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.