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The Next 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in the US
by Ben Murray
Monster Staff Writer

There is a storied group of people out there known to be laughing all the way to financial institutions. And while it may come as no surprise that these high-income types enjoy their trips to the bank, you might be interested to learn that when these folks see each other on the street, dragging their loot, the greeting is often the same:

�Doctor.�
�Doctor.�

How did we get this inside information? The government told us. In an effort to provide Monster readers with the 10 jobs the Department of Labor says are likely to pay you enough to bankroll a diamond mine, we found out seven of the 10 jobs were in the medical field. Realizing our list was helpful only to people with an inclination for diagnosing diseases, we shamelessly backpedaled and started over.

We quickly found that the people just outside the top 10 were employed in much more varied fields, offering more options to those looking to use a top-10 list to find work in a fortune-building profession.

According to the 2001 Occupational Employment Statistics Survey conducted by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top 11 to 20 highest-paying professions in the US are:

11. Podiatrists

$45.43/hr

$94,500/yr

12. Lawyers

$44.19/hr

$91,920/yr

13. Optometrists

$42.35/hr

$88,100/yr

14. Computer and information systems managers

$40.33/hr

$83,890/yr

15. Physicists

$40.26/hr

$83,750/yr

16. Air traffic controllers

$40.07/hr

$83,350/yr

17. Petroleum Engineers

$39.33/hr

$81,800/yr

18. Nuclear Engineers

$38.56/hr

$80,200/yr

19. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates

$38.24/hr

$79,540/yr

20. Marketing Managers

$37.70/hr

$78,410/yr

Figures reflect mean hourly pay projected out to a year-round, full-time annual average.

While you may have expected lawyers to show up on the list, others may have come as a surprise, so we checked them out.

What Do All Those Filthy-Rich Physicists Actually Do?

�Physicists are among the most, shall we say, �agile' of degree recipients,� says Roman Czujko, director of the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics. In fact, according to Czujko, if the BLS guidelines for who is considered a physicist were a bit more liberal, these scientists would likely be higher on the list.

The physicists appearing on the list are either college professors or research scientists, people working in the direct application of physics, he says. While these types of physicists are paid well, physics doctorate holders also fit well into higher-paying niches in the private sector.

Similarly, petroleum engineers should be higher up the list, according to information from the Society of Petroleum Engineers. A 2002 survey of the society's members shows the engineers reporting earnings of about $89,000 worldwide, with US respondents reporting more than $99,000 in salary, plus bonuses �- some 10 percent higher than the BLS numbers.

Could You Get a Job on This List?

While many of these jobs require a virtual lifetime of industry-specific study, the prerequisites for becoming an air traffic controller are not rooted in academics. The majority of controllers are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which screens and trains controllers at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.

Applicants for these jobs are selected through the federal civil service system, and are generally required to have a four-year degree or some college and supplemental work experience. People with experience as a pilot or navigator often have an edge in this business, according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Also, if you're good with atoms but hate competing for jobs, there is a shortage of workers in nuclear engineering, says Emmy Roos, a member of the board of directors at the American Nuclear Society. According to Roos, nuclear engineering student enrollments -- undergraduate and graduate combined -� have declined from 3,400 to 1,300 in the last 20 years.

But if you're still aiming higher, here's the actual top 10 highest-paying jobs in the US, and good luck performing your first hernia operation.

The Actual Top 10

1. Surgeons

$65.89/hr

$137,050/yr

2. Obstetricians and gynecologists

$64.15/hr

$133,430/yr

3. Anesthesiologists

$63.31/hr

$131,680/yr

4. Internists, general

$61.03/hr

$126,940/yr

5. Pediatricians, general

$56.03/hr

$116,550/yr

6. Psychiatrists

$54.60/hr

$113,570/yr

7. Family and general practitioners

$52.89/hr

$110,020/yr

8. Dentists

$53.28/hr

$110,820/yr

9. Chief Executives

$51.77/hr

$107,670/yr

10. Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers

(N/A)

$99,400/yr

Figures reflect mean hourly pay projected out to a year-round, full-time annual average.

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The purpose of this article is to both provide information and facilitate general dialogue about various employment-related topics. No legal advice is being given and no attorney-client relationship created. Please see the disclaimer for further limitations and conditions.

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