The salary of a profession is among the most compelling factors for many individuals deciding what career path to follow, what degree to persue or even where to live.
With data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics , BLS, CNBC.com took a look at the most highly-compensated occupations in the country, based upon BLS job definitions. The BLS also breaks down average salaries geographically and by industry, which can help job seekers understand the areas to look in order to find where these positions are located.
So, what are the highest paying jobs in the country? Click ahead to find out!
By Paul ToscanoPosted 15 August 2011
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.
Average annual salary: $113,100
Current employment: 1,708,080
General and operations managers are in charge of planning, directing and coordinating the operations of both public - and private - sector organizations. According to the BLS, someone performing this job would be tasked with formulating policies, managing daily operations and planning the use of materials and human resources. The position of general manager can be more lucrative, with the top 25 percent making over $142,000 per year.
Average annual salary: $114,040
Current employment: 1,420
This job concentrates on applying principles of psychology to the workplace, for human resources, administration, management, sales and marketing. They are used to help shape policy, train employees and undertake organizational analysis, working with management to improve worker productivity. Although there are not many of these specialists, two cities with a large proportion of the national workforce are Washington D.C. and Boston
Average annual salary: $114,110
Current employment: 319,300
Sales managers are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating the distribution of products and services to corporate clients or customers. The position also involves understanding the marketplace, analyzing sales statistics and monitoring customer preferences. If you’re looking to be a sales manager, annual salaries in some cities are much higher than others. Metro areas like New York ($171,820), Boston ($148,170) and Anaheim-Irvine ($129,840) have much higher average salaries than the national average, while Chicago ($108,960) and Phoenix ($100,500) fall below, according to BLS data.
Average annual salary: $115,300
Current employment: 68,580
Tasked with transporting both passengers and cargo, this job, more often than not, takes place 30,000 feet in the air, piloting or navigating fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft. A job as a pilot, copilot or flight engineer requires a Federal Air Transport certificate, as well as a rating for the specific aircraft type being used. The cities with the most pilots compared to overall jobs are Anchorage, Alaska (4.67 pilots per 1000 jobs) and Fort-Worth-Arlington, Texas (3.51 pilots per 1000 jobs).
Average annual salary: $116,970
Current employment: 478,940
Financial managers can be involved in a range of activities, including accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities and other financial concerns of a branch, office or department, according to the BLS. The highest average salaries can be found in New York ($155,600), New Jersey ($136,960), Delaware ($134,790) and California ($130,040).
Average annual salary: $122,720
Current employment: 164,590
In charge of marketing policies and programs, marketing managers determine demand for products and services offered by their firm. They also identify new customers, develop pricing strategies and strive to maximize company profits and market share. San Jose, California has the largest concentration of marketing managers (7.4 per 1000 jobs) with an average annual salary of $152,560.
Average annual salary: $123,280
Current employment: 288,660
For computer and information systems managers, their primary concern is to coordinate activities in data processing, information systems, systems analysis and computer programming. A job relatively high in demand, wages around the country can vary dramatically, from an average of $207,840 in Jacksonville, North Carolina to $73,430 in the non-metropolitan areas of Kansas.
Average annual salary: $125,900
Current employment: 174,720
Interested in developing new properties or researching how structures are built? A career as an architectural and engineering manager could be for you. The states with the most people currently in these careers are California (28,860) and Texas (14,330), while the state with the highest-paying jobs is Alaska ($150,060).
Average annual salary: $127,970
Current employment: 28,210
According to the BLS, petroleum engineers devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production, as well as determine the need for new equipment and designs. They are also present during drilling operations, providing technical advice and overseeing ongoing jobs. Houston, Texas is the country’s epicenter for people working in this role, with over one-third of petroleum engineers living in the metro area. The average annual income for petroleum engineers in Houston ($135, 270) is also above the national average.
Average annual salary: $129,320
Current employment: 45,920
Natural Sciences managers plan, direct or coordinate activities in life sciences, physical sciences, math and other science-related fields, according to the BLS. A relatively broad career path, natural science managers work in various areas of the economy, including research and development, pharmaceuticals, agricultural engineering and even government. The top paying-states for these jobs are New Jersey ($172,500) and Pennsylvania ($172,480).
Average annual salary: $129,440
Current employment: 561,350
The law profession isn’t the easiest industry to break into, with minimum formal requirements in most states requiring seven years of school (four undergraduate, three law school) and a passing grade on the bar examination. Lawyers represent clients in both criminal and civil proceedings, draw up documents and advise clients on legal matters. Lawyers working for the private sector are compensated more generously than those in the public one: legal-services professionals make $136,530 on average in the private sector, while government lawyers make between $82,190 and $92,220. Lawyers are highly compensated regardless of where they live, but San Jose, California ($184,660), Danbury, Connecticut ($174,540) and San Francisco ($172,080) are among the highest
Average annual salary: $158,770
Current employment: 87,700
Most people are familiar with dentists, but most may not realize they are among the highest-paid people in the country. Dentists diagnose and treat diseases and injuries, provide preventative care and and address other medical issues related to the teeth and gums. Over 90 percent of dentists are employed in dental offices, where the annual salary ($161,410) is slightly higher than the national average. Those practicing at outpatient care centers and general hospitals bring the average down slightly. The highest paying states for dentists are New Hampshire ($222,860), North Dakota ($207,810) and Maine ($205,050).
Average annual salary: $173,350
Current employment: 273,500
The job at the top only makes it to number two as far as average salaries go. CEOs formulate the overall strategy and direction of both private - and public - sector organizations, as well as coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management. Although being a top executive is high-paying wherever you live, cities with the highest average salaries are Stamford Connecticut ($228,890), Durham, North Carolina ($226,580) and Columbus, Indiana ($222,290).
Salary range: $165,720 - $225,390
At the top of any list of high-paying jobs are doctors and surgeons, with surgeons as the highest paying individual position, at $225,390. Other high - paying medical professions include oral and maxillofacial surgeons ($214,120), OBGYNs ($210,340) and anesthesiologists ($200,100). Doctors generally work long, irregular hours and must go through an extended and highly competitive education process in order to practice medicine. Doctors are required to have four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and between three and eight years of internship and residency, depending on the specialization.
Although the salaries of doctors vary greatly by specialization, they can also vary based upon location. Among the highest paying cities for general practitioners, Monroe, Louisiana ($244,820), Nashua, New Hampshire ($243,950) and Chattanooga, Tennessee ($236,520) are far above the national average for this type of doctor, which is $173,860. According to the BLS, self-employed physicians who own or are part owners of a medical practice generally have higher incomes than salaried physicians.
For some of the latest wage information for the range of different physicians and surgeons, click here.