The list of highest-paid jobs is constantly changing. The lucky ones who earn the most are determined by the market. It reacts swiftly to changes in the economy and the society, so every year fresh specialists come, ready to solve new problems. Meanwhile, those whose skills are no longer needed leave.

If you want to become a highly paid specialist, pay attention not only to how well a job is compensated at the moment but also to the experts’ predictions about its future. Remember that the salary for the same position differs from country to country. This is influenced by the standards of living, the economic development of the region, and the needs of each individual state. In countries where spacecraft are built, an aerospace engineer gets more, and where there are many medium and large businesses — a corporate lawyer does.

Highest paid professions in the world

PlaceOccupationSalary in the USper yearSalary in the UKper yearSalary in Russiaper year
1Doctor237,570 USD262,752 USD12,742 USD
2General manager193,850 USD240,856 USD1,355,332 USD
3Technical director149,400 USD121,797 USD30,284 USD
4Manager of IT systems1,463,600 USD75,268 USD41,372 USD
5Corporate lawyer215,000 USD138,219 USD52,956 USD
6Air traffic controller149,000 USD145,061 USD19,858 USD
7Pilot177,200 USD158,746 USD26,809 USD
8Petroleum engineer137,720 USD124,534 USD27,802 USD
9Senior data scientist160,000 USD110,849 USD19,417 USD
10Aerospace engineer128,000 USD72,531 USD84,122 USD
RankProfessionSalary per year
1Doctor237,570 USD
2Corporate lawyer215,000 USD
3General manager193,850 USD
4Pilot177,200 USD
5Senior data processing specialist160,000 USD
PlaceProfessionSalary per year
1General manager1,355,332 USD
2Aerospace engineer84,122 USD
3Corporate lawyer52,956 USD
4IT systems manager41,372 USD
5Technical director30,284 USD
PlaceOccupationSalary per year
1Utility manager90,042 USD
2General manager86,883 USD
3Nurse82,144 USD
4Researcher80,564 USD
5Dentist73,930 USD
PlaceOccupationSalary per year
1Financial specialist125,405 USD
2General manager113,685 USD
3Lawyer98,449 USD
4Specialist in monitoring financial flows and market behavior standards94,933 USD
5Business analyst85,557 USD
PlaceOccupationSalary per year
1Surgeon207,092 USD
2Pilot169,793 USD
3Lawyer137,504 USD
4General manager129,339 USD
5Bank manager121,360 USD

Research centers provide different information about salaries. We analyzed data from Investopedia, Indeed.com, HH.ru, U.S. News, Rosstat, and other reputable sources, and calculated the averages.

Why do some jobs pay more than others

The formula for high wages is usually easy to explain. The longer a person studies, the more dangerous and responsible their position is, the more they get. But this logic doesn't always work. Let's look at several professions and find out why their representatives receive so much.

Doctor

Studying to become a doctor usually takes eight to ten years, which is already twice as long as for the rest of the specialties. The cost of tuition in medical programs is also two to three times higher. For example, in the United States, a year in an ordinary Bachelor's degree program costs an average of 30,000 USD, and in a medical one — 62,500 USD. After receiving a degree, specialists undergo an internship for at least two years and only then do they get the right to work in a full-fledged position. Somewhere it takes even longer, for example from 3 to 8 years in the USA — the so-called residency. Therefore, the cost of long education and living expenses are generously covered by salaries in many countries.

Another reason is how indispensable the profession is. People need medical help any time of the year or day, so doctors should always be on standby. In all areas of medicine, work is stressful, and mistakes are costly.

General manager

Very few people can do the job of a general manager well. Google, for example, has about 83,000 talented employees, but only ten directors lead them.

Is their level of payment fair? Some believe that general managers bring in millions or even billions of dollars for the company, so their income is justified. But for the rest, such an explanation is unconvincing, because the value of the company is formed not only by directors but also by its employees.

In large companies, there are usually five to ten top managers — each responsible for their own direction of work. These specialists monitor everything that happens in their area of ​​responsibility: they make development plans, oversee their implementation, make decisions about closing or transforming a department. In addition, such people know the company well and understand how their decisions affect other areas of work. General managers have a very busy schedule: their whole day is scheduled with business meetings, business trips, and events.

Corporate lawyer

For most lawyers, the salary is close to the national average. The top-10 highest-paid professions include only those lawyers who protect the rights of large firms or wealthy clients. Their income level is associated with high competition in the industry. Companies often look for university students — they check the university students’ rankings and make job offers to those who are at the top. Low-ranking students run the risk of not getting a good position at all.

To get higher education in the field of jurisprudence, you’ll need to pay more for tuition than in other specialties. But this is far from the most important reason why the salaries of the best specialists are so high. Lawyers work a lot, and when working on complex cases, they can even live in the office. Large companies are ready to generously pay for the work of professionals in order to ensure their legal security. Therefore, they create conditions that will make a specialist want to work for them for a long time.

Apple's lawyer wins a case against Samsung
Apple's lawyer helped his company win a case against Samsung and saved 400 million dollars

Air traffic controller

Air traffic controllers ensure the safe movement of aircraft. They make daily flight plans and give permission for takeoffs. Each specialist constantly stays in touch with the pilot to prevent any risks. Therefore, serious requirements are imposed on them both in terms of training and personal characteristics — the air traffic controller must be stress-resistant, be able to concentrate, and make quick decisions in dangerous situations.

An air traffic controller acquires most of the skills during practice, so immediately after university, it is impossible to get a job in this responsible position. The actual profession is obtained after four years of undergraduate studies and three years of practice.

Petroleum engineer

There are industries where the market value of goods produced is high despite the low labor costs[1]. This explains the phenomenon of high wages in the oil industry.

By profit-per-hour ratio, extraction of minerals and fossil fuels is more economically profitable than doing anything else. Getting an education as a petroleum engineer is not that difficult. As a rule, the competition and the entrance threshold are low. Usually, it is enough to study for a bachelor's degree, but some specialists study for a master's.

Senior data scientist

These professionals reduce risk, predict demand, automate processes for private and public enterprises. In this area, demand for labor always exceeds supply.

As a rule, data processing specialists are hired by large digital agencies, banks, settlement depositories, and consulting companies. It is not so difficult to become one — many online platforms offer to teach a student the basics and help them find a job in a year or two. The profession is also taught at universities, in Master’s degree programs. The career starts in the junior positions, and even entry-level workers tend to make more than the national average. In Australia, junior data scientists receive 5,300 USD, in the USA — 9,375 USD, and in China — 3,840 USD. At the top of the career ladder are the positions of managers in the field and senior specialists.

Axiom Data Science company analyst
Axiom Data Science company analyst

Aerospace engineer

Engineering graduates usually earn one and a half to two times the national average. For example, in the United States, a bachelor receives an average of 86,000 USD, and a PhD graduate receives 115,000 USD per year. This is due to the fact that the success of the mission and the life of astronauts depend on the work of an aerospace engineer.

The specialist is constantly learning and mastering new technologies in order to design the most advanced machines and structures. While still at university, they have to study not only physics, but also programming, technology, equipment, and learn to draw and understand blueprints.

Male and female professions

When we learn about the highest paid professions we, most likely, wonder how well they suit us. Research shows that career expectations and goals depend on our gender upbringing[2]. In this section, we'll take a look at how many men and women are represented in prestigious industries. Also we will find out whether certain types of activities are really better suited for members of one particular sex. Finally, we’ll discover how the salaries of men and women differ.

In conservative countries, gender bias in professions is strong, and in relatively liberal countries, it is more moderate. For example, females represent 58.3% of all doctors in Finland, and in Japan — 20.3%[3]. On average, across OECD38 countries, mostly EU participants countries, this figure reaches 46.1%. In the table below we compare the proportions of women in different occupations in Russia, Japan, the USA, and Germany.

RankOccupationUSAJapanGermanyRussia
1Doctor38%20.3%55%71%
2General manager8.1%8%30%20%
3Technical director10.7%3.6%19%1%
4IT systems manager14.1%7.7%31%1%
5Corporate lawyer37.4%11%48%26%
6Air traffic controller17%3%7.7%16.5%
7Pilot5.4%1%6.9%3%
8Petroleum engineer33%<1%22%22%
9Senior data analyst18%13%17%7%
10Aerospace engineer18%12.3%16%20%

Male professions

Most prestigious occupations are dominated by men. But these are not the most illustrative cases. In the electronics and auto mechanics industry in the UK, the prevalence of males reaches 99.19%[4]. Other occupations with similar gender proportions in the United Kingdom are:

  • Carpenters and joiners — 99.05%;
  • Welders — 98.64%;
  • Taxi drivers — 95.57%;
  • Rescue workers — 92.64%;
  • Brokers — 82%.

Female professions

There are also professions that are considered "typically female." They include:

  • Nurses — 97.76%;
  • Secretaries — 96.39%;
  • Dancers and choreographers — 89.61%;
  • Psychologists — 87.41%;
  • Social workers — 80.27%.

Meanwhile, the most balanced in terms of gender proportions are the jobs in marketing (50.31%), teachers in universities (50.44%), and accountants (52.06%). Despite the fact that the data was collected by a recruiting agency in the UK, similar trends can be seen in many other countries.

Why are the professions divided into "female" and “male”

Is it true that most women, by definition, cannot become excellent welders, and men cannot become nurses? Research confirms that gender segregation of occupations is just a tradition[5]. Most parents buy dolls for girls, and boys are given cars. In fairy tales, a brave prince overcomes trials, and a beautiful princess sews, cooks, and helps animals and the poor. Because of this, the child develops stereotyped beliefs by kindergarten[6].

The opinion that the abilities for a particular task are predetermined by the sex of the child is nothing more than a myth. Scientists have found that children under seven years of age have the same results in mathematics tests — there is no division by gender there. But the picture changes at a later age[7]. Therefore, the fact that girls are worse at solving equations, and boys are less likely to write good essays is a consequence of, not a reason behind the gender division of labor.

Carnegi university Aerospace Engineering graduate
Carnegi university Aerospace Engineering graduate

Gender pay gap

In the US and European countries, women earn 16% less than men[8], and globally — 46%[9]. Some explain this by the fact that women simply work less or do not work as efficiently as men. Is that truly so?

Why are men's and women's wages different

In the UK, men and women work 51 and 50[10] hours, in the USA — 41.0 and 36.3[11], and in Russia — 40 and 38.5[12], respectively. As you can see, the difference is minimal. Moreover, the statistics are correct only if unpaid household chores are not taken into account. For example, historically, women have been more likely to cook, clean, and take care of children. And for this, they do not receive money. Research confirms that this reduces women's motivation and their desire to pursue career success.

The graph shows how much time both sexes spend on paid and unpaid work.

Time devoted to unpaid labor, by gender
Time devoted to unpaid labor, by gender

In the United States, women work 11% less, while their wages are as much as 16% lower. At the same time, research from the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that women are more productive than men in the workplace[13]. The WEF measured the effectiveness of 3,000 people of both sexes. By the end of the experiment, it turned out that the women completed the tasks 10% faster. But why is their salary lower? An American economist Laura Tyson explains this phenomenon by historical discrimination, which has survived to this day[9]. Reasons why inequitable pay divisions still exist:

  • Lack of representation of women. Until the 19th century, they were not given academic education, so all managerial and prestigious positions were taken by men. This has led to the fact that whenever the words “top manager” or “president” are uttered, our imagination pictures a man. Women are still underrepresented in these positions, which is why companies are notoriously distrustful when hiring them as top managers.
  • Time off to care for the child. By hiring a woman, the employer has to account for the possibility of maternity leave and preemptively “compensates” for potential losses. Moreover, time for childcare is not limited to pregnancy — the potential kid needs to be brought up, educated, and looked after. This burden falls mostly on the woman. This continues for several years, during which she cannot pay full attention to her work.
  • Stereotypes. “If a girl comes to us, it means that she will devote less time to work, which means that it is fair to pay her less” — argues the average employer. Because of gender-biased upbringing, there are indeed fewer women careerists than men. But to put this label on everyone is at least unfair. Fortunately, the situation has improved significantly over the past 20 years. This is due to numerous studies from major media and universities, which prove that, under equal conditions, women work no worse than men.

Highly-paid jobs for women

But how can women earn money if all prestigious positions have been taken by men, and it takes too long to wait for the destruction of stereotypes? We have selected highly paid specialties, where women make up more than a third of the employees.

ProfessionShare of women, RussiaAverage salary per year, RussiaShare of women, USAAverage per year, USA
HR manager67%13,239 USD68%69,160 USD
Doctor71%1,406,633 USD38%237,570 USD
Business analyst45%14,497 USD52.8%70,000 USD
Marketing and sales manager61%29,788 USD39.8%65,416 USD
Financial analyst58%9,533 USD46.2%60,892 USD
Fashion designer48%11,294 USD40.2%74,410 USD
Dean, rector or vice-rector38.7%33,097 USD54%65,104 USD