Your paycheck can change a lot depending on your zip code.
A surgeon in South Dakota, for example, makes almost $30,000 more each year, on average, than a surgeon in Massachusetts – that's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest state occupational employment and wage estimates, which are based on salary information reported in May 2020.
Millions of Americans left their jobs during the second half of 2021 in a quitting spree experts have called "The Great Resignation" fueled by record-high job openings and pandemic realizations about the role work plays in our lives.
If you're thinking about finding a new job, switching careers or negotiating your pay, it's important to understand the salary range for different roles you're interested in, as well as chances for higher – or alternative – compensation, such as sign-on bonuses or working in a different state.
1. Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Montana
Annual mean wage: $296,770
2. Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists, in South Carolina
Annual mean wage: $295,380
3. Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists, in Oregon
Annual mean wage: $293,170
4. Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists, in Kentucky
Annual mean wage: $292,350
5. Anesthesiologists in Iowa
Annual mean wage: $291,670
It's unsurprising that almost all of the top-paid roles in the United States are in health care and medicine, BLS Division Chief Michael Wolf tells CNBC Make It. "These jobs have always been at the top of the list in all 50 states for at least the past 20 years, since I've been looking at these numbers," he explains.
Some of the factors driving wages higher in these occupations have remained the same even decades later: expensive schooling, stressful working conditions, long hours and providing essential services. The last point is especially true in more rural states like Montana, Wolf notes, where there are fewer medical providers. There has also been an increased demand for health-care workers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Many employees could see bigger numbers in their paychecks this year even if they don't work in health care. Companies are allocating 3.9% of their payroll budgets to raises in 2022, the highest rate since 2008, according to a November survey of 240 U.S. businesses from the think tank the Conference Board.
"Wages have been increasing more rapidly in recent months than we've seen in years," Wolf says. "We just don't know yet whether those wage increases are across all occupations or only in certain industries." The BLS is planning to release its next report on state occupational employment and wage estimates this spring.
See the full list of states here: