This article will look at the 25 most profitable professions in the world. It will further explore these professions' emerging trends, key players, and outlooks. After extensive research, we are confident that some of these professions will be the best jobs for the future. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, you can head straight to the 10 Most Profitable Professions in the World.
Some extraordinary professionals, often considered the crème de la crème of their respective fields, have managed to break through the glass ceiling of earning potential and, thus, reached unimaginable heights. In this article, we will explore the most profitable professions in the world that have helped those key players rise with their incredible prospects related to wealth.
The Global Wealth Outlook
The Global Wealth Report 2022 anticipated a potential reversal of the exceptional wealth increase experienced in 2021, particularly considering slower economic growth or recessions in certain countries. However, the long-term outlook over the next five years indicated a continued upward trajectory for wealth. It projected a substantial increase of $169 trillion in global wealth by 2026, reflecting a cumulative growth of 36%.
Middle-income countries will primarily drive this surge, serving as the main catalyst for global wealth expansion. The forecast also suggested that by 2024, the average wealth per adult worldwide will surpass the significant threshold of $100,000, accompanied by a projected rise in the number of individuals with a net worth exceeding $1 million to over 87 million within the next five years.
Despite the prediction favoring rising wealth in middle-income countries, it is noteworthy that in 2023, the wealthiest individuals still tend to be concentrated in Western countries, particularly the United States. It is evident as the United States currently leads with the highest number of billionaires, boasting 735 list members with a combined net worth of $4.5 trillion.
Trends in the Professions of Billionaires and Millionaires in 2023
According to Forbes, in 2023, finance and investment professionals emerged as the top billionaires, comprising 14% of the list. Warren Buffett led with a net worth of $106 billion. Professionals in the manufacturing industry followed at 12%, with Reinhold Wuerth & family as the wealthiest with $29.7 billion.
Technology professionals, mostly in Chief Executive positions, held 12%, with Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) as the richest at $226.4 billion. At the same time, Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) stands at $110 billion. Bernard Arnault, the CEO of Lvmh Moet Hennessy-Unsp Adr, topped fashion and retail with $211 billion. Real estate and media & entertainment billionaires accounted for 7% and 3% respectively.
Beyond the domain of billionaires, largely dominated by CEOs and hedge fund managers, the sphere of millionaires features a notable presence of celebrities, including actors and professional athletes. In 2023, Cristiano Ronaldo took the lead as the highest-earning athlete, accumulating an estimated $136 million over the past year. His transfer from the Premier League in England to Al Nassr, a soccer club based in Saudi Arabia, has significantly boosted his earnings.
Shifting gears to the entertainment industry, the iconic cast of the beloved sitcom "Friends" continues to reap the rewards of syndication reruns. Together with their individual projects, they collectively receive an estimated $20 million annually. This ongoing remuneration is attributed to the royalties from previous agreements, which have proven lucrative due to the popularity of syndication.
An interesting insight we discovered was that while power is often subjective, we see an overlap between the most profitable professions in the world and the most powerful professions in the world. The most powerful professions are often considered to be that of political leaders like the US President, who can shape nations domestically and globally. On the other hand, corporate executives are sometimes as powerful as they can and influence economies, and then there are media influencers or celebrities that shape public opinion. Thus, these professions' influence, impact, and responsibility give them significant power and authority.
From Professions to Riches: Factors Influencing Billionaire Success
While education undeniably plays a vital role in esteemed and lucrative professions such as healthcare, law, and science, the trend among billionaires reveals a different narrative. Although education can be beneficial, it is not always the determining factor for the most popular professions among billionaires.
Many factors, including personal qualities and external circumstances, influence the affluence among billionaires. While education is valuable, it is not a prerequisite for billionaire status. For instance, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), dropped out of college, but his passion for programming and persistence drove his entrepreneurial success.
While being born into a wealthy family is a life-altering privilege, many billionaires, like Jeff Bezos, built their fortunes from scratch. Bezos recognized and capitalized on the untapped potential of e-commerce, founding Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) in 1994. His entrepreneurial vision and understanding of consumer behavior were pivotal in Amazon.com, Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN)'s rapid growth, transforming it into a global e-commerce giant. Bezos's innovative strategies and customer-centric approach positioned Amazon.com, Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) as a leader in the industry, contributing significantly to his immense wealth. Thus, the exceptional ability to identify lucrative opportunities is an invaluable quality that sets billionaires apart.
This quality was also evident in the case of Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX, who saw the potential of electric vehicles and space exploration, positioning himself as a leader in both industries.
He developed a direct sales model, selling electric vehicles directly to consumers rather than relying on franchised dealerships. He has built Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s extensive network of over 30,000 Superchargers globally, enabling convenient and fast charging for its vehicles. He expanded Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s business beyond cars, offering energy storage systems like the Powerwall for homes and businesses.
Furthermore, Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s stock price has experienced significant growth, reaching $661.58 on May 25, 2022. Thus, Musk's vision and unique business models contributed to his wealth. It is not wrong to say that long-term thinking and strategic planning are crucial for billionaires, no matter the profession.
The following list ranks professions based on the highest net worth of the wealthiest professionals recorded in 2023 in the field, specifically focusing on the 99th percentile. While it's important to note that these individuals' net worth may come from various sources and not solely their profession, the professions listed below are often considered "winner takes it all" jobs, where top performers have the highest potential for substantial earnings.
Here is a list of the most profitable professions in the world:
25. US President
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $8M
The President of the United States is the country's head of state and government. This position holds immense power and responsibility, which is reflected in the significance and compensation of the role. The President's responsibilities include leading the executive branch, making key policy decisions, representing the nation domestically and internationally, and serving as the armed forces commander-in-chief. The President's salary is determined by law and is among the highest in the country. The demanding nature of the position justifies this level of compensation, the weight of the decisions made, and their impact on the nation and its citizens.
While the job of the US president may not be the highest paying in terms of the net worth of the individual in power, it is one of the most powerful jobs in the world, making it highly profitable.
Highest Net-Worth Recorded: $100M
Bloggers can monetize their blogs through display advertising, sponsored content, brand collaborations, affiliate marketing, and the sale of digital products. Successful bloggers leverage these channels to maximize their earning potential, influenced by the quality of their content, audience engagement, and effective monetization strategies.
Arianna Huffington, the wealthiest blogger in the world, accumulated significant wealth through co-founding and leading The Huffington Post, a successful online news platform. The site's growth and subsequent acquisition by AOL contributed to her financial success and influence in the media industry.
23. Celebrity Chef
Highest Net-Worth Recorded: $220M
Celebrity chefs, exemplified by the likes of Gordon Ramsay, have the potential to earn substantial incomes through their culinary expertise and incredibly engaging media presence. Ramsay, known for his television shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef," has achieved global fame and operates a network of acclaimed restaurants worldwide. His ventures into cookbooks, endorsements, and product lines have also contributed to his remarkable financial success. This serves as an example of how celebrity chefs can combine their culinary skills with a strong media persona to achieve culinary acclaim and wealth, thus making the job one of the most profitable professions in the world.
22. Makeup Artist
Highest Net-Worth Recorded: $560M
In 2023, makeup artists are highly sought after especially after the influencer culture has risen. For instance, Huda Kattan gained recognition and built her brand, Huda Beauty, through her makeup skills and tutorials on social media. Now, she is widely recognized as a beauty entrepreneur and influencer in the beauty industry.
21. Best Selling Author
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $1B
Best-selling authors often earn high incomes through their ability to write what resonates with a wide audience. High book sales, publishing deals, royalties from adaptations, and participation in author events and public speaking engagements contribute to their substantial earnings. Their reputation and brand value also attract good advances for future book deals, further increasing their earning potential.
A prime example of this is JK Rowling, whose net worth primarily stems from the success of the Harry Potter franchise, encompassing book sales, movies, theme parks, and merchandise.
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $1.1B
Dentists with doctoral degrees provide crucial oral healthcare and perform various procedures. The demand for dental services remains constant, and dentists often run their own practices, adding to their financial rewards. Dr Dan Fischer is the wealthiest dentist in the world and is also the founder of Ultradent.
Highest Net-Worth Record: $1.4B
Singers is one of the most profitable jobs in the world. Singers often amass wealth through various income streams, including record sales, streaming royalties, concert tours and brand endorsements.
Similarly, Rihanna's status as the richest singer stems from her highly successful music career. With a string of hit songs and albums, she has garnered substantial net-worth through record sales, streaming royalties, and lucrative concert tours.
18. Orthopedic Surgeon
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $1.8B
The specialized nature of their field, the demand for orthopedic surgeries, the complexity and skill required for orthopedic procedures, and the high costs associated with orthopedic care are some of the reasons why this profession pays off so well.
17. Professional Athlete
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $2B
Professional athletes earn enormous salaries due to their ability to entertain audiences on a global scale. With a limited supply of individuals possessing exceptional skills, the demand for sports entertainment remains consistently high. The incredible popularity of televised events, live performances, and lucrative endorsements significantly contribute to their exorbitant earning potential.
Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest NBA player of all time, has not only left an indelible mark on the basketball court but has also amassed tremendous wealth. With a net worth of $2 billion, he is recognized as the wealthiest former professional athlete globally.
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $2B
Pilots make good money due to specialized skills, extensive training, and the level of responsibility they hold for the safety of passengers and crew. The demand for qualified pilots, coupled with the irregular and demanding schedule they face, often justifies the higher compensation levels. Factors such as industry growth, airline financial health, and aircraft type can also influence pilot salaries.
Jared Isaacman, a leading pilot, has made a significant impact in the aviation industry as the founder of Draken International.
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $2.3B
The legal profession is highly paid globally due to extensive education requirements, specialized expertise, and the complex nature of legal matters. Lawyers provide valuable services, and their guidance can significantly impact outcomes. The demand for legal services remains high, and lawyers' fees reflect their skills, experience, and responsibility. Additionally, the profession often involves long hours, high-stress levels, and the need to stay updated on evolving laws, contributing to higher compensation.
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $3B
Successful actors who achieve stardom and recognition can command higher performance salaries. Their talent, skills, and appeal to audiences significantly influence their ability to negotiate rewarding contracts. They often receive compensation based on the success of the projects they work on, such as box office performance or viewership ratings. This can include profit sharing, bonuses, or residuals for ongoing use of their work in syndication, streaming, or other media formats.
Jami Gertz, popularly known for her roles in movies like The Lost Boys, is the richest actor in the world. Much of her wealth comes from acting and the entertainment industry.
13. Film Maker
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $5B
Filmmakers earn good money owing to the industry's revenue streams, including box office sales, licensing deals, and endorsements. Successful directors and producers can negotiate lucrative projects, distribution agreements, and ancillary sources of income like merchandise and soundtracks, making film-making one of the most profitable professions in the world.
12. Transplant Surgeon
Highest Net Worth Recorded: $9.2B
The specialized skills and expertise in performing complex transplant surgeries are in high demand and organ transplantation procedures often require extensive training, experience, and precision, which justifies higher compensation levels for these professionals. Additionally, transplant surgeons often work in specialized medical centers or hospitals that perform a high volume of transplant surgeries, which can provide opportunities for higher salaries.
11. Venture Capitalist
Highest Net Worth Recorded:$9.8B
Venture capitalists can earn fairly high incomes by investing in early-stage companies with high growth potential. For instance, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL), made a successful investment in Facebook during its early stages, which resulted in significant financial returns. Thiel's venture capital firm, Founders Fund, has also successfully invested in companies like Airbnb Inc (NASDAQ:ABNB) and SpaceX.
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Disclosure: None. 25 Most Profitable Professions in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.