The 10 Highest-Paying Jobs of 2015

briefcase full of money

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One word: healthcare. People hoping to score a high-paying job in the future would be wise to look to the medical field. Half of 2015’s top 10 jobs in terms of salary were health-related, according to job search website CareerCast.

Surgeons, general practice physicians, and pharmacists all showed up on the list of top earners in 2015, which CareerCast assembled using a combination of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its own Jobs Rated Report. Data scientist, corporate exec, and petroleum engineer also made the list of the year’s best-paying jobs.

In the healthcare field, better access to health insurance and an aging population is translating into strong growth and high wages at all levels, according to the BLS. The median annual wage for healthcare practitioners in 2015 was $61,710, nearly double the median annual wage for all occupations.

The highest-paying healthcare careers all require extensive post-graduate training, but not every job on CareerCast’s list necessitates years of schooling to get your foot in the door. Petroleum engineers may be able to find six-figure jobs with just a bachelor’s degree. Entry-level air traffic control positions positions don’t always require a degree, and the average annual wage in this field is more than $120,000 a year. (Controllers do need to complete training at the FAA Academy.) Though job growth is flat in this high-pressure field, unique industry features mean there are opportunities for people with the right training.

“They have to be hired by their 31st birthday. They have to retire by the age of 56,” Gail Zlotky, an air traffic control program manager at Middle Tennessee State University, told CNBC when explaining the restrictions on air traffic controllers employed by the FAA. “That’s why the job market will keep going.”

data scientist

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In other cases, high demand for people with experience in a relatively new field is pushing wages up. Jobs for data scientists – who help make sense of the mountains of information companies and organizations suddenly have access to – didn’t really exist until a few years ago, but now businesses are scrambling to hire from a limited pool of qualified applicants. Yet the high wages may not last, Fortune warned, as more people train in the field and automation cuts down on the need for actual humans to do the work.

“Over time, software will do more and more of what data scientists do today,” Roland Cloutier, chief security officer and vice president at ADP, told the magazine.

The job market is a tricky beast, in other words, and broader economic and technological changes can make work in a once-lucrative field dry up. Still, most of the high-paying jobs should see double-digit growth through 2022, according to CareerCast, which is good news for job seekers. While there are no sure things when it comes to work, these 10 best-paying jobs of 2015 may be a good bet for the future.


 10. Pharmacist

  • Annual median wage: $120,950
  • Growth outlook: 14%

9. Air traffic controller

  • Annual median wage: $122,340
  • Growth outlook: 1%

8. Data scientist

  • Annual median wage: $124,150
  • Growth outlook: 15%

7. Orthodontist

  1. Annual median wage: $129,110
  2. Growth outlook: 16%

6. Petroleum engineer

  • Annual median wage: $130,050
  • Growth outlook: 26%

5. Dentist

  • Annual median wage: $146,340
  • Growth outlook: 16%

4. Senior-level corporate executive

  • Annual median wage: $173,320
  • Growth outlook: 11%

3. General practice physician

  • Annual median wage: $180,180
  • Growth outlook: 18%

2. Psychiatrist

  • Annual median wage: $181,880
  • Growth outlook: 18%

1. Surgeon

  • Annual median wage: $352,220
  • Growth outlook: 18%

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