Top 10 Highest- Paying Jobs in the USA

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America the Beautiful, the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, the Land across the Pond, Uncle Sam… The United States of America has garnered a number of nicknames over time, and I’d like to add one more to the growing list: the Best Country in the World If You Want to Pursue a Career in Healthcare – a nickname that is rather fitting, considering that 9 of the 10 highest paying jobs in the country are in the healthcare industry.

It’s important to note that before becoming a doctor of any kind you will need a bachelor's degree with all relevant science courses to get into medical school. Only after that can you apply to medical school which takes four years of study plus a minimum of three years residency (which is like on the job training) before you can practice medicine.

But which are the 10 best-paid professions in the United States, and exactly how much can you potentially earn? Let’s find out!

10. Chief executives

What they do: A chief executive is the highest-ranking executive manager in a corporation. Their duties vary according to the organisation, but they are generally responsible for planning and implementing policies and providing overall direction of their companies. They’re the only non-healthcare profession to appear on this list, and are regularly featured among the highest paying jobs in the world.

What they earn: The national average annual salary for chief executives in the US is $194,350 (£150,410). The top 5 paying states are Texas, New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina and South Dakota, where wages are typically more than $218,000 (£168,702).

How to become one: You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area like business administration, finance or law. Five or more years’ previous experience in a senior management role is essential.

9. Psychiatrists

What they do: Psychiatrists are physicians who specialise in diagnosing, treating, studying and preventing mental illnesses. They prescribe medicine and may also use psychotherapy, though most refer patients to psychologists or other specialised therapists for this.

What they earn: On average, psychiatrists earn $200,220 (£154,890) a year in the States. The highest paid psychiatrists are found in South Dakota whose salary potential averages $267,520 (£206,960)!

How to become one: You’ll first need to obtain an MD or DO degree, which typically takes 4 years, followed by practice as a psychiatric resident for another 4 years.

8. Family and general practitioners

What they do: Family and general practitioners diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population. They may refer patients to specialists when further diagnosis or treatment is required.

What they earn: It’s common for family and general practitioners to make $200,810 (£155,214) a year, although finding employment in Iowa would be ideal where annual salaries average $243,580 (188,289).

How to become one: An MD degree and 3-year residency is required for this profession.

7. General internists

What they do: General internists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of adults. They provide long-term, comprehensive care to patients and manage both common and complex diseases.

What they earn: The national average annual salary for internists is $201,840 (£156,047). South Dakota is, again, the highest paying state, with the average salary being $275,760 (£213,169) a year.

How to become one: You must complete a minimum of 4 years of medical school and postgraduate training followed by a further 3 years of study and training known as a general internal medical residency. You can also complete an additional 1 to 3 years’ training (fellowship) to subspecialize in an area like cardiology, gastroenterology or pulmonology.

6. Specialist ohysicians and surgeons

What they do: Specialist physicians and surgeons refer to professions like allergists and immunologists, dermatologists, pathologists, radiologists and urologists. Their responsibilities vary according to their specialities.

What they earn: Specialist physicians and surgeons are commonly paid $205,560 (£158,983) a year, although you can earn as much as $272,820 (£210,972) in New Hampshire.

How to become one: Once you have earned your MD you’ll need to complete a residency that is usually longer than the normal 3 years. For example, it can take 7 years to finish a residency in neurosurgery. Most highly specialised fields also require a further 1 to 3 years training known as a fellowship. However, you are a qualified doctor once the residency period ends.


5. Orthodontists

What they do: Generally speaking, orthodontists analyse and solve the dental problems of their patients. They examine, diagnose and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies, and they design and fabricate devices to realign teeth and jaws.

What they earn: Orthodontists’ salaries average $228,780 (£176,945) a year. Alabama, meanwhile, appears to be the highest paying state in the US for orthodontists, with an average $287,250 (£222,158) a year.

How to become one: A bachelor’s degree in a science-related field is the first step you need to take to get into Dental School which like medical school takes 4 years to complete. Once you have finished dental school, you need to complete between 2 and 3 years of specialised training in orthodontics.

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

What they do: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery and other procedures to treat diseases, injuries or defects in the oral or maxillofacial regions.

What they earn: On a national level, these professionals earn about $232,870 (£180,058) a year. However, in New Jersey, they are typically paid $281,400 (£217,591).

How to become one: Once you finish 4 years of Dental School you must complete a surgical residency which lasts between 4 and 6 years.

3. Obstetricians and gynaecologists

What they do: Obstetricians and gynaecologists (OBGYNs) specialise in diagnosing and treating disorders of women’s reproductive systems, monitoring pregnancies and supervising childbirth.

What they earn: OBGYNs are the third highest paid professionals in the US, making an average $234,310 (£181,186) a year. Wisconsin, meanwhile, typically offers a higher average salary at $276,060 (£213,478).

How to become one: A medical residency of at least 4 years is required to become an OBGYN and obtain licensure.

2. Surgeons

What they do: Surgeons use their hands and specialised instruments to treat diseases, injuries and deformities by performing invasive, minimally invasive or non-invasive surgeries.

What they earn: Surgeons in the US receive an average annual salary of $252,910 (£195,781), with the highest average salaries being offered in New Jersey at $286,710 (£221,908). This, of course, depends on the surgeon and the hospital/clinic they work in. Dr Thomas Milhorat, for example, reportedly made $7.2 million (£5.5 million) in 2007.

How to become one: For general surgeons, the residency period is 5 years long. Of course, the more specialised you are, the more money you will earn, and nearly all surgeons will specialise which will require a fellowship of 1 to 3 years and additional training.

1. Anaesthesiologists

What they do: Anaesthesiologists are medical practitioners trained in anaesthesia and perioperative medicine. They administer anaesthetics to patients before, during or after surgery or other medical procedures.

What they earn: The best paying job in the US belongs to anesthesiologists. Annual salaries average $269,600 on a national level, while you can potentially earn about $287,410 (£222,469) in Kansas.

How to become one: Getting into and completing medical school is your first step. You’ll then need to complete a 4-year anesthesiology residency before getting licensed. 

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Is your profession among the 10 highest paying jobs in the USA? Would you considering pursuing one of these lucrative careers? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation below and let us know!


Salary information is based on data compiled and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an official US government organisation. US Dollar – Stirling Pound conversions are based on rates from 15 May 2017.

This article was originally published in April 2015.