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Top 20 Highest Paying Careers to Consider

By Lisa Freedland

Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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and Varonika Ware

Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: October 10th, 2023
Top 20 Highest Paying Careers to Consider

Not everyone considers salary a huge factor when it comes to choosing a career. However, salary is a defining consideration for many job seekers out there. If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. 

We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 highest paying jobs for you, arranged from highest to lowest annual salary. We cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the latest stats, so keep reading!


2022 Mean Pay: $421,330/yr OR $202.56/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

If you’re curious about what keeps your heart beating, then you should look into becoming a cardiologist! These doctors specialize in diseases that impact hearts and the blood vessels connected to them. You’ll likely meet a cardiologist if you ever have a condition such as high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, blood clots and more. 

Usually, a cardiologist will finish their undergraduate degree before spending four years in medical school. Afterwards, they have to complete about three years in residency before delving into another three years focusing on their specialty. 

If you’re interested in attending medical school, we recommend checking out these helpful resources:

Orthopedic surgeons, except pediatric

2022 Median Pay: $371,400/yr OR $178.56/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

When dealing with broken bones and fractures, it’s imperative to visit an orthopedic surgeon. These types of surgeons focus entirely on the musculoskeletal system of the body. They diagnose and treat broken bones, bone cancers, fractures and sprains, joint issues, and torn muscles and tendons. 

To become an orthopedic surgeon, you’ll have to complete undergraduate and medical school before finishing up to five years in residency. Some students choose to take on a fellowship for an additional couple of years as well. Be sure to start studying for the MCAT early on! 

Pediatric surgeons

2022 Mean Pay: $362,970/yr OR $174.51/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Pediatric surgeons are a subtype of surgeons who work solely with children, teens, and young adults under the age of 18. They are familiar with the diseases and sicknesses that most often affect young people, and diagnose, treat, and operate. 

Those who want to become a pediatric surgeon must do their undergraduate schooling on a pre-med track, attend medical school, and complete a residency program in their field. If they choose to specialize, students must also complete a fellowship. 

Check out some of these doctoral fellowships:


2022 Mean Pay: $347,870/yr OR $167.25/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Surgeons diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses, operating or performing surgery on patients if need be. They can treat a wide variety of illnesses and deformities, including broken bones, cancerous tumors, and cleft palates. Surgeons typically specialize in a particular type of practice and are experts on a specific part of the body. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree, prospective surgeons must also attend medical school and complete an internship or residency program. If they choose to subspecialize, they may have to do an additional fellowship, which usually takes between 1 and 3 years to finish.


2022 Median Pay: $329,080/yr OR $158.21/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Radiologists rely on imaging procedures to appropriately diagnose their patients. Scans like ultrasounds, x-rays, and CT imaging are typically done and interpreted by a radiologist. 

All radiologists must receive an undergraduate degree and finish medical school and residency. Like other doctors, radiologists also have to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) right around the time they graduate medical school. 


2022 Median Pay: $327,650/yr OR $157.53/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

People that are concerned about skin imperfections should make an appointment to see their local dermatologist. This type of doctor can diagnose and treat eczema, acne, lymphomas, cysts and many other skin conditions. The skin is one of the largest organs, so the sky’s the limit with dermatology!

Dermatologists typically finish undergraduate and medical school before starting their 3-year residency. It’s also a requirement for them to complete a yearlong internship as part of their schooling. 

Here’s some helpful articles about internships that you should check out:

Emergency medicine physicians 

2022 Mean Pay: $316,000/yr OR $152.21/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

These physicians are trained to be quick on their feet to treat and diagnose patients that need immediate care in emergency rooms. As a result, emergency medicine physicians have to be well-rounded.

If you want to become an emergency medicine physician, you must graduate from medical school and then complete 3-5 years of residency. Doctors in this field usually complete a board certification in emergency medicine as well. 

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

2022 Mean Pay: $309,410/year OR $148.76/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 6%

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons diagnose and treat a variety of diseases, injuries, and defects related to the head, neck, jaw, and surrounding regions. They can also perform dental surgeries and procedures. Among these include dental implant surgery, wisdom teeth removal, and fixing misaligned jaws. 

Typically, to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, one must receive a bachelor’s degree and then complete four years of dental study, followed by a four-to-six year-long residency training program.


2022 Mean Pay: $302,970/yr OR $145.66/hour
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Anesthesiologists are the doctors who administer anesthesia to patients before they undergo surgery to remove feelings of pain during the procedure. Anesthesiologists also access patients’ conditions, diagnose patients, help prevent infection, and more. 

In terms of schooling, anesthesiologists take the typical path for those in the medical field: receiving their bachelor’s and attending medical school for four years, followed by a four-year-long anesthesiology residency program. If they choose to specialize, they will then have to complete a fellowship for one or a few years.

Obstetricians and gynecologists

2022 Mean Pay: $277,320/year OR $133.33/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Obstetrician-gynecologists, better known as OB-GYNs, are doctors specializing in women’s health. Essentially, any problems related to biological functions that are unique to women, including menstruation, menopause, and childbirth, can be taken care of by OB-GYNs. 

While some OB-GYNs focus more broadly on general health services like primary care, others focus specifically on female bodily functions and the female reproductive system. To become an OB-GYN, one must earn their bachelor’s degree, complete four years of medical school, and finish off with a four-year residency program.

Ophthalmologists, except pediatric

2022 Median Pay: $265,450/yr OR $127.62/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Despite the long name, ophthalmologists treat a patient’s eyes and vision. They are different from optometrists because ophthalmologists are specialists in issues that require medical procedures and/or surgeries. The responsibilities of an ophthalmologist are a bit more advanced than an optometrist since there’s more schooling involved. 

Ophthalmologists have to work at an internship for a year and complete a 3-4 year residency after graduating from medical school. 


2022 Median Pay: $255,510/yr OR $122.84/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

If you’re intrigued about the workings of the brain and spine, then you should think about becoming a neurologist. Doctors in this specialization can diagnose and manage nervous system conditions and disorders. [one more sentence?]

Neurologists wait to finish medical school before starting 3-4 year residency and yearlong internship. They should also participate in a fellowship program for about three years to gain the most knowledge about neurology. 


2022 Median Pay: $252,850/yr OR $121.56/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Pathologists spend a lot of time in labs, diagnosing different types of illnesses and diseases. As a result, there are a lot of opportunities to subspecialize within this career. Some examples  of specializations are blood diseases, cancer, genetics, and more. 

Even though pathology has a strong emphasis on science, you still have to follow the doctor route of education. Typically for doctors, you have to complete four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, and up to four years of residency. 


2022 Mean Pay: $247,350/year OR $118.92/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Psychiatrists work closely with patients to diagnose and treat their mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. As the profession is in the medical field, becoming a psychiatrist requires a lot of work (and schooling!). 

After high school, psychiatrists must earn a bachelor’s degree, attend medical school, and finally complete a four-year residency. Altogether, this takes around a total of 12 years unless you graduate early.


2022 Median Pay: $238,700/yr OR $114.76/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

This grouping of physicians includes a wide variety of professions, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, and more. While it’s hard to generalize the responsibilities involved with each of these occupations, they are all in the medical field and specialize in either a particular body part, disease type, or conduct specific types of procedures. 

Each of them require students to receive their bachelor’s, attend medical school, and complete a residency (and do possibly even more training, depending on the specific career) to fulfill such roles.

Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

2022 Mean Pay: $225,740/hr OR $115.00/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 6%

Airline pilots and copilots are responsible for navigating planes or other aircrafts to transport either passengers or cargo. Flight engineers, on the other hand, are part of a flight crew and are responsible for making sure an aircraft’s systems are intact and running smoothly. 

Typically, one needs to attend flight school, accumulate at least 1,500 hours of flying experience, and receive their pilot’s license to become a pilot or flight engineer. For both positions, bachelor’s degrees are sometimes preferred, but not always required.

General internal medicine physicians

2022 Mean Pay: $225,270/yr OR $108.30/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

General internal medicine physicians or internists differ from general physicians, instead focusing only on the internal organ systems like respiratory, vascular, digestive. They are able to diagnose and help treat diseases, injuries, and disorders found within these internal organ systems. 

Most of the time, internal medicine physicians work with adult patients, and provide long-term care for them during their adult lives. Like most jobs within the medical field, a student must receive their bachelor’s degree, go to medical school, and complete a residency program in order to become a general internet medicine physician.

Family medicine physicians

2022 Mean Pay: $224,460/yr OR $107.91/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 3%

Unlike other medical careers, family medicine physicians are not limited to working with a particular body organ or disease. Instead, they’re trained to treat most illnesses and can provide healthcare to people of all ages. They must have a deep understanding of community and social determinants of health, often serve as a patient’s first contact for their health-related concerns, and consider the impact of a patient’s health on their family. 

To become a family medicine physician, one must receive their bachelor’s, attend medical school, and do a three-year residency. This is followed by additional training in which they learn about the human lifespan, and if they choose, fellowships to specialize in a particular concentration. 


2022 Mean Pay: $216,320/yr OR $104.00/hour
Growth Rate (2021-31): 6%

If you’ve ever needed braces or retainers of some sort, you probably have an orthodontist of your own. Essentially, orthodontists use dental devices to change the position of teeth within patients’ mouths. These tools help treat problems like crooked teeth, crowded teeth, jaw misalignment, and more.

 To become an orthodontist, one must earn their bachelor’s degree, finish dental school, and go to orthodontic school. Then, they must spend two to three years in an orthodontic residency program.

Nurse anesthetists

2022 Mean Pay: $205,770/yr OR $98.93/hr
Growth Rate (2021-31): 40%

Nurse anesthetists are a subtype of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who, similarly to anesthesiologists, administer anesthesia to patients before surgical, diagnostic, or obstetric procedures. They can also fulfill other nursing duties, including evaluating patients’ conditions, administering medicine, and forming close bonds with those they look after. 

To become a nurse anesthetist, one must complete undergraduate schooling, obtain their registered nurse (RN) license, and complete a specialized nurse anesthesia program. 

And, by the way, if you’re interested in a nursing career, don’t forget to check out these articles:

Final Thoughts

And that’s it – the top 20 highest paying careers! As you can see, they mainly focus on the medical field. However, don’t feel limited to just this list. 

While it can be a huge benefit to find a job that pays very well, it’s more important to go for a job that you think you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, you may just end up leaving a job with a high salary because you didn’t enjoy it. Remember to always choose a career that you have a genuine interest in!If you’re interested in learning about the top college majors (with the best job prospects) or the fastest growing careers, we recommend checking out Top 15 College Majors for the Future and What are the Fastest Growing Careers?

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