May 05, 2020

25 Highest Paid Occupations in the U.S. for 2020


25 Highest Paid Occupations in the U.S. for 2020

Are you interested in what jobs can bring the most money? We based our list on the U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking. Most occupations are the same as the ones published by National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates in 2019. More information about each occupation was taken from other reputable sources, including the O*NET OnLine. 

The highest paying jobs continue to be in the healthcare industry. In fact, healthcare occupations are projected to grow as much as 14%. To take advantage of this growing need for healthcare specialists, you will need to have a doctorate degree. Medical school will cost you about $250K at public university, however, considering that highest paying doctors take the top 10 positions on our list and receive between $175K to $267K, recovering that money should not take you very long.

There are other professions that require only a bachelor’s degree and yet have a salary of about $150K per year. While the money should absolutely not be a primary reason to go into one occupation or the other, it is an important factor and might help you decide which direction to go with your career. 

Keep in mind that the highest paying jobs usually come not only with higher education requirements and, accordingly, larger student loans, but also often with higher taxes. Thus, it is important to have a tax specialist to help you calculate your tax contributions throughout the year and help you with filing your taxes to ensure that you do not pay more than you have to. There are many potential ways to save on taxes from smart tax planning to bookkeeping to take advantage of tax deduction possibilities.


Yearly mean salary: $267K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

It is a mentally-demanding, high-pressure job. The patient’s life is in this doctor’s hands, so it is no wonder that they are paid so much. Most work is in surgery rooms at hospitals or surgical outpatient centers. They may also handle pain management during labor and delivery and in intensive care units. Anesthesiologists train longer than many other physicians because they need 1-2 additional years of residency in their specialty. 


Yearly mean salary: $255K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

A surgeon’s job includes performing surgical procedures, usually specializing in particular areas of the human body. If you go for neurosurgery or plastic surgery, your salary will be significantly higher – about $575K and $500 K, respectively. Repairing injuries, preventing disease, even transplanting organs,surgeons are literally on the cutting edge of medicine. Besides medical knowledge, being a surgeon requires exacting precision, dexterity, and stamina.

3.Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeons

Yearly mean salary: $242K

Education needed: Doctorate degreeOral-maxillofacial surgeons are more than just dentists. They treat defects, fractures, injuries, diseases, and other conditions of mouth and teeth, as well as the jaws and the face. They may also improve their function or appearance through surgery. Oral-maxillofacial surgeons must be licensed as dentists and as oral-maxillofacial surgeons.


Yearly mean salary: $238K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Obstetricians-Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women’s health and childbirth. While gynecologists take care of the general health and problems related to the reproductive system, obstetricians deal more with the actual pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum period. This does not mean that one doctor cannot carry out both of these roles. They make diagnostics, prescribe medications, and sometimes perform surgeries.


Yearly mean salary: $226K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Orthodontists are important to the way people look and feel because beautiful, straight, and even teeth make for a great smile and contribute to overall good health. These doctors specialize in the way teeth fit together. The make diagnosis and create appliances, such as braces, to help straighten the teeth. They are also trained to give shots, perform oral surgeries, and make medication prescriptions. There is a steady need for orthodontists.


Yearly mean salary: $220K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Psychiatry is a career that makes a difference. There is an increased demand for psychiatrists in recent years, and a 16% increase in their average salary in 2018 is proof of that. Psychiatrists have medical training and can prescribe medication. They help people to overcome the obstacles and problems they are facing in a safe place and start living a normal and happy life.


Yearly mean salary: $196K

Education needed: Doctorate degreePhysicians take care of patients in a variety of ways, from preventing health problems from treating them. They can be either medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine. Primary care physicians earn some of the lowest salaries compared to other doctors. The good news is that physician income has been steadily rising over the past years, primarily due to the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand.


Yearly mean salary: $191K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Prosthodontics is the forefront of dentistry. Prosthodontists are highly educated and trained dentists. They take a whole mother approach, undergoing intense training beyond general dentistry to focus on the most cutting edge procedures in dentistry. They utilize state-of-the-art procedures and techniques to restore or replace missing, broken, or severely worn teeth with implants, crowns, and veneers.

9.Pediatricians, General

Yearly mean salary: $183K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in working with infants, children, and young adults, usually up to age 21. They diagnose and treat common diseases and injuries. They usually do regular check-ups and look for signs of health problems. Pediatricians work in clinics or private offices and are assisted by nurses and other administrative personnel. Just like any other doctor, it takes many years and training to be a pediatrician.


Yearly mean salary: $176K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

The dentist is a health professional that evaluates, diagnoses, and treats problems that occur in teeth and the tissues of the mouth. Typical responsibilities include doing fillings, removing cavities, taking out teeth that cannot be fixed, trying to restore an infected tooth, and diagnosing and treating gum conditions. The growth outlook for dentists is slightly faster than average.

11.Nurse Anesthetists

Yearly mean salary: $175K

Education needed: Master’s degreeNurse anesthetists provide anesthesia and pain relief to patients. It is a unique way to help people that are undergoing a surgical procedure. They are the highest paying nurses and can work independently or under supervision in a doctor’s office or a large medical center. Currently, this position requires only a master’s degree, but it is expected that they will be required to have a doctoral degree in the near future.

12.Petroleum Engineers

Yearly mean salary: $156K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degreePetroleum engineers conduct feasibility assessment studies for developing new oil and gas fields. They work with geologists and other specialists to develop drilling programs to extract oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. This work requires a combination of complex knowledge and willingness to travel. There is not a high growth potential for the number of jobs – only a 3% increase in the next 10 years. The salary is closely connected to the oil and gas prices.

13.Information Systems Managers

Yearly mean salary: $153K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

It might seem that software developers are the most important figures in the IT field. However, those who manage everything technology-related play no less important role. They make sure that the servers and the network are working properly, the security is strong, patching is happening, and the infrastructure is being monitored. IT managers also deal with the service providers, vendors of the hardware, and software. They can also be responsible for day-to-day systems and network administration, etc.


Yearly mean salary: $148K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

A podiatrist is specifically trained to treat foot problems. As a medical doctor, the podiatrist can prescribe medications, order X-rays and lab tests, apply the treatment, or, with certification, perform surgery. Many podiatrists have their own offices or join a physician group. They can also obtain additional certifications, for example, to perform surgeries or to deal with orthopedics. Considering that three out of four Americans have had a foot problem, this occupation will not seize to be in demand.

15.Marketing Managers

Yearly mean salary: $147K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degreeMarketing managers in a very high demand in the modern world due to high competition among organizations. The heart of every successful business lies in marketing, so they are paid accordingly. The role of marketing managers involves developing the best strategies and campaigns for the promotion of services/products of the company’s brand. Marketing managers are expected to handle the pressure of tight deadlines because they are leaders of a team.

16.Financial Managers

Yearly mean salary: $147K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degreeFinancial managers act as a conduit between the financial market and the company. No robo-advisors, financial software, or online brokers can fully replace this occupation. The growth projections for a position in this field between 2108 and 2028 are as high as 16%. They play an important role in the company’s success and help it to meet the requirements of regulatory agencies.

17.Pilots and Flight Engineers

Yearly mean salary: $147K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degreePilots need to get a license before they can do their first take off with passengers. Many airlines, however, require a college degree or a bachelor’s degree, according to the O*NET summary. Young pilots, though, don’t get paid much and work tougher schedules. Flight engineers assist the cockpit crew in some larger airplanes by monitoring and operating many of the instruments and systems. However, this job is now often done by computers.


Yearly mean salary: $144K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Lawyers (attorneys) represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies and counsel them about their legal rights and obligations. They draw up legal documents, such as contracts, and represent clients in a court of law. After completing a bachelor’s degree, one has to also attend a law school and take a state bar exam to be an attorney. The demand for this profession is growing at an average rate, about 6%. 

19.Sales Managers

Yearly mean salary: $140K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

A sales manager provides key inputs for developing long-term sales plans and marketing plans such as sales forecasting, sales force management, developing sales strategies, implementing and controlling sales budget, and so on. The manager works closely with every member of the sales team and must be a leader that motivates and inspires. Employees look for degrees in marketing and management or an area related to their industry. The salary is often tied to profits and may include bonuses, as well as a percentage of overall sales.

20.Business operations managers

Yearly mean salary: $124K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degreeA business operations manager is a C-level executive who leads a company’s operational activities. The business operations manager is someone who understands how a business operates to a point where problems can be identified, examined, and resolved. Besides managing day to day operations of a company, a business operations manager has many years of consistent, hands-on experience managing a company and creating resolutions to business problems. The expected job growth for operations managers from 2018-2028 is 7%.


Yearly mean salary: $124K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Pharmacists provide many valuable services to patients. The main duty of a pharmacist is to dispense prescriptions to a patient and education them on their use accurately. Besides filling medications and warning of potential side effects of medications, they can administer vaccines and create custom medications. Making a mistake on this job can have life-threatening consequences. Pharmacists can work in local drug stores, hospitals, and community clinics.

22.Financial advisors

Yearly mean salary: $122K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

Financial advisors help people to manage their money. They help clients with short and long-term investments, and can specialize in a specific area, such as risk management or retirement. Titles like a stockbroker, financial planner, an investment advisor refer to specific experts with different experiences and skills. The demand for qualifies professional financial advisors if growing rapidly as more people retire from the workforce and need help to manage their money.


Yearly mean salary: $120K

Education needed: Doctorate degree

Optometry is a profession of examining the eyes to diagnose vision problems and diseases and prescribing corrective glasses or contacts. They also help to resolve any problems with the eye like itching or redness. They might need to refer patients to an ophthalmologist to perform surgery. Optometrists have extensive training, but they are not doctors. Their salary is varied depending on the place they work, which can be a hospital setting, private practice, group practice, or retail setting.


Yearly mean salary: $116K

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

An actuary is a professional that uses past data in order to quantify risk and put a value on events that might occur in the future. There are not many actuaries in the U.S., but they are in demand in the insurance and financial securities industries because of their ability to put a price tag on probabilities. They improve financial decision-making by using mathematical models to project future risks.

25.Political scientist

Yearly mean salary: $115K

Education needed: Master’s degree

Political science majors learn to navigate the ins and outs of an intricate political system by researching, analyzing, and forecasting. They use their knowledge to understand how policies and laws affect people, organizations, and the country. To become a political scientist, you would need to obtain a degree in political science, public administration, or a related field. Those who have a master’s or Ph.D. degree have better employment prospects and advancement opportunities.

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Author: Charles Lutwidge

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