15 Highest-Paying Medical Jobs in 2022

The highest-paying medical jobs typically require specialization and extensive education. Keep reading to learn how to enter this field.

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by Tessa Cooper

Published September 1, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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15 Highest-Paying Medical Jobs in 2022
Image Credit: Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images


Entering the medical field gives you the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people's lives and the potential to earn a six-figure income. The highest-paying medical jobs typically require specialization and extensive education, which means many of these positions are in demand. High-paying medical jobs usually require a bachelor's degree, medical doctor degree, and residency. However, some high-paying positions only require a bachelor's or master's degree.

Empathetic people who enjoy learning about math, biology, and anatomy often enjoy pursuing healthcare careers. This field also requires emotional stability and the ability to perform well under pressure. Keep reading to learn about the best medical jobs to pursue.

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Why Seek High-Paying Medical Jobs?

Even jobs in the medical field that do not rank as the highest-paying tend to pay higher than average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare workers earned a median income of $75,040 in May 2021. However, a high salary is not the only benefit of joining this profession. Other benefits include:

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in the Medical Field?

Anesthesiologist

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $331,190
  • Job Outlook: -1%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with an anesthesiology specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Anesthesiologists care for patients before, during, and after surgery. They conduct a pre-surgery assessment and create an anesthetic plan for the surgery. This plan often includes a dose of general anesthesia or regional nerve blocking for post-surgery pain.

During surgery, anesthesiologists monitor the patient's vitals. They also monitor the patient after the surgery until the anesthesia wears off. Occasionally, anesthesiologists work with patients to manage chronic pain outside of surgery or pain during childbirth. These professionals must have strong observational skills and calculation skills for dosage purposes.


Surgeon

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $297,800
  • Job Outlook: -3%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a surgical specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Surgeons perform operations on patients. They treat injuries like broken bones, diseases, and birth defects. Surgeons perform exams to diagnose illnesses and discuss surgical interventions. They also conduct follow-up visits to monitor the surgical results. These professionals must perform accurately under pressure and possess strong interpersonal communication skills. They must also think analytically and make quick decisions.

Common surgeon specializations include:

  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Brain surgery

Physician

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $231,500
  • Job Outlook: 5%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a general medicine specialization or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Physicians perform exams and offer treatment options and preventative care recommendations. They listen to patients' concerns and ask them about their personal and family medical history. Physicians can write prescriptions and perform routine tests. They also connect patients with specialists. These professionals must possess empathy, critical thinking skills, and communication skills.

These professionals often specialize. Types of specialized physicians include:

  • Family physicians
  • Internists
  • Emergency physicians

Obstetrician and Gynecologist

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $239,120
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with an obstetrics and gynecology specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

Obstetricians and gynecologists diagnose and treat issues that involve a woman's reproductive system. This includes ovarian cancers and cysts, menopause symptoms, and irregular periods. Gynecologists perform pap tests and fertility tests. Obstetricians provide care during pregnancy and deliver babies.

However, many gynecologists also receive training and licensure for obstetrics. These professionals need active listening and interpersonal communication skills. They often communicate sensitive information to patients, so they must be empathetic.


Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists work closely with anesthesiologists. These professionals perform a preliminary patient screening to assess a patient's risk for an adverse reaction to pain medication. They often administer anesthesia to patients before and during surgery if necessary.

These professionals pay close attention to patients immediately after surgery and notify doctors if issues arise. Nurse anesthetists usually work in hospitals and surgical centers. People with strong observational skills thrive in this role.


Pediatrician

  • Average Salary (May 2021): $198,420
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, medical doctor degree with a pediatrics specialization, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination

These doctors provide care to children. They specialize in diagnosing and treating childhood ailments like diabetes, genetic disorders, and congenital disabilities. They connect parents with specialists for specific issues. They also conduct physical examinations and ensure children meet developmental benchmarks.

Pediatricians often see children when they have viruses, colds, or allergies. They write prescriptions for antibiotics and antivirals. They also make recommendations on nutrition and vitamins for children.


Dentist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $163,220
  • Job Outlook: 8%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med program, doctor of dental surgery or doctor of medicine in dentistry
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the National Board Dental Examinations

Dentists examine and care for damaged teeth. They identify cavities and decay by examining X-rays and the patient's teeth. They also remove decay and fill cavities. Dentists refer patients to ortho surgeons for procedures like wisdom tooth removal and root canals. In addition, they perform cosmetic and preventative procedures, like whitening teeth and applying sealants.

Dentists apply local anesthetics during procedures and write antibiotic prescriptions. They also discuss dental hygiene best practices with their patients. Dentists need an eye for detail and strong interpersonal communication skills.

Specialized types of dentists include:

  • Endodontists
  • Orthodontists
  • Dental anesthesiologists
  • Oral pathologists
  • Periodontists

Podiatrist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $145,840
  • Job Outlook: 2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, doctor of podiatric medicine, residency
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam

Podiatrists treat feet and ankles. They diagnose and treat sprains and fractures, heel pain, and nerve issues. They also work with patients with conditions that affect their feet and ankles, like arthritis and diabetes.

Podiatrists perform physical exams and ask patients questions about their concerns. They also recommend and perform surgery and coordinate care plans with physical therapists. Some podiatrists start their own private practice, which requires basic business skills. Detailed and compassionate people often perform well in this role.


Chief Nursing Officer

Chief nursing officers work as lead nurses. They oversee registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants. Some chief nursing officers coordinate work schedules and find backup care when a nurse cannot attend their shift.

Chief nursing officers often need to have difficult conversations with patients' families. When patients' safety and serious health issues arise, they typically intervene until security or a doctor arrives. Chief nursing officers need strong leadership, management, and communication skills.


Pharmacist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $128,570
  • Job Outlook: -2%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, doctor of pharmacy
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam

Pharmacists fill medical subscriptions. They communicate with customers about dosage instructions and possible side effects. These professionals make recommendations on over-the-counter medications as well. They also communicate with physicians to verify the correct instructions and dosages.

In addition, pharmacists must work with insurance companies to ensure the best price for patients. These professionals typically oversee a team of pharmacy technicians. In most states, pharmacists can administer vaccines. Pharmacists need detail-orientation skills, leadership skills, and calculation skills.


Optometrist

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $124,300
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Required Education: ​​Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, doctor of optometry
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry

Optometrists manage eye health for patients. They conduct vision tests, analyze results, and adjust contact and eyeglass prescriptions as necessary. During eye checkups, optometrists also examine patients for potential eye diseases.

Optometrists can also conduct minor surgeries to treat vision issues. They advise patients on maintaining optimal eye health and refer them to specialists as needed. Optometrists need strong decision-making skills and communication skills to succeed when working with patients.


Physician Assistant

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $121,530
  • Job Outlook: 31%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in a pre-med field, master's degree in physician assistant studies
  • Licenses/Certifications: Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination

Physician assistants work closely with licensed physicians. They perform patient exams and diagnose conditions. Physician assistants have the credentials to reset broken bones, administer immunizations, and prescribe medications. They also counsel patients on how to manage their conditions.

Physician assistants may choose a specialization like pediatrics or endocrinology. Some of these professionals work in emergency room settings. Physician assistants must possess strong communication skills and the ability to work under pressure.


Nurse Practitioner

  • Median Salary (May 2021): $120,680
  • Job Outlook: 52%
  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree in nursing, master of science in nursing
  • Licenses/Certifications: Certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center

Nurse practitioners have more autonomy than registered nurses. Their abilities vary by state, but most states allow them to write prescriptions, order laboratory tests, and perform physical exams. Nurse practitioners often work independently or in collaboration with a physician. Just like doctors, nurse practitioners can choose a specialization. Common specializations include:

  • Family and general care
  • Pediatrics
  • Women's health
  • Adult-gerontology

These professionals must have the ability to work independently and have strong communication skills.


Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives provide care for female reproductive health. They conduct gynecological exams and offer family planning services. However, they primarily focus on prenatal care and delivering babies. If an emergency arises during labor, they immediately contact a surgeon or doctor.

These professionals often provide primary maternity care in low-risk pregnancies. They make recommendations on nutrition and aftercare. Nurse midwives sometimes provide care to their patients' partners if they experience reproductive health problems. They must have the ability to make decisions under pressure and perform well in a crisis.


Health Services Manager

A health services manager handles the business operations for healthcare providers. They manage finances for hospitals and clinics and work with insurance companies and collection agencies. They also oversee administrative staff at healthcare facilities.

These professionals ensure clinics and hospitals maintain safety and sanitation regulations and look for ways to improve the quality of their care. Health service managers need strong leadership and organizational skills.

Frequently Asked Questions About Highest-Paying Medical Jobs

What is the highest-paying job in the medical field?

Anesthesiologists are among some of the highest earners in the medical field. According to the BLS, these professionals earned an average income of $331,190 in May 2021. However, earning potential may vary by state. The BLS found that during the same time period, Floridian anesthesiologists earned an average income of $363,570. However, Texan anesthesiologists earned an average income of $249,910 during the same time period.

Years of experience also impacts a professional's salary. According to Payscale data from August 2022, anesthesiologists with less than one year of experience earn an average of about $278,090. However, these professionals with more than 20 years of experience earned an average of $349,100.

What are the easiest highest-paying medical jobs?

Working as a health services manager requires minimal education and may lead to a six-figure income. The BLS reports these individuals earned between $60,780 and $205,620 in May 2021. These professionals who worked in hospital settings were among the highest earners.

Nurses usually pursue this lead role after gaining on-the-job experience and a bachelor's degree. Working as a chief nursing officer only requires a bachelor's degree in nursing, but some employers may prefer to hire nurses with a master's degree for this role. Payscale reports these professionals earned an average income of $134,900 as of August 2022.

What are the highest-paying doctor jobs?

Anesthesiologists and surgeons earn the highest income among doctors. According to Payscale August 2022 data, anesthesiologists earn an average of $307,740, and surgeons earn an average of $287,500 as of July 2022 data.

Doctors who pursue a specialization may earn more. For example, Payscale reports neurosurgeons earn an average of $412,780 as of August 2022. Doctors can pursue a specialization through their medical school studies and their residency.

Which medical jobs are most in-demand?

The BLS projects a high job outlook for nurse practitioners. The organization projects the need for nurse practitioners to increase by 52% between 2020 and 2030. This growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations, which measures only 8%.

The BLS also projects the need for health services managers to increase by 32% during the same timeframe. This would equate to about 51,800 new openings each year. The organization cites the job growth as a result of the workforce retiring or switching occupations.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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