What Job Makes the Most Money? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you wondering what job makes the most money? It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves at some point. While there is no straightforward answer, we can explore the factors that contribute to high earning potential in certain professions. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the highest paying jobs in the world and the key factors that affect your salary potential. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking for a change, understanding which jobs offer the best financial rewards can help you make informed decisions about your future. Let’s dive in!


Welcome to the comprehensive guide on “What Job Makes the Most Money?” In this article, we will explore the highest paying professions in the world and the factors that contribute to their success.

If you’re looking for a career with a high earning potential, you’re not alone. Many people want to know which jobs pay the most money, as it can have a significant impact on their quality of life and financial stability. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand which job sectors offer the most financially rewarding opportunities.

However, it is important to note that while salary is an essential factor, it should not be the only factor when choosing a profession. There are several other aspects to consider, such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and personal interests.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the top earning professions and what makes them stand out from the rest. So, let’s dive right in!

Highest Paying Jobs in the World

Medicine and Surgery

In the field of Medicine and Surgery, there’s no doubt that doctors, surgeons, and physicians are among the highest-paid professionals in the world. With years of rigorous education and training, they possess specialized skills and knowledge that can save lives and improve health outcomes.

According to recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for physicians and surgeons is $208,000, significantly higher than the average income for all occupations. However, this figure can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialty.

For instance, the BLS reports that the highest-paying states for physicians and surgeons are Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, with median salaries ranging from $251,000 to $272,000 per year. On the other hand, states like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Puerto Rico have lower median salaries, ranging from $163,000 to $187,000 per year.

Specialty also plays a significant role in determining salary levels. For example, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons tend to earn more than pediatricians or family medicine physicians. According to Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2020, the top five highest-earning specialties were Orthopedics ($511,000), Plastic Surgery ($479,000), Otolaryngology ($455,000), Cardiology ($438,000), and Radiology ($427,000).

It’s important to note that becoming a physician or surgeon requires extensive education and training, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. Medical school tuition and fees alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention living expenses and other related costs. It’s not uncommon for medical students to accumulate significant debt before even starting their careers. However, many argue that the long-term earning potential and job security make it a worthwhile investment.

Overall, the field of Medicine and Surgery offers lucrative career paths for those willing to put in the time and effort to pursue them. If you’re considering a career in healthcare, it’s essential to do your research and understand the various factors that can impact your earning potential.



Engineering is one of the most lucrative professions in the world, with a wide range of specializations and industries that offer high salaries and job security. In this section, we’ll explore some of the top-paying engineering jobs and the average salaries for each position.

Engineer Salary

The median salary for an engineer in the United States is $77,000 per year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, specific engineering roles can command much higher salaries depending on the industry and level of experience.

Software Developer Salary

Software developers are in high demand as technology continues to advance and companies need skilled professionals to develop and maintain their software systems. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a software developer in the US is around $86,000 per year, with more experienced developers earning up to $135,000 or more.

Petroleum Engineer Earnings

Petroleum engineers work in the oil and gas industry and are responsible for designing and developing methods for extracting oil and gas from the earth. This specialization commands some of the highest salaries in the engineering field, with a median income of $137,720 per year, according to the BLS.

Overall, engineering is a rewarding career path that offers both financial stability and opportunities for professional growth and development. With specialized skills and experience, engineers can command some of the highest salaries in their respective industries.


When it comes to high-paying jobs in the legal field, there are several options to consider. Lawyers, judges, and corporate attorneys are among the most well-compensated professionals in the industry. However, the earning potential can vary greatly based on factors such as location, experience, and specialization.

Firstly, let’s take a look at lawyer salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for lawyers in the United States is $126,930 as of May 2020. However, this figure can range from $62,000 for those in the bottom 10% of earners to over $208,000 for those in the top 10%. Factors such as the size of the law firm, the lawyer’s area of expertise, and the client base can all impact an attorney’s salary.

Next, we have judge earnings. Judges preside over legal proceedings in courts of law and enforce rules of law and procedure. While the exact salary can vary depending on the level of court and jurisdiction, according to the BLS, the median annual wage for judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates was $138,500 as of May 2020. However, similarly to lawyers, the salary range can vary widely, with some judges earning upwards of $200,000 or more.

Finally, we come to corporate attorney income. Corporate attorneys work for companies and organizations, handling legal matters such as contract negotiations, employee relations, and intellectual property disputes. Again, the earning potential can vary based on the size and type of organization, as well as the attorney’s level of experience and specialization. However, according to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a corporate attorney in the United States is $117,000 per year.

While the legal field can provide ample opportunities for high salaries, it’s important to keep in mind that it also requires years of education and training, as well as a strong work ethic and dedication to the profession. Additionally, competition for positions at top law firms or in high-level government positions can be fierce. Nonetheless, for those who are passionate about the law and willing to put in the effort, a career in law can certainly lead to financial success.



When it comes to business, there are a variety of roles that can lead to high earning potential. Below, we explore the salaries of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and investment bankers.

CEO Salary: CEOs are typically the highest-ranking executives within a company. They are responsible for making major corporate decisions, managing operations, and setting company strategy. While CEO salaries can vary widely depending on the industry and size of the company, they are generally quite high. According to Payscale, the average CEO salary in the United States is over $170,000 per year. However, at larger companies, CEO salaries can reach into the millions of dollars.

Entrepreneur Income: Entrepreneurs are individuals who start and run their own businesses. While many entrepreneurs struggle to make ends meet, those who are successful can earn significant income. One example is Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. According to Forbes, Musk’s net worth is over $200 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world. Of course, not all entrepreneurs reach this level of success, but those who do often reap substantial financial rewards.

Investment Banker Earnings: Investment bankers provide financial advice and services to companies and governments, helping them to raise capital and manage risk. In return for their expertise, investment bankers are compensated handsomely. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for an investment banker in the United States is around $100,000 per year, with total compensation (including bonuses and other incentives) averaging over $150,000 per year.

In conclusion, business offers a variety of paths to high earning potential. Whether you’re interested in becoming a CEO, starting your own business, or working as an investment banker, there are plenty of opportunities to earn a comfortable living and achieve financial success.

Factors Affecting Salary



One of the most significant factors that can impact your salary potential is your education level. Generally speaking, higher levels of education are associated with higher salaries and better job opportunities. Let’s take a closer look at how education impacts earning potential.

Education Level Impact on Salary

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn more money than those without. For example, in 2019, workers with a bachelor’s degree earned a median weekly income of $1,248, while those with only a high school diploma earned just $746 per week.

Additionally, the BLS reported that workers with advanced degrees, such as master’s or doctoral degrees, earn even higher salaries. In fact, individuals with doctoral degrees in fields like medicine, law, or engineering can earn upwards of six figures annually.

College Degree Salary Advantage

While there is no denying the financial benefits of obtaining a college degree, it’s important to note that not all degrees are created equal. Some majors, such as computer science or business, have higher earning potentials than others, like the humanities or social sciences.

For example, a recent study by Georgetown University found that individuals who majored in business earn a median annual salary of $60,000, while those who majored in psychology earn just $29,000 per year. Similarly, graduates with degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields tend to earn higher salaries than those in non-STEM fields.

It’s also worth noting that certain industries value college degrees more than others. For instance, many employers in finance or engineering may require a specific degree for entry-level roles, whereas other industries may place less emphasis on formal education.

In conclusion, while higher education is generally associated with higher salaries, it’s important to consider other factors such as major and industry when deciding which path to pursue. By carefully selecting a degree program that aligns with your interests and career goals, you can improve your chances of landing a high-paying job and achieving long-term financial success.


Location is one of the key factors that can have a significant impact on your salary potential. Salary differences by location are quite common and can vary greatly depending on where you live and work.

One of the most notable differences in location-based salaries is the earnings gap between city and rural areas. In general, salaries tend to be higher in large metropolitan areas where there is more demand for skilled workers and cost of living is higher. This is particularly true for certain industries such as finance, technology, and healthcare, where high-paying jobs are concentrated in urban centers.

On the other hand, salaries tend to be lower in rural areas where there is less demand for skilled workers and cost of living is generally lower. While some workers may choose to live in rural areas for lifestyle reasons or to save on housing costs, they may need to accept lower wages as a tradeoff.

It’s important to note that location is not the only factor that determines salary. Other factors such as industry, experience, and education also play a role. However, it’s worth considering the tradeoffs and opportunities associated with different locations before making a decision about where to work and live.

For example, while living in a large city may offer higher salaries, it may also come with higher living costs, longer commutes, and more competition for jobs. On the other hand, living in a rural area may provide a more relaxed lifestyle, lower living expenses, and greater job stability, but may also offer fewer opportunities for professional growth and networking.

In conclusion, when considering salary potential, location is an important factor to keep in mind. While it’s not the only factor, it can have a significant impact on your earning potential and quality of life. By understanding salary differences by location and weighing the pros and cons of different areas, you can make informed decisions about where to work and live based on your priorities and goals.



Experience is an essential factor in determining your salary. In general, employees with more experience tend to earn higher salaries than those just starting in their careers. This is due to the seniority impact on salary, where employers value experienced workers and are willing to pay them more for their expertise.

The correlation between years of experience and income varies depending on the industry. For example, in some industries, such as law or medicine, workers may need years of experience before they can advance to higher positions and earn higher salaries. In contrast, in the tech industry, some individuals with only a few years of experience can command high salaries due to the demand for their skills.

Another aspect to consider is that while years of experience can lead to higher salaries, it is important to also consider the quality of the experience. An individual who has worked at various companies but hasn’t gained significant skills or accomplishments may not necessarily earn more than someone who has spent fewer years working but has made substantial contributions.

Moreover, it is important to note that having experience alone is not enough to guarantee a high salary; other factors such as education, location, and industry can also play a role. Therefore, it is crucial to combine experience with other relevant qualifications to maximize earning potential.

In conclusion, experience is a vital determinant of salary, and individuals with more years of experience generally earn higher salaries than those with less experience. However, other factors such as the quality of experience, education, location, and industry can also impact earning potential. Aspiring professionals should aim to gain valuable experience while combining it with other pertinent qualifications to increase their chances of earning a top salary.



The industry you work in can have a significant impact on your earning potential. Some industries are known for offering higher salaries than others due to a variety of reasons such as market demand, level of expertise required, or the complexity of the work involved.

Industry-Specific Earning Potential

Certain industries tend to offer higher salaries than others. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying industries in the United States in 2020 were:

  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • Finance and Insurance
  • Information
  • Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

It’s worth noting that within each industry, there can be significant variations in salary depending on factors such as job title, level of experience, and location.

Sectoral Salary Discrepancies

Even within the same industry, there can be significant discrepancies in salary between different sectors. For example, within the finance and insurance industry, investment bankers tend to earn more than those working in insurance sales.

Another factor that can impact sectoral salary discrepancies is the level of education or certification required for a particular role. In the healthcare industry, for example, doctors tend to earn significantly more than nurses due to the additional training and education required to become a doctor.


When considering career paths, it’s essential to research not only the overall earning potential of a given industry but also the specific sectors within it. Understanding which industries and sectors offer the highest salaries can help you make an informed decision about your career path and set realistic expectations for your earning potential.


In conclusion, determining the job that makes the most money is not a straightforward task. While certain professions may have higher median salaries than others, many factors come into play when it comes to earning potential, such as education level, location, experience, and industry.

It’s important to note that salary shouldn’t be the only factor taken into consideration when choosing a career path. Personal interests, job satisfaction, work-life balance, and other non-monetary benefits should also be weighed in.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the availability of jobs in your chosen field. A high-paying profession with limited job openings may not be the most practical choice in the long run.

Ultimately, the key to success in any career is hard work, dedication, and continuous learning and improvement. Whether you aspire to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer, or entrepreneur, by focusing on developing your skills and building a strong professional network, you can increase your odds of achieving financial stability and career fulfillment.
After exploring the highest paying jobs in the world and understanding the key factors that determine a person’s income potential, it’s clear that the earning potential of a profession is not solely based on one’s skills or abilities. Education, location, experience, and industry play a vital role in determining how much money you can make.

While it may seem obvious that certain jobs like doctors, engineers, lawyers, and business leaders are among the highest paid professions globally, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of each career path and the specific qualifications required to achieve such success. Additionally, recognizing the importance of soft skills like networking, communication, and leadership is essential as these often separate top earners from the rest.

In conclusion, choosing a career path primarily based on salary potential may not always be the wisest decision. It’s essential to find a job that aligns with your passions and interests while ensuring that it offers a comfortable living wage. Ultimately, success and happiness come from doing what you love and being compensated fairly for it.

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