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The best-paying job of 2020 pays $267,020—here are the other 24

By Jennifer Liu ~CNBC

Health care jobs continue to be the highest-paying jobs in the country, according to the latest ranking from U.S. News & World Report.

Anesthesiologists are the top-paid workers in the U.S. and make a mean salary of $267,020 per year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiled by U.S. News. Surgeons and oral surgeons round out the top three jobs with the highest earning power, and jobs in health care take the top 10 spots overall.

To be sure, these high-paying health care jobs require high-cost educations. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, four years of medical school cost the Class of 2019 about $250,000 at public universities and $330,180 at private universities. But for those who graduate, it can pay off: Doctors are more likely than any other profession to be in the top 1% of earners, according to Brookings Institution research.

In all, more than half of the jobs on the list — 14 — require a doctorate degree, and all but one are within the medical field. Lawyers, which U.S. News categorizes in the social services industry, earn mean salaries of $144,230 per year.

Nine of the top-paying jobs, all of which exceed six-figure salaries, require just a bachelor’s degree.

The top-paying job that generally requires just a four-year undergraduate degree is petroleum engineer, which earns $156,370 per year. Petroleum engineers typically work in an office and travel to drilling sites to design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. While petroleum engineering is considered the highest-paying college major, a job in this field can be stressful and time-intensive, according to U.S. News.

The role of pilot makes its debut on the list in 2020 and earns $146,660 per year. Some airlines hire pilots who hold a bachelor’s degree, though a college education isn’t always required. Pilots also undergo training to earn a commercial pilot’s license and Airline Transport Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Job candidates also generally go through psychological and aptitude tests with airlines to assess critical thinking and decision-making under pressure.

Other top-paying jobs that generally require just a four-year degree include roles in engineering, IT, sales and marketing, and business.

Here are the top 25 best-paying jobs of 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report.

24. Actuary... Mean salary: $116,250 per year... Industry: Business... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

23. Optometrist... Mean salary: $119,980 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

22. Financial advisor... Mean salary: $121,770 per year... Industry: Business... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

21. Pharmacist... Mean salary: $123,670 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

20. Business operations manager... Mean salary: $123,880 per year... Industry: Business... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

19. Sales manager... Mean salary: $140,320 per year... Industry: Sales and marketing... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

18. Lawyer... Mean salary: $144,230 per year... Industry: Social services... Education needed: Doctorate degree

17. Pilot... Mean salary: $146,660 per year... Industry: Social services... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

16. Financial manager... Mean salary: $146,830 per year... Industry: Business... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

15. Marketing manager... Mean salary: $147,240 per year... Industry: Sales and marketing... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

14. Podiatrist... Mean salary: $148,220 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

13. IT manager... Mean salary: $152,860 per year... Industry: Technology... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

12. Petroleum engineer... Mean salary: $156,370 per year... Industry: Engineering... Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

11. Nurse anesthetist... Mean salary: $174,790 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Master’s degree

According to the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, as of January 1, 2025, all U.S. nurse anesthesia programs must award a doctoral degree for entry into nurse anesthesia practice.

10. Dentist... Mean salary: $175,840 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

9. Pediatrician... Mean salary: $183,240 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

8. Prosthodontist... Mean salary: $191,400 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

7. Physician... Mean salary: $196,490 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

6. Psychiatrist... Mean salary: $220,380 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

5. Orthodontist... Mean salary: $225,760 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

4. Obstetrician and gynecologist... Mean salary: $238,320 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons... Mean salary: $242,370 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

2. Surgeon... Mean salary: $255,110 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree

1. Anesthesiologist... Mean salary: $267,020 per year... Industry: Health care... Education needed: Doctorate degree