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1. Doctors and Surgeons

Average annual salary: $168,650-$234,950
Current employment: 618,000+

Doctors and surgeons are usually at the top the list when it comes to the highest paid occupations in the country.

Like others on this list, becoming a doctor or surgeon requires extensive education and training. Doctors are required to have four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and between three and eight years of an internship and residency, depending on their specialization or area of surgery.

The salaries of doctors also vary greatly by concentration: Anesthesiologists are the highest paid workers of 2011 at $234,950, while other high paying medical positions include surgeons ($231,550), OB/GYNS ($218,610), and oral and maxillofacial surgeons ($217,380).

Salaries also fluctuate based on location. For example, Arkansas is the top paying state for family and general practitioners($215,500) with Iowa ($213,460) and Nevada ($204,990) ranking second and third.

According to the BLS, self-employed physicians who own or are part owners of a medical practice generally have higher incomes than salaried physicians.

Photo: Ron Levine | Stone | Getty Images