The Top 10 Best Paying Jobs

By Mark Di Vincenzo. May 7th 2016

When it comes to figuring out who makes the most money, there are two different types of lists you see most often – the list with many different medical-related professions on it and the list that lumps all of the medical professions into two or three categories, such as surgeons, doctors and psychiatrists.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the data that is used to compile the first type of list while the other type of list typically is compiled by Forbes or some other business publication.

A couple of caveats: First, when you read these lists, you may know people who hold these jobs and make much more or much less than what you see here. That’s because the salary numbers are means or averages. Second, you may know someone who makes a lot of money – more than what you see on these lists -- but his or her profession isn’t represented on either of these lists. Again, these lists deal with averages. Some people over-achieve and make much more than the average salary for his or her occupation.

Here is the list from the Labor Department:

1. Surgeons

Mean annual wages: $225,390
Median hourly wages: $108.36
Number of employees with occupation: 43,230

2. Anesthesiologists

Mean annual wages: $220,100
Median hourly wages: $105.82
Number of employees with occupation: 34,820

3. Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons

Mean annual wages: $214,120
Median hourly wages: $102.94
Number of employees with occupation: 5,330

4. Orthodontists

Mean annual wages: $200,290
Median hourly wages: $96.29
Number of employees with occupation: 5,580

5. Obstetricians And Gynecologists

Mean annual wages: $210,340
Median hourly wages: $101.13
Number of employees with occupation: 19,940

6. General Internists

Mean annual wages: $189,480
Median hourly wages: $91.10
Number of employees with occupation: 50,070

7. Other Physicians & Surgeons

Mean annual wages: $180,870
Mean hourly wages: $86.96
Number of employees with occupation: 293,740

8. Family Doctors

Mean annual wages: $173,860
Median hourly wages: $83.59
Number of employees with occupation: 97,820

9. CEOs

Mean annual wages: $173,350
Median hourly wages: $83.34
Number of employees with occupation: 273,500

10. Psychiatrists

Mean annual wages: $167,610
Median hourly wages: $80.58
Number of employees with occupation: 22,690

The second type of list, the one that lumps surgeons in one category and doctors in another, includes many different types of professions. The same caveats apply: These numbers are averages and don’t take into account that some people make much more money than others in their occupations. That explains why many occupations don’t show up on these lists despite the fact that some people who work in those occupations do very well.

1. Surgeons -- $206,793. This group includes all surgeons including young general surgeons who work in hospital emergency rooms and might make $125,000 a year, oral surgeons who might make $300,000 or more annually, orthopedic surgeons who can earn more than $500,000 a year and plastic surgeons who can make more than that.

2. Doctors -- $177,365. This group includes all other physicians including small-town family doctors who earn as little as $60,000 a year, psychiatrists who can earn four times that amount and cardiologists who make ten times that amount annually.

3. CEOs -- $167,280. There are an estimated 275,000 chief executive officers – from those who run home-based businesses with revenue of $10,000 a year to billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook -- so the range is great here too.

4. Lawyers -- $129,020. Speaking of a great range, not all lawyers are compensated the same. The lowest paid tend to be small-town public defenders or those at fledgling non-profits while corporate attorneys and the best personal injury attorneys can make more than $1 million a year.

5. Natural Sciences Managers -- $127,000. These folks plan, direct or coordinate activities in such fields as life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, statistics and research and development in these fields. Some sample job titles include agriculture research director, chemical laboratory chief, clinical research coordinator, conservationist, director of research, environmental manager, fisheries director and geologist. Managerial positions tend to make the most, but it often depends on the industrial sector and the company.

6. Engineering Managers -- $122,810. They plan, direct or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields. Sample job titles include architect manager, chief engineer, director of engineering, engineering manager and health safety manager.

7. Computer And Information Systems Managers -- $120,640. They coordinate activities in fields such as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis and computer programming. Job titles include chief information officer, chief technology officer, computer consultant, data center manager, data processing manager, director of data operations, director of information technology and director of network.

8. Marketing Managers -- $120,070. This group determines the demand for products and services offered by a firm and its competitors and identifies potential customers as well as develops pricing strategies and oversees product development or monitors trends that indicate the need for new products and services. Some job titles include brand manager, business developer and business development director.

9. Petroleum Engineers -- $119,960. They devise methods to improve oil and gas well production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs. They also oversee drilling and offer technical advice. Their titles might include chief engineer, design engineer, drilling engineer or drilling manager.

10. Airline Pilots -- $117,060. What they do is pretty self-explanatory, and like lawyers and doctors, their range of pay can be great. As the number of airlines has shrunk, more pilots, particularly those who are leaving the Army, Navy and Air Force, are competing for fewer jobs. And because many of them have military pensions, they are willing and able to work for less money, so some regional carriers pay as little as $30,000 a year while experienced pilots on major carriers may make five, six or seven times that amount.

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