Hedge fund managers get all the attention, but when you look at median salaries, jobs in the health care field dominate this list with medical occupations rounding out the top three.
Surgeons command the highest median salary of all careers — both in and out of health care — likely because the job requires such specialized skills. While earnings depend on the type of surgery done, the annual median wage for surgeons was $352,000 in 2015, and the 10-year projected growth rate is 18%.
In 2015, psychiatrists made an annual median wage of $181,880. Like surgeons, the 10-year projected growth rate for psychiatrists is 18%.
3. General Practice Physician
General practice physicians earned an annual median wage of $180,180, just $700 less than the average psychiatrist. The growth outlook for this profession is also 18%. Since most people need a general practice physician regardless of health and age, the demand for them is expected to rise as more Americans gain access to health insurance.
4. Senior Level Corporate Executive
This is where many of the world’s highest-paid people can be found. Running a successful organization is a high-stress job with inordinate challenges. However, because the list of highest-paying jobs is based on median wages, average pay in the corporate world falls below that of medical doctors. Senior level corporate executives had an annual median wage of $173,320 in 2015 and a projected job growth rate of 11% over the next 10 years.
Dentists had an annual median wage of $146,340 in 2015, and they have a 10-year projected job growth rate of 16%.
6. Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers only require a bachelor’s degree and earn an annual median wage of $130,050. Since oil exploration and extraction are critical to the world’s economy, the need for more engineers drives both high growth outlook (26% over 10 years) and wages that rank among the world's best.
With an annual median wage of $129,110, orthodontists fell short of the No. 6 position in 2015 by less than $1,000 in average annual income. Orthodontists are expected to be in higher demand in areas with more accessibility to comprehensive dental insurance. The 10-year growth outlook for this occupation is also 16%.
8. Data Scientist
In the age of information technology, data scientist is a burgeoning career. The field's skill set is still new, and those trained in data science can command competitive salaries. In 2015, the average salary for a data scientist was $124,150. There was no data to support that an advanced degree increased pay in this field. The profession has an expected growth rate of 15% over the next decade.
9. Air Traffic Controller
The demand for air traffic controllers has fallen as a result of automation and the economic woes of the travel industry. Nevertheless, the stress and specialized skills this job requires command high pay. Air traffic controllers had an annual median wage of $122,340 in 2015. However, the 10-year job growth outlook is only 1%.
The annual median wage of pharmacists was $120,950 in 2015, and growth outlook for the profession over the next 10 years is 14%. Becoming a pharmacist requires post-graduate education and special certification. However, as more people gain access to medication through increased health coverage, pharmacists are in growing demand.