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25 Best Jobs That Pay $100K

Rebecca Koenig , Whitney Blair Wyckoff

Significant salaries

Want a career that pads your wallet? Look no further than these high-paying jobs from the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2020 rankings. Each job featured pays a median salary of at least $100,000.

That six-figure threshold is more than twice the U.S. median personal income, which the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated as $919 a week -- or nearly $48,000 a year -- in the third quarter of 2019. Many high-paying jobs require heavy investment, sometimes in the form of multiple educational degrees that take years to complete and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Data for this list of best careers comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest median salary the agency records is $208,000, so some of the following professions may offer median annual incomes above that amount. Read on to learn about jobs that pay at least $100,000 and what it takes to get them.

25. Psychologist

Industry: Science
Median Salary: $100,770

Psychologists are doctors of the mind. They work to better understand people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors through assessments, therapy and controlled laboratory experiments.

Not to be confused with psychiatrists -- mental health professionals who attend medical school -- psychologists generally need a doctorate in psychology to work in the field. Most states require practicing psychologists to have a license. Psychologists may practice and conduct research on their own or as part of a team of health care providers.

Learn more about psychologists and psychology graduate programs.

24. Business Operations Manager

Industry: Business
Median Salary: $100,930

The name says it all: Taking care of business is the raison d'être for business operations managers. They discern how to meet company goals and organize workers to carry out those plans. Their responsibilities may include setting budgets, hiring people, organizing departments and making other strategy decisions.

Business operations managers need bachelor's degrees and sometimes master's of business administration degrees. Annual MBA tuition ranges from about $9,000 for in-state students to more than $70,000 at private institutions.

Learn more about business operations managers, or discover 10 ways to find money to pay for an MBA.

23. Mathematician

Industry: Business
Median Salary: $101,900

While some mathematicians pursue teaching and research careers at academic institutions, others find employment at businesses and government agencies, where they use data and statistics to inform key decisions.

In addition to bachelor's degrees, most mathematicians have master's degrees or doctorates. The former can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while many universities cover tuition costs for doctoral students.

Learn more about mathematicians.

22. Actuary

Industry: Business
Median Salary: $102,880

Risk-averse people may be natural-born actuaries. These professionals use math and economics to help corporations reduce the costs associated with liabilities. They design tests, analyze models and present their findings to company executives. Their work is essential to insurance corporations, which set fees based on the probabilities that particular events will occur. Actuaries need to earn a bachelor's degree.

Learn more about actuaries.

21. Software Developer

Industry: Technology
Median Salary: $103,620

From commerce to communication, many facets of modern life depend on the work software developers do. They design websites, make smartphone applications and fix digital bugs that interfere with online activities. Software developers typically have a college degree in computer science or a related discipline. This career is also the best job of 2020.

Learn more about software developers.

20. Nurse Practitioner

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $107,030

As nurse-physician hybrids, these health care workers perform the duties of both professions. They may specialize in specific populations, such as children, the elderly or people who have mental illness. In most states, they can prescribe medicine, diagnose illnesses and refer patients to specialists. Nurse practitioners earn master's degrees and licenses after completing college. Annual tuition for a nursing master's degree program ranges from about $8,000 to about $45,000.

Learn more about nurse practitioners or nursing programs.

19. Physician Assistant

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $108,610

Physician assistants collaborate with doctors and nurses to deliver medical care to patients. They perform exams, make diagnoses, write prescriptions and provide treatment.

Aspiring physician assistants usually must earn a master's degree from an accredited PA program. The curriculum includes classroom instruction in subjects like anatomy and medical ethics as well as clinical rotations. Median tuition at public schools is $48,413 for residents and $84,372 for nonresidents, and it's $88,987 at private schools, according to a Physician Assistant Education Association 2018 survey.

Learn more about physician assistants and physician assistant programs.

18. Optometrist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $111,790

These vision experts help the rest of us see the world more clearly. They test patients' sight using charts and lenses, prescribe glasses or contacts, and identify diseases like glaucoma.

After graduating from college, optometrists spend four years earning doctor of optometry degrees. In 2018, these programs charged annual tuition ranging from about $18,000 to about $55,000, according to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.

Learn more about optometrists.

17. Pilot

Industry: Social services
Median Salary: $115,670

Pilots are ship captains of the skies, responsible for ferrying passengers or cargo to their final destination. Successful pilots need superb observational skills, and they must be able to respond quickly and efficiently to any problems that arise. Some pilots work for airlines, flying, on average, 75 hours a month and may spend a lot of time away from home.

Most airline pilots start as commercial pilots, which may fly charter flights or aerial tours.

Learn more about pilots. Or read about how to become a pilot.

16. Lawyer

Industry: Social services
Median Salary: $120,910

Individuals, organizations and governments employ lawyers to help them navigate laws and regulations and represent their interests during legal disputes and court cases. These professionals earn law degrees after completing college. For the 2018-19 school year, the average cost of annual tuition for in-state students at public law schools was $27,591, while the average cost at private law schools was $49,095, according to U.S. News data.

Learn more about lawyers or law schools.

15. Financial Manager

Industry: Business
Median Salary: $127,990

The fiscal health of a company depends in part on the work of financial managers. These workers advise top executives about how to increase profits and cut costs, and they also prepare financial statements. Financial managers need undergraduate degrees, and some also earn Master of Business Administration degrees. Annual MBA tuition ranges from about $9,000 for in-state students to more than $70,000 at private institutions.

Learn more about financial managers.

14. Podiatrist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $129,550

People suffering from bone spurs, ingrown toenails, calluses, arthritis and sports injuries seek advice and treatment from podiatrists. These foot and ankle doctors perform surgeries, recommend shoe inserts and prescribe medication. To be a podiatrist, you must earn a doctor of podiatric medicine degree after finishing college. Nine accredited institutions offer this program. First-year tuition costs range from about $36,000 to about $46,000.

Learn more about podiatrists.

13. Marketing Manager

Industry: Sales
Median Salary: $134,290

Marketing managers figure out where and among whom there will be demand for a company's products and services. They analyze supply and demand to help set prices, balancing profit needs with customer expectations. Most of these professionals have bachelor's degrees in fields such as communication, marketing, sales, business, economics or design.

Learn more about marketing managers.

12. IT Manager

Industry: Technology
Median Salary: $142,530

IT managers oversee information technology systems at companies, stepping in to save the day when internet connections falter. They help workers troubleshoot technology problems; install and upgrade computer, telephone and other hardware systems; and manage security systems designed to thwart hackers and protect sensitive information.

These professionals typically need bachelor's degrees in computer science or a related field. Some jobs also require master's of business administration degrees. Annual MBA tuition ranges from about $9,000 for in-state students to more than $70,000 at private institutions.

Learn more about IT managers, and discover 10 ways to find money to pay for an MBA.

11. Dentist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $151,850

Dentists are masters of mouth care. These doctors examine and repair damaged teeth and gums, analyze oral X-rays and teach patients how to maintain good health. Dentists must earn bachelor's degrees, then complete dental school through one of more than 65 accredited programs in the U.S. During the 2018-19 school year, first-year in-state students at public dental schools paid, on average, $39,662, according to the American Dental Association. Meanwhile, students at private dental schools paid $72,271.

Learn more about dentists.

10. Nurse Anesthetist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $167,950

Nurse anesthetists specialize in providing pain relief. During surgical operations, they administer anesthesia to patients and monitor vital signs -- breathing, blood pressure and heart rate -- to ensure patients are safe. As advanced practice nurses, nurse anesthetists need bachelor's and graduate degrees. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, registered nurses who start nurse anesthesia programs come in with nearly three years of experience.

Learn more about nurse anesthetists or nursing-anesthesia programs.

9. Pediatrician

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $170,560

Vaccines, annual checkups and common ailments like ear infections and strep throat are the purview of pediatricians. These doctors specialize in caring for children and teens, and their work often involves advocating on behalf of their young patients. Pediatricians obtain college degrees, then attend medical school and complete residency programs. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about pediatricians.

8. Prosthodontist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $176,540

Using tools such as dentures, bridges and crowns, prosthodontists replace missing teeth. Their work helps restore patients' smiles and ability to chew food. Prosthodontists earn bachelor's degrees, then attend dental school through one of more than 65 accredited programs in the U.S. Then, they complete residencies.

Learn more about prosthodontists.

7. Physician

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $194,500

With a range of specialties, physicians provide care related to internal organs, skin, reproduction, aging, digestion, the brain and the heart. They may work in teams at hospitals or independently in their own practices. Physicians need college and medical school degrees, plus several years of residency experience. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about physicians, medical school programs in internal medicine or medical school programs in primary care.

6. Psychiatrist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

Psychiatrists are mental health doctors who diagnose and treat illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They also provide counseling and care to patients with anxiety and depression. Psychiatry techniques and tools include behavioral therapy, group counseling and medication. Psychiatrists must earn college and medical school degrees, then complete a residency. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about psychiatrists or medical schools.

3. Surgeon (tie)

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

Surgeons are doctors who operate on patients in need of acute care to treat serious injuries or diseases. No medical procedure is without risk, which means surgeons must be able to tolerate a high level of stress while performing their duties. After earning bachelor's degrees, these doctors attend medical school, then complete residencies and sometimes fellowship programs. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about surgeons.

3. Obstetrician and Gynecologist (tie)

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

Caring for women is the calling of obstetricians and gynecologists. These doctors provide health care related to the reproductive system, performing annual checkup exams, prescribing birth control and delivering babies. After completing college, obstetricians and gynecologists attend medical school and complete residencies. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about obstetricians and gynecologists.

3. Anesthesiologist (tie)

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

These doctors are trained in the science of pain relief. They deliver anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery, using either gas or intravenous methods. To keep people safe, anesthesiologists monitor vital signs such as blood pressure and breathing throughout operations. Anesthesiologists have undergraduate and medical school degrees, plus years of residency experience and licenses to operate. Annual medical school tuition costs between about $19,000 and $68,000, depending on the institution and whether students are state residents.

Learn more about anesthesiologists or medical schools.

2. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

When patients need wisdom teeth removed, they make appointments with oral and maxillofacial surgeons. These dental doctors focus on oral operations, such as those required to remove impacted teeth and fix cleft lips. In addition to graduating from college and dental school, oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete several years of surgical residency training.

Learn more about oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

1. Orthodontist

Industry: Health care
Median Salary: $208,000 or more

Crooked smiles are no match for orthodontists, dental doctors who specialize in straightening teeth and aligning bites. They use tools like braces, spacers and retainers to accomplish their goals. Orthodontists must earn bachelor's degrees, then complete dental school through one of more than 65 accredited programs in the U.S., followed by a residency program.

Learn more about orthodontists.

The best jobs that pay $100K include:

-- Orthodontist.

-- Oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

-- Anesthesiologist.

-- Obstetrician and gynecologist.

-- Surgeon.

-- Psychiatrist.

-- Physician.

-- Prosthodontist.

-- Pediatrician.

-- Nurse anesthetist.



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