Choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. It can be extremely difficult to settle on a career path as there are so many different factors to consider. These factors and ultimately the final decision you make, can have a dramatic impact on the style of life you will lead in the future. One of the most important factors is the salary that you can expect to earn in the career you are considering. Fortunately a number of national salary surveys have published their results on the web which allows you to get an appreciation of the type of salary that you can expect in your chosen career.

When it comes to making that tough decision of choosing a career, money is of course something that needs to be considered but by no means is it everything. Other factors commonly considered are your level of interest in the topic, typical working conditions, the academic and personal requirements of the job and also job availability. For most people salary is not the most important factor but nevertheless it is a factor that needs to be considered.

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Below are the average annual salaries of the America’s Top 50 Paying Jobs according to the most recent available mean annual wage statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 50 Paying Careers

Occupation Salary
1 Anesthesiologists $267,020
2 Surgeons $255,110
3 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $242,370
4 Obstetricians and Gynecologists $238,320
5 Orthodontists $225,760
6 Psychiatrists $220,380
7 Family and General Practitioners $211,780
8 Physicians and Surgeons $210,980
9 Physicians and Surgeons, All Other $203,880
10 Chief Executives $200,140
11 Internists, General $196,490
12 Prosthodontists $191,400
13 Pediatricians, General $183,240
14 Dentists $180,590
15 Dentists, All Other Specialists $178,800
16 Dentists, General $175,840
17 Nurse Anesthetists $174,790
18 Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers $169,560
19 Petroleum Engineers $156,370
20 Computer and Information Systems Managers $152,860
21 Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
22 Podiatrists $148,220
23 Marketing Managers $147,240
24 Financial Managers $146,830
25 Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers $146,660
26 Lawyers $144,230
27 Marketing and Sales Managers $143,000
28 Lawyers and Judicial Law Clerks $142,130
29 Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers $141,500
30 Sales Managers $140,320
31 Lawyers, Judges, and Related Workers $139,850
32 Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
33 Advertising and Promotions Managers $133,090
34 Compensation and Benefits Managers $132,860
35 Operations Specialties Managers $132,680
36 Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $131,570
37 Law Teachers, Postsecondary $130,710
38 Top Executives $128,240
39 Human Resources Managers $126,700
40 Purchasing Managers $125,630
41 Physicists $125,280
42 General and Operations Managers $123,880
43 Computer and Information Research Scientists $123,850
44 Astronomers and Physicists $123,730
45 Pharmacists $123,670
46 Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary $122,320
47 Personal Financial Advisors $121,770
48 Training and Development Managers $121,730
49 Management Occupations $121,560
50 Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates $121,130

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Survey

It is probably not surprising to see professions such as physicians, surgeons, pilots, chief executives, engineers, judges, lawyers, dentists and pharmacists occupy the very top positions. These are generally professions that are very demanding academically, personally demanding in a professional sense, highly pressured jobs and constantly in demand. They will typically require much more than just four years of study and even once in the role, a lifelong commitment to learning the latest practices.

It is very important to note when viewing statistics such as these that these are only averages and individual earnings can vary greatly. Factors such as level of education, level of experience, job performance, geographical location and even the employer in question can make a big difference to an individual’s salary.