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30 Highest Paying Jobs in the U.S. for 2021

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, the top-paying industries for 2021 include health care, informational technology, engineering, finance and law.

Why do people in these occupations earn the most? In short, it's because they have extremely useful and valuable skills which require years of advanced education, extensive work experience, and/or special licenses and certifications. They're not the kind of jobs you just stumble into.

Keep reading to learn about the careers that pay the most right now. One of them might grab your interest, and fit your particular skills and background.


Top 25 highest paying jobs

1. Anesthesiologists

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $271,440

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree

Related skills: Attention to detail, quick-thinking, manual dexterity, excellent communication and ability to work under pressure.

What they do: They administer anesthetics to patients to reduce or eliminate pain during medical procedures or operations. Anesthesiologists adjust the amount of anesthetics needed during surgery and monitor the patient's heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and breathing to make sure everything runs smoothly.They also provide pain relief for patients in intensive care, women in labor and patients suffering from chronic pain.

Anesthesiologists

2. Surgeons

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $251,650

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree

Related skills: Excellent manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and visuospatial awareness, quick-thinking, problem-solving, patience and stamina.

What they do: Surgeons operate on patients who suffer from injuries, diseases, or deformities. Training in this field can lead to general surgery jobs or specialties like orthopedic, neurological, pediatric, cardiovascular, or plastic surgery.

Surgeons

3. Obstetricians and gynecologists

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $239,120

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree

Related skills: Compassion, ability to work under stressful situations, excellent communication, patience and manual dexterity.

What they do: Also known as OB/GYNs, these professionals provide care and counsel to women regarding pregnancy, childbirth and reproductive issues such as cervical cancer, ovarian cysts and symptoms related to menopause.

Obstetricians And Gynecologists

4. Orthodontists

Employment rate: 2% growth by 2029

Median salary: $237,990 or more

Education needed: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Related skills: Detail-oriented, excellent communication, problem-solving, strong analytical skills and manual dexterity.

What they do: Orthodontists help you achieve that picture-perfect smile by fixing irregularities in teeth and jaws. They strengthen teeth by using braces or other tools and help correct overbites and underbites.

Orthodontists

5. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Employment rate: 2% growth by 2029

Median salary: $234,990

Education needed: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Related skills: Excellent manual dexterity, compassion, quick-thinking, patience, leadership, and ability to work under pressure.

What they do: These professionals perform surgeries on the face, mouth and jaw. They're dentists with at least four years of additional surgical training, so they can do everything from treating facial traumas, diagnosing and treating patients with head, neck and oral cancer, and administering anesthesia to perform cosmetic surgeries, such as face-lifts.

Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons

6. Physicians

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $218,850

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree

Related skills: Excellent communication, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, great attention to detail, teamwork and compassion.

What they do: Physicians are medical doctors who usually focus on the non-surgical treatment of patients, for issues ranging from broken bones to regular physicals.

Physicians

7. Psychiatrists

Employment rate: 12% growth by 2029

Median salary: $217,100

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree; ABPN certification.

Related skills: Empathy, excellent listening skills and verbal communication, high-stress tolerance, great perception and quick-thinking.

What they do: These physicians diagnose, treat and work to prevent disorders related to the mind and mental health, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Psychiatrists can also prescribe drugs or recommend hospitalizations.

Psychiatrists

8. Prosthodontists

Employment rate: 2% growth by 2029

Median salary: $214,870

Education needed: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Related skills: Excellent analytical skills, great communication, compassion, patience, and good hand-eye coordination.

What they do: These dental specialists help restore and replace teeth to improve the function of your mouth or the look of your smile. They treat people who have missing teeth, trouble with their bite, and even cancer patients who have difficulty eating or communicating after treatments.

Prosthodontists

9. Family medicine physicians

Employment rate: 6% growth by 2029

Median salary: $214,370

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Related skills: Excellent interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, time management, great organization, compassion and empathy.

What they do: These physicians are generalists who address health issues and assess and treat everyday conditions, like sinus and respiratory infections, stomachaches, or the flu. They typically have regular patients, who may include members of the same household.

Family Medicine Physicians

10. General internal medicine physicians

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $210,960

Education needed: Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Related skills: Problem-solving, excellent analytical skills, quick-thinking, great listening skills and communication.

What they do: Internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organs, such as the stomach, kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Their patients are primarily adults, as some may specialize in gastroenterology or endocrinology.

General Medicine Physicians

11. Chief executives

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $185,950

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in construction, business, engineering or a related field.

Related skills: Leadership, excellent communication, great decision making, time management, and problem-solving.

What they do: Also known as CEOs, executive directors, or managing directors, these professionals provide overall direction for companies and organizations. They manage company operations, formulate and implement policies, and ensure that goals are met.

Chief Executives

12. Nurse anesthetists

Employment rate: 14% growth by 2029

Median salary: $183,580

Education needed: Master's degree in health care or a related field

Related skills: Critical-thinking, compassion, resourcefulness, excellent interpersonal skills and detail-oriented.

What they do: Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are responsible for administering anesthesia and providing care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. Before procedures, they talk to patients to see if they're taking any medications, and if they have any allergies or illnesses so that anesthesia can be safely administered.

Nurse Anesthetists

Resume examples for this and other medical professions.


13. Dentists

Employment rate: 3% growth by 2029

Median salary: $183,300

Education needed: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Related skills: Excellent manual dexterity, great hand-eye coordination, patience, communication, and attention to detail.

What they do: Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients' teeth, gums and related parts of the mouth while also giving advice and instructions on proper dental care.

Dentists

Resume examples for this and other medical professions.


14. Airline pilots

Employment rate: 3% growth by 2029

Median salary: $160,970 or more

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in any subject, commercial pilot's license, and ATP certificate

Related skills: Great communication, excellent observational skills, problem-solving, quick-thinking, and ability to stay calm during stressful situations.

What they do: Working primarily for airlines, these pilots transport passengers and cargo on fixed schedules. All pilots paid to fly must have at least a commercial pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, airline pilots must have the FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

Airline Pilots

15. Flight engineers

Employment rate: 3% growth by 2029

Median salary: $160,970 or more

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in aviation, flight engineer (FE) license from the Federal Aviation Administration, and a commercial pilot's license.

Related skills: Excellent analytical skills, leadership, physical stamina, ability to work under pressure, quick-thinking, and excellent communication.

What they do: Sometimes called air engineers, these professionals are members of a flight crew who assist pilots by monitoring and operating an airplane's system during the flight. They're also responsible for performing basic inspections before each flight.

Flight Engineers

16. Computer and information systems managers

Employment rate: 10% growth by 2029

Median salary: $151,150

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in computer or information science

Related skills: Leadership, excellent analytical skills, decision making, great communication, expert business skills, and organization.

What they do: These professionals, also called IT managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They recommend and implement computer upgrades, ensure that networks are secure, and ensure systems are running smoothly.

Computer Systems Managers

Resume examples for this and other IT professions.


17. Architectural and engineering managers

Employment rate: 3% growth by 2029

Median salary: $149,530

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty or master's degree in architecture.

Related skills: Excellent math skills, detail-oriented, expert analytical skills, problem-solving, and communication.

What they do: These managers use their knowledge of architecture or engineering to plan, direct and coordinate architectural and engineering companies. They manage activities at construction sites, develop overall product concepts, and solve technical problems to ensure completion of projects.

Architectural And Engineering Managers

18. Marketing managers

Employment rate: 7% growth by 2029

Median salary: $142,170

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in advertising or journalism

Related skills: Creativity, analytical thinking, great communication, teamwork, decision-making and time management.

What they do: Marketing managers estimate the demand for products and services that an organization and its competitors offer. They developed pricing strategies to maximize profit, work with sales, public relations and product development, and help their company identify potential markets.

Marketing Managers

19. Natural sciences managers

Employment rate: 5% growth by 2029

Median salary: $137,940

Education needed: Bachelor's, master's or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline or a closely related field, such as engineering.

Related skills: Expert critical thinking, highly analytical, leadership, interpersonal skills, teamwork and great time management.

What they do: Natural sciences managers supervise scientists, like chemists and biologists, and direct research projects. They work with top executives to develop goals and strategies for research and developers, budget resources, review methodologies and more. These managers typically have a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline and have spent many years working as scientists.

Natural Sciences Managers

Resume examples for this and other sciences professions.


20. Petroleum engineers

Employment rate: 3% growth by 2029

Median salary: $137,330

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in petroleum, mechanical, civil or chemical engineering.

Related skills: Advanced math skills, great analytical thinking, problem-solving, working under pressure, and excellent interpersonal skills.

What they do: These engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the surface. They also design equipment, create plans, and develop new ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve.

Petroleum Engineers

21. Podiatrists

Employment rate: Little or no change by 2029

Median salary: $134,300

Education needed: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree

Related skills: Compassion, great critical thinking, excellent interpersonal skills, detail-oriented and problem-solving.

What they do: Podiatrists treat different foot and ankle ailments, including calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs, arthritis, congenital foot and ankle deformities. They also treat foot and leg problems associated with diabetes and other diseases.

Podiatrists

22. Financial managers

Employment rate: 15% growth by 2029

Median salary: $134,180

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in business, economics or a related field.

Related skills: Leadership, detail-oriented, excellent math skills, great communication, organization, and time management.

What they do: People in this position speak the language of finance, creating financial reports, directing investment activities, and developing plans for long-term financial goals. They also analyze data to advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits.

Financial Managers

23. Advertising managers

Employment rate: 6% growth by 2029

Median salary: $133,460

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in advertising or journalism

Related skills: Strategic thinking, creativity, teamwork, leadership, and proactivity.

What they do: Advertising managers work in advertising agencies that put together campaigns for clients and help generate interest among the target audience. They communicate with clients, oversee projects and make sure creative departments have everything they need to complete the job.

Advertising Managers

24. Sales managers

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $132,290

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in any subject, though some positions may only require a high school diploma and plenty of work experience as a sales representative.

Related skills: Analytical thinking, excellent communication, customer service, leadership and problem-solving.

What they do: Sales managers' responsibilities will vary depending on the company, but they typically direct the sales team, set goals, analyze data and develop training programs for their employees. In larger companies, they may even oversee regional and local sales managers and their staff.

Sales Managers

25. Lawyers

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $126,930

Education needed: Bachelor's degree in any subject (law and legal studies, history or social sciences) and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Related skills: Excellent verbal and written communication, compassion, expert researching skills, analytical thinking and problem-solving.

What they do: Lawyers act as both advocates and advisors to individuals, businesses and government agencies, providing legal advice and suggesting courses of action, as well as representing parties in a criminal or civil trial. Lawyers can work in different industries and specialize in particular legal fields, such as environmental law, tax, intellectual property, or immigration.

Lawyers

Top 5 highest paying jobs that don't require a college degree

The jobs in this category only require a high school diploma or equivalent and a few years of experience in the same field to get hired.

1. Nuclear power reactor operators

Employment rate: 16% decline by 2029

Median salary: $104,040

Related skills: Problem-solving, mechanical skills, attention to detail, excellent dexterity and physical stamina.

What they do: Nuclear power reactor operators control nuclear reactors, adjusting control rods, monitoring reactors, turbines, generators and cooling systems, and adjusting controls as necessary. They also respond to unusual activity, determining causes and taking corrective action.

Nuclear Reactor Operators

2. Transportation, storage and distribution managers

Employment rate: 4% growth by 2029

Median salary: $96,390

Related skills: Time management, excellent communication, organization, physical strength, and leadership.

What they do: These professionals plan, direct and coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution tasks for their company. Trucking companies often employ them to ensure the goods are shipped and stored in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Transportation Distribution Managers

3. Power distributors and dispatchers

Employment rate: 16% decline by 2029

Median salary: $95,100

Related skills: Concentration skills, ability to work under pressure, quick-thinking, mechanical skills and problem-solving.

What they do: These professionals control the flow of electricity as it travels from generating stations to substations and users. They monitor and operate converters, voltage transformers and circuit breakers over a network. They may also work with plant operators to troubleshoot electricity generation issues.

Power Distributors And Dispatchers

4. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

Employment rate: 5% growth by 2029

Median salary: $92,970

Related skills: Leadership, attention to detail, excellent verbal and written communication, problem-solving and physical stamina.

What they do: Commonly known as sergeants or captains, they supervise their department and the detectives. While a college degree isn't needed, you must complete the police academy training and gain experience solving crimes on the job.

Supervisors Of Police And Detectives

5. Detectives and criminal investigators

Employment rate: 5% growth by 2029

Median salary: $86,940

Related skills: Excellent investigative skills, attention to detail, great communication, compassion, manual dexterity and quick-thinking.

What they do: These officers gather facts and collect evidence related to criminal cases, such as assaults, robberies and homicides. They conduct interviews, examine records, monitor suspects and participate in raids and arrests.

Criminal Investigators

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Maria Correa

Maria Correa

My Perfect Resume Career Expert

Maria is a content writer at My Perfect Resume with a background in marketing, digital content creation, and creative writing. She’s passionate about making information accessible to others and creating compelling content. She holds a B.S. in English Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

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