Top 10 Highest Paying Non-Medical Careers

by Aurelio Locsin

The highest paying non-medical careers in the United States averaged over $120,000 per year as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most were skewed to the management of people, resources and finances, although some technical professionals, such as petroleum engineers and pilots, made the list. All require at least a bachelor’s degree, with managers also needing several years of technical and administrative experience. Jobs are listed from highest salary to lowest.

Chief Executives

Chief executives topped the list, averaging $176,550 per year. The get their high compensation by retaining ultimate responsibility over the success of a corporation, the well-being of its employees and the satisfaction of its customers.

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers averaged $138,980 yearly. They find better and more efficient ways to produce gasoline and other products whose prices are volatile.


Lawyers earned a mean annual $130,490. In criminal trials, their performances can punish the guilty and free the innocent. In civil proceedings, their expertise can bring millions of dollars to litigants, from which they take a contingency fee.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers received a mean $129,350 per year. They oversee the efforts of highly paid technical professionals, and ensure that projects, which may cost large amounts, are completed within their schedules and budgets.

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural science managers averaged $128,230 yearly. They coordinate biologists, environmentalists, chemists and other natural scientists to research scientific principles, create new products and improve existing processes. They often initiate projects that can improve manufacturing processes or living conditions.

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers made an annual $126,190. They plan the advertising campaigns that put goods and services in the hands of customers, thus bringing profit to corporations. They may be in charge of creative professionals, such as copy editors and graphic artists, and marketing specialists.

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer managers received a mean $125,660 per year. Modern businesses survive on the strength of their information systems, which these managers oversee. They coordinate subordinate staff to install, maintain and repair computer hardware and software.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

These psychologists averaged $124,160 yearly. They study managers, employees, customers and suppliers, and offer ways to make their interactions more productive. Their research and recommendations can affect the way company staff works, which in turn can increase profits.

Financial Managers

Financial managers earned a mean annual $120,450. Their high salaries come from handling finances that are necessary for corporations to function. Their duties determine the financial health of an enterprise, and how and when its investors receive their returns.

Airline Pilots

Airline pilots made a mean $118,070 per year. They are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers and crew on their airplanes, which they safely guide to their destinations on time. On international flights, they must remain attentive and alert for long hours.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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