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Is Your Job One of the Top 25?

This article was written by in Career and Work, Salaries. 18 comments.


Here’s a list on which you won’t find “senior accounting associate.” It’s the 25 best-paying jobs, in terms of base salary in 2006 of salary and wage workers, not including the self-employed. Here are the top 25 along with their mean salaries, from Forbes.

* Anesthesiologists: $184,340
* Surgeons: $184,150
* Obstetricians And Gynecologists: $178,040
* Orthodontists: $176,900
* Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons: $164,760
* Internists, General: $160,860
* Prosthodontists: $158,940
* Psychiatrists: $149,990
* Family And General Practitioners: $149,850
* Chief Executives: $144,600
* Physicians And Surgeons, All Other: $142,220
* Pediatricians, General: $141,440
* Dentists, General: $140,950
* Airline Pilots, Copilots And Flight Engineers: $140,380
* Podiatrists: $118,500
* Lawyers: $113,660
* Air Traffic Controllers: $110,270
* Engineering Managers: $110,030
* Dentists, All Other Specialists: $108,340
* Natural Sciences Managers: $107,970
* Marketing Managers: $107,610
* Computer And Information Systems Managers: $107,250
* Sales Managers: $102,730
* Petroleum Engineers: $101,620
* Financial Managers: $101,450

Girl wearing braces with moneyFinancial managers are the newest addition to the top 25, replacing astronomers. The medical industry seems to have a stranglehold on the top 20, and these are jobs that require extensive, expensive education. On the other hand, marketing managers and sales managers are on the list. If you’re looking for that six-figure salary without a required six-figure education, these options are available. Actually, both of those jobs — sales and marketing — have something in common: their success requires the skill of convincing people they need something they don’t.

That’s a bit of a simplified point of view; of course there is much more than that necessary to be the best sales manager or marketing manager, but the industries are based on understanding people — a skill that one might not be able to glean from a six-figure education.

Published or updated June 5, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kevin

I’m right there at number 22 (I do systems administration and development for a research institute at UNC-Chapel Hill).

No surprise (I’m in academia!) the salary is a complete fantasy. Of course, they probably group corporate CTO’s and CIO’s making several million annually in the survey as well. That kinda skews the average…

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

Kevin: Mean salaries are always very skewed. “Mean” is actually short for “meaningless.” (I just came up with that…)

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avatar Jeremy

My wife’s profession is on the list, but like Kevin noted, it is well below the mean by about 60%.

Of course she is relatively new in the field and our cost of living in our location is probably close to one of the lowest in the country so I can’t complain.

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avatar Matt

#24 Petroleum Engineer, although being only 24 years old my salary is obviously below the industry average.

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avatar matt

One thing I noticed when comparing the highest paying jobs to the lowest paying jobs was the amount of people who work in those jobs. For instance, the article says there are only 15,000 Petroleum Engineers in the US, and only 500 Prosthodontists. While there are almost 2.3 million fast food cooks, and 3.5 million cashiers. The fact of the matter is that these jobs pay well because there are very few people with the skills necessary to do them.

Of course the glaring exception on that list is lawyers. The article states that there are over 500,000 of them in the US.

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avatar Pat

I’m surprised pharmacists aren’t on the list. Only 6 years of school and new grads start at 110,000.

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avatar A Tentative Personal Finance Blog

I’m surprised OPTOMETRIST is not on the list.

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avatar broknowrchlatr

I am technically #22 and #25. I should go ask for a raise now :)

@Pat I think it weighs in the fact that there are Pharmacists at Pharmacies (walgreens, CVS) that make $120k+ and then there are the pharmacists that work at WallMart and grocery stores.

I bet the woman I see at WallMart is not making over $100k.

@Tenative. I agree, Optomitrists should be there.

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avatar MillionDollarJourney.com

Why wouldn’t the pharmacist working at Walmart make over 100k? Around here, Walmart is the highest paid employer for Pharmacists.

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avatar broknowrchlatr

I guess it is just different in my area. Here, the Walmarts are where people go if they barely make it through pharmacist school. They are poorly dressed, not very nice, and they make unacceptable mistakes all the time. Once they get good, they move to Walgreens, CVS, or one of the other local pharmacists. At those locations, the Pharmacists are very compentent, helpful, and well dressed (I am not mistaking the helpers with the pharmacists in either case)

I guess I can’t assume. But… A typical pharmacist looks like X and a typical teanage walmart cashier looks like Y. However, a Walmart pharmacist here looks like Y.

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avatar Madame X

“Sales Manager” and “Marketing Manager” are extremely vague job titles that can apply to very different things in different industries, so it doesn’t seem very useful to include those.
But obviously I should have stuck with Plan A and gone to medical school.

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avatar Rob

Although the average for lawyers is pretty high, it’s a very right skwewed distribution, meaning that there are a relatively small number making an absolute ton (first year associates out of top 10 schools–Harvard, U of Chicago, etc — start at 160,000), and most making very little. If you don’t go to a top school you are lucky to find a job that is close to that. If you go to a bottom tier school, you are lucky to find a job period. Also, regarding the average for Anesthesia, that number seems kind of low. Looking at the site gaswork.com, most of the job listings around the country are in the 275+ range, with some in rural areas going for 400+.

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avatar Tim

missing from the list are govt employees.

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avatar Virginia

Good to know my husband is in the top 25 (engineering-manager type). Too bad he still can’t even afford to buy a “starter home” out here in SillyCon.Valley. Oh well, I’ll just continue frittering away our huge double income on diamond jewelry and expensive wine. Fine with me ;)

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avatar Lazy Man and Money

I think my future wife must have been #26, pharmacist. I am probably a little further down the list with software engineer.

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avatar pharmacists

I am also suprised that Pharmacist is not on the list. My husband and I are both Pharmacists. I do not work because our family does not need $300,000 a year to live. My husband makes well over 100,000 a year in salary and also gets a bonus(can be very generous), stock options, and profit sharing(also can be very generous). He works for Wal-Mart.

Wal-mart never hires new grads. CVS, Eckerd, Rite Aid, Walgreens, hire new grads. These stores pay less and are not as busy. Wal-Mart pays more because they are traditionaly busier and the pharmacists have additional management responsbilities. Also, Wal-Mart is not open as long daily or open Holidays. Wal-Mart pharmacists typically do not work a 12 hour shift that is common in other pharmacies.

Every pharmacist whether they graduate at the top or bottom of their class must all pass national and state boards. Mistakes occur at every Pharmacy and Doctors office. The busier you are the more mistakes can occur. A Pharmacist may not dress well for 2 very important reasons. You must dress for comfort. Try standing up for 10 hours every day. Also pharmacists are cheap, very cheap. I know I am. We are also very good with money so no fancy cars.

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avatar TS

These are obviously very general types of numbers. For instance a first year investment banking analyst out of college is making $150,000 at 22 years old. And within a few years he is making at least $250k-$300k. But since it is a fairly small area in terms of number of hires it is not included. But ask anyone at an Ivy League school like Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, etc. where people make the best money and they will unanimously say Wall Street. Frankly all of those salaries listed are on the low side for the professions I know about. For instance I know anesthesioligists right in my own family who make around $500k and they are just in their 30s. Same with lawyers, the first year lawyers I know make around $170k and they are just out of school. The CEO number is meaningless because it varies so much, there are so many CEOs who make tens of millions or even hundreds of millions per year when you factor in their stock options and bonuses. I make more than the highest salary on that list and I work in a crappy area of finance and I’m 27. Most of my peers in my industry make way more.

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avatar Jenn

I know this thread is old, but I wanted to comment. Wal-mart pharmacists are probably the highest paid retail pharmacists. We just got done doing our taxes and my husband (a wal-mart pharmacist) made $165,000 in 2007.

We also just found out his bonus for this year is going to be $25,000…so yeah, we’re doing fine with wal-mart!

Our good friend works for walgreens and doesn’t make anything CLOSE to that! LOL!

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