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100 highest-paying jobs in America

100 highest-paying jobs in America

The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered the U.S. economy, with unemployment peaking at 14.7% in April 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While jobs have been gained every month since, lowering the unemployment rate to 8.4% in August 2020, millions of out-of-work Americans are still searching for jobs.

Before COVID-19 gutted the economy, the United States' economic landscape was rapidly changing, with health care, computer systems design, and scientific industries leading a push for more employment. On the flip side, industries like wired telecommunications, postal service, and textile production are showing a rapid decline. With the development of newer and more advanced technologies every day, the job landscape is shifting and so are the pay demands and prerequisite skills. There is a strong correlation between advanced education and a higher salary—workers with higher education levels have higher wages and lower unemployment rates. Of course, it should be noted that obstacles remain for universal access to quality higher education.

Using 2019 data (last updated March 31, 2020) from the BLS, Stacker ranked the 100 highest-paying jobs in America. These jobs are ranked according to mean annual wage, with the mean hourly wage used as a tiebreaker. The BLS notes that hourly wages are not included for some positions since some occupations rarely work year-round or full time, or they have a mean hourly wage of over $100. Additionally, any jobs that listed "all other" in the occupation name were excluded from the list, as these are groupings of jobs, and the data may not accurately reflect every job in that grouping.

Engineers in a variety of fields make several appearances on the list, as do educators, particularly those working in postsecondary settings. As expected, different medical professionals post a strong showing, along with managers. There are surprises, though; for example, would you have guessed that an art director earns, on average, more than a financial analyst?

Stacker breaks down the 100 highest-paying jobs in America and explains what each job entails, what prerequisite skills are required to perform the job, and how one can get a start in each. Click through to find out which professions offer the best-paying positions.

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#100. Mechanical engineers

- Mean annual wage: $93,540
- Mean hourly wage: $44.97
- Employment: 306,990 (2.09 per 1,000 jobs)

The field of mechanical engineering is quite broad. People who work in the profession can specialize in many projects, from creating medical devices to designing elevators (even something akin to those nifty paternosters in Germany). Bachelor degree programs heavy in mathematics and science serve as a base for many future mechanical engineers.

#99. Producers and directors

- Mean annual wage: $93,940
- Mean hourly wage: $45.16
- Employment: 129,210 (0.88 per 1,000 jobs)

Showbiz is ever-evolving, especially with the surge of streaming services and podcasts. Expanded offerings increased the number of producers and directors, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noting an increase of more than 10,000 producers and directors from 2018 to 2019. Producers and directors operate across the media, in film, television, stage, and radio. There are many paths to becoming a producer or director, with many starting off in lesser jobs in the entertainment industry.

#98. Environmental engineers

- Mean annual wage: $94,220
- Mean hourly wage: $45.30
- Employment: 53,150 (0.36 per 1,000 jobs)

Environmental engineers are vital in creating projects that protect the environment, such as pollution control systems. These engineers' work isn't complete the moment a project plan is finalized, though. Environmental engineers must also obtain permits for work, perform quality-control checks, and monitor progress, along with other duties. Entry-level jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree, with preference given to graduates of schools with an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) program.

#97. Civil engineers

- Mean annual wage: $94,360
- Mean hourly wage: $45.36
- Employment: 310,850 (2.12 per 1,000 jobs)

Construction of roads, airports, bridges, and many other important infrastructural elements of daily travel are in place thanks to civil engineers. Tasks for civil engineers also include applying for permits and testing soil to ensure that all the aforementioned structures last and are safely maintained. Earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from an ABET institution is a common starting point for many in this field.

#96. Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

- Mean annual wage: $94,810
- Mean hourly wage: $45.58
- Employment: 25,860 (0.18 per 1,000 jobs)

Individuals working in the health and safety engineering space can be found specializing in industrial safety and health, fire prevention and safety, and product safety. Texas, California, and New York are the states with the highest employment for health and safety engineers, not including mining safety engineers and inspectors. Alaska, New Mexico, and Delaware are also good locales to begin a career in this field, as they have the highest concentrations of jobs.

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#95. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

- Mean annual wage: $94,950
- Mean hourly wage: $45.65
- Employment: 121,340 (0.83 per 1,000 jobs)

People in this line of work are tasked with training staff in proper police procedures, supervising and coordinating criminal investigations, and resolving internal organizational problems. A majority of first-line supervisors work in local government, but the best-paying gigs are in the federal executive branch.

#94. Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $95,140
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 5,850 (0.04 per 1,000 jobs)

Professors teaching anthropology (the science of human culture) and archeology (the scientific study of material remains of past human life) are among the highest-paid scholars in the country. These educators make the most money in jobs at colleges in the northeast or along the Pacific Coast. Graduate degrees are almost always a prerequisite for postsecondary teaching positions in this space.

#93. Funeral home managers

- Mean annual wage: $95,220
- Mean hourly wage: $45.78
- Employment: 9,400 (0.06 per 1,000 jobs)

Funeral homes are a $16.8 billion business, according to Statista, with a steady demand as most deceased Americans will have a funeral. While morticians and undertakers prepare the body, funeral home managers oversee the funeral home facilities and logistics, figure out the prices for services, and work with the families of the deceased to prepare the funeral. An associate's degree in funeral or mortuary science is the typical education needed to be a funeral home manager.

#92. Management analysts

- Mean annual wage: $95,560
- Mean hourly wage: $45.94
- Employment: 709,750 (4.83 per 1,000 jobs)

Management analysts are all about maximizing companies' efficiency and increasing profits. This can be achieved by collecting and analyzing company data, then making recommendations for improvement. Most entry-level candidates have at least a bachelor's degree, but it is not uncommon for workers in the field to hold a master's in business administration (MBA).

#91. Statisticians

- Mean annual wage: $95,680
- Mean hourly wage: $46.00
- Employment: 39,090 (0.27 per 1,000 jobs)

Statisticians use mathematical or statistical theory to break down numbers into useful, helpful information. While various fields employ statisticians, many work in science, medical, and pharmaceutical fields, and the federal government employs several thousand statisticians. A master's degree is usually required, though some statistician jobs require only a bachelor's.

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#90. Database administrators and architects

- Mean annual wage: $96,110
- Mean hourly wage: $46.21
- Employment: 125,460 (0.85 per 1,000 jobs)

Database architects design or build databases, while administrators manage or supervise the operations of databases. Both are critical jobs at any company or governmental organization that uses or requires databases. Database administrators and architects are growing fields, with these workers typically having a bachelor's degree in computer science.

#89. Computer systems analysts

- Mean annual wage: $96,160
- Mean hourly wage: $46.23
- Employment: 589,060 (4.01 per 1,000 jobs)

With so many workplaces dependent on the internet and email, computer systems analysts are essential for staying up to date with emerging industry trends, configuring new hardware and software, and training company users. Bachelor's degrees in information sciences can help future analysts study everything from software development to database design.

#88. Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

- Mean annual wage: $96,990
- Mean hourly wage: $46.63
- Employment: 6,280 (0.04 per 1,000 jobs)

In addition to finding potential mining sites, these engineers design mines for the safe extraction of minerals. Future mining and geological engineers study for a bachelor's degree in engineering programs, with various states requiring specific certification training.

#87. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers

- Mean annual wage: $97,090
- Mean hourly wage: $46.68
- Employment: 19,780 (0.14 per 1,000 jobs)

Biomedical engineers design and create a variety of equipment, computer systems, and software to improve everything from medical research in fields like human tissue growth to the creation of artificial organs. Workers in this field obtain a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering, and typically have experience in other fields, like physiology or even circuit design.

#86. Atmospheric and space scientists

- Mean annual wage: $97,160
- Mean hourly wage: $46.71
- Employment: 9,290 (0.06 per 1,000 jobs)

Using data from satellites, radar, and other sources, atmospheric and space scientists interpret meteorological data. Weather forecasters are often classified under this occupation, first earning a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science before making their way into the field.

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#85. Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes

- Mean annual wage: $97,170
- Mean hourly wage: $46.72
- Employment: 17,060 (0.12 per 1,000 jobs)

Agents and business managers are typically intermediaries between celebrities like actors, singers, and athletes, and the agencies, studios, and businesses they work with. Agents and business managers will handle the contract negotiations and represent their clients in other business dealings. There are many roads to these careers, but agencies typically want new hires to have a bachelor's degree, and in California (where many agents and business managers are based), agents must be licensed.

#84. Materials engineers

- Mean annual wage: $97,890
- Mean hourly wage: $47.06
- Employment: 26,820 (0.18 per 1,000 jobs)

Materials engineers develop, process, and test specially designed materials for specific functions. They can focus on one general area like alloys or plastics and obtain a bachelor's degree in materials science or a closely related engineering field to pursue the career.

#83. Agricultural engineers

- Mean annual wage: $98,290
- Mean hourly wage: $47.26
- Employment: 1,550 (0.01 per 1,000 jobs)

Agricultural engineers use engineering and biology to solve agricultural problems. They can work with processing agricultural products, water conservation, or energy use in agricultural settings. This is a small field, with the majority of agricultural engineers working in California, Iowa, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. A bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering or biological engineering is typically required.

#82. Computer science teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $98,430
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 31,800 (0.22 per 1,000 jobs)

These educators teach computer science, often with a focus on operations and research analysis, or computer function and design. A majority of computer science teachers hold a master's degree or above, with many employed at the junior college level. Trade schools also provide various teaching opportunities.

#81. Biological science teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $98,700
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 53,090 (0.36 per 1,000 jobs)

Aside from teaching biology, many postsecondary biological science teachers conduct research related to their field. The New York metropolitan area employs the highest number of biological science teachers, and all educators must obtain a master's degree or higher.

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#80. Marine engineers and naval architects

- Mean annual wage: $98,730
- Mean hourly wage: $47.47
- Employment: 11,360 (0.08 per 1,000 jobs)

Engineers in this field design and develop marine vessels, ranging from small submarines to huge aircraft carriers. Besides understanding all the ins and outs of a vessel, marine engineers must also be skilled in performing environmental tests for optimal operation of their vessels. Most engineers and architects have a bachelor's degree and a strong background in calculus and physics.

#79. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists

- Mean annual wage: $98,770
- Mean hourly wage: $47.49
- Employment: 127,180 (0.87 per 1,000 jobs)

To enter this field and study human diseases and human health, workers typically obtain a doctorate after commonly earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry, biology, or another related field. Besides lab work, medical scientists often create their own grant proposals.

#78. Architecture teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $98,980
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 6,780 (0.05 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary architecture teachers lead courses in topics like interior architecture/design. Many teachers split their time between the classroom and research and obtain at least a master's degree. In addition, architecture teachers are often well-versed in design software.

#77. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers

- Mean annual wage: $100,230
- Mean hourly wage: $48.19
- Employment: 14,380 (0.10 per 1,000 jobs)

Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers make decisions concerning government programs or other issues pertaining to the government. Many judges and hearing officers have both a bachelor's degree and a law degree. They must also pass a U.S. Office of Personnel Management exam.

#76. Education administrators, elementary and secondary school

- Mean annual wage: $100,340
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 271,020 (1.85 per 1,000 jobs)

Education administrators at the elementary and secondary school levels plan and coordinate academic and administrative activities. School principals obtain a master's degree in education, learn to manage staff and budgets, and work with teachers, students, and parents. Because of principals' delicate position as liaisons between parents, students, and bureaucratic systems, The Atlantic once dubbed the school principal "the most misunderstood person" in education.

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#75. Materials scientists

- Mean annual wage: $100,430
- Mean hourly wage: $48.28
- Employment: 6,710 (0.05 per 1,000 jobs)

Materials scientists master the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic materials, including metals, semiconductors, alloys, and polymers. Sometimes, they also work to develop new materials. Before studying substances at molecular and atomic levels, these scientists regularly beef up on chemistry during undergraduate studies before earning a master's or doctorate degree.

#74. Nuclear power reactor operators

- Mean annual wage: $100,990
- Mean hourly wage: $48.55
- Employment: 5,050 (0.03 per 1,000 jobs)

Only six states––South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Mississippi––regularly employ nuclear power reactor operators, but finding a job in this position pays handsomely. Contrary to what Homer Simpson may do in his job, these workers adjust control rods, which affects the amount of electricity generated from a nuclear reactor. They also monitor the reactors, along with turbines and generators, and keep records of equipment performance. While education level varies for workers, candidates need to obtain a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.

#73. Physics teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $101,110
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 13,780 (0.09 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary physics teachers are whizzes in lessons on the laws of matter and energy. Some postsecondary physics teachers may also split their time between teaching and working on research. With strong backgrounds in math and computers, potential physics teachers are typically required to have a master's or doctorate degree to work in the field.

#72. Political science teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $102,290
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 15,750 (0.11 per 1,000 jobs)

Teachers in this field not only lead courses in political science but also teach international relations and international affairs. A majority of postsecondary political science educators hold doctorate degrees and have backgrounds in the arts and humanities, sociology, anthropology, and law and government.

#71. Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $102,690
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 11,020 (0.08 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary teachers in atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences lead courses in physical sciences, except for physics and chemistry. Before earning the master's or doctorate degree necessary to teach on the postsecondary level, aspiring professors typically take on an undergraduate course load with a strong focus in geometry, calculus, algebra, and statistics.

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#70. Commercial pilots

- Mean annual wage: $102,870
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 37,830 (0.26 per 1,000 jobs)

To become a commercial pilot for airplanes or helicopters, a trainee must obtain a commercial pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Airline pilots also need an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Commercial pilots can also become instructors, teaching through the use of simulators and dual-controlled aircraft.

#69. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers

- Mean annual wage: $103,320
- Mean hourly wage: $49.67
- Employment: 132,040 (0.90 per 1,000 jobs)

Managers in this field plan, direct, and coordinate the transportation, storage, and distribution of products. Though no advanced degree is necessary, individuals working in this field usually have particularly strong verbal and problem-solving skills.

#68. Electrical engineers

- Mean annual wage: $103,480
- Mean hourly wage: $49.75
- Employment: 185,570 (1.26 per 1,000 jobs)

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacturing of electrical equipment for military, industrial, scientific, or commercial use. Electrical engineers need a bachelor's degree and usually have a background studying physics and math.

#67. Information security analysts

- Mean annual wage: $104,210
- Mean hourly wage: $50.10
- Employment: 125,570 (0.86 per 1,000 jobs)

Information security analysts plan and implement security measures to protect computer networks and systems. Most companies require a bachelor's degree or an MBA in information systems. Analysts can also obtain further credentials by becoming a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

#66. Veterinarians

- Mean annual wage: $104,820
- Mean hourly wage: $50.39
- Employment: 74,540 (0.51 per 1,000 jobs)

Veterinarians do more than take care of sick animals. These doctors perform surgeries, advise owners on best care practices, and, sometimes, euthanize ill pets. Before starting a practice, a veterinarian needs to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) and must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

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#65. Construction managers

- Mean annual wage: $105,000
- Mean hourly wage: $50.48
- Employment: 293,380 (2.00 per 1,000 jobs)

Construction managers do more than supervise projects; they are also in charge of budgeting, explaining contracts, and selecting subcontractors to work on specific assignments. Although most construction managers have a bachelor's degree, there is a lot of on-the-job training that comes with working in this field.

#64. Business teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $105,440
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 83,920 (0.57 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary business teachers lead courses in financing, human resources, accounting, marketing, and other subjects. While earning the required master's or doctorate degree typically required to become an educator, potential business teachers also load up on courses in economics, business, or math-related subjects.

#63. Mathematicians

- Mean annual wage: $107,280
- Mean hourly wage: $51.57
- Employment: 2,630 (0.02 per 1,000 jobs)

Mathematicians are involved in mathematical research related to science, management, and other fields. Some mathematicians design surveys or polls and come into the field with at least a master's degree.

#62. Biochemists and biophysicists

- Mean annual wage: $108,180
- Mean hourly wage: $52.01
- Employment: 31,360 (0.21 per 1,000 jobs)

These scientists study the physical and chemical principles of living things through a variety of methods, including isolating and analyzing DNA and researching drug effects. Most biochemists and biophysicists earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry before beginning their work in the field.

#61. Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers

- Mean annual wage: $108,350
- Mean hourly wage: $52.09
- Employment: 29,200 (0.20 per 1,000 jobs)

Geoscientists study Earth's physical aspects through aerial photographs, laboratory tests, and maps and charts. Proficiency in X-rays, microscopes, geographic information systems (GIS), and modeling software is sometimes necessary. A bachelor's degree is required for most beginner positions.

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#60. Nurse midwives

- Mean annual wage: $108,810
- Mean hourly wage: $52.31
- Employment: 6,930 (0.05 per 1,000 jobs)

Nurse midwives are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), offering specialty patient care. Midwives diagnose and coordinate every aspect of the birthing process, which they are qualified to do after receiving necessary certification. To maintain a status as a certified nurse midwife, the American Midwifery Certification Board requires recertification every five years.

#59. Art directors

- Mean annual wage: $109,600
- Mean hourly wage: $52.69
- Employment: 42,890 (0.29 per 1,000 jobs)

The creative genius of art directors affects the visual style of various print media publications, product branding, and even movies and television. After earning a bachelor's degree in art or design, aspiring art directors occasionally pursue a master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree. With the proliferation of social media platforms like Instagram, art directors––and art directors in the making–– share their work to wider audiences, thus strengthening the reach of their portfolios of work.

#58. Electronics engineers, except computer

- Mean annual wage: $110,210
- Mean hourly wage: $52.99
- Employment: 128,800 (0.88 per 1,000 jobs)

Deploying knowledge of electronic theory and materials properties, electronics engineers not focusing on computers are responsible for electronic systems in commercial, scientific, industrial, and military use. Strong math and English backgrounds are useful in this field, as well as a bachelor's degree.

#57. Industrial-organizational psychologists

- Mean annual wage: $111,150
- Mean hourly wage: $53.44
- Employment: 630 (0.00 per 1,000 jobs)

Applying key psychological theories to human resources, sales, and business departments to improve efficiency has made industrial-organizational psychology one of America's fastest-growing jobs, according to ABC News. Most psychologists specializing in industrial organization hold a master's or doctorate degree.

#56. Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers

- Mean annual wage: $111,620
- Mean hourly wage: $53.66
- Employment: 1,406,870 (9.58 per 1,000 jobs)

Software developers create the computer systems and applications most Americans interact with every day on computers and smartphones. Software quality assurance analysts and testers are the workers testing and analyzing software to troubleshoot for bugs and other issues. A bachelor's degree in computer science is typically required. Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers are a growing field; the BLS predicts a 21% growth in the field from 2018 to 2028, a much faster than average increase.

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#55. Nurse practitioners

- Mean annual wage: $111,840
- Mean hourly wage: $53.77
- Employment: 200,600 (1.37 per 1,000 jobs)

Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illnesses while also promoting good health and disease prevention. Nurse practitioners can be primary or specialized care providers for specific patients, including geriatric, pediatric, or mental health patients. Along with a master's degree, nurse practitioners often require various certifications, such as those offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

#54. Engineering teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $112,110
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 36,080 (0.25 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary engineering teachers educate students in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and several other engineering fields. A doctorate degree is usually a prerequisite for roles in this field, along with coursework in math and English.

#53. Education administrators, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $112,400
- Mean hourly wage: $54.04
- Employment: 144,880 (0.99 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary education administrators have varying duties depending on school size. For example, at smaller schools, these administrators may handle athletics and oversee academics and faculty research. Most postsecondary education administrators have a master's degree in a field like social work or marketing, but it is not unheard of for small schools to occasionally hire administrators with only a bachelor's degree. That said, a dean of a school, for example, needs a higher level of education––typically a Ph.D.––to take on that role.

#52. Physician assistants

- Mean annual wage: $112,410
- Mean hourly wage: $54.04
- Employment: 120,090 (0.82 per 1,000 jobs)

Physician assistants perform a wide variety of tasks, including treatment, completing physicals, counseling, and prescribing medication. In some cases, when a physician only has limited availability, a physician assistant can serve as a primary care provider in their place. In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, many physician assistants are registered nurses or EMTs.

#51. Sales engineers

- Mean annual wage: $112,780
- Mean hourly wage: $54.22
- Employment: 63,550 (0.43 per 1,000 jobs)

In selling science and tech products and services to businesses, sales engineers must have top-notch interpersonal skills. A bachelor's degree in engineering is common for these workers, and on-the-job company training is often a prerequisite to getting started.

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#50. Computer network architects

- Mean annual wage: $115,110
- Mean hourly wage: $55.34
- Employment: 152,420 (1.04 per 1,000 jobs)

These specialized architects design intranets, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs). After completing a bachelor's degree program––usually in computer science, information systems, or engineering––aspiring computer network architects usually log 5-10 years of work in information technology (IT) systems before transitioning into computer network architecture.

#49. Industrial production managers

- Mean annual wage: $115,110
- Mean hourly wage: $55.34
- Employment: 185,790 (1.27 per 1,000 jobs)

An industrial production manager ensures that workers meet goals, writes production reports, and keeps workflow on schedule. Most managers earn a bachelor's degree and occasionally pick up extra certifications, such as a Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation.

#48. Medical and health services managers

- Mean annual wage: $115,160
- Mean hourly wage: $55.37
- Employment: 394,910 (2.69 per 1,000 jobs)

Healthcare executives and healthcare administrators, commonly known as medical and health services managers, direct and coordinate medical and health services. The administrators make sure staff are up to date on training and represent workers at board and investor meetings. A master's degree is common among these managers, along with certifications from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.

#47. Economists

- Mean annual wage: $116,630
- Mean hourly wage: $56.07
- Employment: 19,000 (0.13 per 1,000 jobs)

Economists research trends, analyze data, and evaluate economic issues. Their work is largely based on statistics and information gathered by surveys or the use of software and mathematical models. A master's degree or doctorate is common in the field, but some government workers can enter with just a bachelor's degree under their belts.

#46. Chemical engineers

- Mean annual wage: $117,090
- Mean hourly wage: $56.29
- Employment: 30,120 (0.21 per 1,000 jobs)

At their core, chemical engineers are problem-solvers. In particular, they use fundamental principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to address any problems that might pertain to the production of things like food, fuel, and other products. Most chemical engineers have a bachelor's degree and earn a professional engineering license.

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#45. Economics teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $119,160
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 13,270 (0.09 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary economics educators teach courses in economics. Mostly, teachers educating on a postsecondary level require a bachelor's in economics or a related field, but a Ph.D. in economics.

#44. Aerospace engineers

- Mean annual wage: $119,220
- Mean hourly wage: $57.32
- Employment: 63,200 (0.43 per 1,000 jobs)

Aerospace engineers design spacecraft, aircraft, satellites, and even missiles. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite, and specific requirements may also exist within specific concentrations of aerospace engineering. For example, aerospace engineers working on national defense projects may require particular security clearance and prove U.S. citizenship.

#43. Personal financial advisors

- Mean annual wage: $119,290
- Mean hourly wage: $57.35
- Employment: 210,190 (1.43 per 1,000 jobs)

If you need help in insurance, retirement, investments, mortgages, taxes, or college planning, a professional advisor can assist with these personal financial matters. Personal financial advisors educate clients on smart investments and savings practices and likely have earned at least a bachelor's degree with coursework in economics, accounting, and law. If a personal financial advisor sells insurance, they must be licensed by a state board.

#42. Air traffic controllers

- Mean annual wage: $120,140
- Mean hourly wage: $57.76
- Employment: 22,090 (0.15 per 1,000 jobs)

Air traffic controllers ensure that an aircraft maintains safe distances, issue landing and takeoff instructions, and inform pilots of weather hazards. There are several paths to becoming a controller, including earning degrees offered by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative programs. Three years or more of work experience in the field could also be considered as qualifiers for a job in the field.

#41. Political scientists

- Mean annual wage: $120,260
- Mean hourly wage: $57.82
- Employment: 6,010 (0.04 per 1,000 jobs)

Political scientists study political systems and research governments, policies, and trends in both U.S. politics and foreign relations. Many political scientists hold a master's degree or doctorate in political science or focus postgraduate studies in public administration or public policy.

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#40. Nuclear engineers

- Mean annual wage: $120,700
- Mean hourly wage: $58.03
- Employment: 15,850 (0.11 per 1,000 jobs)

Nuclear engineers seek the best benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. In particular, nuclear engineers apply nuclear energy and radiation to medical purposes. Most jobs in nuclear engineering require a master's degree or doctorate from an ABET-accredited program.

#39. Actuaries

- Mean annual wage: $120,970
- Mean hourly wage: $58.16
- Employment: 22,260 (0.15 per 1,000 jobs)

Actuaries use statistics, mathematics, and financial theory to analyze risk and uncertainty. They then present these findings to government officials, shareholders, and company executives. Earning a bachelor's degree with coursework in economics, statistics, and corporate finance is not uncommon on the path to becoming an actuary.

#38. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $121,620
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 201,920 (1.38 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary health specialties teachers educate students in fields like therapy, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry. A master's or doctorate degree is a requirement to teach one of the above courses at postsecondary institutions, along with an understanding of medical software like the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS).

#37. Astronomers

- Mean annual wage: $122,270
- Mean hourly wage: $58.79
- Employment: 2,070 (0.01 per 1,000 jobs)

Astronomers study how energy and matter interact and interpret how astronomical phenomena can be applied to practical problems. Astronomers can also develop new scientific equipment or software data. For jobs in astronomy, a Ph.D. in astronomy is required.

#36. Optometrists

- Mean annual wage: $122,980
- Mean hourly wage: $59.12
- Employment: 39,420 (0.27 per 1,000 jobs)

Optometrists perform more tasks than prescribing glasses and giving eye exams. They also diagnose diseases, injuries, and vision disorders. All optometrists obtain a Doctor of Optometry Degree (O.D.) and complete the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam.

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#35. Computer hardware engineers

- Mean annual wage: $123,030
- Mean hourly wage: $59.15
- Employment: 67,880 (0.46 per 1,000 jobs)

Computer hardware engineers are important in making sure processors, circuit boards, networks, and routers work effectively. These engineers also design new hardware and update existing equipment to work with new software. Most computer hardware engineers earn a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program.

#34. General and operations managers

- Mean annual wage: $123,030
- Mean hourly wage: $59.15
- Employment: 2,400,280 (16.34 per 1,000 jobs)

General and operations managers formulate policies, manage daily operations, and assist across the board in a company's day-to-day activities. Many managers are skilled in customer relationship management (CRM) software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

#33. Training and development managers

- Mean annual wage: $123,470
- Mean hourly wage: $59.36
- Employment: 38,510 (0.26 per 1,000 jobs)

Managers of training and development oversee staff, align training with company needs, and develop and implement training programs. Some positions require a master's degree, and managers often take courses to enhance their skills, like those offered by the International Society for Performance Improvement.

#32. Pharmacists

- Mean annual wage: $125,510
- Mean hourly wage: $60.34
- Employment: 311,200 (2.12 per 1,000 jobs)

Pharmacists dispense prescriptions, provide immunizations (like flu shots), and conduct health and wellness screenings. Pharmacists earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and earn licenses by passing a series of exams before they can work in the field.

#31. Computer and information research scientists

- Mean annual wage: $127,460
- Mean hourly wage: $61.28
- Employment: 30,780 (0.21 per 1,000 jobs)

These multifaceted research scientists invent new computing languages and tools, improve software systems, and solve complex computing problems. Most research scientists earn a master's degree in computer science.

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#30. Purchasing managers

- Mean annual wage: $128,400
- Mean hourly wage: $61.73
- Employment: 72,100 (0.49 per 1,000 jobs)

Purchasing managers oversee buyers, purchasing officers, and other workers that deal with products, purchasing materials, and services for a company. Most purchasing managers hold a bachelor's degree with previous experience in procurement. Further certifications are available through the American Purchasing Society and other organizations, as well.

#29. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates

- Mean annual wage: $128,550
- Mean hourly wage: $61.80
- Employment: 28,670 (0.20 per 1,000 jobs)

These law enforcers provide courtroom arbitration, advice to legal counsel, and the administration of justice in a court of law. In criminal cases, judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates can issue sentences; in civil cases, they determine defendant liability. All three types of judges can also perform wedding ceremonies. Many judges hold doctoral degrees and are graduates of law school.

#28. Human resources managers

- Mean annual wage: $129,570
- Mean hourly wage: $62.29
- Employment: 154,800 (1.05 per 1,000 jobs)

Overseeing interviewing, recruiting, and hiring of staff are essential tasks completed by human resources managers. They also handle staff issues, mediate disputes, and discipline workers. Aside from a bachelor's degree, many human resources managers also get certifications from the Society for Human Resource Management and other organizations.

#27. Law teachers, postsecondary

- Mean annual wage: $129,950
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 16,180 (0.11 per 1,000 jobs)

Postsecondary law teachers specialize in teaching law courses after obtaining a law degree or doctorate. Many law professors also have a background studying government or political science.

#26. Physicists

- Mean annual wage: $131,080
- Mean hourly wage: $63.02
- Employment: 16,730 (0.11 per 1,000 jobs)

Physicists develop scientific theories to explain the natural world and often present these findings in scholarly journals. They often have a strong background in computers, math, and engineering, and they often hold doctoral degrees or post-doctoral training.

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#25. Compensation and benefits managers

- Mean annual wage: $134,210
- Mean hourly wage: $64.52
- Employment: 16,900 (0.12 per 1,000 jobs)

A company's benefits can affect employee happiness, so the role of compensation and benefits manager sets structures, determines competitive wages, and chooses outside partners to work with, including insurance brokers and investment managers. Most managers hold a bachelor's degree and can earn further certification through associations like the HR Certification Institute.

#24. Sales managers

- Mean annual wage: $141,690
- Mean hourly wage: $68.12
- Employment: 402,600 (2.74 per 1,000 jobs)

Sales managers prepare budgets, keep track of customer preferences, project sales, and create special pricing plans. Most sales managers have at least a bachelor's degree and typically hold some kind of experience as sales representatives.

#23. Advertising and promotions managers

- Mean annual wage: $141,890
- Mean hourly wage: $68.22
- Employment: 25,100 (0.17 per 1,000 jobs)

These managers create posters, giveaways, coupons, and contests to create interest in a person or product. Market research is a crucial part of the workflow of advertising and promotions managers. Many in the field hold a bachelor's degree in advertising or journalism.

#22. Podiatrists

- Mean annual wage: $142,680
- Mean hourly wage: $68.60
- Employment: 9,770 (0.07 per 1,000 jobs)

Podiatrists are physicians specializing in medical care for foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. Among a podiatrist's tasks are removing bone spurs, performing surgeries, or prescribing orthotics. There are several requirements for becoming a podiatrist, including earning a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) degree, followed by completion of a three-year residency.

#21. Lawyers

- Mean annual wage: $145,300
- Mean hourly wage: $69.86
- Employment: 657,170 (4.47 per 1,000 jobs)

People have varying opinions on lawyers, but on a job description level, the role of a lawyer is to provide legal counsel and representation to individuals, companies, or government agencies during legal disputes or events concerning the law in some capacity. While lawyers are most often associated with their work in the courtroom, they also perform several out-of-the-courtroom duties. For example, lawyers file wills, contracts, and deeds. All U.S. lawyers earn a law degree—usually a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited school—and pass a state's bar exam to practice.

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#20. Natural sciences managers

- Mean annual wage: $145,450
- Mean hourly wage: $69.93
- Employment: 67,720 (0.46 per 1,000 jobs)

Natural sciences managers direct research and development by monitoring project progress, providing technical assistance, and reviewing methodologies used. Many managers earn a doctoral or a Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree.

#19. Financial managers

- Mean annual wage: $147,530
- Mean hourly wage: $70.93
- Employment: 654,790 (4.46 per 1,000 jobs)

A financial manager is tasked with developing strategies to meet a company's long-term financial goals. These managers seek ways to reduce costs and maximize profits. Most financial managers earn a bachelor's degree and regularly come with five years of experience in accounting, or even as financial analysts. An advanced degree––such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA)––can also fortify a financial manager's qualifications.

#18. Marketing managers

- Mean annual wage: $149,200
- Mean hourly wage: $71.73
- Employment: 263,680 (1.80 per 1,000 jobs)

Marketing managers identify potential customers, assess product demand, and research services offered by competitors. Along with holding a bachelor's degree, marketing managers usually have experience in advertising, sales, promotions, or marketing.

#17. Architectural and engineering managers

- Mean annual wage: $152,930
- Mean hourly wage: $73.52
- Employment: 194,250 (1.32 per 1,000 jobs)

Architectural and engineering managers optimize research and development of new products, processes, or designs. Along with experience as an architect or engineer, these managers typically earn a bachelor's degree and one of several master's degrees such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Master of Engineering Management (MEM or MSEM) or a Master of Science in Technology Management (MSTM).

#16. Computer and information systems managers

- Mean annual wage: $156,390
- Mean hourly wage: $75.19
- Employment: 433,960 (2.96 per 1,000 jobs)

Computer and information systems managers—also called IT managers or IT project managers—lead the installation and maintenance of computer hardware and software, ensure network security, and continually search for system upgrades. Some managers earn a bachelor's degree in computer or information science, after which they may also earn an MBA.

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#15. Petroleum engineers

- Mean annual wage: $156,780
- Mean hourly wage: $75.37
- Employment: 32,620 (0.22 per 1,000 jobs)

Petroleum engineers are in charge of extracting oil and gas from below the Earth's surface. These engineers design specialized equipment and inventive ways to inject water, gases, steam, or chemicals into an oil reserve to push out more oil or gas. To become a petroleum engineer, one usually earns a bachelor's degree in engineering, sometimes followed by obtaining a professional engineering license.

#14. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

- Mean annual wage: $174,870
- Mean hourly wage: data not available
- Employment: 84,520 (0.58 per 1,000 jobs)

Pilots do more than navigate aircraft; they also master specialized flight software and maintain flight logs, all while performing customer service to hundreds of passengers per day. Pilots must pass a series of exams and complete training before getting to take off.

#13. Dentists, general

- Mean annual wage: $178,260
- Mean hourly wage: $85.70
- Employment: 110,730 (0.75 per 1,000 jobs)

General dentists examine and treat the teeth and gums. This includes removing and filling cavities, teaching patients about proper oral hygiene, and removing damaged or infected teeth. A general dentist must earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

#12. Nurse anesthetists

- Mean annual wage: $181,040
- Mean hourly wage: $87.04
- Employment: 43,570 (0.30 per 1,000 jobs)

Yes, a nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia, but that's just the beginning of what the job entails. These nurses also assist surgeons, physicians, and dentists, and help patients recover from anesthesia. Along with earning a master's degree, nurse anesthetists can earn certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

#11. Pediatricians, general

- Mean annual wage: $184,410
- Mean hourly wage: $88.66
- Employment: 29,740 (0.20 per 1,000 jobs)

General pediatricians are doctors who specialize in the care of children. While this can include diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease, pediatricians also provide general care, including checking children's growth and development. To work in pediatrics, a bachelor's degree and medical degree are required, as well as a completed internship or residency.

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#10. Chief executives

- Mean annual wage: $193,850
- Mean hourly wage: $93.20
- Employment: 205,890 (1.40 per 1,000 jobs)

Chief executives direct their company's finances and budget, negotiate contracts, and appoint managers. Many chief executives hold an MBA, J.D., or other advanced degrees.

#9. General internal medicine physicians

- Mean annual wage: $201,440
- Mean hourly wage: $96.85
- Employment: 44,610 (0.30 per 1,000 jobs)

General internists diagnose and treat afflictions pertaining to internal organ systems. Common ailments treated include hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Like other physicians, they must complete medical school and necessary postsecondary training.

#8. Family medicine physicians

- Mean annual wage: $213,270
- Mean hourly wage: $102.53
- Employment: 109,370 (0.75 per 1,000 jobs)

A family and general practitioner diagnoses, treats, and prevents common diseases instead of focusing on a specialized category of medicine. These physicians must complete all medical school and postsecondary education requirements.

#7. Psychiatrists

- Mean annual wage: $220,430
- Mean hourly wage: $105.98
- Employment: 25,530 (0.17 per 1,000 jobs)

Psychiatrists are specialized physicians that diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders. While a psychiatrist can provide therapy and counseling similar to how a psychologist can, the big differentiating factor between them is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication. Besides completing medical school requirements, psychiatrists should be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

#6. Prosthodontists

- Mean annual wage: $220,840
- Mean hourly wage: $106.17
- Employment: 490 (0.00 per 1,000 jobs)

A prosthodontist creates oral prostheses to replace missing teeth. The road to becoming a prosthodontist includes earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree and completing post-doctoral training. The field of prosthodontics is a specialized industry accredited by the American Dental Association.

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#5. Orthodontists

- Mean annual wage: $230,830
- Mean hourly wage: $110.98
- Employment: 5,990 (0.04 per 1,000 jobs)

An orthodontist treats oral cavity anomalies and fixes imperfect tooth positioning by installing braces and realigning teeth. After completing dental school, aspiring orthodontists must then pass the National Board Dental Examination and then obtain a license to specialize in orthodontics.

#4. Obstetricians and gynecologists

- Mean annual wage: $233,610
- Mean hourly wage: $112.31
- Employment: 18,620 (0.13 per 1,000 jobs)

Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYN) is a doctor who specializes in women's health, such as by assisting patients during pregnancy or treating diseases related to the reproductive system. OB-GYN must complete medical school and a residency.

#3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

- Mean annual wage: $237,570
- Mean hourly wage: $114.21
- Employment: 4,650 (0.03 per 1,000 jobs)

Surgeons who center on the oral and maxillofacial regions can treat defects, diseases, and injuries. Specialized mouth and jaw surgeons typically complete dental school and an oral surgery residency.

#2. Surgeons

- Mean annual wage: $252,040
- Mean hourly wage: $121.17
- Employment: 36,270 (0.25 per 1,000 jobs)

Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and deformities through surgical operations. Surgeons often specialize in one area, like orthopedic or reconstructive surgery. After completing medical school and residency, surgeons should also be board-certified by the American Board of Surgery.

#1. Anesthesiologists

- Mean annual wage: $261,730
- Mean hourly wage: $125.83
- Employment: 31,010 (0.21 per 1,000 jobs)

Careers in the medical field have claimed many of the top spots on this list, including the highest-paying job in America: anesthesiologist. These skilled experts deliver anesthetics for surgeries and other procedures. Anesthesiologists have a high-pressure job where, much like many jobs in the medical field, they may have to be on call and work at a moment's notice. Anesthesiologists are primed for the demands of the role all through medical school and residencies, after which they must gain board certification to practice.

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