Anyone wanting to be well off in America ought to aspire for one of these: the nation's 30 highest-paying jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS.
If you've got the skills and the qualifications, the earnings are probably a lot more reliable than what you'd make posting glamour shots or wacky videos. Salary information is based on 2018 BLS data.
Annual salary: $267,020
When your doctor says, “Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing,” anesthesiologists are the people who make sure that happens.
They’re also consistently the best-paid working professionals in the United States. They've topped this list for a couple of years.
Anesthesiologists earn an average hourly wage of $128.38. They make the most in California, where the average pay is close to $139 an hour, but job competition in the state is fierce.
There are currently 31,060 anesthesiologists working in the U.S. The jobs outlook is very good, as anesthesiologists remain steadily in high demand, and opportunities are expected to grow 7% by 2028. The average across all professions is 6% .
Annual salary: $255,110
In the case of these highly paid medical professionals, it often is brain surgery.
Surgeons spend upwards of 12 years in school to become skilled specialists who treat diseases and conditions through invasive and noninvasive methods.
All of that work pays off, because surgeons are paid $122.65 an hour, on average. The hours can be very irregular, with surgeons often putting in lengthy shifts and working overnight.
Many surgeons choose to focus on a particular area, such as neurological surgery (to treat the brain and nervous system) or cardiovascular (heart) surgery. There are 34,390 surgeons working in the United States, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 7% by 2028.
3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
Annual salary: $242,370
If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you can thank the work of an oral surgeon. (Or don’t say thanks — because, well, ouch.)
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons typically hold dual degrees in both medicine and dentistry. They’re more specialized and perform more heavy-duty procedures than dentists, so they need additional years of schooling.
The complexity of the work means much higher paychecks than your typical dentist takes home. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn an average hourly rate of $116.52.
There are currently 4,830 of these surgeons working in the U.S., and the job market is expected to grow 7% by 2028 — a little faster than average.
Annual salary: $238,320
An obstetrician-gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth. If you’re expecting, you’ll become intimately acquainted with your OB-GYN, since regular prenatal visits are an important part of maintaining your baby’s health and your own.
These physicians may deal with tiny humans, but their paychecks are anything but small. The average hourly rate for obstetricians and gynecologists is $114.58, but it can be as high as an average $128.14 an hour in Connecticut, or $126.68 in Wyoming.
The U.S. has 18,880 practicing obstetrician-gynecologists. The country has a shortage of qualified OB-GYNs, meaning this career is in steady demand.
The job market for this profession is expected to grow 7% within the next 10 years.
Annual salary: $225,760
Remember braces in middle school? They were likely the bane of your existence, and it was an orthodontist who put you through that. (Backed by your parents.)
Orthodontists are specialists who diagnose and treat dental irregularities. They not only straighten teeth with braces, but they also treat misaligned jaws, overbites and even breathing disorders.
To become a fully licensed orthodontist, you must attend dentistry school and then continue with specialized studies in orthodontics for two years. All of that education and hard work provides orthodontists with average pay of $108.54 per hour.
There are 5,350 orthodontists working in the U.S., and 7% job growth is expected over the next 10 years or so. That’s an additional 11,600 jobs expected to open up by 2028.
Annual salary: $220,380
Psychiatrists are often confused with psychologists, but psychiatrists earn much higher salaries. (The median annual pay for a psychologist is $79,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.)
Both professionals specialize in psychological disorders, but only psychiatrists may prescribe medications. They're medical doctors — with "M.D." after their names — and put in two years of psychiatric residency after medical school.
The reward is more money, because the average hourly pay for a psychiatrist is close to $106.
For aspiring Freudians, the job market is looking good. The U.S. currently has 28,600 practicing psychiatrists working, and the government says the field is likely to mushroom to 33,200 jobs by 2028. That's expected growth of 16%.
7. Family and general practitioners
Annual salary: $211,780
Is it time for your annual physical? Book an appointment with your general practitioner, often called a primary care physician in the managed care era.
A general practitioner, or GP, is a type of doctor that provides routine health checkups, screenings and immunizations — and may refer patients to specialists for further treatment.
Like the other medical professionals on this list, general practitioners are well compensated for their years of schooling and their expertise. The average hourly rate for GPs is $101.82, and the highest-paid family doctors reside in New Hampshire, where the hourly average is $124.36.
There are currently 114,130 GPs working in the U.S., and the jobs outlook is strong. This field is expected to grow 7% by 2028.
8. Chief executives
Annual salary: $200,140
Your boss’ boss’ boss takes home top dollar. Chief executives are the highest-paid nonmedical professionals in the United States.
The role of a chief executive is to "determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private and public sector organizations," says the Bureau of Labor Statistics — which is a fancy way of saying CEOs are in charge of keeping companies in business.
The responsibility comes with a high salary. Chief executives take home a handsome $96.22 per hour, on average, though CEO salaries in the millions of dollars per year are not uncommon.
The U.S. currently has 195,530 individuals working at the very top of the "C-suites," and the jobs outlook for chief executives looks fairly average. Their ranks are expected to grow 6% by 2028.
Annual salary: $196,490
Internists is not another word for interns. You won't see these professionals running to fetch anyone's morning latte.
Instead, internists are physicians who specialize in the internal organs — they diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for common and/or complex internal disorders. They often specialize in one type of chronic internal ailment, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Internists work in medical offices and hospitals, and typically provide outpatient care. There are currently 37,820 internists working in the United States, and the field is expected to grow a healthy 7% by 2028.
Hourly pay for internists varies from state to state, but the national average is $94.47.
Annual salary: $191,400
Let's say you're playing basketball with some friends, you accidentally get knocked to the floor face-first, and pick yourself up to find a big hole where your two front teeth should be. You'll need a prosthodontist to come to your rescue.
Prosthodontists are highly specialized dentists who work to restore missing teeth and fix misaligned jaws, either for medical or cosmetic purposes.
Capping the top 10 highest-paid occupations, prosthodontists in the U.S. earn an average of about $92 per hour. The nation currently has 155,000 American Dental Association-accredited prosthodontists.
If it’s your dream to give the gift of a perfect smile, then job prospects are looking good. The government estimates that demand for these dental specialists will increase 7% by 2028.
Annual salary: $183,240
Pediatricians are fully licensed lollipop dealers.
Just kidding. Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in children’s health, but they're known to dole out a lollipop (or two) after a flu shot. They treat illnesses and injuries common among kids, like ear infections, pinkeye and broken arms.
Federal data shows they earn slightly less than other medical professionals, though they must put in 12 years of schooling and residency to become fully licensed pediatric doctors. Pediatricians take home an average hourly wage of $88.10.
There are currently 28,490 certified pediatricians in the United States, and the job market looks good: The demand for this occupation is anticipated to grow 7% by 2028.
Annual salary: $180,590
Patients often associate dentists with pain and misery, but that reputation is unfair. Dentists play a vital role by making sure teeth and gums are healthy.
Oral health is as important as physical health, and since modern dentistry is the reason few people die from cavities now, maybe it’s no wonder dentists are paid so well.
They take home $86.82 per hour, on average, and the pay can be much higher in some states. In California, dentists earn an average $114.51 per hour.
There are currently 128,060 dentists employed across the United States, and the number of jobs available for dentists is expected to grow 7% by 2028.
13. Nurse anesthetists
Annual salary: $174,790
It's not wrong to say nurse anesthetists are total knockouts. They’re the ones who administer anesthesia to patients and monitor their vital signs during the course of surgery.
Nurse anesthetists are quite similar to anesthesiologists, but the main difference is the amount of education required.
These nurses make more than double the typical salary of a registered nurse, due to the additional six years of school and residency required to obtain a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) license.
Nurse anesthetists make an average $84.04 per hour. (RNs earn median pay of $34.48 an hour.)
There are currently 43,520 nurse anesthetists in the United States, and job prospects look good. By 2028, the field is anticipated to grow 26%, or by an additional 62,000 positions.
14. Airline pilots and flight engineers
Annual salary: $169,560
Everyone knows that a pilot "drives" a plane, but one of the lesser-known roles in navigating an aircraft is handled by the flight engineer. Flight engineers act as third-in-command after the pilot and copilot, and they're responsible for monitoring all aircraft and fuel systems.
Flight professionals of all stripes take home a respectable hourly wage of $93.59. Not bad for jobs that require only a bachelor's degree.
The highest concentration of pilots and flight engineers is in Texas, where there are 11,360. Texas flight engineers also take home a little higher income than average, at $195,480 per year. But the best-paid flight engineers hail from California, where the average pay is $207,080 per year.
Nearly 83,000 airline pilots and flight engineers work in the United States, and the jobs outlook is solid. Demand for these occupations is expected to grow 6% by 2028.
15. Petroleum engineers
Annual salary: $156,370
If you successfully drove to work this morning, it was thanks in part to the work of a petroleum engineer. Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from the earth, and their jobs are vital for maintaining the country’s energy supply.
Entry-level petroleum engineers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, and many find employment at oil drilling sites.
Coming up with innovative methods to extract oil from old wells is no easy feat, and these engineers are well compensated for their hard work. They make an average $75.18 an hour.
But job prospects aren’t looking too great for those looking to strike oil. Just 3% job growth is expected in this field by 2028, which is much slower than average.
16. Information and computer systems managers
Annual salary: $152,860
Information systems managers oversee large teams of software developers.
Anyone wanting to break into this industry will need to be a whiz with computers, but you don’t need much more than a bachelor's degree in computer science to get your break. On-the-job experience is most valuable for advancement in this field.
The average hourly wage for systems managers is $73.49, so maybe it’s time to brush up on your Python if you’re looking to make a career change.
Because computers are so vital to the workings of companies, opportunities are increasing for aspiring information and computer systems managers. The U.S. currently has more than 391,000 of these jobs, and that number is expected to grow 11% by 2028.
17. Architectural and engineering managers
Annual salary: $140,760
It only seems like those new condos and subdivisions in your community spring up overnight. It doesn’t quite happen that way.
Every bolt, screw and plank of wood goes into a precise spot, and architectural and engineering managers oversee a team of engineers and architects to strategically map all of that out.
These managers typically need considerable work experience in either engineering or architecture, and they’re well compensated for what they do. They earn an average of $76.12 an hour.
The U.S. currently has 188,290 architectural and engineering managers, but the job prospects are aren't quite towering. Jobs are expected to grow at a rate of only 3% by 2028.
Annual salary: $148,220
Have you got fallen arches? A sprain? The painful runner's injury known as plantar fasciitis? Put down your sore foot and march (or hobble) on over to a podiatrist.
These medical professionals specialize in foot injuries and conditions. Podiatrists hold a DPM: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, a degree they earn in four years. Two of those years are spent gaining on-the-job experience.
Podiatrists earn an average hourly wage of $71.26 — meaning that they're financially sure-footed.
Some 9,500 podiatrists are practicing in the U.S., and jobs outlook looks fairly good. Demand for podiatrists is expected to grow 6% over the next 10 years.
19. Marketing managers
Annual salary: $147,240
It’s estimated that Americans are exposed to anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that marketing is a booming business.
Marketing managers must understand trends and consumers, so they can develop and implement successful commercial campaigns that sell products and services. Typically, a bachelor's degree is all that's needed to get into this field.
The jobs can be high-pressure, but they pay well: Marketing managers earn an average of $70.59 per hour.
Currently 240,440 marketing managers are employed in the U.S., and job opportunities are expected to increase 8% over the course of the next 10 years — a more rapid pace of growth than in other industries.
20. Financial managers
Annual salary: $146,830
Financial managers are like doctors who oversee the financial health of the companies they work for. They prepare forecasts and business activity reports, and generally make sure businesses doesn’t go bust by overspending.
Despite the advent of artificial intelligence and robo-advising, companies still need financial managers to keep them on track. When millions (or even billions) of dollars are involved, executives need the help of a human, not a bot, to assist in making the tough financial calls to maximize profits.
Financial managers earn an average $70.59 per hour, though in New York state they make $101.21, on average.
There are currently 608,120 financial managers working in the U.S., and the jobs outlook is rosy. Opportunities in this field are expected to grow 16% by 2028.
Annual salary: $144,230
Do lawyers make good salaries? Guilty as charged.
The work can vary by specialty, but in many cases attorneys represent and advise individuals, businesses and government entities that are involved in legal disputes.
A lawyer is required to have a bachelor’s degree, a law degree and a license to practice law, after passing the state bar exam.
Attorneys nationwide earn an average $69.34 an hour — certainly no objections there. A lawyer can earn higher pay depending on the state and seniority.
The U.S. has nearly 643,000 practicing lawyers, and jobs in the legal profession are expected to grow 6% by 2028, which is about average across all industries.
22. Sales managers
Annual salary: $140,320
Do you know how to sell — and how to lead people? If so, you'd have a bright future as a sales manager overseeing a company's sales team.
Your duties would include training sales staff and setting their sales quotas.
While you don’t need much more than a bachelor’s degree to break into sales, a management position requires a considerable amount of experience and expertise. You’d need to work in sales for at least five years before you can expect a promotion to a six-figure leadership role.
Sales managers earn an average $67.46 per hour for their demanding work. Industries with the highest-paid sales managers include investments and legal services.
Across the U.S., more than 379,000 people are employed as sales managers. The jobs outlook is slightly below average, with the field expected to grow only 5% by 2028.
23. Natural sciences managers
Annual salary: $139,680
Natural sciences managers are the people who supervise the work of all sorts of scientists, including chemists, physicists and biologists. They lead teams in research and development, and supervise the methodology and outcomes of each scientific project.
Most entry-level positions in this industry require only a bachelor’s degree, but to work your way up to management level requires an average of five years of on-the-job experience.
The average hourly wage for natural sciences managers is $59.55, though in the state with the highest pay — New Jersey — the average is $88.48 per hour.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there currently are 60,260 natural science managers employed in the U.S., and the jobs outlook is average. Employment in the field is expected to grow 6% by 2028.
24. Compensation and benefits managers
Annual salary: $132,860
Do you think your company's health care stinks? Could you use more vacation time? You might want to go pay a visit to the compensation and benefits manager where you work.
These professionals work primarily in human resources, where they coordinate compensation and benefits for businesses. Their management positions require bachelor’s degrees and at least five years’ worth of on-the-job experience.
The 15,660 compensation and benefits managers working in the U.S. earn average pay of $63.87 an hour.
You find them in nearly every industry, and some of them work long hours. The highest-paid compensation and benefits managers work primarily in the field of pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.
25. General and operations managers
Annual salary: $132,680
The duties of general and operations managers can vary widely by industry, but they generally oversee the day-to-day duties of a team within a company. They're the ones making sure policies are enforced, and overseeing quality control and lots of little details.
While general managers typically have bachelor’s degrees or some other formal education, it’s not unheard of for a manager to have little more than a high school diploma, plus relevant job experience.
Top-earning industries for general managers are banking, and securities and commodities.
There are currently nearly 1.9 million general and operations managers running things in the United States, and they make $59.56 per hour, on average.
26. Public relations managers
Annual salary: $131,570
Image really is everything, and that’s why every celebrity, politician and organization has a publicist or public relations manager.
These folks are experts at maintaining their clients' public images, and industry professionals with tons of experience can make upwards of six figures for their work.
The average hourly rate for PR managers is $63.26, but salaries can be substantially higher in more metropolitan locations like New York City.
The U.S. has 72,460 public relations managers, and jobs are expected to grow 8% by 2028, which is faster than the average.
27. Law professors
Annual salary: $130,710
Who can give the class a rundown on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission? Anyone?
The law school professors educating the next generations of attorneys are usually lawyers themselves — and they are among the best-paid postsecondary educators. It's a good profession if you like getting your face out there, because media outlets often call upon law professors to explain complex cases in the news.
While the average annual pay nationwide is close to $131,000, law professors in Louisiana earn the highest salaries: averaging $188,740 per year.
The jobs outlook for postsecondary teachers in general is quite strong. The nation currently has about 17,000 of them, and employment is expected to grow by a much faster-than-average 11% by 2028.
28. Top executives
Annual salary: $128,240
Members of your company’s senior management team take home pretty healthy salaries. The executives who devise strategies and policies to help companies and other organizations reach their goals earn an average hourly wage of $61.66.
Top executives work in every type of industry, and — depending on experience — can transfer their skills from small businesses to large corporations. They often work closely with other senior executives in a firm, like the CEO and financial managers.
Since top executives are responsible for the success of a company, the work is often stressful and requires long hours.
Job opportunities are looking good for people with the skills for these roles. The job market for top executives is expected to grow 6% by 2028 — as fast as the average pace across all industries.
29. Human resources managers
Annual salary: $126,700
Michael Scott on The Office may have seen his human resources manager, Toby Flenderson, as an insufferable pencil-pusher. But real life HR managers have important jobs to do.
Workers turn to these executives for help resolving problems with colleagues or bosses. These managers also are the go-tos if there are potentially dangerous conditions in the workplace.
While entry-level human resources positions require a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a similar field, managers who earn six figures need at least five years of experience.
America's 143,580 human resources managers earn average pay of $60.91 an hour. The outlook for these jobs is better than average, with employment expected to grow 8% by 2028.
30. Purchasing managers
Annual salary: $125,630
Want a job that pays well and requires you to do a lot of shopping — with the equivalent of a very big credit card? A position as a purchasing manager may be just what you're looking for.
Purchasing managers buy supplies and services for companies. They negotiate deals to get their employers the best prices, and they attend trade shows to learn about the very newest products and services for their organizations.
The jobs pay an average $60.40 an hour, but there are fewer and fewer of them.
The U.S. currently has close to 504,000 purchasing managers, but the number is expected to shrink 6% by 2028. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says outsourcing and automation have made some purchasing managers obsolete.