2024 Highest Paying Career for the Future

By Molly Doyle
Updated on December 26, 2023
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Discover the highest paying careers for the future, from surgeons to chief executives. Find out the job growth prospects for these lucrative professions.

Many of the highest paying careers offer the opportunity to positively impact the world around you.

Highest Paying Career for the Future

Every day, doctors, lawyers, managers, and engineers inspire the next generation of leaders, care for those who need it most, and solve problems on a large scale.

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If you are passionate about making an impact and relish a good challenge, you may want to pursue one of these high paying careers.

Highest Paying Careers

Many of the highest-paying careers involve longer academic paths, but they can also be extremely rewarding. As listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the descriptions and projected job growth over the next ten years for some of the highest paid professions.

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These may be the best careers for future work, offering plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: -1%

An anesthesiologist is responsible for administering numbing medicine when a patient undergoes surgery, preventing them from feeling pain during the process. Their role also includes prescribing post-op pain medication, conducting assessments, and providing advice.

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In order to become an anesthesiologist, it’s necessary to earn your undergraduate degree and then your medical degree. After that, you will be required to complete a four-year residency program, followed by a state licensing exam and a board certification test.

Surgeons

Surgeons

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: -3%

Not only do surgeons perform operations, but they also assess patient conditions that may lead to surgery. There are many different areas a surgeon can specialize in, including neurosurgery, intestinal surgery, and pediatric surgery.

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The educational path to becoming a surgeon is a long one. It consists of a four-year degree, around 4 years of medical school, and a surgical specialty and residency. Depending on your particular university, residency programs can last up to 5 years and may require final exams.

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: -2%

Obstetrics deals with all things pregnancy-related. This includes delivering babies as well as providing pre-natal and post-natal care. Gynecology focuses on overall female reproductive health, such as conducting screenings like pelvic exams and pap smears.

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In order to become an OB-GYN, you’ll earn your bachelor’s degree and then complete around 4 years of medical school. That will be followed by a 4 year residency program focusing on obstetrics and gynecology, plus an extra 3 year residency in your chosen specialty. Lastly, you’ll be required to pass a board certification exam.

Orthodontists

Orthodontists

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: 8%

Orthodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on correcting a patient’s smile and bite. Orthodontists straighten teeth by applying braces, diagnose current tooth and jaw problems, and work to prevent further complications in the future.

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Becoming an orthodontist begins by completing your bachelor’s degree. Then you can attend and complete dental school and enter into a residency program specific to your specialty. Finally, you will be asked to pass the National Board Dental Examination. Some states may require you to pass an additional test prior to obtaining a license.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: 8%

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery or cosmetic procedures around the mouth, neck, jaws, and face. You might turn to this type of surgeon for help repairing a cleft lip or an eye socket that’s been damaged in an accident.

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Similar to other careers that make a lot of money, you will start this academic road by earning a bachelors and then attending dental school. You can then transition to a 4-year residency program. Upon completion of your residency, you can take the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery exam and enter into the profession fully certified.

Physicians (All Other) and Ophthalmologists (Except Pediatric)

Ophthalmologists

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: 5%

A physician is defined as anyone who is equipped to practice medicine. An ophthalmologist is a type of physician who specializes in eye diseases and surgery. They can also diagnose and correct poor vision by writing prescriptions for glasses and contacts.

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The specific education required to become a physician will depend on the area you’d like to focus on. If you choose to enter into ophthalmology, it’s necessary to obtain a bachelors and complete around 4 years of medical school. Then you can enter into a 4 year residency program, which will include a 3 year period in a surgical program and a yearlong internship.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: 13%

Psychiatrists handle the diagnoses of mental and emotional disorders in their patients. It is helpful to remember that a psychiatrist is also a physician. So, they are a licensed medical doctor who can prescribe medicine and treatments for physical illnesses that result from psychological disorders.

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As with many of the highest paying jobs, the journey to becoming a psychiatrist begins with a bachelor’s degree. You can go on to attend 4 years of medical school, after which you’ll be required to obtain a license and a board certification in order to be qualified to practice psychiatry.

Prosthodontists

Prosthodontists

  • Annual Median Salary: $100,950
  • Job Growth: 8%

Prosthodontics is a specialized area of the dentistry field that focuses on restoring your teeth and jaw. If you have lost a tooth in an accident, have needed a crown, or have required dentures, then you have likely seen a prosthodontist.

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In order to practice prosthodontics, you are required to complete the same bachelors and dental degree as a regular dentist, but you will finish an additional 3 years of residency training. Prior to your residency, you will also be required to pass the written and clinical portions of the National Board Dental Examination.

Family Medicine Physicians

Family Medicine Physicians

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: 5%

These physicians are your primary care providers, and they are qualified to provide healthcare for patients of any age. Family medicine physicians do everything from developing strong relationships with patients, providing preventative care, and helping people understand and use the health care system successfully.

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After you receive your bachelors, it generally takes about 7 years to complete the schooling and training required to be a family medicine doctor. Four of these years will be spent in medical school, while the last three will consist of residency training. In order to be fully licensed, it’s necessary to pass a board exam.

General Internal Medicine Physicians

General Internal Medicine Physicians

  • Annual Median Salary: $208,000 or more
  • Job Growth: -1%

General internal medicine physicians, or “internists,” are doctors who diagnose complicated medical issues. They are tasked with the job of keeping patients healthy, preventing disease, and providing care for chronic illnesses.

They often treat patients with conditions such as obesity or diabetes, and they may also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as cardiology. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you’ll go on to complete a four-year medical degree program. This is followed by a residency program, which generally lasts about 3 years.

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To be qualified to practice general internal medicine, you will be required to pass a licensing exam and become board certified.

Pediatricians (General)

Pediatricians (General)

  • Annual Median Salary: $170,480
  • Job Growth: -2%

A pediatrician provides comprehensive healthcare to children of all ages, including infants, school-aged children, teens, and young adults. Routine check-ups, prescriptions, health advice, and the diagnosis and treatment of different illnesses are all responsibilities of a pediatrician.

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You will need to complete around 4 years of undergraduate studies and 4 years of medical school to begin your journey into pediatrics. After medical school, you can complete your 3 year residency in a pediatrics program. If you choose to specialize in a specific area within pediatrics, you will undergo additional training. Your last step is to pass a certification exam.

Chief Executives

Chief Executives

  • Annual Median Salary: $179,520
  • Job Growth: -6%

A chief executive—such as a CEO or other C-suite roles—leads a company by overseeing multiple aspects of operation, including goals, profits, and growth. Most people who step into these roles possess strong financial skills and have previous managerial experience under their belt.

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The requirements to become a chief executive vary between companies and departments, but most ask that you have a bachelor’s degree, at the very least. Because it is necessary for a chief executive to have an excellent understanding of a business’s operations, most in this position have at least 5 years of experience with a company.

Nurse Anesthetists

Nurse Anesthetists

  • Annual Median Salary: $195,610
  • Job Growth: 13%

A nurse anesthetist’s job is to ensure that a patient is kept pain-free or asleep by providing the correct medications before, during, and after surgery. In addition to administering the anesthesia, they also educate patients about the anesthesia process.

A nurse anesthesiologist begins their journey by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and passing the National Council Licensure Exam to earn their RN license. The next step is to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), choosing an anesthesiologist track.

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Both a BSN and an MSN program will include work in a clinical setting. As you work toward your anesthesiologist certification, you’ll be required to administer anesthesia for a total of 2,500 hours.

Dentists (All Other Specialists)

Dentists

  • Annual Median Salary: $175,160
  • Job Growth: 5%

Aside from general dentistry, there are nine specialties outlined by the American Dental Association. These include pediatric dentistry, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, prosthodontics, periodontics, public health dentistry, endodontics, and oral and maxillofacial surgery, radiology, and pathology.

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No matter which specialty you select, it will require the completion of a bachelors and dental school. You will also complete a residency program in your area of specialty and pass any required board or licensing exams.

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

Airline Pilots

  • Annual Median Salary: $202,180
  • Job Growth: 14%

Airline pilots are in charge of flying aircrafts. They are frequently accompanied by a copilot, who responds to instructions from the pilot and helps with navigation during a flight. Sometimes, a flight engineer joins them and manages the engine control systems.

Becoming a pilot takes about 2 years of training and begins by attending flight school. You will also need to earn your medical certificate, which will clear you to fly alone. After completing training, you can take both a knowledge and a practical exam to allow you to fly a private plane.

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Pilots continue to gain flight hours and to earn certifications and ratings according to their ultimate goal, such as becoming a sport pilot, cargo pilot, or airline pilot.

Dentists (General)

Dentists (General)

  • Annual Median Salary: $160,370
  • Job Growth: 8%

Dentists care for the health of our teeth and gums. Some of their responsibilities include filling cavities, addressing damaged teeth, assessing x-rays, and administering anesthesia. They also educate their patients on the importance of strong dental hygiene.

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In order to start your career as a dentist, you will first complete your bachelor’s degree and then apply to dental school. Once you finish your dental degree program, you will hold either your Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or your Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). You can then take the final board certification exam.

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and Information Systems Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $159,010
  • Job Growth: 11%

Computer and information systems managers are responsible for overseeing all computer-related projects for a business or company. They do everything from troubleshooting any network issues to supervising the budgets of technical projects and managing databases.

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Requirements for employment in this area will vary between companies, but most look for a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science. After your degree, experience in the field is typically the most valuable thing you can have. Many manager positions search for employees with at least 5 years of experience.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $152,350
  • Job Growth: 4%

Architectural and engineering managers work within architectural and engineering companies to plan and coordinate activities. Some of their duties may include creating concepts for a new design or product, supervising staff members, and reviewing the technical accuracy of completed work.

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Most people who enter this role hold their bachelor’s degree in an area related to architecture, engineering, or management. It can be helpful to obtain a master’s degree as well, although it may not be necessary depending on the organization. It’s also necessary to acquire several years of experience in the field.

Marketing Managers

Marketing Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $135,030
  • Job Growth: 10%

At the heart of any successful company is its marketing managers. These professionals play an important role in selling and promoting products by analyzing data and setting long-term company goals. They also have a hand in public relations as well as copywriting, content, and website management.

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First, you can generally earn a bachelors degree in marketing, business, or a related area. You can then obtain experience in the industry and build up necessary skills, such as strong communication abilities. These experiences may help you work your way up through a company to earn the title of marketing manager.

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural Sciences Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $137,900
  • Job Growth: 6%

Natural sciences managers not only play a supervisory role for scientists but are also in charge of researching and forming new projects. They direct testing, production, and quality control. To become a natural sciences manager, ample experience in the science industry is required. This means that, at the very least, you have a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field.

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Many managers also have a higher degree, such as their masters or PhD in a science or business field. Plenty of experience is key in advancing to a managerial role in the natural sciences field.

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum Engineers

  • Annual Median Salary: $130,850
  • Job Growth: 8%

Developing plans to retrieve gas and oil from underneath the earth’s surface is the primary job of a petroleum engineer. They work to create new gas reserves or extract oil from existing reserves.

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Petroleum engineers start their educational journey by earning a 4 year degree in engineering. Following that, you will generally need to accumulate at least 4 years of experience in the field. Finally, you will be required to pass multiple exams, after which you can obtain an official engineering license.

Podiatrists

Podiatrists

  • Annual Median Salary: $145,840
  • Job Growth: 2%

Podiatrists are medical specialists who provide care for the lower leg, ankle, and foot. They treat everything from skin diseases and deformities to conditions like arch problems and cysts.

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If you are an aspiring podiatrist, you can begin your journey by earning your undergraduate degree. Next, you can go to medical school and focus on podiatry. This will be followed by residency training, after which many students choose to become board certified by passing an exam.

Financial Managers

Financial Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $131,710
  • Job Growth: 17%

Financial managers help create long-term financial goals for a company. They can also develop and implement plans to reach these goals while directing investments and producing financial reports.

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While requirements do vary between organizations, most employers look for a bachelors degree in business, finance, accounting, or a related field when hiring for financial managers. Like many leadership roles, you may need to have at least 5 years of experience in another role within finance before you are eligible to become a manager.

Sales Managers

Sales Managers

  • Annual Median Salary: $127,490
  • Job Growth: 7%

At the head of a company’s sales team is their sales manager. Sales managers are responsible for setting goals, creating sales reports, and managing budgets. It’s also beneficial for them to be able to motivate and inspire their team members.

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Most sales managers have their undergraduate degree in marketing or business relations. If you are interested in working your way up to this role, you might need to collect up to 5 years of experience in the field. Some people choose to earn a professional certification, but you can also focus on honing the skills that will make you a successful sales manager.

Lawyers

Lawyers

  • Annual Median Salary: $127,990
  • Job Growth: 9%

While there are many different types of lawyers, this position usually requires people to counsel and represent clients. This could include defending them in court or in private legal issues. Along with advising clients, lawyers also work to develop a strong understanding of existing laws and regulations.

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Once you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, you can study to pass the LSAT in order to enter into law school. Students typically spend 3 years in law school and choose a specialty to focus on. After completing your educational requirements, you‘re required to pass the bar examination in order to be qualified to practice law in the United States.

What Jobs Pay Over 200k a Year?

Many careers that help people and pay well provide an income of six figures or more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the jobs with the highest median annual incomes.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Anesthesiologists $208,000+
Surgeons $208,000+
Obstetricians and Gynecologists $208,000+
Psychiatrists $208,000+
General Internal Medicine Physicians $208,000+
Physicians (All Other) and Ophthalmologists (Except Pediatric) $208,000+
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $208,000+
Orthodontists $208,000+
Prosthodontists $208,000+
Family Medicine Physicians $208,000+

It must be noted that earning your degree in any of these areas does not guarantee a certain salary or position. Other factors that impact these outcomes include work experience, industry, geographic location, and personal goals.

Find the Right Career for You

Right Career for You

Determining the right career path for you will depend on your personal aspirations and career goals. While there are many careers that pay well, it can be helpful to make a list of your own interests first.

Because a lot of the most lucrative careers require an extensive amount of education, it is beneficial for you to be passionate about your field. Being interested in the topic you’re studying may help you commit the time and energy needed to earn any required degrees and licensure.

If you are interested in a high-earning career, you may want to start exploring your options by compiling a list of potential areas of study and programs of interest from accredited schools.

You may want to research the highest paying associate degrees and the highest paying bachelor degrees at the undergraduate level. Later, you may want to explore the highest paying masters degrees and the highest paying doctorate degrees if you’re interested in graduate school.

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WRITTEN BY
Molly holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco and a B.A in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A Seattle-based educator, she focuses on student-centered instruction and creating culturally responsive curriculum.