Emsi Logo

The Top 25 Highest-Paying Jobs to Start 2020

January 7, 2020 by Meredith Metsker

Happy New Year! To kick off the new decade, we’ve compiled a list of the top 25 highest-paying jobs in the US, along with the highest-paying large and small metros for each job.

Unsurprisingly, many of them are in healthcare. In fact, the top three are anesthesiologists, surgeons, and obstetricians and gynecologists—all of which make at least an average of $112/hour.

But there are also a few outliers (hello, petroleum engineer!). And to provide a little more regional context, we also looked at the highest-paying large metros (250,000+) and small metros (50,000-100,000) for each of the top 20 jobs. In many cases, these professionals can make more than double the national average hourly wage, depending on where they work. (Looking at you, psychiatrists in Boise, Idaho.)

Before we get into some observations and the full top 25 list, let’s talk methodology.

We pulled this data from our latest employment dataset, which is based on the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other federal data sources. We selected these top 25 jobs from the 800 occupations classified by the the BLS, regardless of education level or employment growth. They are ranked by current average hourly wages.

Here are a few observations:

  • Of the top 25 highest-paying jobs, 16 of them are in healthcare. And of those 16, five are in the dentistry field. 
  • Physicians and surgeons, all other saw the most growth (23%) in the last five years, followed closely by nurse anesthetists (22%), computer and information systems managers (21%), and financial managers (21%). Meanwhile, prosthodontists—while a lucrative position at No. 10 and an average hourly wage of $85—declined 45% in the last five years. 
  • Understandably, most of these top 25 jobs require doctoral or professional degrees. The only healthcare job on the list that doesn’t is nurse anesthetist, which requires a master’s. Air traffic controller is the highest-paying job with the least amount of required education (associate’s).

Note: In the table below, “low-end hourly wage” represents the 10th percentile and “high-end hourly wage” represents the 90th percentile. The “highest-paying large metro” and “highest-paying small metro” columns represent the cost of living-adjusted average hourly wages for those metros. 


For more information about Emsi or our data, please contact Rob Sentz at rob@economicmodeling.com.

Want to get notified?