- advertisement -

The top 20 highest-paying jobs

CEOs, chief operating officers, top executives and surgeons top the list of highest-paying jobs, according to recent figures from Salary.com.

CEOs' paychecks dwarf all others, according to the Salary.com numbers. The average CEO takes home $688,572 per year in salary alone. The figure jumps to $1.18 million with bonuses, according to the data.

- advertisement -

"The thing that's interesting about CEOs is that there is the biggest variance in pay," says Lena Bottos, director of compensation for Salary.com. "There are so many factors that affect it. You can go from very small numbers to very large numbers."

And the numbers on the check don't always tell the whole story. "It's less about salary and more about the mix" of things such as bonuses and stock options, she says. With CEO pay, "different things become hot over time."

Chief operating officers come in second on the salary list. The average COO earns $436,968 per year in straight salary and a total of $690,219 with bonuses.

The next four rungs of the highest-paying jobs ladder are also occupied by corporate executives. Top-subsidiary execs average $381,139 in base pay and $624,831 with bonuses. Top-sector executives make $310,230 in base pay and $525,657 with bonuses. Top-division execs average $274,783 in base pay and $510,292 with bonuses. Intermediate-level corporate financial associates earn $185,158 in base pay and a total of $459,784 with bonuses.

Prescription for wealth
If your parents urged you to attend medical school, they should have been more specific. Of the four medical professions that make the top 20 list, all are in the surgical field. Topping the list: heart transplant and cardiothoracic surgeons. Cardiothoracic surgeons have a slightly higher base pay ($435,456 versus $402,317). Heart surgeons do a little better in the bonus department, so what they take home is fractionally higher ($446,666 versus $446,255).

There are no real shockers as to which professions make the most money, says Bottos, whose organization compiles data from surveys that include an estimated 29 million U.S. workers. CEOs, COOs, CFOs and CTOs, "all the c-level jobs," finish strong, as do doctors, lawyers and financial specialists.

With increasing emphasis on regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, accountants and ethics executives are also pulling in big bucks. Engineers with specialized certification in things such as quality control or streamlining of manufacturing processes are also commanding high salaries.

So is there anything that separates the big earners from the crowd? "From meeting some of these people, the thing that sometimes stands out more than anything else is personality," says Bottos. "Because you have to be able to bring the whole package."

Who makes the big money?
Here are the 20 highest-paying jobs, along with the average annual income for each (including salary plus bonuses), according to recent figures from Salary.com.

The top 20 highest-paying jobs:
Source: Salary.com, November 2006
Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Nov. 29, 2006
Create a news alert for "saving"
Find out when rates hit your target
Negotiate your way to fair pay
17 steps to a bigger paycheck
Video: 5 myths about going green
5 myths about going green
Video: Ways to keep produce fresh

Compare Rates
30 yr fixed mtg 4.45%
48 month new car loan 3.77%
1 yr CD 0.89%
Rates may include points
  How much life insurance do I need?  
  Calculate your payment on any loan  
  What will it take to save for a goal?  
Begin with personal finance fundamentals:
Auto Loans
Credit Cards
Debt Consolidation
Home Equity
Student Loans
Rev up your portfolio
with these tips and tricks.
- advertisement -