If you want to make a decent living at a job with good benefits, there are two ways to go about it. One is to develop specialized in-demand skills outside of the higher-educational system. The other is to hit the books and work your way toward an advanced degree in an in-demand field. By far, your best chance to get a high-paying job in America is through higher education.
To determine the 25 best paying jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data on median annual wage estimates for 789 occupations. The occupations were ranked based on the median annual earnings for all employees in 2020. (These are the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.)
As you would expect, lawyers, doctors, engineers, and company executives are among the highest paid professionals. But so are company administrators, managers, and scientists.
These well-paying jobs all require at least a bachelor’s degree, and in many cases they require more advanced degrees. Even when a more advanced degree is not required, a master’s degree or Ph.D. will garner you higher wages and greater job security.
Though more Americans than ever hold a degree from an accredited four-year university program, they are still a minority in the workforce. Just 32% of the U.S. adult population held at least a bachelor’s from 2015 to 2019, according to a 2021 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Though this is about 5 percentage points higher than a decade earlier, the number of college-educated adults could stand to grow further.
Based on supply and demand in the labor market, the higher educated receive a pay-and-benefits premium not just because they have specialized, in-demand skills (those lacking a college degree can have specialized in-demand skills, too), but also because there are fewer of them to choose from relative to the total number of workers in the country’s labor force.
Additionally, some parts of the country suffer from shortages of higher-educated professionals compared to others. (This is the most educated city in every state.)
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