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Highest Paying Jobs in 2020

Health care related jobs continue to constitute the highest-paying jobs in the United States, based on the latest job ranking research from U.S. News & World Report, they continue to be the highest paying jobs in 2020.

Specifically, anesthesiologists are the highest paid workers in America with an average salary of $267,020 per year, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics as compiled by US News. Next, surgeons and oral surgeons round out the top three jobs with the highest earning potential with jobs in healthcare take the top 10 spots overall.

Clearly, health care jobs require high-cost post-secondary and/or graduate level educations. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, four years of medical school typically cost the Class of 2019 $250,000 at an average public universities and an astounding $330,180 at an average private university. But for those who complete the program and graduate, it can definitely pay off. In 2020, doctors are more likely than any other profession to be in the top 1% of earners, according to a recent Brookings Institution report.

In all, more than half of the high paying jobs on the following list — fourteen of them — require a doctorate degree, and all but one are within the field of medicine. Attorneys, which U.S. News categorizes in the social services industry, typically earn salaries averaging $144,230 per year.

Nine of the top high-paying jobs, require solely a bachelor’s degree.

The highest-paying job that requires only a four-year undergraduate degree is that of a petroleum engineer, earning an annual average of $156,370. Petroleum engineers typically work in offices and visit drilling sites to help develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits underground. While the job of a petroleum engineer is often considered to be the highest-paying college major, a job in this high paying field can be difficult, stressful and highly time-intensive.

The job of airline pilot made a debut on the high-paying list in 2020 with an average earning of $146,660 per year. Some commercial airlines hire pilots who hold a bachelor’s degree, although a college education is not necessarily required. Pilots also undergo training to attain a commercial pilot’s license and Airline Transport Pilot certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. Moreover, job candidates also generally go through psychological and aptitude tests with commercial airlines to assess their critical thinking and decision-making under pressure.

Other top-paying jobs that generally require just a four-year degree include roles in computers, engineering, IT, sales, marketing and general business.

Here, then, are the top 25 highest-paying jobs of 2020, according to US News & World Report:

25. Political scientist
Mean salary: $115,300 per year

Industry: Social services

Education needed: Master’s degree

24. Actuary
Mean salary: $116,250 per year

Industry: Business

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

23. Optometrist
Mean salary: $119,980 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

22. Financial advisor
Mean salary: $121,770 per year

Industry: Business

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

21. Pharmacist
Mean salary: $123,670 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

20. Business operations manager
Mean salary: $123,880 per year

Industry: Business

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

19. Sales manager
Mean salary: $140,320 per year

Industry: Sales and marketing

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

18. Lawyer
Mean salary: $144,230 per year

Industry: Social services

Education needed: Doctorate degree

17. Pilot
Mean salary: $146,660 per year

Industry: Social services

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

16. Financial manager
Mean salary: $146,830 per year

Industry: Business

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

15. Marketing manager
Mean salary: $147,240 per year

Industry: Sales and marketing

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

14. Podiatrist
Mean salary: $148,220 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

13. IT manager
Mean salary: $152,860 per year

Industry: Technology

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

12. Petroleum engineer
Mean salary: $156,370 per year

Industry: Engineering

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

11. Nurse anesthetist
Mean salary: $174,790 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Master’s degree
As of January 1, 2025, all U.S. nurse anesthesia programs must award a doctoral degree as a prerequisite for entry into nurse anesthesia practice.

10. Dentist
Mean salary: $175,840 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

9. Pediatrician
Mean salary: $183,240 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

8. Prosthodontist
Mean salary: $191,400 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

7. Physician
Mean salary: $196,490 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

6. Psychiatrist
Mean salary: $220,380 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

5. Orthodontist
Mean salary: $225,760 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

4. Obstetrician and gynecologist
Mean salary: $238,320 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
Mean salary: $242,370 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

2. Surgeon
Mean salary: $255,110 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

1. Anesthesiologist
Mean salary: $267,020 per year

Industry: Health care

Education needed: Doctorate degree

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