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Highest Paid Careers in America: Doctor or Lawyer at No. 1?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Do you have one of the highest paid careers in America? Lawyers are indeed among the Top 10 careers with the highest average compensation, but how exactly do legal careers stack up, moneywise, against other professions?

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics help to answer that question. While lawyers are among the most well-paid professionals, according to number-crunchers at CNBC, the legal profession's overall rank may surprise you.

Here, in reverse order, are the Top 10 highest paid careers and their average annual salaries:

  1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $124,160. These psychologists work in human resources, administration, and management.
  2. Computer & Information Systems Manager: $125,660. These jobs require a bachelor's degree and at least five years' experience, according to CNBC.
  3. Marketing Manager: $126,190. A college degree is not necessarily required.
  4. Natural Science Manager: $128,230. Most work as scientists before moving into management.
  5. Architectural & Engineering Managers: $129,350. A bachelor's degree and five years of experience are generally required.
  6. Lawyers: $130,490.
  7. Petroleum Engineers: $138,980. The recent boom in the oil industry is fueling growth in this sector.
  8. CEOs: $176,550.
  9. Dentists: $210,440.
  10. Doctors & Surgeons: $168,650 to $234,950, depending on specialization and location.

For lawyers, too, the range of salary varies widely depending on an attorney's practice areas. The three highest paid legal practice areas are:

  • Petroleum and coal products manufacturing, with a salary of about $215,760 per year;
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing, $187,360 per year; and
  • Specialty hospitals, $184,610 per year.

Similar to doctors and surgeons, the location of a lawyer's practice can also greatly affect compensation, according to the BLS/CNBC report on the highest paid careers in America. Lawyers in the District of Columbia earn the most, taking home on average more than $161,000 a year.

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