The 25 best-paying jobs in the U.S.? Find a career in healthcare or tech

For the third year in a row, "physicians" took the top slot on Glassdoor's annual list of the best-paying jobs in America, with a median base salary of $187,876. Pharmacy managers ($149,064) and pharmacists ($125,847) popped up at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively.
(Nikki Fox / Associated Press)

Being a “scrum master” may sound like something a rugby player does, or a job that does not sound all that inviting to many. But for people who know how to run software projects according to certain quick-changing, small-group management principles, it is one of the 25 highest-paying jobs in the United States, and there are more than 2,000 openings for it.

That is according to Glassdoor, the job and salary website, which released its third-annual list of the best-paying jobs in America this week. In addition to the obscure-sounding scrum master, the list includes 10 other technology-related jobs, as well as six healthcare job titles and three finance-industry careers. Very few of the jobs among the top 25 are not solely related to those three industries.

“High pay continues to be tied to demand skills, higher education and working in jobs that are protected from competition or automation,” Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain said in an emailed statement. “That is why we see several jobs within the technology and healthcare industries.”

Yet while jobs from the tech industry dominate the list once again, not one tech job ended up in the top five. Instead, healthcare jobs showed up in four of the top five spots.


For the third year in a row, physicians took the top slot, with a median base salary of $187,876. Pharmacy managers ($149,064) and pharmacists ($125,847) popped up at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively. “Medical science liaisons” ($132,842) -- specialists who work for pharmaceutical or biotech companies to establish relationships with medical experts -- came in at No. 4. Patent attorneys rounded out the top five, at No. 3.

Other healthcare jobs that were new to the list this year include nurse practitioner (No. 14, $104,144) and physician assistant (No. 7, $112,529, which also showed up in 2015).

To create its list, Glassdoor relies on salary reports from U.S. employees who filled out information on its site over the last year, and only considers job titles that have at least 100 salary reports for the list. Therefore, the list is limited in scope by who submits reports, and to some extent, by how those people choose to describe or categorize their jobs. As a result, the list is meant to be more of a general snapshot than a comprehensive study.

“For the everyday job seeker, it provides more of a guide,” Glassdoor spokeswoman Allison Berry said. “It certainly is not a perfect science.”

To try to improve the data behind the list, Berry said the company developed a statistical algorithm this year that controls for factors such as location and amount of experience.

“It strips some of the biases we might have for our data, such as if we’re getting a lot of salary reports for data scientists in San Francisco, or data scientists with six years of experience,” Berry said.

Glassdoor also attempts to “normalize” various job titles into groups to help with variation in how people define their roles, which makes it difficult to compare job titles across different years. The analysis excludes C-suite level jobs, Glassdoor said in its methodology, and examines only base pay.

Other new jobs on the list for 2017 included plant managers ($97,189, No. 21) and nuclear engineers ($94,852, Nov. 24).


Jena McGregor writes for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.


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