Highest Paying Jobs in the United States

The Federal Government compiles statistical data on what people earn in more than 700 professions in the United States.  This section offers the median hourly wage data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the highest paying jobs.  The top-paying jobs are organized by level of education required to enter that particular field.  Note that "highest paying" refers to hourly wage earned and should not be taken to mean that one can earn a high income.  For example, many construction jobs are high paying, however, the work can be seasonal and one employed in this industry might have to struggle to earn a living during certain times of the year or during economic downturns.  It is also important to note that hourly wages differ significantly by region and company size.  For example, one working as a paralegal will earn substantially more per hour working for a large law firm in a large city that a paralegal who works for a small law office in a small city.

Highest Paying Jobs That Do Not Require a College Degree

According to the Federal Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics,  people who work in the careers below earn above average wages working in fields that require a relatively small amount of training -- from just a few weeks to one year.  The hourly wages listed are the median amounts earned in the last few years.

Note that "highest paying jobs" does not mean one will become wealthy working these jobs.  It means that people working in these fields were paid a higher hourly wage than those working in other fields. 

$14.71  Auto Mechanics
$16.44  Carpenters
$14.02  Welders
$19.90  Electricians
$17.42  Firefighters
$16.64  Food Service Managers
$13.70  Plumbers and Pipe Fitters
$22.78  Telecommunications Equipment Installers/Repairers
$20.58  Postal Service Workers (Note that USPS is downsizing)
$15.97  Truck Drivers
$22.01  Police Officers
$24.00  Power Plant Operators
$15.67  Carpet and Tile Setters
$23.33  Line Repairers and Installers
$23.26  Rail Transportation Workers
$14.70  Real Estate Agents
$20.11  Brick Masons and Stonemasons
$16.21  Drywall Installers
$16.06  Executive Secretaries / Administrative Assistants


Highest Paying Jobs That Require a Two Year Degree

According to the Federal Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics,  people who work in the careers below earn high wages working in fields that require only two years of college or training.  The hourly wages listed are the median amounts earned in the last few years.

$27.09  Dental Hygienists
$24.03  Funeral Directors
$21.69  Registered Nurses
$20.89  Engineering Technicians
$19.97  Court Reporters
$19.66  Radiological Technicians
$18.69  Respiratory Therapists
$18.49  Science Technicians
$18.48  Heavy Equipment Mechanics
$18.44  Automotive Body Repairers
$17.56  Paralegals
$17.51  Cardiovascular Technologists
$16.59  Sales Worker Supervisors
$16.58  Machinists
$15.00  Surgical Technologists

Highest Paying Jobs That Require a Four Year Degree

According to the Federal Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who work in the careers listed below are among the highest paid workers in the nation.  All of these careers require at least a four-year degree.  The hourly wage listed is the median wage earned for all workers in these fields.

$95.80  Airline Pilots
$45.48  General Managers***
$37.24  Managers (Marketing, Advertising, PR)
$33.51  Engineers (see list)
$33.00  Actuaries
$32.38  Physicians Assistant ***
$31.05  Surveyors / Mapping Scientists
$30.11  Securities / Financial Sales
$29.36  Computer Systems Analyst
$29.16  Secondary School Teachers
$26.45  Teachers, in General (average)
$26.20  Police, Supervisors, Detectives
$24.85  Purchasing Agents
$24.81  Editors and Reporters
$23.76  Librarians
$23.45  Insurance Underwriters
$23.22  Architects
$23.19  Computer Programmers
$22.79  Occupational Therapists
$22.59  Accountants / Auditors

***  Job growth in these fields is expected to be high in the future.  


The Highest Paying Jobs That Require a Graduate Degree

According to the Federal Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who work in the professions below earn the highest wages out of 700 occupations studied.  The hourly wages listed below are the median wages earned in the last few years.  All of these jobs require a master's or doctorate degree.

$61.19  Physicians
$59.28  Dentists
$39.00  Professors (see list))
$38.76  Lawyers
$38.53  Optometrists
$37.94  Judges
$36.66  Physicists / Astronomers
$33.87  Financial Managers
$31.40  Chiropractors
$31.23  Chemists
$31.10  Pharmacists
$29.85  Geologists
$29.07  Economists
$27.03  Psychologists
$26.71  Speech Therapists
$25.33  Management Analysts
$25.03  Medical Scientists
$23.93  Urban Planners
$22.85  Physical Therapists


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