Highest-Paying Jobs by State

A Credit Karma Study

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When it comes to salaries, location can play a significant role.

Credit Karma compiled and analyzed a variety of publicly available data sets — namely from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics — to find the highest-paying jobs in every state.

It’s worth noting first that in every state, the highest mean wage goes to a physician of some type — with salaries ranging from $305,820 to $381,830, depending on the type of medical practice and the state.

Read on for more, including how jobs in other occupations — finance, law and law enforcement, engineering, sales and nursing — stack up.

Highest-paying job in each state

Jobs in the “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations” group, which includes physicians, dominate nationwide in terms of having the highest pay. In every state, the top-earning job is a doctor of some kind.

On this map of the U.S., you can select any state to see its highest-paying job and average salary for that job.

As this table shows, Georgia’s best-paying job title — non-pediatric orthopedic surgeon — has the highest annual mean wage in the U.S. with a salary of $381,830.    

Rank State Highest-paying job title Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
1 Georgia Orthopedic surgeons (non- pediatric)  $183.57 $381,830
2 North Dakota Orthopedic surgeons (non- pediatric)  $179.44 $373,230
3 Hawaii Dermatologists $176.25 $366,600
4 Illinois Obstetricians and gynecologists $175.39 $364,800
5 North Carolina Radiologists $175.23 $364,470
6 Florida Anesthesiologists $174.79 $363,570
7 Louisiana Orthopedic surgeons (non- pediatric)  $174.19 $362,320
8 Maryland Cardiologists $174.08 $362,090
9 Texas Cardiologists $174.04 $361,990
10 New Hampshire Cardiologists $173.63 $361,150

Highest-paying jobs by occupational category

Beyond the field of “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations,” we reviewed which jobs pay the best within other major occupations, as categorized by the BLS.

Highest-paying finance jobs

In 37 states, personal finance advisor is the highest-paying job under the “Business and Financial Operations Occupations” category.

The average annual wage nationwide is $119,960. And in New York — the state that pays personal financial advisors the most — the average annual pay for personal financial advisors is $158,040.

Highest-paying police jobs

The highest-paying police jobs are almost always first-line supervisors of police and detectives. The national average annual wage for a first-line supervisor of police and detectives is $98,760.

In fact, in 33 states, first-line supervisors and detectives are the highest-paying jobs under the major occupational category “Protective Service Occupations.”

Highest-paying law jobs

In 26 states, the highest-paying law jobs are lawyers, who earn a national average of $148,030 a year. In all but three of these 26 states, lawyers have an annual average income of more than $100,000 (the exceptions being Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming). 

New York is the state where lawyers make the most money, beating the national average with a mean annual wage of $179,060.

Another top-paying job under the “Legal Occupations” group is judges, including magistrate judges and magistrates. These jobs are the highest-paying law jobs in 20 states, with Hawaii offering the highest pay for judges, magistrate judges and magistrates with an annual average of $213,120.

The third-highest-paying law jobs are administrative law judges, adjudicators and hearing officers, which have the top pay for “Legal Occupations” in four states. Alabama is where administrative law judges, adjudicators and hearing officers make the most money: an average of $142,600 a year.

Highest-paying engineering jobs

Engineering jobs, which come under the “Architecture and Engineering Occupations” category, offer solid salaries in many states. Computer hardware engineers are the highest-paying engineering jobs in 12 states.

Petroleum engineers are the best-paying engineering jobs in seven states, and chemical engineers are the highest-paying in six states. Lastly, chemical engineers command the highest engineering salaries in six states.

Highest-paying sales jobs

Some sales jobs pay a significant salary. The most notable of highest-paying sales jobs are sales engineers, whose national average annual pay is $118,630.

Sales engineers typically need to have a bachelor’s degree-equivalent in engineering because of the technical intricacies and uses of the products they sell. Twenty-nine states have sales engineers as their highest-paying sales jobs, with Maryland offering the highest salary at $150,950 per year on average.

Highest-paying nursing jobs

Nursing is a major and growing occupation in the U.S.

According to the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, 3,080,100 people were employed as registered nurses as of 2020, with an expected growth rate of 9% by 2030.

For nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, the growth rate is even greater: 45% over the next 10 years, equivalent to adding 121,400 new jobs on top of the current 271,900.

In terms of compensation, the highest-paying nursing jobs tend to be nurse anesthetists. These nurses earn a national average of $202,470 a year. In Connecticut, the average annual salary is $276,540 for nurse anesthetists.

Highest-paying job in each occupational group

The BLS categorizes jobs into 22 major occupational groups. Here’s a look at the highest-paying jobs in the U.S. by occupational group:

Major occupational group Occupation title Annual mean wage
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations Cardiologists $353,970
Management Occupations Chief executives $213,020
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers $198,190
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations Physicists $151,580
Legal Occupations Lawyers

$148,030

Architecture and Engineering Occupations Petroleum engineers $145,720
Computer and Mathematical Occupations Computer and information research scientists $142,650
Educational Instruction and Library Occupations Health specialties teachers, postsecondary $133,310
Personal Care and Service Occupations Makeup artists, theatrical and performance $124,380
Business and Financial Operations Occupations Personal financial advisors $119,960
Sales and Related Occupations Sales engineers $118,630
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations Athletes and sports competitors $116,930
Production Occupations Nuclear power reactor operators $111,220
Protective Service Occupations First-line supervisors of police and detectives $98,760
Construction and Extraction Occupations Elevator and escalator installers and repairers $91,320
Installation, Maintenance and Repair Occupations Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay $87,640
Office and Administrative Support Occupations Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants $66,870
Community and Social Service Occupations Health education specialists $64,930
Healthcare Support Occupations Occupational therapy assistants $63,560
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations

Chefs and head cooks

$56,920
Farming, Fishing and Forestry Occupations First-line supervisors of farming, fishing, and forestry workers $54,450
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers $53,270

Common questions about the highest-paying jobs in the U.S.

Which state has the most high-paying jobs?

California has 189 different jobs with average annual salaries of more than $100,000. That’s the greatest number of six-figure salary jobs in one state.

Which jobs have the highest salaries?

Healthcare jobs tend to dominate the highest-paying jobs in most states and on the national level. For example, the national average annual wage for cardiologists — the highest paying job in the U.S. — is $353,970.

What income do you need to be in the top 10?

To rank among the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the U.S., you’ll need an income of at least $290,310 a year, the annual pay of the 10th highest-paying job in the U.S. – pediatric surgeons.

Which states have the lowest-paying jobs?

Mississippi typically has the lowest-paying jobs. Its average annual salary for all occupations in the state is $42,700.    

Methodology

To identify the highest-paying jobs in every state, we analyzed all U.S. states, then scored and ranked them based on the annual mean wage for occupations in May 2021. Occupations were chosen based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification that categorizes an occupational level as “detailed.” Other SOC occupation levels such as “major,” “minor” and “broad” were excluded for being too general in their occupational title.    

States were then ranked in order of the average annual wage of the highest-paying job in the state.

Sources