> Median annual earnings: $106,236
> Total number of workers: 884,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 6.1%
> Lawyers with a bachelor’s degree: 98.3%
With median annual earnings of over $106,000, lawyers have the fifth highest-paying job in America. There are nearly 900,000 attorneys practicing in different fields of law across the nation, either in private practice, corporate offices, or on behalf of the government. Lawyers typically have a bachelor’s degree and must obtain a law degree and pass a bar exam that allows them to work in the state in which they practice law.
4. Physicians and surgeons
> Median annual earnings: $119,184
> Total number of workers: 857,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 7.3%
> Physicians and surgeons with a bachelor’s degree: N/A
As one of the most important and highly specialized careers in the country, physicians and surgeons are well compensated, typically earning over $119,000 per year. There are over 850,000 physicians and surgeons, covering a wide variety of specialties and practices.
Physicians and surgeons must earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate from medical school, and complete internship and residency programs. Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to increase slightly faster than the average for American jobs, largely due to the expanding need for care among the elderly.
> Median annual earnings: $119,704
> Total number of workers: 71,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 7.5%
> Dentists with a bachelor’s degree: N/A
Dentists are some of the highest paid workers in the labor force. The median annual salary among dentists working full time is nearly $120,000, well more than double the median annual earnings of $47,684 among full-time workers across all occupations.
As is the case with most occupations on this list, dentistry is a highly specialized profession that requires years of schooling and training. Dental school alone takes four years to complete for full-time students, and a bachelor’s degree is typically required for admission. Upon graduating, an additional period of two to six years of training in a residency program is required for those who are planning to specialize.
2. Chief executives
> Median annual earnings: $123,760
> Total number of workers: 1.1 million
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 -5.5%
> Chief executives with a bachelor’s degree: 69.9%
Chief executives work as the head of their respective company or organization. While their specific duties may vary, they are generally responsible for the direction and mission of their organization. Salaries for chief executive officers can vary considerably, but the majority of American CEOs earn over $123,000 a year. For CEOs of larger publicly traded companies, their annual salaries represent only a small share of their annual compensation, as annual bonuses and stock options can often be in the seven-figure range. The vast majority of CEOs in the United States — 73% — are men.
1. Architectural and engineering managers
> Median annual earnings: $128,492
> Total number of workers: 148,000
> Projected employment change 2018-2028 2.8%
> Architectural and engineering managers with a bachelor’s degree: 84.4%
Architectural and engineering managers typically earn more than $128,000 per year, a higher annual salary than any other occupation by a significant margin. These managers direct the activities of architectural and engineering companies. The position requires not only expertise gained through a college degree, but also years of on-the-job experience.