Jobs with the Highest Salaries in 2012

By Mick Travis , last updated January 29, 2012

For those curious to see how other professions are currently faring in regards to pay, Huffington Post and CNBC recently released data which addressed this very topic. Unsurprisingly, the top paying professions going into 2012 continue to be professions in medicine and business. The data used for this article is from the late spring and summer of 2011, and the rankings currently hold true as we enter the new year.

Surgeons

The highly skilled and detailed work of the surgeon is reflected in the pay scale that comes with the work: as of 2011, surgeons earned a median hourly wage of $108.36 and a mean annual wage of $225,390. It's worth noting that, at least initially, the high salary of this particular medical profession may be somewhat offset by the enormous student loan debts that can accrue as a result of the eight years of medical education and three to eight years of training which is necessary to secure the job. It's also worth noting the stress that comes with this high-paying job: surgeons perform high stress work in which the well-being and life of their patient is in their hands, they work long and irregular hours, and to even gain a position means being part of an extended and highly competitive process.

Family/General Practitioners

Family practitioners, also referred to as general practioners, are physicians who see patients for a variety of issues and conditions. This type of physician is also in a position to refer a patient to a medical specialist if they determine themselves unable to diagnose and/or treat the condition in question. They may also be primary providers of prenatal care and in some instances may attend deliveries. Going into 2011, family/general practioners earned a median hourly wage of $83.59, and a mean annual wage of $173,860. Although one could make the argument that the work of the general practitioner is less stressful than that of the surgeon, those entering this field will still have to contend with the exorbitant costs of medical school and training, towards which a great deal of the general practitioner's salary will probably and initially go towards paying down student debts.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The top of the ladder in business is the position of chief executive officer, more commonly referred to as "CEO." CEOs are responsible for defining an organization's overall approach and strategy to doing business, and to coordinate operations at the highest levels and downward. Essentially, it is the job of the CEO to be the "ship's captain," and to set the standard of doing business for that particular business. As of August 2011, CEOs earned a median hourly wage of $83.34, and a mean annual wage of $173,350. In some areas of the U.S., such as Stamford, CT and Durham, NC, CEOs can earn well over $200,000 annually.

Psychiatrists

As of May 2011, psychiatrists earned a median hourly wage of $80.58, and a mean annual wage of $167,610. The psychiatric profession is often confused with the psychologist profession, as the two are closely related. One easy way to remember the difference is to remember that psychiatrists are licensed to not only guide their patients through therapy and diagnose legitimate mental health issues, but also are licensed to prescribe antidepressants. Psychologists, in comparison, are not allowed to dispense any form of medication to their patients.

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