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The Highest Paying Jobs of 2015


Wage stagnation has not been a problem for jobs in healthcare. One of the job market’s two steadiest industries of the past decade, along with information technology, healthcare has seen consistent growth in wages in recent years.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the most-skilled careers within the healthcare industry are many of the best paid jobs in the American workforce.

Of careers tracked by the 2015 Jobs Rated report, surgeon, psychiatrist and general practice physician filled out the top of the best paying fields, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Other medical careers that landed in the Top 10 are dentist, orthodontist and pharmacist.

All are fields that require very specialized knowledge, hence the attractive salaries. Employers seek the best of the best, and cultivating the skill set necessary to enter these careers takes considerable investment.

All of the above require postgraduate studies for varying lengths of time, though four years post-Baccalaureate is typical. Residency programs for surgeons and physicians can last up to 10 years.

Job listings for surgeons on cover a variety of specialties: there are hand surgeon positions, vascular and pediatric, all with their own, unique challenges.

Different disciplines command different salaries, on average, but the total for all fields of surgery still sets the pace for all careers tracked by the Jobs Rated report.

The debt accrued over an aspiring surgeon, physician, psychiatrist, dentist, pharmacist or orthodontist’s time in school can be astronomical.

These healthcare professionals can log somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 in student loan debt before seeing any of the handsome salaries listed here.

Indianapolis-based pharmacist Erin Albert told that living frugally and crafting a roadmap for paying off debt in the first few years on the job is essential.

Litigation also fuels the high salaries that those in the medical professions earn. Surgeons also face exponentially higher risk of malpractice lawsuits than other medical fields, a New England Journal of Medicine study found.

Not all of the highest paying jobs of 2015 require quite as much schooling. The BLS reports petroleum engineer, for example, only requires a bachelor’s degree and pays an annual median wage of $130,050.

Postgraduate work in an engineering curriculum can help a candidate, but isn’t necessary.

Both for this reason, and the energy industry’s heightened emphasis on new means of petroleum extraction and refinement, make this the highest growth outlook of our 10 best paying jobs of 2015.

Likewise, studying in a Masters of Business Administration program can ready an aspiring corporate executive for the job’s challenges. But whereas healthcare professions have regulatory oversight that require certain levels of training, a college degree isn’t always a requisite for senior-level corporate officials.

The most notable example is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who left Harvard as an undergraduate to launch the social media giant. Conversely, there are examples like Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, an undergraduate and postgraduate alumna of Stanford.

Zuckerberg and Mayer are also on two opposite ends of the corporate executive salary spectrum: Mayer’s salary is an estimated $42 million a year after a 69% pay increase this year, while Zuckerberg commands just a $1 annual salary – a livable wage when you’re already worth $30 billion. Zuckerberg and Mayer are two extremes, but the median wage for senior-level corporate executives is still among the 10 highest salaries in America.

Data scientist is one of the newest professions included in our Jobs Rated report, in part because it’s a fledgling field in with long-term growth potential.

San Francisco-based data scientist David Gerster tells that technology has streamlined the process of analyzing big data, making careers in data science more accessible.

“You would have to hire someone with a PhD to get this kind of advanced analysis [in the past],” he says. “[But] you can’t really learn this is in an academic setting.”

Still, data science programs are popping up in mathematics departments and business schools around the nation. Arizona State University and Louisiana State University are two examples of business programs offering data science courses, while Indiana University offers it through its School of Informatics and Computing.

The diversity in just which colleges are starting data science programs speaks to the career’s versatility, which is one reason the field commands one of the highest wages of the 2015 Jobs Rated report.

The following are 10 of the best paying jobs of 2015, per the Jobs Rated report. Annual median wages are culled from the BLS and our methodology. Growth outlook is tracked over a 10-year span from 2012 through 2022 by the BLS.


Highest Paying Jobs of 2015: 1. Surgeon

Annual Median Wage: $352,220
Growth Outlook: 18%

Surgeons command the highest median salary of all careers tracked by the Jobs Rated report, because the field requires such highly specialized skills. Wages vary depending on the type of surgery, but all surgeons take intensive schooling and training to enter into the profession.

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4 years of undergraduate schoo, 4 years of medical school and 6-7 years of residency. 

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