Which Jobs Pay the Most Money?

By Tammie Jo , last updated February 3, 2012

If you are just beginning your professional life or making a mid-life career change, you may be wondering which jobs pay the most money. Of course, when it comes to job satisfaction, there is more to consider than a paycheck; workers who score big annual earnings may be less happy overall than those earning less.

How can you tell if your current position is just a job, a career, or a true calling? A job is just something you do for money; if you found another job that paid better, you would most likely take it. If you see your employment as a career, you actively seek advancement and are motivated by the prestige and lifestyle the position affords. It is not just the money. If your work is a calling, it’s something you would do whether you get a paycheck or not. A true calling is something you do because you believe the work itself is valuable and fulfilling. Most people probably hope to find work that combines the best of all options with high pay.

According to the Career One Stop website most of the top paying jobs in the U.S. are in the medical field. Anesthesiologists, general internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, and physicians and surgeons all tie for top earning honors; these careers average pay of over $166,000 annually in 2010. Pharmacists, chief executives, some types of engineers, and computer and information systems managers also ranked in the top 20.

Lawyers also rated high, averaging well over $100,000 a year. Aerospace engineers, nuclear engineers, chemical engineers, and postsecondary engineering teachers all fall into the top 50 money-making jobs. The ranking of some careers may be somewhat surprising. For example, sales managers are number 34 on the list, averaging nearly $100,000 annually. Also, human resource managers averaged $99,000 in 2010.

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