Highest-Paying Jobs in Hawaii

A Credit Karma Study

Updated

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In terms of overall annual wages, Hawaii is on par with the United States as a whole.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage in Hawaii is $59,760, and the national average is $58,260. But Hawaii’s highest paying job — dermatologists — pulls down an average of $366,600 a year.

To identify Hawaii’s other highest-paying jobs, Credit Karma compiled and analyzed a variety of publicly available datasets from the BLS.

Similar to other states, most of the top five highest-paying jobs in Hawaii are in medicine:

  1. Dermatologists: $366,600
  2. Orthopedic surgeons (non-pediatric): $356,960
  3. Surgeons (all other): $302,040
  4. General internal medicine physicians: $294,990
  5. Chief executives: $289,860

But other high-paying jobs exist in Hawaii across many other sectors. Read on for more.

Highest-paying jobs in Hawaii

Here are the jobs in the Aloha State with the highest average annual salary in each of the BLS’s major occupational groups.

Major occupational group Occupation title Annual mean wage
Healthcare practitioners and technical Dermatologists $366,600
Management Chief Executives $289,860
Legal Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates $213,120
Life, physical, and social science Astronomers $158,480
Transportation and material moving Air traffic controllers $131,710
Architecture and engineering Aerospace engineers $127,710
Educational instruction and library Health specialties teachers (postsecondary) $127,520
Computer and mathematical Information security analysts $119,540
Protective service First-line supervisors of police and detectives $117,170
Sales and related occupations Real estate brokers $116,290
Construction and extraction Elevator and escalator installers and repairers $113,360
Installation, maintenance, and repair Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay $106,930
Business and financial operations Labor relations specialists $103,900
Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media Music directors and composers $101,760
Production Power plant operators $91,680
Community and social service Social Workers (all other) $85,760
Office and administrative support Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants $75,530
Food preparation and serving Chefs and head cooks $73,900
Healthcare support Occupational therapy assistants $73,330
Farming, fishing and forestry First-line supervisors of farming, fishing and forestry workers $65,720
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers $61,730
Personal care and service Morticians, undertakers and funeral arrangers $53,310

Given that Hawaii is home to the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, a large exhibition and planetarium complex at the University of Hawaii’s Science and Technology Park, it may not besurprising that astronomer is the highest paying job in the “life, physical and social science” occupations group. The average salary for an astronomer in Hawaii — $158,480 a year — is far better than the national average of $139,410 for astronomers.

Hawaii is also one of only two states in which the highest-paying job among “business and financial operations” occupations is labor relations specialists.

Other notable high-paying jobs in Hawaii

  • Chefs and head cooks: Falling under the category of “food preparation and serving” occupations, chefs and head cooks in Hawaii earn an average of $73,900 a year — far better than the national equivalent of $56,920 a year on average.
  • Air traffic controllers: Hawaii is one of nine states in which air traffic controllers are the highest paying job in the “transportation and material moving” occupations category, rather than airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers.
  • Real estate brokers: Hawaii is known for expensive real estate, so it makes sense that real estate brokers have an average annual salary of $116,290 in the state, significantly higher than the national average of $86,490.

High-paying jobs and cost of living in Hawaii

Even people with the highest-paying jobs in Hawaii face some challenges that could affect how far their paychecks go. Hawaii’s cost of living is notoriously high.

In a previous Credit Karma study on the cheapest and most expensive states to live in, Hawaii ranked as the No. 1 most expensive state. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Hawaii’s overall cost of living index is 193.3 compared to the national baseline of 100 — nearly double the national average. Our cost of living calculator can help you get a sense of how far your salary may or may not go in Hawaii or another state.

Common questions about the highest-paying jobs in Hawaii

What salary do you need to live comfortably in Hawaii?

The answer to this question depends largely on your income, budget and spending habits. But one way to help figure out what a comfortable salary might be in Hawaii is to use the 50/30/20 budgeting rule: 50% of your income goes to necessary spending, 30% to discretionary (or luxury spending), and 20% for savings and investing.

Considering the cost of various living expenses in Hawaii, if you earn a salary that works with this budgeting rule (or close to it), then you may be able to live comfortably in Hawaii.

Do jobs in Hawaii pay well?

Compared to the national average annual pay across all occupations ($58,260), Hawaii pays slightly better, with an average annual salary of $59,760, according to the BLS. But it depends on the occupation. As noted, the average annual pay for some occupational groups is lower than the national average, while the average for some occupations, such as real estate brokers, is significantly higher than the national average.

Methodology

To identify the highest-paying jobs in Hawaii, 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