Highest-Paying Jobs in Alaska

A Credit Karma Study

Updated

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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 …

  1. Surgeons (all other): $336,900
  2. Emergency medicine physicians: $323,130
  3. Family medicine physicians: $297,130
  4. Physicians (all other): $256,450
  5. 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.

Methodology

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.

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment Statistics – May 2021