When considering the highest paying jobs in the United States, Forbes.jobs readers of a certain age no doubt conjure images of corporate raider Gordon Gekko uttering, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” in the 1987 film classic Wall Street. The helicopter, beach house, the high-flying affluent lifestyle tempted stockbroker protege Bud Fox to the point of incarceration in pursuit of riches.
Which is another reason you’ve enlisted our help. Unlike Fox, you have a sterling reputation to uphold and would like to secure one of the highest paying positions possible in your field. Turns out, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” that if you’re in medicine, the legal field, or sciences, you are in line for a hefty salary.
Of course many of these fields require advanced degrees and tons of training before you’re turned loose to conquer the world. Still, check out a few of these highest paying jobs and related fields:
PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS
The 2021 median pay for this group was $208,000 per year, or $100 per hour, according to BLS. Nearly 762,000 work in the U.S. in an industry that is expected to grow 3 percent during the next decade as older doctors retire.
To become a physician or surgeon and earn one of those highest paying jobs requires a bachelor’s degree as well as a medical degree, which takes an additional four years to complete, the report says. And depending on the medical specialty, doctors also need to complete a 3- to 9-year internship and residency program. It’s a long slog to strike gold.
The BLS report includes many medical specialties, including neurologists, cardiologists, obstetricians, internal medicine, anesthesiologists, maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, orthopedic surgeons, among others.
AIRLINE PILOTS, CO-PILOTS AND FLIGHT ENGINEERS
The 2021 median in this highest paying job group was $202,180 per year, according to BLS. Nearly 135,300 work in an industry that is expected to grow 6 percent during the next decade which is faster than average.
To be hired as an airline pilot, co-pilot or engineer typically requires a bachelor’s degree and experience as a commercial or military pilot. Commercial pilots typically need flight training and both must meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements and pass testing. Specialized, aircraft-specific training also is required, such as for helicopters or other niche aircraft.
Flexibility and temperament are important to bag one these highest paying jobs in America, as pilots have variable work schedules, overnight layovers, weather delays and other issues that demand a steady hand and focus.
PHYSICISTS AND ASTRONOMERS
Mom loves telling her friends you’re a rocket scientist. Turns out, it pays, too. Only 25,200 work in this field in the U.S. as of 2021 with median pay of just under $148,000. But the industry is growing faster than average at 8 percent during the next decade.
Physicists and astronomers study the interactions of matter and energy, according to the BLS. They typically work in offices, research laboratories, and observatories in university settings or government installations. Most work full-time with many working upwards of 40 hours per week.
ATTORNEYS AND LAWYERS
Let’s draw a distinction right away: Attorneys have passed their respective State Bar exam, while lawyers has merely graduated from law school but haven’t passed the Bar. Both hold positions among the highest paying jobs at a median of $128,000.
Lawyers advise and represent individuals and businesses on legal issues and the law, while attorneys are able to argue before a judge and represent a client in a courtroom. There are more than 830,000 lawyers and attorneys in the U.S., a figure that is expected to grow by 10 percent during the next decade, and includes many specialties: Litigation attorney, personal injury lawyer, tax attorney, copyright lawyer, elder law attorney, entertainment lawyer, among others.
These are just a few of the highest paying jobs and fields available. Go ahead, be greedy and reach your full potential.
OTHER HIGH PAYING JOBS
Chief Executive Officer, median salary, $213,020
Nurse Anesthetist, $202,470
Dentist (General), $167,160
Computer and Information Systems Manager, $162,930
Photo by Edward Jenner