Wages of middle- and low-income earners increased in 2016 faster than wages of the highest earners. However, this increase does not come close to closing our nation’s income gap.
The nation’s highest paid workers earn several times the wages of the lowest paid worker. The typical U.S. full-time worker earns $832 weekly. Hundreds of thousands of Americans work as dishwashers and counter attendants, earning a median of less than $400 weekly. Meanwhile, the highest paid jobs — frequently scientists, engineers, physicians, and long-tenured executives — typically earn over $1,500 weekly, and in a few cases over $2,000 each week.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest job market data from the U.S. Department of Labor to determine America’s 25 highest paying jobs.
A large part of U.S. labor policy focuses on the creation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — or STEM — jobs. These are highly-specialized positions that can lead to innovation in a given field and help strengthen the American job market by creating additional employment opportunities. STEM jobs also tend to pay much better than most positions, which also creates a stronger economy, and puts more money in Americans’ pockets.
Most of the highest paid workers are in STEM positions. Only six of the 25 professions with the highest weekly wages are not in STEM fields. Of the 21 high-paying STEM occupations, five are medical professions and nine are engineering roles.
One reason STEM workers and those in other occupations on this list are paid so well is the level of education they require. Jobs that require a four-year bachelor’s degree, a master’s, or a PhD are more likely to compensate workers better as an incentive to incur tens of thousands of dollars in debt. While just 36.4% of full-time U.S. workers have at least a bachelor’s degree, the share is at least 67% in each of these 25 professions, and in some cases, virtually every worker in the field has at least a bachelor’s degree.
Another factor driving up salaries in these occupations is experience. As workers advance through the ranks and gain more responsibility, they are likely to receive raises. The most representative example of this is the chief executive, the highest position a person can reach in a company — and the highest paying job.
The country’s highest paid professions highlight another problem common throughout the labor force — the gender pay gap. The typical female full-time worker earns about 82 cents for every dollar her male counterpart earns. In addition to being paid less for the same work, a major reason for this is the low representation of females in high-paying jobs. Men comprise the majority of workers in all but five of the 25 highest paid positions. In 14, at least 70% of the workforce is male. Just 27.7% of chief executives are women, while only 6.3% of architectural and engineering managers, the second highest paying profession, are women.
To identify the highest paying jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2016 annual average median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of workers employed in each occupation was also obtained from the BLS. The estimated yearly earnings for each occupation was calculated from the median weekly earnings figures.
These are the 25 highest paying jobs.