Personal Finance

The highest-paying jobs in America

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Just like your parents told you, if you want to make the big bucks, go to medical school.

Of the 10 highest-paying jobs in the country, half are related to health care, including physicians and psychiatrists, according to a new study from online jobs marketplace CareerCast.com.

But first, consider the cost. Many of these professions can require four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school and at least a three-year internship or residency. All of that adds up. On average, medical school students graduate with loan debt approaching $170,000.

"You are talking about a lot of time and investment," said Kyle Kensing, CareerCast's online content editor.

Still, other jobs on CareerCast's list, like data scientist, are far more feasible without a decade or more of training to get there.

So for those determined to make more in the year ahead, here are 10 highest-paying jobs of 2016, based on data from the Department of Labor and compiled by CareerCast.com.

— By CNBC's Jessica Dickler
Posted 22 Nov. 2016.

10. Data scientist

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Even though it just broke the top 10, this is a profession with a lot of upside, including high hiring demand, work-life balance and satisfaction around career opportunities. For those not already in the know, data scientists extract insights from masses of data, usually using math, statistics and programming skills and doesn't require any additional schooling beyond a bachelor's degree.

"Even if job seekers don't have data science training, there's an increasing number of coding and software boot camps designed to take post-grads with no experience to successful job candidates in as little as a few months," according to a separate report by Glassdoor.

Annual median salary: $128,240

Growth outlook through 2024: 16%

9. Petroleum engineer

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With an older generation of oil and gas industry professionals exiting the workforce, a growing worker shortage is looming, and that could be good news for petroleum engineering students and recent grads. And unlike many of the other professions in the top spots, these professionals typically need only a bachelor's degree in engineering to get in the door.

Annual median salary: $129,990

Growth outlook through 2024: 10%

8. Orthodontist

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With greater access to dental care in this country, braces are a booming business. Once they complete dental school and two or three more years of specialized training, orthodontists can bring in over $130,000 — and that kind of paycheck would put a smile on anyone's face.

Annual median salary: $131,214

Growth outlook through 2024: 18%

7. Dentist

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Similarly, this gig typically requires a bachelor's degree followed by four years of dental school. And although they fell two spots from last year's list, dentists still have plenty to grin about. They are making over $150,000 a year, even more than they did in 2015, and nearly $25,000 a year more than orthodontists.

Annual median salary: $155,267

Growth outlook through 2024: 18%

6. Corporate executive (senior level)

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You don't have to be Mark Zuckerberg to reap the financial benefits of heading a company. CEOs and senior-level corporate executives are making some serious cash across the board: earning more than $170,000 annually, not counting the pensions, perks and stock options that can make up the rest of their pay package.

Annual median salary: $173,256

Growth outlook through 2024: 6%

5. Physician (general practice)

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Although they dropped two rungs from last year's No. 3 spot, general-practice physicians are still in the top 5, making enough to raise your blood pressure — just shy of $200,000 a year, a nearly $20,000 increase from 2015.

Annual median salary: $199,155

Growth outlook through 2024: 14%

4. Public relations exec (senior level)

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Even at this level, PR execs often work on location and at night, on weekends and even over holidays. It's a job with long hours, a high level of responsibility and very high stress.

In fact, this profession also ranked among CareerCast's most stressful jobs this year, due to the time demands and extensive work in the public eye.

Annual median salary: $201,250

Growth outlook through 2024: 7%

3. Military general

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Military generals are the highest-paid professionals outside of health care, but the tradeoff is steep. With military bases in combat zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, the job is extremely stressful and risky. Not to mention that opportunities to get to this level, which requires 25 years of experience, are rare.

Annual median salary: $205,114

Growth outlook through 2024: N/A

2. Psychiatrist

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Proving they are nothing if not reliable, psychiatrists held steady in the No. 2 slot on CareerCast's list two years in a row. It's not as stressful as some of the other jobs on the list, but with an M.D. required, there is still a hefty time and monetary commitment to make long before seeing patients.

Annual median salary: $207,153

Growth outlook through 2024: 14%

1. Surgeon

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Although more changes in health care and health insurance are likely, incomes in the medical profession have consistently stayed very high.

Topping the list once again are surgeons, who have seen a healthy increase in salary year over year over year. In 2014, they were averaging $230,000. Two years later that number has skyrocketed to more than $350,000.

Annual median salary: $357,192

Growth outlook through 2024: 14%