The 25 Highest-Paying Jobs in America

March 9, 2016 by Thomas C. Frohlich

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The technology and health sectors are two of the most vibrant, highly innovative, and ultra competitive industries in the U.S. economy. To maintain relevance, companies in these industries require highly skilled and often highly educated employees. Such employees do not come cheaply and to attract them, companies offer large compensation packages.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 25 highest paying jobs in America ranked by median annual base salary. Employee experience review company Glassdoor identified the jobs based on salary reports employees in these jobs shared on glassdoor.com over the past year.

Physicians and lawyers are the highest and second highest paying professions in the United States, with salaries of $180,000 and $144,500, respectively. The majority of the 23 other highest paid occupations are — like physicians — in the health sector but also in the technology sectors.

Click here to see the 25 highest paying jobs in America.

The highest paying jobs are concentrated in these sectors largely because they are in high demand. These professions also frequently require skills that are exceedingly difficult to automate.

In an email with 24/7 Wall St., Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist, explained that many of these health sector and technology jobs involve a level of judgment and creativity that is impossible to automate at present. “The urgency of many healthcare scenarios requires snap-decisions or creative solutions to existing medical conditions,” Chamberlain gave as example. Similarly, in the technology sector, a degree of flexibility and creativity in these highly paid jobs is required that is very difficult to automate.

Fifteen of the 25 highest paying jobs are management positions. While Glassdoor’s data do not suggest that managerial positions are on the rise, managers in any given industry are often better paid. “The manager skill set that requires maintaining a working team in a fast-paced, highly-educated industry like tech, finance or healthcare is also something that employers find difficult to automate, and will invest in with higher employee salaries,” said Chamberlain.

By contrast, the typical receptionist, server, leasing consultant, or office assistant — to give just a few examples — earn starting salaries between $30,000 and $35,000. The relatively low salaries for these jobs can be at least partially attributed to the fact that, unlike the highest paid occupations, they do not typically require high levels of education, technical skills. In some cases, automation of these jobs is also partially to blame.

Pay is among the most important factors for individuals looking for a job. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, more than two-thirds of people consider compensation one of their primary considerations when accepting a job.

While a high salary may attract job-seekers to particular positions, once they are in the job, pay is by no means the primary driver of employee satisfaction. “When we dig deeper into what keeps employees satisfied once they’re in a job and with a company, we find that culture and values, career opportunities, and trust in senior leadership are the biggest drivers of employee satisfaction,” Chamberlain said.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Paying Jobs in America report, released March 9, 2016. According to the report: “For a job title to be considered for Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Paying Jobs in America report, job titles must receive at least 75 salary reports shared by U.S.-based employees over the past year (1/24/15 – 1/23/16). The number of job openings per job title represents active job listings on Glassdoor as of 2/23/165. If job titles have the same median base salary, the job title with the higher number of job openings receives higher rank. This report takes into account job title normalization that groups similar job titles. C-suite level jobs were excluded from this report.” In addition to data from Glassdoor, we reviewed job outlook for jobs listed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These are the 25 highest paying jobs in America.

25. Information systems manager
> Median base salary:
$106,000
> Number of job openings: 147

With a median base salary of $106,000, information systems managers are some of the highest paid workers in the country. Like many other high-paying jobs, the high level of education necessary for this job partially explains the high pay. On the other hand, there are only 147 information systems manager job openings currently listed on Glassdoor, relatively few compared to other top-paying professions in the technology industry.

24. Analytics manager
> Median base salary:
$106,000
> Number of job openings: 988

Due to technological advances, data collection is far easier than it once was. But all this data needs to be analyzed in a useful manner. This analysis often helps organizations improve decision-making and efficiency. With improved data collection, analytic manager employment is expected to grow by 30% through 2024, considerably faster than the average growth for all U.S. occupations.

23. Design manager
> Median base salary:
$106,500
> Number of job openings: 510

Depending on the employer, design managers work on a wide range of projects, from interior decorating to engineering projects and many others. Design managers create new user interfaces and graphic designs for the projects.

22. Product manager
> Median base salary:
$107,000
> Number of job openings: 7,758

The skills associated with product management — guiding a team and developing sales strategies, for example — are relatively broad and apply to companies in nearly all industries. Like most of the top-paying jobs, product management employment is also not as vulnerable to offshoring as employment in other U.S. industries. There seem to be many available product management positions, as 7,758 openings are currently listed. This could suggest high demand for the job.

21. Tax manager
> Median base salary:
$110,000
> Number of job openings: 1,495

Taxes have some impact on practically all adults, companies and industries in the United States. The U.S. tax code may also be as complex as it is ubiquitous. For these reasons, tax-related employment will likely remain stable. Tax managers are also very well paid, earning an average base salary of $110,000 annually.

20. Data architect
> Median base salary:
$113,000
> Number of job openings: 762

Due to technological developments, increasingly massive quantities of data are collected and stored, driving up demand for people capable of maintaining and organizing databases. Employment in this field and other similar professions will likely grow considerably faster than most occupations. The high demand also largely explains the high average base salary of $113,000.

19. Actuary
> Median base salary:
$115,000
> Number of job openings: 175

Compared with many other well-paying jobs, which tend to be in high demand, there are relatively few openings for actuary positions. Just 175 actuary jobs are currently listed, according to Glassdoor. The relatively low number is likely due to the very high level of specialization required as well as the relatively few industries in which actuaries are needed. The job offers a very high base salary at an estimated $115,000.

18. Creative director
> Median base salary:
$115,000
> Number of job openings: 696

Automation of simple and even complex tasks is making an increasing number of occupations obsolete. As Chamberlain explained, managerial jobs such as the creative director often require a very high level of judgement and creativity which is at present impossible to automate. The flexibility required to manage a team of workers or unique client relationships is also virtually immune to competition from automated techniques.

17. Risk manager
> Median base salary:
$115,000
> Number of job openings: 1,137

Risk managers are frequently employed in the insurance and financial sectors. Hedging risks properly is essential to both of these industries. Also, like most other professions on this list, risk management may require a level of discretion not currently available from automated processes.

16. Data scientist
> Median base salary:
$115,000
> Number of job openings: 1,985

The rising demand for data analysis not only helps explain the high wages for data scientists, but also makes the occupation one of the most indispensable professions available today. The occupation offers an estimated starting salary of $115,000, and close to 2,000 job openings are currently listed on Glassdoor.

15. Finance manager
> Median base salary:
$115,000
> Number of job openings: 2,582

Finance manager jobs are high paying and in relatively high demand. The average base salary of $115,000 is higher than that of other U.S. occupations, and the 2,582 current open positions exceed most other jobs in the industry. Finance managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization.

14. Systems architect
> Median base salary:
$116,920
> Number of job openings: 439

Systems architects require a computer science background as well as knowledge in other fields. These professionals are required to integrate both software and hardware components. For a given project, a systems architect is also frequently responsible for taking into account cost, space, the positions of stakeholders, and user preferences.

13. Pharmacist
> Median base salary:
$118,000
> Number of job openings: 4,502

Pharmacists dispense prescribed medications and frequently offer advice to consumers. The profession is in particularly high demand in the United States, which is the world’s largest consumer of pharmaceuticals as well as a leader in industry research. Like other health-related fields, trends such as the rapid aging of the U.S. population will continue to drive up pharmacist employment.

12. Applications development manager
> Median base salary:
$120,000
> Number of job openings: 263

Application development managers typically require a degree in computer science. Like many of the nation’s highest-paying jobs, employees in this professions almost always work for technology companies.

11. Engagement manager
> Median base salary:
$120,000
> Number of job openings: 1,452

Like a number of other high-paying jobs, as well as management occupations more specifically, engagement managers employ skills not easily automated or deliverable from overseas. This particular management position is applicable to a wide a range of organizations and industries. Engagement managers often deal with complex and unique client relationships, a set of skills that, like in other jobs on this list, are not easily automated by technology.

10. Solutions architect
> Median base salary:
$120,000
> Number of job openings: 2,838

Solutions architects deal primarily with data-related projects and often work in consulting and technology firms that offer data storage products and services. The typical pay for a starting worker in the occupation is $120,000.

9. IT manager
> Median base salary:
$120,000
> Number of job openings: 3,152

Information technology managers are needed to manage IT infrastructures, especially in expanding organizations. Not only do these workers require knowledge of computer systems, but also management skills.

8. Integrated circuit designer engineer
> Median base salary:
$127,500
> Number of job openings: 165

Integrated circuits, chips, microchips, or semiconductors are essential component of virtually all computing products and processes. Anything from an automobile’s electric windows to a computer’s operating system requires chips of some kind. Designers and engineers of these products spend many years learning the necessary knowledge and skills, and are therefore in high demand. While the pay is high, Glassdoor estimates a relatively low number of current job openings.

7. Software architect
> Median base salary:
$128,250
> Number of job openings: 655

The increased use of technology guarantees at least steady demand for many technology-related jobs. In particular, demand for software developers and architects will continue to rise with the increased use of computerized applications, which further drives up wages. The base salary of a software architect in the United States is $128,250 a year, one of the highest — even among technology jobs.

6. Strategy manager
> Median base salary:
$130,000
> Number of job openings: 701

Strategy managers frequently consult companies charged with complex problems and large management teams. Strategy managers are usually relatively well educated, but perhaps more importantly, most positions call for many years of experience.

5. Pharmacy manager
> Median base salary:
$130,000
> Number of job openings: 1,766

The pharmaceutical and health care industries in the United States are closely interlinked. Like many other health professions, pharmacy managers are largely protected from competition and automation. Pharmacy managers are often trained pharmacists, another one of the highest paying jobs.

4. Software development manager
> Median base salary:
$132,000
> Number of job openings: 3,495

Automation and offshoring are among the most prominent forces impacting U.S. industries and employment. Much of the automation trend is fueled by software and other technological advancements. Since humans will likely continue to design and construct this software into the foreseeable future, software development managers will likely remain in high demand. Not only are such workers highly paid, but they are also in high demand — Glassdoor estimates close to 3,500 current job openings, above average.

3. Research & development manager
> Median base salary:
$142,120
> Number of job openings: 112

A wide range of organizations in many industries require some research and development, and the individuals capable of managing such projects do not necessarily have the same set of skills and educational background. The profession will likely remain relatively invulnerable to offshoring and automation, and the starting base salary of $142,120 is among the highest in the country. On the other hand, Glassdoor estimates just 112 job openings, one of the lower such figures of any U.S. occupation.

2. Lawyer
> Median base salary:
$144,500
> Number of job openings: 995

The value of a law degree has been recently questioned due to the high number of law school graduates relative to job openings. Perhaps as a result, law school enrollment has fallen in recent years. Still, the demand for legal services will likely remain steady in the future, as the BLS projects growth for lawyer occupations in line with the national average. Due to the high level of education required, lawyers are also very well paid, trailing only doctors in starting salary.

1. Physician
> Median base salary:
$180,000
> Number of job openings: 2,064

Like law professions, doctors and physicians have been among the most highly-paid and respected occupations for some time. A typical U.S. worker starting out as a physician earns $180,000 annually. The growing population of elderly Americans is expected to only accelerate in coming years, a trend that will increase the demand for physicians and other medical practitioners.