Top 15 Highest Paying Medical Jobs

highest paying medical jobs

By Mike Simpson

When it comes to demand, medical jobs are where it’s at. On a global scale, an estimated 80 million healthcare workers are needed by 2030. The issue is, the supply of professionals is only expected to hit 65 million. That creates a shortfall of 15 million medical workers.

While that statistics is worrisome (and it rightfully should be), it also means that many healthcare jobs some with lucrative salaries. Along with requiring specializes skillsets, something that usually leads to higher compensation, medical facilities use larger paychecks to entice medical pros to work for them. It’s a critical approach during shortages, making it possible to attract top talent and keep them on staff.

If the idea of landing one of the highest-paying medical jobs is too much for you to ignore, here’s what you need to know about venturing down this path.

What Are Medical Jobs?

Okay, before we did into what the highest paying healthcare jobs are, let’s take a moment to answer some important questions; what are medical jobs, anyway? Is it only doctors and nurses? Is it anyone working in a hospital?

Those are all good questions, so let’s explore them. First, medical careers include clinical and non-clinical professionals. Additionally, it covers workers at every level, not just doctors and nurses.

For example, pharmacy technicians are medical professionals. So are radiologists and phlebotomists. Home health aides, audiologists, laboratory techs, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), occupational therapists, medical records clerks… they all qualify, too.

If the work supports patients, the healthcare industry, or a medical facility, it can potentially count as a medical job. They are all critical parts of the sector, so some of the titles that could fit into the niche aren’t always obvious.

MIKE'S TIP: While nearly all medical jobs require education beyond high school, an advanced degree isn’t always a necessity. You may be able to launch a healthcare career by completing a vocational program or an Associate’s degree, letting you get started in two years or less. However, the highest paying medical careers usually have steep educational requirements, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for standout compensation.

Top 15 Highest Paying Medical Jobs

Alright, so you’ve decided that the medical field is right for you. But you don’t want just any healthcare job; you want one that comes with the biggest salary possible. Great! There are certainly options available.

Here’s a look at some of the highest paying healthcare careers.

1. Surgeon

When it comes to high-paying healthcare jobs, surgeons can often top the list. These professionals perform operations, allowing them to correct bone, tissue, and organ issues, address specific internal concerns, alter physical appearances, as well as repair deformities manually.

The average annual salary comes in at $252,040, which is impressive, to say the least. Salaries can potentially be much higher. Certain specialties – such as neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and plastic surgeons – typically outpace their peers when it comes to earning potential.

2. Physician

Another one of the most lucrative medical jobs is physician. These medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine treat patients using a variety of approaches, as well as take medical histories, prescribe medications, perform diagnostics tests, and more.

Precisely how much a physician earns can vary depending on the specialty, location, and more. However, salaries around the $208,000 mark are fairly common. For example, general practitioners earn an average of $213,270 a year, while internists come in at $201,440 a year.

3. Pharmacist

One of the highest paying non-physical medical jobs, pharmacists primarily dispense medications. However, they also have a number of other responsibilities. They give immunizations, conduct health screenings, and discuss critical information with patients, including overviews of drug side effects and interaction risks. Pharmacists also provide counseling on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Getting started in the field means finishing a doctoral degree. Once they complete their Doctor of Pharmacy program, they also have to get licensed, a process that usually requires two exams. After earning all of their credentials, salaries of about $128,000 a year are the norm. But the top 10 percent can get above $162,000, which is pretty impressive.

4. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

One of the highest-paying nursing jobs available, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) prepare and administer anesthesia. Usually, they work closely with other highly trained medical professionals, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and dentists, ensuring that patients are sedated correctly before the start of invasive procedures.

Working as a CRNA means potentially earning the median salary of $174,790. If you make it into the top 10 percent of earners, compensation above the $208,000 mark is within reach.

Even new CRNAs can make a strong salary. The lowest 10 percent of earners still rake in about $127,000 annually. That means you can start with a six-figure salary, something that isn’t an option in many fields.

5. Physician Assistant

If you’re looking for high-paying medical careers, becoming a physician assistant (PA) needs to be on the table. These professionals work in hospitals and medical offices directly treating patients. In some states, they can even operate their own practices, work independently, and prescribe medications, though that isn’t universally the case.

Usually, it takes the equivalent of a Master’s degree to become a PA. Additionally, you have to meet any state licensing requirements, a process that typically involves an exam and continuing education. In return for your effort, earning a yearly salary of around $112,000 is certainly possible. With some time, you may even be able to snag compensation closer to $157,120.

6. Optometrist

If you want to help people see clearly, becoming an optometrist could be a great choice. These pros focus on the eyes and various parts of the visual systems that allow people to see. Plus, they treat vision issues and various eye diseases, injuries, or disorders.

As an optometrist, you could earn around $115,250 a year with relative ease. You’ll just need to complete your Doctor of Optometry program and get a license in your state. Additionally, over time, you might be able to work your way up, making salaries above the $194,000 mark possible.

It’s important to note that optometrists and ophthalmologists are not the same things. Ophthalmologists are actually physicians and can take on additional duties, including performing advanced eye surgery. Optometrists are not physicians, so they may be a bit limited regarding surgical procedures and may not be allowed to take on certain other responsibilities.

7. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) – also called advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) – can earn substantial salaries. At times, they operate their own practices, though others opt to work in a medical clinic or at a hospital. But, in all of those instances, they provide patients with direct care, either in a general or specialized context.

NPs typically have at least a Master’s degree, as well as the proper license. Once you land a position, pay rates around $109,820 a year are certainly possible. If you make it into the top percent of earners, you may bring in upwards of $152,160 a year.

8. Health Services Manager

A job that can go by many titles – including medical services manager, healthcare administrator, healthcare manager, and more – health services managers coordinate operations within a medical facility. They may oversee an entire hospital, or focus on a clinical specialty or individual department.

Generally, you need a Bachelor’s degree to work your way into this field, though a Master’s degree is more commonly requested by employers. If you land a position, a $100,980 annual salary (or thereabouts) will likely come with the role, though the top 10 percent of earners can make $189,000+ a year, showing just how lucrative this is in comparison to many other medical careers.

9. Physical Therapist

As a physical therapist, you would work with patients to help them recover from injuries or illnesses, develop greater range of motion, stabilize joints, or manage pain caused by a physical issue. Often, the approaches combine exercise, massage, and similar techniques.

If you want to get started as a physical therapist, you’ll need a Doctoral or professional (post-graduate) degree. Additionally, you’ll need to get licensed in your state, ensuring that you can start looking for positions that could make earning about $89,000 a year possible. If you manage to work your way up into the top 10 percent, then bringing in $124,740 or more a year isn’t out of the question.

10. Dentist

When most people think if medical jobs, dentist isn’t what comes to mind. However, these healthcare professionals do qualify, using their skills to ensure the health of patients by keeping their mouths, teeth, and gums in tip-top shape.

To be a dentist, you’ll need a Doctoral or professional degree, as well as to address any licensing requirements in your state. Once that’s handled, you could snag the median annual salary of $159,200. As you gain experience, crossing over $208,000 a year is certainly possible.

11. Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineering is a medical job, but it’s a somewhat indirect way to end up in a healthcare career. It combines engineering and medical principles, focused mainly on designing solutions that can improve patient care, such as equipment, computer systems, and medical devices.

To get started, you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. As you gain experience, an annual salary above $91,000 is certainly possible. If you give it even more time, you may be able to cross the $148,000 mark, too.

12. Podiatrist

When your feet hurt, your entire day can be thrown off. Podiatrists work to ensure that patients’ feet are in the best shape possible, using their knowledge to reduce pain, correct issues (at times, surgically), and address issues in the foot, ankle, and lower leg area.

Most podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree to work in the field, as well as handle any additional state licensing requirements. In exchange, they typically earn around $126,000 a year. However, the top 10 percent go far beyond that, crossing the $208,000 threshold.

13. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists, like physical therapists, focus on a patient’s range of motion, balance, and similar capabilities. However, they concentrate on ensuring patients can handle a variety of everyday activities. Often, they treat individuals with disabilities, physical impairments, movement or mobility issues, or chronic pain conditions.

After earning a Master’s degree and getting licensed, an occupational therapist could earn the median yearly salary of $84,950. However, the top 10 percent bring in more than $121,490 a year, so there’s certainly room to grow.

14. Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapy is one of many medical jobs that focuses mainly on cancer patients. These professionals administer radiation treatments to treat cancer and certain other health conditions.

The median salary for radiation therapists is $85,560, though making above $128,630 is possible. Generally, this is considered a low-stress job in a day-to-day sense. However, you will lose patients on occasion, and that may be hard for some people to shoulder.

15. Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors assess and guide patients regarding inherited diseases and conditions, making it one of the more specialized medical careers. They may order and interpret genetic tests, provide recommendations, offer support, and act as advocates.

Once you have a Master’s degree and proper licensing, you could earn the median annual salary of $81,880 with relative ease. Then, you could work your way up, potentially getting to or above the $114,750 mark.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, many medical jobs come with substantial salaries, including the options above. If you want to make a bundle while focusing on a healthcare career, consider if any of them may be right for you. While you’ll need the proper education and licensing, it’s often worth the effort. Plus, demand for medical professionals is growing, so there’s a decent chance that you’ll have job security now and well into the future.

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.