The Top 20 Highest-Paying Jobs To Start 2012

EMSI has once again compiled the highest-paying jobs in the US, and headlining our list are three healthcare occupations: oral surgeons, dentists, and physician/surgeons. Each pays at least $76 per hour on average.

The wage estimates in our companion graphic and table below come from EMSI’s latest employment dataset, which is based on the most recent numbers released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other federal data sources. These jobs were selected from the 800 occupations classified by the the BLS, regardless of education level or employment growth, and are ranked by current average hourly wages.

Depending on the region and industry, the average hourly estimates can vary widely.

A few observations:

  • Health-related positions, airline pilots and air traffic controllers, and several technical management positions — ranging from natural science managers to education administrators — are at the top of the heap. The average hourly wage for these 20 occupations is $56.13 — nearly $117,000 annually — and the highest is oral and maxillofacial surgeons at $84.22 per hour.
  • The fastest-growing job over the last five years on this list is petroleum engineers (38%), while pilots, engineering managers, general/operations managers, and judges have declined since 2006.
  • The only occupation that does not require on average at least a bachelor’s degree is air traffic controllers. Six of the top 10 call for an advanced professional degree, and eight of 20 require a degree plus work experience.

Click here to see the full infographic and see the table below for more.

SOC Code Description % Change 2011 Avg Hourly Wage Low-End Hourly Wages High-End Hourly Wages Education Level
Source: EMSI Complete Employment (2011.4)
HEALTH
29-1022 Oral and maxillofacial surgeons 5% $84.22 $38.24 $173.60 First professional degree
29-1023 Orthodontists 4% $81.28 $37.52 $165.46 First professional degree
29-1069 Physicians and surgeons 7% $76.52 $29.21 $152.96 First professional degree
29-1021 Dentists, general 3% $66.03 $27.03 $126.95 First professional degree
29-1029 Dentists, all other specialists 7% $63.74 $21.38 $133.20 First professional degree
29-1024 Prosthodontists 11% $54.37 $16.65 $16.65 First professional degree
29-1051 Pharmacists 4% $51.12 $37.97 $64.46 First professional degree
TRANSPORTATION
53-2011 Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers -3% $68.23 $33.28 $113.22 Bachelor’s degree
53-2021 Air traffic controllers 12% $51.40 $22.36 $77.67 Long-term on-the-job training
MANAGEMENT
Nov-21 Natural sciences managers 6% $58.30 $31.33 $107.76 Degree plus work experience
Nov-41 Engineering managers -6% $58.19 $35.58 $105.13 Degree plus work experience
Nov-21 Computer and information systems managers 2% $53.95 $30.81 $99.31 Degree plus work experience
11-1021 General and operations managers -7% $50.67 $21.01 $97.95 Degree plus work experience
Nov-21 Marketing managers 3% $50.37 $23.10 $96.82 Degree plus work experience
Nov-49 Human resources managers, all other 0% $49.43 $27.36 $77.23 Degree plus work experience
Nov-32 Education administrators, elementary and secondary school 3% $47.79 $30.87 $69.17 Degree plus work experience
ENGINEERING
17-2171 Petroleum engineers 38% $53.95 $26.14 $86.39 Bachelor’s degree
LEGAL
23-1011 Lawyers 1% $51.35 $19.95 $121.65 First professional degree
23-1023 Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates -4% $50.00 $15.93 $105.42 Degree plus work experience
SCIENCE
19-2012 Physicists 5% $49.91 $24.89 $75.95 Doctoral degree

For more on this list or EMSI data, email Rob Sentz. You can follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.

Illustration by David Dalbey and Mark Beauchamp.

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