Mapping the Highest Paid Professions in Each State

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can make your life easier. That’s why a lot of young people immediately think about future earning potential for a given career path. This map can help frame the choices by identifying the most highly paid occupation for every state in the U.S.

Highest paying jobs in america

  • Dentists in Massachusetts and pediatricians in Pennsylvania boast the highest median salaries anywhere in the country, with both making $208K per year.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, a project manager in the Virgin Islands can expect to make only $172.2K per year. That’s still significantly above the median wage for all workers across the U.S.
  • A lot of occupations in medicine rank as the highest paid, including anesthesiologists, dentists and physicians.
  • The highest paid professionals in each state usually earn at least $200K, with only 4 states or territories falling below $200,000.

We found data on the highest paid occupations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our map reflects the jobs with the highest median annual salary in each state. We categorized each profession with a color and an intuitive icon. This is the best approach for understanding the dataset because a median figure separates the sample between the higher and lower half. All things being equal, someone working in a given job will likely earn somewhere close to the numbers on our map.

There are a couple clear takeaways from our map of the best paying jobs in the U.S. First, medical professionals dominate the rankings across several states. Looking at the map, there are a lot of states like Arizona, New Mexico and Indiana where family medicine physicians take the top spot. Anesthesiologists, dentists and pediatricians also do extremely well. For example, the median pay for a dentist in Idaho is $204.9K even though the state is largely rural outside of Boise. But apparently you don’t have to go all the way through medical school and become a certified physician to make the big bucks. Nurse anesthetists, who assist an anaesthesiologist but may not be doctors themselves, pull down well over $200K in a few states, including Oregon ($206.6K), Montana ($205.9K) and Wisconsin ($208K). 

One surprise in our map is actually what’s missing. There are a lot of places where chief executive is the highest paid role, like Florida ($206.8K) and Minnesota ($207.4K). The highest paid CEO in the S&P 500 personally made $211M, which is an astonishing sum of money. However, there aren’t any states where financial professionals make the most money. In New York, HR managers make the most money ($207.9K). Finance is no doubt a lucrative career, but it’s certainly not the most profitable.

Medical occupations make the most money partly because medical care is so expensive in the U.S. If you don’t have health insurance, check out our health insurance cost guide to get started today.

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