Best-Paying Jobs In America

The Professions That Bring In the Cash

Best-Paying Jobs In America
June 23, 2016

What are the common threads between the highest-paying professions? According to Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist for Glassdoor, there tend to be three factors: higher educational requirements, skills that are in demand, and protection from automation or competition. Check out the Glassdoor list of the 25 highest-paying jobs in America for 2016 and see how well they match up to those criteria. (Note: The salaries listed are median base salaries.)

1. Physician – The medical profession tops the list with a base salary of $180,000. Medical careers consistently top the high-paying job lists and are far above the second-place category in 2016.

2. Lawyer – Representing your legal needs (or that of your opponent) ranks second on the salary chart. The legal profession draws an average salary of $144,500.

3. Research and Development Manager – Doctors and lawyers were no surprise, but R&D managers were probably not your expected choice for third place. Yet R&D managers draw an average salary of $142,120, not far behind lawyers.

4. Software Development Manager – Managing the development of that killer software — or the boring but necessary software for businesses and infrastructure — draws $132,000.

5. Pharmacy Manager – Pharmacies handle more than the simple filling of your prescriptions, and pharmacy managers pull down $130,000 as a result.

6. Strategy Manager – What does a strategy manager do? Find the best path to implement a business' goals and initiatives with the resources at hand. They average $130,000 in salary.

7. Software Architect – Software architects are responsible for technical standards, architectural design, and approval methods at various steps along the software development path. They average $128,250 in pay.

8. Integrated Circuit Design Engineer – They create the fabrication patterns for computer chips and bring in an average of $127,500.

9. IT Manager – IT managers handle all aspects of a business' electronic networks and information systems. The job pays $120,000.

10. Solutions Architect – This job title can cover many variations, but the common thread is creating robust solutions to problems. That diverse skill brings in $120,000.

11. Engagement Manager – These managers of customer/vendor relationships earn $120,000.

12. Applications Development Manager – Designing, coordinating, and managing corporate information systems demands a salary of $120,000.

13. Pharmacist – Handling your prescription needs earns an average of $118,000.

14. Systems Architect – High-level design and planning of IT systems pays an average of $116,920.

15. Finance Manager – Manage the money of others and earn good money of your own — $115,000 on average.

16. Data Scientist – Collecting and interpreting/analyzing data streams earns you $115,000.

17. Risk Manager – Assess and manage risk for a living and earn $115,000.

18. Creative Director – Let your creativity shine and harness and focus that of others while earning $115,000.

19. Actuary – Actuaries also assess risk, but with an emphasis on predicting future events. This skill brings in $115,000.

20. Data Architect – Data architects focus more on the storage and management process for large databases. They average $113,000 in salary.

21. Tax Manager – Handle the tax needs of larger entities and earn $110,000.

22. Product Manager – Take on the responsibility of managing a product line and earn $107,000.

23. Design Manager – Having responsibility for the design of new products or processes earns $106,500.

24. Analytics Manager – What does it all mean? Analytics managers can determine the real meaning of data sets for an average salary of $106,000.

25. Information Systems Manager – These are the folks responsible for the day-to-day operation of information systems, and are paid $106,000 for their efforts.

Note that fourteen of the 25 titles end with "Manager". Good managers are hard to find, and impossible to automate... so far.

If you want to target one of these professions as your own, remember that there are always reasons for high salaries. It may be long hours, levels of responsibility, stress, or some other factor, but every high-salaried profession has some tradeoff. To the extent you can, choose a profession that lets you do what you love in life — because money alone cannot buy happiness inside or outside of a job. However, if you're all about bringing home the bacon, perhaps you should consider a career in sports. We are still trying to crack the list of world's richest athletes.

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irene | 06.23.16 @ 15:17
Not a surprising list really. doctors and lawyers are always in high demand
Elaine | 06.23.16 @ 15:18
Funny because I am sitting here printing out resumes now. Too bad the job hubs qualifies for isn't on the list but I would be shocked if music teacher did.
Bev | 06.23.16 @ 15:18
Interesting......I notice that most have a common theme.....the word manager. I'm just happy to have a job I love to do and thankful u don't have to worry about the pay....if I did though I would check some of these out, some sound interesting.
Erin | 06.23.16 @ 15:20
I'm surprised none of the political careers made the list. I'd like to get the kind of money they do for seemingly doing nothing. I think I'll pass this list along to my kids. Maybe they'll get an idea of what they'd like to do with their lives.
Steffanie | 06.23.16 @ 18:32
This is a great list and I a going to share it with my kids. They are at a point in life where they are deciding what they want to do.
Alec | 06.23.16 @ 18:34
My husband actually falls under one of these! Glad to know he's in a career that is staying strong right now. Sadly, the job I want to do is not one that is listed. I may need to look around before I spend the money to go back to school for it.
Sarah | 06.23.16 @ 18:34
some of these I never even stopped to think about as a career... Tiem to point my kids toward this list. I need someone to care for me in my old age, right?
Carla | 06.23.16 @ 18:36
Some of these jobs surprised me at what they pay. I will show this to my son who just started college.
Patricia | 06.23.16 @ 18:38
I agree with the entire list but I think number one should be cops or law enforcement of any kind. Unfortunately, they will always be needed.
Brittany | 06.23.16 @ 18:44
A good portion of the careers on this list wasn't all that surprising. I am currently going to school for law, so nice to see it on the list
Kailie | 06.23.16 @ 18:46
This list didn't really surprise me all that much, but there's such a wide range of careers, it's really nice
Zanna | 06.23.16 @ 18:58
If you're female and love math, definitely look into Integrated Circuit design! My husband works with a company that is always looking for new engineers, and there are never that many good female candidates!
Carla | 06.28.16 @ 20:00
I am clearly in the wrong profession. Some of these surprise me though.
Kamie | 06.28.16 @ 20:01
Actually surprised by Research and Development Managers, I did not think that would be top 5 of the list for sure. The doctor and physician was expected, everyone will always need one of those.
trish | 06.28.16 @ 20:07
The list for the most part didn't surprise me much. Wishing teachers were high on the list
Nancy | 06.28.16 @ 20:07
There are several that are newer entries to the list and some that interest me.
Jonathan | 06.28.16 @ 20:07
No real surprises here lol.
Heather | 06.28.16 @ 20:08
Not surprised by the top two. Some of the others were rather surprising.
Andrea | 06.28.16 @ 20:12
Some of these are really surprising. But I agree. I'm just happy to have a job. :)
Wanda Langley | 06.28.16 @ 20:12
I am not surprised at the List. They also require the longer College Educations if I am not mistaken and the most Costly Classes.
Sara | 06.28.16 @ 20:19
Some of these really do not surprise me like doctor and lawyer. Most are also manager jobs which do get paid a bit
Brittany | 06.28.16 @ 20:31
This is a wonderful list.
Jo Ann | 06.28.16 @ 21:24
Most of these are not shockers. Pharmacists are really in demand. And they should be well paid, their skills take almost as much education as a Doctor. Management is always in demand.
Jane | 06.28.16 @ 22:32
A lot of the best paying jobs are also pretty stressful. Except for Actuary, hardly any stress in that job.
Debbie | 06.28.16 @ 22:36
sadly, someday and probably soon they will find out a way to automate some of these jobs too.
Ron | 06.29.16 @ 01:53
Tech fields, trades, and medicine will always be top jobs. I look more towards creative jobs in writing and other mediums to make some coins to trade for shelter, food, and wants. In the Internet Age, a YouTube channel can make you a rather solid livelihood.
Amanda | 06.29.16 @ 16:58
I was surprised that a couple jobs were not on the list, while some were. But yet the hugest paying jobs takes the highest college funds.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 06.20.21 @ 04:26