5 High Paying Medical Jobs

Health care isn't all about making money, but if you want a medical career that pays the highest salary, these jobs may be for you. Of course, these jobs are not obtained the most easily. On average, the higher a salary is, the more education and experience is required. Find out which healthcare careers offer the highest salaries.


Advanced Practice Nurses

Happy female nurse looking away

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Not all nursing careers are lucrative, but the more advanced nursing roles which require a minimum of a master's degree can pay extremely well. Advanced practice nurses include nurse practitioners, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists, among others. Not only are these nursing careers very well-paying, they also offer a rewarding level of clinical authority which enables the advanced practice nurse to have a significant impact on patients directly and take on more of a leadership role within the health treatment team.​

Advanced practice nurses can earn over $150,000 annually, depending on the type of nursing role and level of experience.


Physicians and Surgeons

Surgeon closing stitches

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Physicians and surgeons are also high earners in the healthcare field. The precise salary level depends on the type of physician or surgeon. Surgeons earn more than physicians typically, with neurosurgeons topping the list, as some earn over a million dollars annually. Orthopedic surgeons and plastic surgeons are also high earners. Even the "lowest" earning physicians earn six figures.

Although the pay is high, the required investment of time, school, and money needed to become a doctor is also large. After college, prospective doctors must complete a four-year medical school program, and then 3-7 years of residency training, depending on the medical specialty they wish to practice. Some specialists must also complete additional years of training after residency, called fellowships. Therefore, many doctors begin their careers hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. However, if you can handle the investment, the career can be extremely rewarding, both financially and intrinsically.​


Physician Assistant

Physician assistant at medical clinic
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Physician assistants (PAs) are another high-paying healthcare career. Physician assistants work in medical offices or hospitals and treat patients. Depending on the state in which the physician assistant works, they may be able to prescribe some medications and work independently. However, most states require supervising physicians to sign off on prescriptions and other aspects of the PA's work. However, physician assistants are able to treat most patients independently without any direct involvement from a physician.

Physician assistants must have a bachelor's degree plus a master's degree from a physician assisting program. The average salary for full-time physician assistants is about $100,000, but salaries greatly depend on where you reside in the United States.



Pharmacist researching medication
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A pharmacist is yet another healthcare profession that enjoys a hefty paycheck, with a median income of about $128,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Pharmacists must obtain a specific doctoral level degree, a PharmD, in order to work as a pharmacist in the United States. Pharmacists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, retail drug stores, and medical clinics.



Opthamologist measuring patient's eyesight
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An optometrist is a medical professional with a doctorate degree from an accredited optometry program. Optometry is the medical science of assessing patients' eyesight, diagnosing deficiencies or abnormalities, and fitting the patient with the appropriate prescription of eyeglasses or contact lenses for vision correction.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nurse.org. 15 Highest paying nursing careers.

  2. Association of American Medical Colleges. The road to becoming a doctor.

  3. American Academy of Physician Assistants. The top 5 factors impacting PA salaries.

  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pharmacists.

  5. American Optometric Association. What is a doctor of optometry?

By Andrea Clement Santiago
Andrea Clement Santiago is a medical staffing expert and communications executive. She's a writer with a background in healthcare recruiting.