> Median weekly earnings: $1,897
> Number of workers: 745,000
> Projected job growth, 2014-24: 5.6% (as-fast-as-average growth)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 98.3%
Attorneys are one of only 13 professions in the United States with a median estimated annual salary of over $90,000. High pay among lawyers comes at a cost, however. According the Department of Labor, it is relatively common for lawyers to work more than 40 hours a week. Additionally, like many high-paying occupations, jobs in the legal profession require substantial education and accreditation. In addition to a four-year bachelor’s degree, lawyers then must earn a juris doctor degree, which typically takes three years. They also must pass the bar exam, which is considered one of the most difficult licensing tests.
4. Physicians and surgeons
> Median weekly earnings: $1,916
> Number of workers: 806,000
> Projected job growth, 2014-24: 14.0% (faster-than-average growth)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 99.8%
The demand for physicians and surgeons is expected to grow at more than double the national average job growth rate by 2024. The aging U.S. baby boom generation will account for much of the growth. At the same time, the employment landscape for physicians and other health-related jobs can change with new health insurance legislation as well as the development of new medical technology.
As is nearly always the case, the long years of schooling required to become a physician or surgeon helps explain the high wages.
> Median weekly earnings: $1,924
> Number of workers: 222,000
> Projected job growth, 2014-24: 3.1% (slower-than-average growth)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 97.7%
Pharmacists are one of a number of medical professionals counted among the highest-paid U.S. workers. Health-related jobs frequently require years of training, licensing, and experience — investments that demand greater compensation. Nearly all pharmacists have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 36.4% of full-time workers nationwide. The typical pharmacist earns nearly $2,000 a week, trailing wages of just two other U.S. jobs. Unlike many other forms of health sector employment, which are projected to grow considerably in coming years due in part to the growing U.S. elderly population, the number of pharmacists is expected to grow by just 3%, slower than average. More than 12% of pharmacists work in health and personal care stores, a share which may decline as online and mail-order pharmacies lessen the need for traditional retail locations.
2. Architectural and engineering managers
> Median weekly earnings: $2,258
> Number of workers: 143,000
> Projected job growth, 2014-24: 2.0% (slower-than-average growth)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 84.4%
Architectural and engineering managers oversee the development of new products and places, and are often in charge of projects with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. With such responsibility, the typical engineering manager is paid $117,416 annually, the second most of any full-time occupation. Engineering managers tend to earn the most in Texas, where they oversee large, lucrative oil and natural gas extraction projects. While a growing population will increase demand for architectural managers in civil engineering services, job growth in the field is projected to be far slower, largely because of the declining demand for engineering managers employed in the nation’s shrinking manufacturing industry.
1. Chief executives
> Median weekly earnings: $2,303
> Number of workers: 1,150,000
> Projected job growth, 2014-24: -1.2% (slower-than-average growth)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 68.6%
Chief executives, who typically occupy the top position at their companies, are the highest paid full-time workers in the United States, with a median weekly salary of $2,303. Many chief executives benefit from additional forms of compensation such as stock options and performance bonuses. Like most of the country’s highest paid workers, more than two-thirds of chief executives have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the national average college attainment rate. However, the skills needed to manage a company are often not attained before accumulating years of experience in the company and related industry.