High Paying Jobs: 20 Surprising Careers That Pay Well

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Finding a job that suits your interests, talents, and your financial goals can be difficult to do. Some careers require a substantial investment upfront, like those that call for college or graduate degrees, for example. Others may pay average wages at the start, with tons of opportunities for growth later on.

If you’re wondering how to look for a job, check out this post. Here, we’ve circled up some of the highest paying jobs from a variety of industries. Plus, we’ll take a look at surprisingly fun jobs that pay well. Read on to explore our entire list, or use the links below to jump to the career you’re most interested in.

  1. Specialized physicians and surgeons
  2. Physicians, all others; and ophthalmologists, except pediatric
  3. Family medicine physicians
  4. General internal medicine physicians
  5. Chief executives
  6. Pediatricians, general
  7. Nurse anesthetists
  1. Dentists, general
  2. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers
  3. Computer and information systems managers (IT)
  4. Architectural and engineering managers
  5. Petroleum engineers
  6. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates
  1. Creative director
  2. Veterinarian
  3. Winemaker
  4. Concert promoter
  5. Fashion designer
  6. Video game designer
  7. Web designer

What is a Good Paying Job?

If you were to ask a group of your friends, “what is a good paying job?”, they’d probably have a few different opinions. A good paying job depends on your financial goals, where you live, your education, career interests, and other factors.

According to research from Purdue University, the ideal income is $95,000 for general satisfaction in life, and $60,000 to $75,000 is suitable for one’s emotional well-being. 

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up 20 of the highest paying jobs in a variety of industries, including some fun careers that may surprise you!

Highest Paying Jobs

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2019 data, we’ve compiled a list of the highest paying careers and the path it takes to get them.

1. Specialized physicians and surgeons

Median pay: $208,000+

According to theBLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, physicians and surgeons earn among the highest salaries of all occupations in the United States; they boast a median wage of $208,000 and up. As a physician or surgeon, you’ll use your medical expertise to treat injuries and medical conditions, plus provide insight on how patients can maintain their overall wellness.

Work environment: Physicians and surgeons can work in clinical and nonclinical settings, such as hospitals, government agencies, nonprofits, and insurance companies.

Required education and training: Careers in the medical field typically require substantial education and training, such as a doctoral or professional degree, in combination with an internship or enrollment in a residency program.

Jobs that fall under the category of $208,000+ earners include:

  • Psychiatrists 
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists
  • Surgeons, except ophthalmologists 
  • Prosthodontists
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  • Orthodontists
  • Anesthesiologists

In general, specialized physicians and surgeons, like the examples described above, have higher earning potential than other careers within the medical field. Below, you’ll notice a few different types of physicians that usually earn less than the median $208,000+ category.

2. Physicians, all others; and ophthalmologists, except pediatric 

Median pay: $206,500 per year 

Work environment: Like the physicians and surgeons mentioned above, hospitals, government departments, nonprofits, and insurance providers employ physicians and surgeons in both clinical and nonclinical settings.

Required education and training: Medical careers usually require extensive education and training, such as a doctorate or advanced degree, and an internship or participation in a residency program.

3. Family medicine physicians 

Median pay: $205,590 per year

As a family physician, you will be responsible for caring for patients throughout their lifetime, providing generalized health advice, and referring patients to specialists as necessary.

Work environment: Hospitals, government offices, nonprofits, and insurance companies employ physicians and surgeons in clinical and nonclinical settings.

Required education and training: Medical occupations typically require rigorous education and training, including a doctorate or advanced degree, as well as an internship or residency program.

4. General internal medicine physicians 

Median pay: $201,590 per year

Work environment: General internal medicine physicians may work in clinical and nonclinical settings, such as physician’s offices and hospitals, or at government agencies and insurance companies.

Required education and training: A doctorate or advanced degree, and an internship or residency program, are usually required for occupations in the medical field.

5. Chief executives 

Median pay: $184,460 per year

If leadership is your strong suit, becoming a chief executive at a company may be right up your alley. According to the BLS, chief executives strategize to help a business meet its goals. Chief executives often work with high-level partners, sales and marketing teams, financial advisors, public relations departments, and other key stakeholders to position their employer for long-term success. 

Work environment: Chief executives are employed in almost every industry, including for-profit and nonprofit organizations. While this is a job that pays well, it’s worth noting that it often requires a demanding schedule and regular travel.

Required education and training: Chief executives usually have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of experience in a similar role.

6. Pediatricians, general

Median pay: $175,310 per year

As a pediatrician, you’ll care for patients that are under the age of 18.While there is an overlap between physicians and pediatricians, individuals specializing in children’s health care have a greater expertise in child development and behavior. Pediatric care typically requires a personality type that’s more empathetic and apt to understand kids. 

Work environment: Pediatricians may work in clinical settings, such as hospitals or doctor’s offices, or nonclinical settings, like a government agency or an insurance company.

Required education and training: A doctorate or advanced degree, and an internship or residency program, are usually required for medical occupations.

7. Nurse anesthetists 

Median pay: $174,790 per year

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are all trained to direct patient care and provide primary and specialty care. 

Work environment: Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners operate in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics, among other places. The majority of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are full-time employees.

Required education and training: Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners all need a master’s degree to work in one of the APRN positions. They must also have a state license and pass a national certification test.

8. Dentists, general 

Median pay: $155,600 per year

Dentists provide care and treatment solutions for their patients’ teeth, gums, and general oral health.

Work environment: Dentists can work in their own private practice with a small staff, partner with other dentists to form a practice, or work as associate dentists under an established dental care organization.

Required education and training: Dentists are required to be certified in the state where they practice. The standards for licensure differ by state, but most applicants must complete an approved dental program and pass written and clinical exams.

9. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers 

Median pay: $147,220 per year

If seeing the world from a bird’s eye view sounds interesting to you, a career in aviation may be the right route to take. Not only do pilots get travel benefits, but they can often work flexible schedules later in their career, and it’s among the highest paying jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Work environment: Pilots tend to work varying schedules, which may include overnight layovers outside of their hub.

Required education and training: Commercial pilots and flight instructors are common entry-level positions for aspiring airline pilots. Commercial pilots must have a high school diploma or equivalent and a Federal Aviation Administration commercial pilot’s license (FAA). A bachelor’s degree is normally required for airline pilots, as well as the FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

10. Computer and information systems managers (IT)

Median pay: $146,360 per year

Are problem-solving and technology topics that excite rather than intimidate you? If so, a career in computer and information systems may be an attractive option. Computer and information systems managers help direct and strategize an organization’s computer related activities. This may include developing project budgets, developing computer networks, managing data security, and troubleshooting technical issues.

Work environment: Computer and information systems managers typically work full-time in an office environment, some with the ability to work remotely.

Required education and training: A bachelor’s degree in computer or information science and relevant work experience is usually required as a starting point. However, many computer and information technology managers also have graduate degrees. 

11. Architectural and engineering managers 

Median pay: $144,830 per year

For those looking for a high paying job with space to flex their creativity and logistics, architectural engineering may be a promising path. Architectural and engineering managers coordinate and direct operations within architectural and engineering companies. This may include working in an office, at a research lab, or on the construction site.

Work environment: Architectural and engineering managers usually work 40 or more hours per week. Typical work settings include offices, construction sites, labs, and production plants.

Required education and training: An architectural and engineering managing position typically requires a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience as an engineer or architect.

12. Petroleum engineers

Median pay: $137,720 per year

Petroleum engineers research, design, and develop new ways to extract oil and gas from beneath the Earth’s surface. A career in petroleum engineering can involve substantial project planning, problem-solving, and creative as well as logistical thinking.

Work environment: Petroleum engineers usually work in an office or in the field at drilling and well sites.

Required experience and training: A bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering, is required for petroleum engineers. Employers also look for relevant work experience, so internships and apprenticeships are also considered to be beneficial.

13. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates 

Median pay: $136,910 per year

If critical thinking and justice are within your set of core values and skill sets, you might consider pursuing a career as a judge. Judges and hearing officers are responsible for understanding and applying laws set forth by the federal government, as well as local and state governments.

Work environment: Most judges work in courts and are either employed by the federal government or local and state governments.

Required education and experience: Judges usually hold law degrees and have worked as lawyers. Only a bachelor’s degree is required for certain administrative law judge, hearing officer, and magistrate positions.

Fun Jobs That Pay Well

While the word “fun” ultimately depends on your own definition, we’ve rounded up a few unique jobs that pay well. Whether you’re into the arts, animals, or voice-acting, there’s likely a good paying job out there for you! 

14. Creative director

Average base salary: $126,637

Creative directors help curate and create assets for a company’s marketing efforts, packaging, social media presence, events, and more.

15. Veterinarian 

Average base salary: $85,092

Veterinarians get to spend their days surrounded by all of our favorite furry friends—it’s got to be one of the happiest jobs out there! Vets conduct assessments, treat injuries, perform surgeries, and make care recommendations for a variety of animals.

16. Winemaker

Average base salary: $84,015

If tasting and concocting the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon sounds like a treat, winemaking is a job that pays well in base salary and wine benefits!

17. Concert promoter

Average base salary: $83,095

For those that love the nightlife and live music, concert promotion is a cool career to consider. As a concert promoter, you’re responsible for planning and managing all aspects of live events, including booking venues and artists, marketing shows, and more.

18. Fashion designer 

Average base salary: $60,865

If your personal style is your best professional asset, fashion design may be the perfect combination of your aspirations. Fashion designers sketch designs, coordinate with manufacturers, research trends, and more.

19. Video game designer

Average base salary: $58,627 

A video game’s content, rules, genres, and themes are all created by video game designers. You not only get to enjoy yourself while making gaming content, but you also get to enjoy the game while testing it for other users.

20. Web designer

Average base salary: $52,691

Web designers develop and code websites for their clients using their knowledge of programming languages. They are in charge of a website’s layout and overall design. Web designers may be employed by companies, marketing agencies, or may work on their own as freelancers.

Whether you want to plan your career search with as much detail as possible or are looking for a job that’s unrelated to your degree, we hope this guide can help. For more career tips, check out the Early Career category on the Mint blog!

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