard work to achieve success.
But if you want to earn a piece of the pie, too, check out our list of the top 20 highest-paying jobs in the world, and see if you’ve got what it takes to make the cut.
20. Physical Therapist
Average salary: $87,930 (£69,866)
From helping a patient walk again to relieving a severe case of arthritis, the day of a physical therapist is far from boring. In fact, for the best part, it’s challenging. You don’t know what issues you’ll be faced with and how hard it will be to treat them, but at the end of the day, it’s extremely rewarding.
Average salary: $88,190 (£70,073)
If you’re a data person and have a passion for numbers, becoming a statistician might just be your dream job. You’ll be tasked with analysing data and making predictions on trends for a number of clients. To succeed in this career, you’ll need a degree and a qualification from the Royal Statistical Society (RSS).
18. Software Developer
Average salary: $105,590 (£83,898)
In this digital age, it comes as no surprise that a software developer ranks amongst the best-paying jobs in the world. These tech gurus know how to build captivating and engaging websites, e-shops and blogging tools. They also have the added benefit of gaining a high-pay contract or a number of freelance gigs for the ultimate work-life balance.
Average salary: $115,670 (£91,912)
In order to become a pilot, you not only have to go through vigorous training but also need to meet the physical requirements. British Airways, for example, requires all pilots to be between 1.57m and 1.90m in height and pass the EASA Class 1 medical, which includes tests on fitness, hearing and vision.
Average salary: 120,910 (£96,076)
If you’re more of an extrovert who seeks to find justice, then becoming a lawyer could be the ideal job for you. Your studies can vary depending on the industry you want to focus on, but what’s common across all lawyers is an extended work schedule and years of studies to achieve professional satisfaction.
Average salary: $129,550 (£102,967)
If, on the other hand, you’re intrigued by one of the body’s most important parts, you can become a podiatrist, or a foot doctor, where you’ll mainly deal with issues like bunions, ingrown toenails and fractures. To qualify, you’ll need to enrol in a podiatry school after you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree.
14. Petroleum Engineer
Average salary: $137,170 (£109,023)
As a petroleum engineer, you’ll be required to create new technology to extract oil and natural gas in a safe and environmentally-friendly way. As with all engineering roles, you will need to have a good understanding of maths and science to succeed. If you live in the US, meanwhile, you can even get your studies paid for by the government if you want to pursue this profession.
13. IT Manager
Average salary: $142,530 (£113,283)
IT managers are responsible for protecting office networks from hackers and malware, supervising software and hardware upgrades and any other technical issues that may arise. They are high in demand as IT is an integral part of any business model.
Average salary: $156,240 (£124,178)
Dentists are in high demand across the world in both public and private healthcare. As a dentist, you’ll be responsible for any issues with the mouth from gums to teeth. You’ll also need to have excellent communication skills to make people feel at ease in your scary chair.
11. General Practitioner
Average salary: $160,780 (£127,788)
General practitioners are the first point of contact for any patient that’s suffering from anything from a simple cold to a life-threatening condition. They have a good understanding of the human body and anatomy, and either treat the patient or refer them to the correct specialist.
10. Nurse Anaesthesiologist
Average salary: $169,450 (£134,679)
Nurse anaesthesiologists play a huge part in critical conditions. They are in charge of administering the right amount of anaesthetic through injections or inhaled gases. To specialise in anaesthesiology, you’ll need to train as an RN and then gain a master's degree from an accredited nurse-anaesthesia programme.
Average salary: $183,240 (£145,640)
If you love babies and children and you want to work with them on a daily basis, you could consider becoming a paediatrician. You’ll be responsible for checking the physical, mental and social health of your patients, ensuring they’re well and comfortable at all times.
Average salary: $196,960 (£154,544)
As you might have guessed, prosthodontists are responsible for oral procedures. They construct dental surgery to replace missing teeth and other deformities that patients may face, from crooked jaws to improvement with chewing and speaking. Essentially, they are considered as dental plastic surgeons.
Average salary: $198,370 (£157,656)
Internists are physicians that provide treatment for diseases and injuries of internal organs. Internists do not perform surgery, and they mainly treat acute illnesses like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. As an internist, you can also specialise in a specific organ system, like the digestive system, for example.
Average salary: $200,140 (£159,062)
Becoming a CEO requires years of hard work in order to gain the managerial experience and leadership skills needed for your desired industry – just ask Elon Musk and Tim Cook, two of the highest paid CEOs in the world.
Average salary: $216,090 (£171,739)
Unsurprisingly, mental health doctors are among the top-paying professions in the world. As a psychiatrist, you’ll get paid to listen to other people’s problems and to identify the root of the cause, which can be difficult when dealing with particularly tricky situations. To become qualified, you’ll need to specialise in psychiatry after you've completed your initial medical training.
Average salary: $228,780 (£181,847)
Orthodontists focus on fixing crooked smiles, straightening the structure of the teeth and adjusting irregular bites with the help of braces, retainers and alternative appliances. To become an orthodontist, you’ll need to complete a postgraduate orthodontist programme after you obtain your initial dental degree.
Average salary: $235,240 (£186,982)
As a gynaecologist, you’ll be responsible for helping maintain a woman’s reproductive system, carrying our special checks and monitoring pregnancies. On a typical day, you could be performing laser surgery to remove HPV cells, carrying out checks or delivering a baby.
2. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Average salary: $243,370 (£193,444)
Unlike a normal dentist, oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgical procedures to the face, mouth and jaw. However, in order to do so, they must go through an additional four years of training. They also administer anaesthesia.
Average salary: $255,110 (£202,776)
Surgeons are probably the most respected doctors in the world, which is why they deserve to take the top spot on this list. They not only train as doctors, but also spend an additional number of years specialising in a specific field (the amount does differ depending on the speciality). They are responsible for carrying out important surgeries and saving and changing lives - all in a simple day’s work.
Following any of the above career paths will not be easy, but with a lot of hard work and dedication, you can achieve true career success.
Do any of these high-paying jobs take your fancy? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
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Salaries are intended as a guide and vary depending on employer and level of experience.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 27 February 2015.