Special Report

25 Highest Paying Jobs

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For working Americans, a job can provide a number of meaningful benefits. Dignity, identity, and a sense of purpose, to name a few. For most, however, these intangible perks are of secondary importance to the regular paycheck a full-time job provides.

While the kind of work one finds fulfilling is subjective, there is no debate about which jobs pay the most. The typical American working full-time earns $860 per week — or about $44,700 a year. In over a dozen occupations, median earnings are well more than double that amount.

High-paying jobs are high paying for a reason. They tend to be highly specialized, often requiring years of advanced — and often expensive — education beyond high school and even college. They are also almost always high pressure and challenging positions that are growing in demand at pace with or faster than the overall job growth across all occupations.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest median pay data from the U.S. Department of Labor to identify America’s 25 highest paying jobs.

Click here to see America’s 25 highest paying jobs.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

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25. Management analysts
> Median weekly earnings: $1,499
> Number of workers: 606,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 14.3% (faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 78.3%

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24. Marketing and sales managers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,509
> Number of workers: 994,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 8.4% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 69.5%

Source: StFX / Wikimedia Commons

23. Physical scientists, all other
> Median weekly earnings: $1,529
> Number of workers: 270,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 7.2% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 100.0%

Source: Thinkstock

22. Financial analysts
> Median weekly earnings: $1,530
> Number of workers: 264,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 10.9% (faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 87.4%

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21. Mechanical engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,534
> Number of workers: 337,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 8.8% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 76.5%

Source: Thinkstock

20. Engineers, all other
> Median weekly earnings: $1,561
> Number of workers: 546,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 6.4% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 82.0%

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19. Chemical engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,626
> Number of workers: 78,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 7.5% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 90.5%

Source: Thinkstock

18. Computer network architects
> Median weekly earnings: $1,636
> Number of workers: 100,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 6.5% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 58.7%

Source: Thinkstock

17. Environmental scientists and geoscientists
> Median weekly earnings: $1,639
> Number of workers: 80,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 11.8% (faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 100.0%

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16. Information security analysts
> Median weekly earnings: $1,725
> Number of workers: 94,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 28.5% (much faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 67.6%

Source: Thinkstock

15. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,736
> Number of workers: 112,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 3.5% (slower than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 73.9%

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14. Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,742
> Number of workers: 59,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 5.8% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 98.3%

Source: Thinkstock

13. Physician assistants
> Median weekly earnings: $1,747
> Number of workers: 97,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 37.3% (much faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 92.3%

Source: Thinkstock

12. Computer hardware engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,771
> Number of workers: 73,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 5.5% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 76.1%

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11. Software developers, applications and systems software
> Median weekly earnings: $1,792
> Number of workers: 1.4 million
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 11.1%-30.7% (much faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 84.5%

Source: Thinkstock

10. Electrical and electronics engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,803
> Number of workers: 276,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 6.5% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 79.5%

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9. Veterinarians
> Median weekly earnings: $1,840
> Number of workers: 60,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 18.8% (much faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 100.0%

Source: Thinkstock

8. Nurse practitioners
> Median weekly earnings: $1,841
> Number of workers: 141,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 36.1% (much faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 99.1%

Source: Thinkstock

7. Computer and information systems managers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,843
> Number of workers: 594,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 12.0% (faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 73.9%

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6. Aerospace engineers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,892
> Number of workers: 137,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 6.1% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 86.3%

Source: Thinkstock

5. Lawyers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,901
> Number of workers: 781,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 8.2% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 98.3%

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4. Physicians and surgeons
> Median weekly earnings: $1,918
> Number of workers: 815,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 12.8% (faster than average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 99.5%

Source: Thinkstock

3. Pharmacists
> Median weekly earnings: $1,923
> Number of workers: 254,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 5.6% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 97.6%

Source: Thinkstock

2. Architectural and engineering managers
> Median weekly earnings: $1,999
> Number of workers: 128,000
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 5.5% (as fast as average)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 84.7%

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1. Chief executives
> Median weekly earnings: $2,296
> Number of workers: 1.1 million
> Projected job growth, 2016-2026: -3.9% (Decline)
> Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree: 69.5%

All but four of the highest paying jobs are in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics — commonly known as STEM jobs. Occupations in STEM fields tend to be high paying partially because of increasing demand for skilled workers in those fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM fields grew by 10.5% between 2009 and 2015, more than double the 5.2% employment growth across non-STEM jobs. Over the 10 years between 2016 and 2026, employments in 10 of the STEM jobs on this list is projected to grow faster or much faster than employment across all occupations.

Growing demand for some of the non-STEM jobs on this list also partially explains their high compensations. Three of the four jobs paying the most outside of STEM fields are projected to grow at least as fast as the average 10-year projected growth across all jobs.

The jobs on this list pay high salaries also because of their high educational attainment requirements. The typical lawyer, for example, earns $1,901 per week, the fifth highest median income of any occupation. However, lawyers’ high salaries are likely necessary to justify the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt many accumulate over their four-years of undergrad and three years of law school.

Strict educational requirements are by no means limited to law. In each of the 25 occupations on this list, over half of all workers have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. In all but six jobs, three-quarters of all workers have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In many of the highest paying jobs, practical experience is critical. Five of the highest paying jobs require a minimum of five years of related experience. In some of those jobs, experience is often more important than educational experience. Among chief executives, the best paying position in the United States, 69.5% of workers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a smaller share than most jobs on this list. However, for many CEOs, years of on-the-job experience is more important than a formal education or advanced degree.

To identify the highest paying jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2017 annual averages of 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.

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