100 highest-paying jobs in America
The economic landscape of the United States is rapidly changing, with health care, computer systems design, and scientific industries leading a push for more employment. On the flip side, industries like wired telecommunications, postal service, and textile production are showing a rapid decline. With the development of newer and more advanced technologies every day, the job landscape is shifting and so are the pay demands and prerequisite skills. Arguments have been made that there is a strong correlation between advanced education and a higher salary—come 2020, and 35% of jobs are projected to require a bachelor’s degree or higher, according Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. Of course, it should be noted that obstacles remain for universal access to quality higher education.
Using 2018 data (last updated April 2, 2019) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Stacker ranked the 100 highest-paying jobs in America. These jobs are ranked according to mean annual wage, with the mean hourly wage used as a tiebreaker. The BLS notes that hourly wages are not included for some positions since some occupations rarely work year-round or full time, or they have a mean hourly wage of over $100. Additionally, any jobs that listed “all other” in the occupation name were excluded from the list, as these are groupings of jobs and the data may not accurately reflect every job in that grouping.
Engineers in a variety of fields make several appearances on the list, as do educators, particularly those working in postsecondary environments. As expected, different medical professionals post a strong showing, along with managers. There are surprises, though; for example, would you have guessed that an art director earns, on average, more than a financial analyst?
Stacker breaks down the 100 highest-paying jobs in America are and explains what each job entails, what prerequisite skills are required to perform the job, and how one can get a start in each. Click through to find out which professions offer the best-paying positions.
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#100. Environmental engineers
- Mean annual wage: $92,640
- Mean hourly wage: $44.54
- Employment in 2018: 53,070 (0.37 per 1,000 jobs)
Environmental engineers are vital in creating projects that protect the environment, such as pollution control systems. These engineers’ work isn’t complete the moment a project plan is finalized, though. Environmental engineers must also obtain permits for work, perform quality-control checks, and monitor progress, along with other duties. Entry-level jobs in this field require a bachelor’s degree, with preference given to graduates of schools with an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) program.
#99. Mechanical engineers
- Mean annual wage: $92,800
- Mean hourly wage: $44.62
- Employment in 2018: 303,440 (2.10 per 1,000 jobs)
The field of mechanical engineering is quite broad, and people who work in the profession can specialize in many projects, from creating medical devices to designing elevators (even something akin to those nifty paternosters in Germany). Bachelor degree programs heavy in mathematics and science serve as a base for many future mechanical engineers.
#98. First-line supervisors of police and detectives
- Mean annual wage: $93,100
- Mean hourly wage: $44.76
- Employment in 2018: 116,660 (0.81 per 1,000 jobs)
People in this line of work are tasked with training staff in proper police procedures, supervising and coordinating criminal investigations, and resolving internal organizational problems. A majority of first-line supervisors work in local government, but the best-paying gigs are in the federal executive branch.
#97. Computer systems analysts
- Mean annual wage: $93,610
- Mean hourly wage: $45.01
- Employment in 2018: 587,970 (4.06 per 1,000 jobs)
With so many workplaces dependent on the internet and email, computer systems analysts are essential for staying up to date with emerging industry trends, configuring new hardware and software, and training company users. Bachelor degrees in information sciences can help future analysts study everything from software development to database design.
#96. Health and safety engineers (except mining safety engineers and inspectors)
- Mean annual wage: $93,630
- Mean hourly wage: $45.01
- Employment in 2018: 26,230 (0.18 per 1,000 jobs)
Individuals working in the health and safety engineering space can be found specializing in industrial safety and health, fire prevention and safety, and product safety. Texas, California, and New York are the states with the highest employment for health and safety engineers, not including mining safety engineers and inspectors. Alaska, New Mexico, and Delaware are also good locales to begin a career in this field, as they have the highest concentrations of jobs.
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#95. Civil engineers
- Mean annual wage: $93,720
- Mean hourly wage: $45.06
- Employment in 2018: 306,030 (2.11 per 1,000 jobs)
Construction of roads, airports, bridges, and many other important infrastructural elements of daily travel are in place thanks to civil engineers. Tasks for civil engineers also include applying for permits and testing soil to ensure that all the aforementioned structures last and are safely maintained. Earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from an ABET institution is a common starting point for many in this field.
#94. Funeral service managers
- Mean annual wage: $93,820
- Mean hourly wage: $45.11
- Employment in 2018: 8,400 (0.06 per 1,000 jobs)
Benjamin Franklin popularized the idiom that among the few certainties in life are death and taxes. To help ease the burden of both, there are accountants and funeral service managers, the latter of which make funeral arrangements, filing death certificates, and taking care of funeral-related tasks that families may not want to deal with in the wake of losing a loved one. Accreditation is necessary to enter this field and the American Board of Funeral Service Education helps prospective workers locate the best program to get started on this career path..
#93. Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary
- Mean annual wage: $94,080
- Mean hourly wage: Data not available
- Employment in 2018: 5,890 (0.04 per 1,000 jobs)
Professors teaching anthropology (the science of human culture) and archeology (the scientific study of material remains of past human life) are among the highest-paid scholars in the country. These educators make the most money in jobs at colleges in the northeast or along the Pacific Coast. Graduate degrees are almost always a prerequisite for postsecondary teaching positions in this space.
#92. Management analysts
- Mean annual wage: $94,390
- Mean hourly wage: $45.38
- Employment in 2018: 684,470 (4.73 per 1,000 jobs)
Management analysts are all about maximizing companies’ efficiency and increasing profits. This can be achieved through collecting and analyzing company data, then making recommendations for improvement. Most entry-level candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree, but it is not uncommon for workers in the field to hold a master’s in business administration (MBA).
#91. Biomedical engineers
- Mean annual wage: $95,090
- Mean hourly wage: $45.72
- Employment in 2018: 18,970 (0.13 per 1,000 jobs)
Biomedical engineers design and create a variety of equipment, computer systems, and software to improve everything from medical research in fields like human tissue growth to the creation of artificial organs. Workers in this field obtain a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering, and typically have experience in other fields, like physiology or even circuit design.
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