When it comes to average annual salary, Alaska tends to pay well, especially when compared to the U.S. overall. For example, the average annual wage for all occupations in the U.S. is $58,260, but the corresponding average is $63,480 in Alaska.
Yet Alaska’s highest-paying job — general surgeons — pays an average of $336,900 a year, placing Alaska at No. 42 out of 50 other states in terms of salary for the same job.
To identify Alaska’s highest-paying jobs, Credit Karma compiled and analyzed a variety of publicly available datasets from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As is typical for states across the country, the five highest-paying jobs in Alaska are all in medicine. The top five in Alaska include …
- Surgeons (all other): $336,900
- Emergency medicine physicians: $323,130
- Family medicine physicians: $297,130
- Physicians (all other): $256,450
- Psychiatrists: $235,630
Read on for more details, including data on other top-paying occupations in Alaska.
Highest-paying jobs in Alaska
In Alaska, careers in the “healthcare practitioners and technical” occupational group — which includes doctors — comprise the five highest-paying jobs in the state. But Alaska also has several top-paying jobs outside the healthcare field.
Here are the highest-paying jobs in each of the BLS’s major occupational groups in Alaska, in order of highest average annual wage to lowest.
|Major occupational group||Occupation title||Annual mean wage|
|Healthcare practitioners and technical||Surgeons (all other)||$336,900|
|Educational instruction and library||Postsecondary teachers (all other)||$205,700|
|Architecture and engineering||Petroleum engineers||$170,080|
|Management||Architectural and engineering managers||$163,970|
|Transportation and material moving||Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers||$157,700|
|Legal||Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates||$149,090|
|Business and financial operations||Personal financial advisors||$134,520|
|Protective service||Detectives and criminal investigators||$126,810|
|Computer and mathematical||Software developers||$113,800|
|Life, Physical and social science||Psychologists (all other)||$113,040|
|Healthcare support||Massage therapists||$100,080|
|Sales and related||Sales engineers||$97,800|
|Installation, maintenance and repair||Electrical power-line installers and repairers||$97,770|
|Production||Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers||$94,460|
|Construction and extraction||First-Line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers||$89,150|
|Community and social service||Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists||$73,480|
|Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media||Editors||$68,690|
|Office and administrative support||First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers||$66,160|
|Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance||Tree trimmers and pruners||$63,500|
|Personal care and service||First-line supervisors of entertainment and recreation workers, except gambling services||$61,930|
|Food preparation and serving-related||Chefs and head cooks||$54,500|
|Farming, fishing and forestry||First-line supervisors of farming, fishing and forestry workers||$51,170|
Several of Alaska’s highest-paying jobs have average annual salaries that exceed their national average equivalents. For example, petroleum engineers earn $170,080 a year on average in Alaska, but only $145,720 in the U.S. as a whole.
Even more exceptional is the pay of massage therapists, who earn an average of $100,080 in Alaska versus a national average of $49,260.
Other notable high-paying jobs in Alaska
- Architectural and engineering managers: Alaska is one of only four states in which the highest-paying job under the “management” occupational category is architectural and engineering managers, rather than chief executives (who are the top-paying job in that category in 42 states).
- Editors: Alaska is the only state in which editors are the highest-paying job in the “arts, design, entertainment, sports and media” occupations group, earning an average annual income of $68,690. Unfortunately, that’s lower than the national average annual salary for editors of $76,400.
- Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers: Alaska is home to a major oil industry, and petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers earn a higher average salary here — $94,460 — than the national average of $80,500.
High-paying jobs, taxes and cost of living in Alaska
If you work in Alaska, you’ll benefit from the fact that Alaska has no state income tax. This will put even more of your salary back into your wallet. But Alaska’s cost of living is notoriously high. In a previous Credit Karma study of the cheapest and most expensive states to live in, Alaska ranked as the 8th most expensive state to live in.
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Alaska’s overall cost of living index is 127.3 compared to the national baseline of 100. Our cost of living calculator can help you get a sense how far your salary may — or may not — from city to city.
To identify the highest-paying jobs in Alaska, we analyzed all U.S. states, then scored and ranked them based on the following criteria:
- Annual mean wage for occupations, with occupations chosen based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 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.
- Hourly mean wage for occupations, with occupations chosen based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 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.