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Medical professions dominate list of highest paying jobs

Skilled health care professions dominate CareerCast’s 2015 list of the highest paying jobs, with surgeon, psychiatrist, and physician rounding out the top three. Other medical careers that landed in the Top 10 are dentist, orthodontist, and pharmacist. Corporate executives, petroleum engineers, and data scientists were the only careers outside of medicine to make the Top 10 best paid jobs. The Top 10 list was culled from the 200 jobs included in CareerCast’s annual Jobs Rated report, a report that has published for 25 years.

These skilled health care professions require very specialized knowledge, hence the attractive salaries. However, many lucrative medical careers require postgraduate studies for varying lengths of time. Residency programs for surgeons and physicians can last up to 10 years. And, the debt accrued over an aspiring surgeon, physician, psychiatrist, dentist, pharmacist or orthodontist’s time in school can be astronomical. These health care professionals can log somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 in student loan debt before seeing any of the handsome salaries listed here.

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, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

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 CareerCast methodology. Growth outlook is tracked over a 10-year span from 2012 through 2022 by the BLS.

  1. Surgeon
    Annual Median Wage: $352,220
    Growth Outlook:18% 
  2. Psychiatrist 
    Annual Median Wage: $181,880 
    Growth Outlook: 18% 
  3. Physician (General Practice)
    Annual Median Wage: $180,180 
    Growth Outlook: 18% 
  4. Corporate Executive (Senior Level) 
    Annual Median Wage: $173,320 
    Growth Outlook: 11% 
  5. Dentist
    Annual Median Wage: $146,340 
    Growth Outlook: 16%
  6. Petroleum Engineer
    Annual Median Wage: $130,050 
    Growth Outlook:26% 
  7. Orthodontist
    Annual Median Wage: $129,110 
    Growth Outlook16% 
  8. Data Scientist
    Annual Median Wage: $124,150 
    Growth Outlook: 15%* 
  9. Air Traffic Controller
    Annual Median Wage: $122,340 
    Growth Outlook:1% 
  10. Pharmacist
    Annual Median Wage: $120,950 
    Growth Outlook:14%

Denotes percentage calculated from various sources.

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