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15. Physicist

Average annual salary: $112,020
Current employment: 16,860

Physicists are generally concerned with exploring physical phenomena through research, developing theories and observations based on experiments. The Chicago metro area has the most physicists in the country (2,580). They also tend to be better paid than their colleagues nationwide, with an average annual wage of $132,230, according to the BLS. Just outside Chicago is the world’s second-largest particle accelerator, Fermilab.

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