Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by pf team
Some of the highest paying jobs can be found in the healthcare industry. A high paying job helps build long-term security for you and your family.
We scoured BLS data to compile a list of 20 highest paying careers in healthcare that allow you to help others while also earning a high salary.
Why choose a high paying job in healthcare
We all have our own reasons for choosing our career path but healthcare careers offer some unique benefits. First, income is often quite high when compared to other industries.
In fact, of the top 20 highest paying occupations listed by the BLS, 14 of the jobs are healthcare related.
Healthcare workers are also in high demand. Job growth is expected to be strong over the next decade which is a comfort in an age where automation and AI threatens many traditional career choices.
Earning more helps when planning for a secure future but higher-than-average income is only one factor for many people in the healthcare field.
Often, a more important reason given by those in the field is the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.
Fortunately, healthcare jobs combine this humanitarian aspect with stable incomes and often bring additional perks like job security and opportunities for advancement.
Highest paying jobs in healthcare that will be created by 2028
Combined with social assistance careers, healthcare jobs are expected to grow by 3.4 million new jobs nationwide by 2028 according to BLS projections.
Additionally, as many as 8 million workers will be needed to replace workers who retire from healthcare or change careers.
Which careers will have the most highest paying jobs created
Exercise some caution when evaluating BLS data for job growth. In many cases, several types of careers are grouped together in the reported job growth estimates.
Of the healthcare careers on our list, you can expect the highest growth over the next decade in physician assistant careers.
Some sources report expected growth for physician assistants to grow by nearly 40% over the next 6 to 7 years.
Which states will have the most significant job creation in healthcare
Healthcare employment outpaced many other employment sectors in 2018, creating nearly 350,000 jobs nationwide.
Recent economic shifts combined with a larger aging population have made the healthcare industry the nation's largest employer.
Look to states and cities that have large populations. Places like Houston, TX top the list for opportunities. With over 54 institutions, the Texas Medical Center employs 106,000 people.
If Texas summers are too hot for your taste, Northern cities like New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA offer plenty of opportunity as well.
In Philadelphia, the healthcare sector makes up a stunning 21% of total employment.
Where will the highest paying jobs in healthcare be created
Of the highest paying healthcare jobs, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are among the top 15 fastest growing jobs of any type.
According to BLS projections you can expect over 33% job growth for physician assistants and nearly 31% job growth for nurse practitioners through 2028.
Physician assistants most commonly work in physician’s offices at 55% of total jobs, followed by hospitals at 26%.
Following a similar pattern, nurse practitioners found employment most often in physician’s offices (47% of jobs) with hospitals providing about 27% of jobs.
How to save money on medical education
Online learning has proven to be a cost-effective way to earn certificates and degrees.
While earning a medical degree online isn’t a reality for most people yet, you can earn an undergraduate degree or get started with key courses and certifications online.
Coursera offers several popular healthcare courses, such as Medical Neuroscience from Duke University, and certificates, such as Bioinformatics from UC San Diego.
A hand-picked course selection from well-respected schools offers other courses as well, such as an Introduction to Genetics and Evolution taught by Duke University.
Financial aid is available for many courses offered through Coursera.
How to find the highest paying jobs in healthcare
If you’re looking for flexible work or remote work in the healthcare industry, there are some great opportunities available with some of the biggest names in healthcare.
We were able to find part-time and full time work for top-paying healthcare jobs on Flexjobs.com.
Jobs like working as a nurse practitioner or telemedicine physician are even available as remote jobs. Say goodbye to the morning commute.
Highest paying jobs in the medical field
Anesthesiologists: average salary $267,020
Employment change: Job growth for anesthesiologists is expected to be 1,900 jobs by 2028, a 6% increase.
Education: While becoming an anesthesiologist offers a higher income, you’ll also spend more time learning.
After you complete your bachelor’s degree, you’ll continue with another 8 years of postgraduate study.
Training includes medical school followed by an internship and residency. Continuing education is a must and licensing is required in all states.
What they do: As an anesthesiologist, you’ll usually work with surgical patients as a specialist in pain relief.
However, you might also administer treatment to alert patients. Epidurals are one example.
You’ll also work closely with other doctors and surgeons to choose appropriate treatments for each patient.
Anesthesiologists often choose to specialize. For example you might work nearly exclusively in pediatrics or in critical care — or in another area of practice.
Surgeons: average salary $255,110
Employment change: Job growth for surgeons is expected to be 700 jobs by 2028, a 2.2% increase.
Education: Similar to other high-paying healthcare jobs, you’ll have to invest a fair amount of time in education to become a surgeon.
After earning a 4-year undergraduate degree, you’ll go on to 4 more years to earn your Doctor of Medicine degree. Expect another 3 to 8 years of residency after you earn your M.D.
Alternatively, some surgeons elect to earn a D.O. degree, which is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
What they do: Surgeons cover a broad range of specialties, including general surgeons, trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and more.
While many types of medicine are diagnostic or involve external treatment, surgeons cut the patient’s tissue or close wounds.
In some cases, surgery is exploratory, such as when trying to find the source of internal bleeding.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons: average salary $242,370
Employment change: Job growth for oral and maxillofacial surgeons is expected to be 500 jobs by 2028, an 11.2% increase.
Education: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specialized surgeons, so your educational path will vary from other types of surgeons.
First, you’ll earn a 2-year or 4-year undergraduate degree after which your specialized training begins. Expect to invest another 4 years to earn a dental degree, which could be a DMD, BDent, DDS, or BDS.
Also expect a residency period, which is often 4 to 6 years.
What they do: If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed or had dental implants put in, you already know some of the things oral and maxillofacial surgeons do.
However, those are just two areas of specialization. Depending on the area of work you choose, you may also detect and treat a wide range of injuries, diseases, or defects in the head, neck, face, or jaws.
Obstetricians and gynecologists: average salary $238,320
Employment change: Job growth for obstetricians and gynecologists is expected to be 600 jobs by 2028, a 3.5% increase.
Education: Your training as an OBGYN stars with a 4-year undergraduate degree, after which you’ll go on to earn a medical degree.
Expect another 4 years of school to earn your M.D. After graduation, a 4-year residency completes your training requirements.
What they do: As an OBGYN, you’re a doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health.
You’ll diagnose issues and perform routine checkups. You’ll also prescribe treatments and medication as needed.
Because your specialty is women’s reproductive health, you’ll also counsel women on reproductive topics, monitor pregnancies, and assist with childbirth.
Of course, you’ll play a big role in follow-up care as well and often build an ongoing relationship with patients that can last for years.
Orthodontists: average salary $229,380
Employment change: Job growth for orthodontists is expected to be 600 jobs by 2028, an 11.2% increase.
Education: After secondary school, you’ll start your formal education with a 4-year degree, typically a Bachelor of Science degree.
After earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll move onto dental school for another 4 years.
Most dental schools use a test to screen applicants so it’s helpful if your undergraduate degree is built with courses related to health and anatomy. Residency is the last part of your training and can last for 2 to 4 years.
What they do: Most of us know someone who has had braces to straighten teeth or reduce gaps between teeth.
Orthodontists specialize in treating overbites, underbites, or other jaw problems.
Of course, they also work with patients to straighten teeth, which is the most common type of work you’ll do. In some cases, you’ll install braces or a retainer.
In other cases, less invasive treatments are now available. Your expertise guides patients toward the right solution.
Psychiatrists: average salary $220,380
Employment change: Job growth for psychiatrists is expected to be 4,500 jobs by 2028, a 19.7% increase.
Education: Although you’ll specialize in mental or emotional disorders, including addiction, as a psychiatrist you're also a medical doctor.
Training follows a similar pattern to that required for other M.D. positions. You’ll begin your training with a four-year undergraduate degree.
After that, you'll move on to medical school for another 4 years to earn your doctor of medicine degree. the last part of training involves a 2-year residency.
What they do: A psychiatrist counsels patients and diagnoses psychiatric conditions or disorders.
These can range from depression or addiction to psychosis or schizophrenia. As a medical doctor, you can also prescribe medication as needed.
Patience and compassion are part of the job when you’re a psychiatrist. Expect to work closely with the family of patients as well.
Family and general practitioners: average salary $211,780
Employment change: Job growth for family and general practitioners is expected to be 13,100 jobs by 2028, a 12.1% increase.
Education: To become a family doctor, also called a general practitioner, you'll start your formal education with a four-year degree.
It's helpful if this degree is related to medicine. Some students even opt to earn a master's degree before moving on to medical school.
Expect to invest another 4 years of training to complete your M.D. Typically, you can expect a three-year residency after you earn your degree.
What they do: As the name suggests, a family doctor or general practitioner works with families and individuals to diagnose and treat general healthcare needs.
When you become a general practitioner, you’re the first line of defense for your patients, and are often the first to detect larger problems. In many cases, you refer patients to specialists based on your evaluation.
Physicians and surgeons: average salary 203,880
Employment change: Job growth for physicians and surgeons is expected to be 57,800 jobs by 2028, a 9.4% increase.
Education: You'll find some overlap in the BLS listings for the highest earning healthcare jobs.
One such general grouping is physicians and surgeons. Like several other jobs on the list, you'll need to earn your M.D or O.D.
After earning a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related course study, you'll move on to medical school for another 4 years or more. This is then followed by a residency that may last up to 4 years.
What they do: As a physician, your duties are the same as those of a doctor, which can vary depending on your specialty.
The terms are synonymous. However, with the career of physician assistant rising in popularity, it's important to make a distinction.
Becoming a physician requires completion of medical school as well as a residency of up to 4 years.
General internists: average salary $196,490
Employment change: Job growth for general internists is expected to be 1,500 jobs by 2028, a 4.1% increase.
Education: Don't let the name fool you. A general internist isn't an intern — but rather a fully qualified medical doctor who specializes in non-surgical internal medicine.
Similar to other MD careers, your education starts with a bachelor's degree, followed by another 4 years to earn your M.D. Expect to complete a residency as part of your training.
What they do: As a general internist, you're a doctor who specializes in internal medicine.
The specialty typically focuses on treatment for adults. You help prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and illnesses.
General internists are often regarded as being experts in diagnosis and are sometimes referred to as “doctor's doctors” because of their keen medical insight.
General pediatricians: average salary $183,240
Employment change: Job growth for general pediatricians is expected to be 900 jobs by 2028, a 3.3% increase.
Education: Healthcare careers that require an M.D. or an O.D. follow a similar educational path.
Because medical schools have an entrance exam, it's helpful if your undergraduate degree focuses on biology, science, or health subjects.
Once you've earned your bachelor's degree, medical school follows until you earn your M.D. or O.D., typically 4 to 7 years after beginning.
A 4-year residency program is common, which may include general pediatrics and another specialty.
What they do: Pediatricians specialize in the health of children, so a patient disposition and a dash of compassion can help compliment your specialized training.
You’ll also work closely with the families of children. You'll evaluate and diagnose physical condition, children's behavior, and mental health issues.
In some cases, you'll also refer patients to specialists based on your evaluation or preliminary diagnosis.
Prosthodontists: average salary $176,540
Employment change: Job growth for prosthodontists is expected to increase by 3.3% by 2028. BLS data does not provide an expected number of future jobs.
Education: To become a prosthodontist, you’ll follow a study path similar to other dentistry positions.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll apply to dental schools which then require another 4 years of training to earning your
Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. A 3-year residency program follows after earning your DDS or DMD.
Additional certifications such as certification through the American Board of Prosthodontics may be useful as well.
What they do: Prosthodontists specialize installing artificial devices to replace damaged or missing teeth.
We’re all familiar with the notion of dentures or dental implants. Prosthodontists are the specialists who install these devices, along with bridges, crowns, or veneers.
In some cases, you may also work with patients to treat other facial conditions due to birth defects, injuries, or illnesses.
Nurse anesthetists: average salary $167,950
Employment change: Job growth for nurse anesthetists is expected to be 7,300 jobs by 2028, a 17.2% increase.
Education: To become a nurse anesthetist, you’ll begin your schooling by earning a bachelor's degree, specifically a bachelor of science in nursing.
Acute care training in an ICU or emergency room is also required, typically lasting one year.
After completing those two stages of training, you’ll go on to earn a master's degree and a national certification as a CRNA.
What they do: As a nurse anesthetist, you'll work with patients administering anesthesia as well as monitoring recovery from anesthesia.
While the patient is anesthetized you'll also monitor the patient's vital signs. Your role includes assisting anesthesiologists, doctors, surgeons, or dentists.
A calm bedside manner is helpful because you may also work with families to explain the effects of anesthesia.
General dentists: average salary $151,850
Employment change: Job growth for general dentists is expected to be 13,000 jobs by 2028, an 11.7% increase.
Education: When you choose a career as a general dentist, you earn a doctorate, although there are two paths available.
For general dentistry, you’ll want to earn your degree as a Doctor of Dental Medicine. Admission to dental school can be competitive, so an undergraduate degree in medical sciences is strongly recommended.
While not always required, a residency of at least one year is often wise before beginning practice.
What they do: Similar to a general practitioner or family doctor, a general dentist is the type of dentist most of us are familiar with.
He or she is the person we entrust with our oral care, including caring for our teeth and gums.
The dentist is the first line of defense against many larger problems such as advanced tooth decay, gum disease, or other similar issues that affect our health and comfort.
Dentist (specialists): average salary $146,970
Employment change: Job growth for dentists (specialists) is expected to be 300 jobs by 2028, a 12.4% increase.
Education: Dentists who specialize can build long-term stability in their career through referrals from other dentists.
However, you'll also need to specialize your training in regard to courses you take to supplement your degree.
Like other types of dentist, you'll need to earn either a DDS or DMD, which typically means at least 8 years of schooling.
For specialized dentistry, also expect a complete a residency program lasting 2 years or longer.
What they do: What you'll do as a specialized dentist depends on your area of specialization.
For example, a pediatric dentist works with children ranging from infancy up into their teenage years.
A periodontist, however, is a gum specialist and may work with patients of any age — but specifically treating and diagnosing gum disease or even performing minor surgeries.
Podiatrists: average salary $129,550
Employment change: Job growth for podiatrists is expected to be 500 jobs by 2028, a 5.4% increase.
Education: As a podiatrist, you'll be working as a specialized doctor, so your training will vary from those of a general practitioner.
After earning your bachelor's degree, you'll move on to medical school to earn your Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree, also called a DPM. A 3-year residency program is also required.
What they do: Podiatrists care for our feet, but also care for related areas including the ankle and lower leg.
Treatment can range from pain relief to treatment of infections, although you also work with patients to correct deformities or issues caused by injuries.
As a specialist, expect to develop relationships with other doctors who may refer patients to you.
Pharmacists: average salary $126,120
Employment change: Job growth for pharmacists is expected to be 7,200 jobs by 2028, a 7.5% increase.
Education: Some may not realize that a pharmacist is actually a doctor, at least in the sense of having earned a doctorate degree.
To become a pharmacist, you'll need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, also known as a PharmD degree. Expect to invest 6 to 8 years when earning your PharmD degree.
Some programs begin training candidates with only a high-school degree. Others require that you earn a bachelor’s degree first.
What they do: As a pharmacist, you'll have several duties working primarily with patients but also with doctors who prescribe medications.
You keep a watchful eye on the quality of medications as well as ensure the prescriptions meet legal requirements. It's also essential to verify that prescriptions are suitable for the patient.
Your work environment can range from hospitals to drug stores or even to owning your own pharmacy.
Optometrists: average salary $111,790
Employment change: Job growth for optometrists is expected to be 2,400 jobs by 2028, a 7.8% increase.
Education: To become an optometrist, you'll need to earn a doctor of optometry degree, also known as an O.D.
Unlike an ophthalmologist, a different type of eye specialist, an optometrist is not a physician.
In total, expect to invest about 7 to 8 years between post-secondary education and advanced degree training.
What they do: As an optometrist, you’ll work with patients performing examinations.
You’ll also diagnose injuries or disorders related to vision. You'll prescribe and fit glasses or contacts for patients but you’ll also be on the lookout for diseases and injuries.
For example, often it's possible to detect early signs of diabetes through eye exams. Your role may also include vision therapy.
Physician assistants: average salary $108,610
Employment change: Job growth for physician assistants is expected to be 36,000 jobs by 2028, a 33.4% increase.
Education: Like other medical fields, admission for physical assistant education can be competitive.
Beginning early in your post-secondary education, you’ll want to start building course selections around behavioral science as well as chemistry and biology.
In some cases, admission may also require hands-on experience as a paramedic, EMT, or other related roles.
Earning your master's degree, typically requires about 3 years, following 4 years of post-secondary education to earn your bachelor's degree.
What they do: In most states, current laws require that physician assistants have an agreement with an established physician before they can practice.
You'll work directly with patients providing diagnosis, managing treatment plants as well as helping craft their development, and often even prescribing medication.
It isn't unusual for a PA to become a patient's primary health care provider.
Nurse practitioners: average salary $107,030
Employment change: Job growth for nurse practitioners is expected to be 51,600 jobs by 2028, a 30.9% increase.
Education: To become a nurse practitioner, you’ll need to earn a specialized master’s degree called a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Prior to earning an MSN, most nurse practitioners first complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Some nurse practitioners take education a step further by earning a PhD or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, the latter of which is a growing trend.
What they do: As a nurse practitioner (NP), also known as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, you’ll perform many of the same duties as a physician.
In many ways, the career choice can be compared to a physician assistant.
Some describe the distinction as patient-centered for NPs and illness-centered for PAs.
You’ll diagnose and treat patients while also monitoring their response to treatments. In many cases, you’ll also prescribe medication as needed.
Nurse-midwives: average salary $103,770
Employment change: Job growth for nurse-midwives is expected to be 1,000 jobs by 2028, a 16.1% increase.
Education: To start your career as a nurse-midwife (CNM) you’ll follow a path in which you first become a registered nurse (RN).
In most cases, you’ll also need 1 year of experience as an RN.
The RN degree is a bachelor’s degree program after which you’ll earn a BSN or begin a specialized training program to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree.
A BSN degree alone isn’t enough to become certified as a nurse-midwife.
What they do: As the name might suggest, you’ll help deliver babies.
However, your duties go beyond assisting with childbirth. You’ll also provide care to women, including prenatal care, reproductive system checkups, and postnatal care.
Top 3 companies to work for in the medical field
You’ll probably find several promising employment opportunities in your local area through small or regional employers.
However, you’ll find the best opportunities for advancement combined with strong benefits by choosing a larger healthcare provider.
A recent medical industry report noted UnitedHealth Group’s strong employment growth, identifying the insurer and healthcare provider as the soon-to-be largest employer of doctors in the US.
Now in 25 states as well as Washington DC and some US territories, UnitedHealth Group offers a nationwide presence that allows you to transfer to other areas or perhaps even other states.
High demand for healthcare services with UnitedHealth Group helps ensure long-term job security and may offer better opportunities for upward mobility.
Recently purchased by Aetna, Humana still remains a distinct brand with its own services and service providers.
Humana has full or partial ownership in nearly 3,000 primary care providers in addition to employing thousands of other healthcare professionals in its network.
Expect to find opportunities geared towards smaller healthcare offices and regional healthcare providers as opposed to larger hospitals.
Humana sold off its hospital division. Benefits include competitive pay, life insurance, and a 401k plan.
With it's acquisitions of Humana and CVS, Aetna is a Fortune 500 healthcare company to watch.
The company’s recent industry-shaking mergers offer employment opportunities for healthcare professionals of all types, ranging from nurses to physicians.
Along with its CVS merger, came over 1,100 retail healthcare clinics, offering employment and growth opportunities to a wide range of medical professionals.
Benefits for joining this healthcare giant include employee stock purchase plan, 401k with a generous match, and even a student loan repayment benefit.
Common questions about highest paying jobs in healthcare
Is healthcare a stable industry?
With over 3 million new jobs expected by 2028, healthcare is among the fastest growing industries for new employees and high demand helps ensure job stability.
What is a healthcare professional?
A healthcare professional is someone who works in the healthcare industry and holds an advanced degree.
The AMA includes nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, anesthetists, and nurse-midwives in its list of health professionals.
What are the best paying doctor jobs?
Anesthesiologist and surgeons top of list of highest paying doctor jobs, Both of which offer an average annual salary of over $200,000.
Obstetricians and gynecologists (OBGYNs), orthodontists, and psychiatrists also earn over $200,000 per year on average.
What are the best paid nursing jobs?
Nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives earn more than $100,000 per year on average.
What medical profession is in high demand?
Of the highest paying healthcare jobs, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are expected to add the largest number of jobs by 2028.
These two careers combined are expected to add more than 90,000 jobs by 2028.
What is the easiest job in the medical field?
In regard to education requirements, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Phlebotomist, and Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offer an easier path to enter the healthcare field.
What is the least stressful job in the medical field?
A recent study ranked medical records technicians as the least stressful job in the healthcare field. Lab techs, audiologists, and chiropractors also had lower stress levels.
What are the fastest-growing careers in healthcare?
Speech-language pathologists, personal care aides, home health aides, and occupational therapy assistants are all projected to grow by more than 35% by 2028.
What can you do with a BSN degree besides nursing?
Your BSN degree can carry you to places you may not have imagined. For example, you can work as a legal nurse consultant, a forensic nurse consultant, or a nursing educator.
What jobs can you get with a healthcare management degree?
With a bachelor's degree in Healthcare Management, you can pursue several career options including working as a physician practice manager, a managed care representative, or a healthcare administrator.
Summary for highest paying jobs in healthcare
Healthcare employment is expected to grow by nearly 20% over the next several years which means there’s plenty of room for new healthcare professionals.
Most of the new opportunities are expected to be in doctors offices and hospitals. However, with the growth of telemedicine, expect to find plenty of opportunities that offer flexible employment as well.
The highest paying healthcare jobs require a larger time (and financial) commitment in regard to education and certification requirements.
What you'll get in exchange is more job security than you’ll find in other fields combined with higher-than-average pay.
Of course, you’ll also be able to help people in a meaningful way — and it's hard to put a price tag on that.