The Highest-Paying Jobs
Whether you’re deciding on a college major, looking for a new job or just want some solid statistics to back up your case for a pay raise, you need to know what jobs pay the most — and where those jobs are.
Almost ten years have passed since we weathered the Great Recession, and after traveling a tough economic road, we now have historically low employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that rate worked out to 3.9 percent at the end of 2018. You, the worker, are in the driver’s seat. Your place of employment needs you, so wages have begun to rise along with better benefits, changes in sexual harassment policies and quicker hiring processes.
We turned to Glassdoor for details about the highest paying jobs of 2018. We’ve also included prime cities for each job — three cities with the large amounts of job openings in these categories. Keep this data in mind as you weigh your future employment choices.
Also, a few words about Glassdoor's methodology: It only included jobs that received at least 100 salary reports from U.S.-based employees during the reporting year. Glassdoor also applied a proprietary statistical algorithm to estimate annual median base pay, which controls for factors such as location and seniority.
Median base salary: $195,842
Prime cities: Houston, Las Vegas, New York
Education and qualifications: Besides obtaining a bachelor’s degree and then an M.D. from a medical school, which takes four years, a physician must also spend three-to-seven years in internship and residency programs, depending on their specialty.
Responsibilities: Physicians examine patients and take their medical histories, so they can diagnose injuries and health conditions. Then they treat the injury or disorder with medications or counseling, or by sending the patient to a medical specialist.
Median base salary: $146,412
Prime cities: Baltimore, Boston, Washington, D.C.
Education and qualifications: A Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree requires two years of specialized undergraduate-college study, plus four years in a professional pharmacy program. A pharmacy manager has additional on-the-job experience as well.
Responsibilities: The title pharmacy manager and lead pharmacist are interchangeable. Both oversee other pharmacists and make sure their customers get the exact medicine their doctors have prescribed. These positions also make sure their pharmacy complies with all federal and state regulations.
Median base salary: $127,120
Prime cities: Bakersfield, California; Dallas; New York
Education and qualifications: Pharmacists must complete two years of undergraduate study, acquire a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, which takes four years, and successfully pass two exams to become licensed.
Responsibilities: Besides filling patient’s prescriptions for medications, pharmacists also counsel them in the safe use of those medications. Pharmacists may also give immunizations and conduct health screenings.
Median base salary: $115,944
Prime cities: Arlington, Virginia; Austin, Texas; New York
Education and qualifications: An EA needs either a bachelor’s degree in information technology or that same degree in a related field. To network in the field, membership in the Association of Enterprise Architects can be beneficial.
Responsibilities: Enterprise Architect (EA), a fairly new job title in the scheme of things, designs a business’s IT system to best reflect the company’s strategy and goals. An EA also simplifies and solidifies technology processes for consistent use by others within the business.
Median base salary: $115,580
Prime cities: Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle
Education and qualifications: All lawyers, including those who want to specialize in corporate law, must get a bachelor’s degree first. Upon completion of their undergraduate degree, they take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to get into law school. After graduation, they need to be licensed and admitted to the American Bar Association, which requires passing a written exam, an ethics test, and an exam on federal and state laws.
Responsibilities: A corporate counsel works for just one business or organization. He or she supplies legal advice to their employer in order to protect that business.
Software Development Manager
Median base salary: $108,879
Prime cities: Bellevue, Washington; Seattle; Sunnyvale, California
Education and qualifications: The education requirements for this job include a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a closely related field. Some employers may ask for a Master of Science degree.
Responsibilities: A software development manager pilots a team of software developers and can work in almost any industry. The person in this position also designs software, web applications and web services.
Median base salary: $108,761
Prime cities: Baltimore, Boston, New York
Education and qualifications: This role calls for a bachelor’s degree and successful completion of courses in basic and behavioral sciences. Add three more years of a PA program instruction and 2,000 hours of clinical rotations before one is job-ready.
Responsibilities: A physician assistant diagnoses illnesses, prescribes medications and may function as a patient’s main health care provider. Every state and every type of medical specialty employs PAs.
Software Engineering Manager
Median base salary: $107,479
Prime cities: Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle
Education and qualifications: Candidates for this job usually have a bachelor’s degree in either computer science or software engineering.
Responsibilities: A software engineering manager manages a team of software engineers from hiring to training and supervising their work. The team of software engineers under the software engineering manager oversees the maintenance of software products and may also develop new software.
Median base salary: $106,962
Prime cities: Baltimore; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon
Education and qualifications: An NP either holds a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice and certification in a specialty, plus a state APRN license.
Responsibilities: A nurse practitioner (NP), or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), rises above the responsibilities of an RN when it comes to patient care. An NP is closer to a physician and can examine patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication and deliver treatment. In many states, NPs have “full practice authority,” and aren’t supervised by a doctor.
Median base salary: $105,329
Prime cities: Boston; Chicago; San Jose, California
Education and qualifications: This position requires a master’s degree in computer science or computer engineering and five or more years’ experience designing and creating software applications.
Responsibilities: A software architect develops software solutions that resolve business issues, troubleshoots coding problems and provides leadership to the IT team.
Median base salary: $105,260
Prime cities: Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle
Education and qualifications: Usually a bachelor’s degree in engineering and five or more years working experience qualifies someone to work as an engineering manager, but some employers ask for a postgraduate degree. A Professional Engineer (PE) license is also needed.
Responsibilities: Engineering managers strategize what’s needed and manage those endeavors. Job responsibilities may also include developing new products and solving technical problems.
Applications Development Manager
Median base salary: $104,048
Prime cities: New York; Redwood City, California; Tampa, Florida
Education and qualifications: With a bachelor’s degree and a few years on-the-job experience, an employee can usually transition to an applications development manager.
Responsibilities: An applications development manager supervises a team that originates, develops and evaluates a company’s software applications. This position also maintains and upgrades existing systems as needed.
Median base salary: $103,892
Prime cities: Chicago; Houston; New Hampton, Iowa
Education and qualifications: Employers usually require a bachelor’s degree plus associated experience, although some veteran manufacturing workers take management classes and move into management that way.
Responsibilities: Plant managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing plants. To ensure the plant runs smoothly, the plant manager monitors the employees, production and efficiency.
IT Program Manager
Median base salary: $102,969
Prime cities: Herndon, Virginia; Seattle; Washington, D.C.
Education and qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in management information systems or computer science may be an entry point, but employers usually like their IT program manager to also have an MBA degree in information technology management.
Responsibilities: This position manages a portfolio of projects in the technology space. The IT program manager serves a broader role than a project manager because the person filling the job needs technical knowledge, but also must have business management skills.
Median base salary: $102,160
Prime cities: Austin, Texas; Boston; San Francisco
Education and qualifications: This role requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in one of these following fields: computer science, software engineering or information technology. Up to 10 years of network administration experience or more than three years of advanced education may be needed. Microsoft and Amazon offer certifications.
Responsibilities: A solutions architect devises and develops technical solutions either for the business he or she works for, or for that business’s customers. First, the solutions architect assesses the technology environment, identifies what needs to happen, creates a solution and either manages the project himself or provides continuous support for the project manager.
Financial Planning and Analysis Manager
Median base salary: $102,155
Prime cities: Atlanta, New York, Tampa
Education and qualifications: After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics or business administration, it’s suggested a candidate work for five years within the industry. Many positions request a master’s degree and/or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation.
Responsibilities: The functions of a financial planning and analysis manager include analyzing the overall financial health of a company, forecasting cash flow and researching what supporting information for major decisions made by the top employees like the CFO, CEO and the board of directors, if appropriate. Budgeting and creating financial models may also be a part of the job description.
Median base salary: $101,900
Prime cities: Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco
Education and qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or information technology is required with an additional three-to-five years’ experience in IT.
Responsibilities: A data architect builds and manages complex computer database systems. These systems hold vast amounts of data that can help the company grow and expand into different marketplaces. This role usually works alongside software designers, design analysts and others in the technology department.
Median base salary: $101,754
Prime cities: Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.
Education and qualifications: Requirements generally include a bachelor’s degree in business administration. For better paying and higher positions, one needs a master’s degree or even a Ph.D.
Responsibilities: A strategy manager researches, analyzes and decides what steps to take to meet a company’s growth goals. Then he or she works with different department heads to achieve these goals. The manager is either a high-level executive or reports to one. This position is needed in almost every industry.
Median base salary: $100,984
Prime cities: Bellevue, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; Orlando
Education and qualifications: A four-year degree in computer science, software engineering or a related field is required. A technical certification will improve the chances of getting a higher-paid job.
Responsibilities: A systems architect is a technology specialist who develops, implements, solves issues with and maximizes efficiency of the technology infrastructure in an organization. This includes hardware, software, internet, intranet, web portals, firewalls, computer systems and networks.
Median base salary: $98,239
Prime cities: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; New York
Education and qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a closely related field helps someone prepare for the field. The Scrum Alliance offers different certifications.
Responsibilities: A Scrum Master leads a Scrum team in the Scrum process. Scrum is a framework that allows teams to tackle difficult technology projects using this system and then deliver valuable products. It’s a way to handle difficult projects. The Scrum Master manages the process and guides the team but doesn’t make decisions. He’s more of a holistic servant leader.
Median base salary: $97,154
Prime cities: Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia
Education and qualifications: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, finance, marketing or a similar field is needed. Certification is available through the Institute of Management Consultants.
Responsibilities: A consulting manager, or management consultant, either works with various departments within his own organization or he consults with several companies as an independent contractor. His job requirements include identifying, recommending and executing solutions for complex issues. He may also collaborate with different departments on certain projects.
Median base salary: $96,678
Prime cities: Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C.
Education and qualifications: Attorneys complete a four-year undergraduate degree, then three years of law school and must pass the bar exam for their state. If a lawyer wants to practice in more than one state, he or she usually must take the bar exam for every state where he or she plans to practice.
Responsibilities: Attorneys and lawyers are the same. Each performs legal tasks for their clients. This consists of complex legal research, reviewing case law and preparing oral arguments for a case or for arbitration. Many types of attorneys exist, including criminal, corporate, divorce, environmental, personal injury, immigration and estate planning, just to name a few.
Median base salary: $96,449
Prime cities: Chicago, New York, Seattle
Education and qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in computer science plus experience working in a related field is needed to qualify for this position. Certification from Microsoft or another entity related to programming skills and technology skills would be good to have.
Responsibilities: A cloud engineer solves technology issues in a cloud computing setting. His duties may include designing, planning and overseeing the cloud. He may also need to recover lost data or data that’s been compromised. A cloud engineer embraces all the features of a cloud architect and a cloud software engineer.
Median base salary: $96,175
Prime cities: Boston; Houston, New York
Education and qualifications: A four-year-degree in accounting, business administration, economics or finance is required. A master’s degree in tax law business or accounting and more than four years of work experience improves your chances of landing the job. A CPA is required to work at any public traded company.
Responsibilities: A tax manager crafts, carries out and oversees tax plans for his clients, which are either businesses or individuals. He ensures his clients are compliant with all tax laws and where needed prepares the necessary government documents. If clients face tax difficulties, he provides solutions that conform to all tax laws and regulations.
Median base salary: $96,116
Prime cities: Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle
Education and qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, mathematics, physics or a similar field is needed. On-the-job experience for the field you want to work in and a master’s degree in data or a connected field will set you up for optimal employment opportunities.
Responsibilities: A data scientist assists organizations when it comes to deciphering and managing data and resolving difficult problems. He generates value from this data and evaluates it to see how the company is doing. Then he develops artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning tools to automate specific processes.