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Whether you are a college student choosing your major or a working professional considering a career shift, many factors contribute to job selection. But there is one detail that can be particularly important: What profession brings in the most money?
The right job for you depends on more than just the salary. However, earning potential is a major concern, especially if you have invested time and money in higher education.
So, what are the highest paying jobs you can get? If you’ve ever considered a career in healthcare, we have good news: Medical professions account for nearly all of the highest paying occupations in the United States.
This article explores high paying jobs and how to pursue them. We’ve included data from sources like the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to provide context on salary and employment trends.
To understand how higher paying jobs fit into the general employment landscape, let’s start with some basic facts about American workers.
- As of July 2024, the Census Bureau reports that the population of the United States is over 333 million people. Of those, about 160 million Americans are currently employed.
- The highest paying occupations earn about 300% more than the median household income in the United States.
- About two-thirds of American workers do not have college degrees, which limits potential salary and job security for many Americans.
- Asian American households have the highest median annual income at $94,903.
How many people work in the United States?
Broad social and economic trends affect the number of people employed in the United States at any given time. In recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most dramatic factors affecting American employment.
BLS data appears that from 2010 through the beginning of 2020, the number of American workers grew steadily as the country recovered from the Great Recession in 2007 to 2009. Employment rose from about 130 million in 2010 to more than 152 million in February 2020. When the pandemic hit In March of that year, employment numbers eased, returning to 2010 levels by April 2020.
Today, the number of working Americans has rebounded and now exceeds pre-pandemic numbers, with about 160 million people working, according to the Data published by CEIC. As of February 2023, Trading economics It reported unemployment of 3.6%.
average income in the United States
According to the Census Bureau, the average annual household income in the United States was $67,521 in 2020. Income varies depending on education, industry, location, and demographic factors. Below, we’ll look at how education affects median income in the United States and how median household income is broken down by race and gender.
With income inequality rising in the United States, education has emerged as an important factor affecting earning rates and employment. Wages rise as workers’ education levels rise, and individuals with professional degrees—such as medical degrees—have the highest salaries and the lowest unemployment rates.
although Economic Policy Institute He notes that 65.1% of current workers do not have a college degree, and that almost all of the highest paying jobs require an advanced education.
High-level medical professions, which make up 19 of the 20 highest paying jobs in the country, require advanced degrees. However, the non-medical profession on the list — airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers — stands out. Most pilots only hold a bachelor’s degree, making this position one of the few high paying jobs that does not require a medical degree.
Earnings by race and gender
Historically, systemic racism and sexism have limited access to high-paying jobs for women and people of color.
- The Census Bureau reports that among those employed full-time over the course of a year, men in the United States earned a median of $61,417 in 2020, while women earned a median of $50,982.
- Non-Hispanic white families bring in an average annual income of about $75,000, which is much higher than the average income for black or Latino families. However, Asian families earn the most, with the average household income being around $95,000.
The highest paying professions
If you are looking for jobs that pay a lot of money, consider starting your search in the medical field. Of the 20 highest-paying occupations according to the BLS, all but one are in the healthcare industry.
How to get a high paying job
All of the occupations described below require state licensure and offer median annual salaries of $208,000 or more.
Ophthalmologists, except for children
Ophthalmologists require a bachelor’s degree followed by four years of medical school and four to five years of specialized training. These doctors treat eye diseases and vision problems, perform eye surgery, and conduct research. The BLS It projects job growth of 6% for ophthalmologists between 2024 and 2031.
Doctors can pursue many specialties, including internal medicine, emergency medicine, and cardiology. These professionals must earn a bachelor’s degree, attend medical school, and complete three to nine years of training and residency. BLS projects Job growth is 1% slower than average for these physicians from 2024 to 2031.
Radiologists use medical imaging to diagnose and treat injuries and diseases. These physicians require at least 13 years of training, including medical school, and four years of residency. Many radiologists also complete a one- to two-year specialized training fellowship. for radiologists, BLS projects Job growth of 4% from 2024 to 2031.
These doctors focus on mental, emotional, and behavioral health. After attending medical school, psychiatrists complete a four-year residency. Some pursue additional training in subspecialties such as forensic psychiatry or adolescent psychiatry, and most pursue board certification. The BLS Job growth projects faster than average at 9% for these professionals.
Doctors and pathologists
These doctors study body fluids and tissue samples to provide diagnostic and forensic information. Pathologists must complete a three-year residency after medical school and can earn board certification through the American Board of Pathology. The BLS Projects 4% career growth for pathologists from 2024 to 2031.
- United States Census Bureau
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- CEIC data
- Trading economics
- Pew Research Center
- Economic Policy Institute
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American College of Surgeons
- American College of Radiology
- American Psychiatric Association
- Johns Hopkins Medicine
- American Board of Pathology