The 30 highest-paying jobs in California

David McNew/Getty ImagesAirline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers are one of the highest-paying jobs in California where they earn $US208,070 a year.
  • California has an economy bigger than that of most countries.
  • Using data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, we found the 30 occupations with the highest average salaries in the Golden State.
  • Astronomers, surgeons, and postsecondary economic teachers made the list.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

California is one of the largest economies in the world, with a gross domestic product bigger than that of most countries.

Using data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program, we found the 30 jobs with the highest average annual salaries in California. BLS had reported annual salaries for 770 detailed occupational categories in May 2019, the most recently available data.

Similarly to our recently published list of the highest-paying jobs in the US, medical occupations were top earners. Seven of the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the state are various medical and dental specialisations.

Here’s the full list, along with the jobs’ average annual salaries and the number of people employed in each occupation. Where available, we also include a brief description of what workers in the occupation do, from the Department of Labour’s O*NET Online occupational database.


30. Postsecondary economics teachers

Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US146,410

Number of people employed in California: 690

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in economics.


29. Nuclear engineers

Krafft Angerer/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US146,470

Number of people employed in California: 510

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research on nuclear engineering projects or apply principles and theory of nuclear science to problems concerned with release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.


28. Personal service managers, all other; entertainment and recreation managers, except gambling; and managers, all other

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US146,910

Number of people employed in California: 69,780

This is a catchall category on BLS for managers that combines 2018 Standard Occupational Classification codes of entertainment and recreation managers, all other personal service managers, and all other managers.


27. Compensation and benefits managers

ShutterStock / Wolfilser

Average annual salary: $US149,130

Number of people employed in California: N/A

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate compensation and benefits activities of an organisation.


26. Advertising and promotions managers

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US149,320

Number of people employed in California: 2,670

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate advertising policies and programs or produce collateral materials, such as posters, contests, coupons, or give-aways, to create extra interest in the purchase of a product or service for a department, an entire organisation, or on an account basis.


25. Nurse midwives

Diversity Photos/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US154,500

Number of people employed in California: 690

What they do, according to O*NET: Diagnose and coordinate all aspects of the birthing process, either independently or as part of a healthcare team.


24. Dentists

Scott Olson/Getty

Average annual salary: $US155,670

Number of people employed in California: 16,220

What they do, according to O*NET: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums.


23. Financial managers

goodluz/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US156,500

Number of people employed in California: 92,060

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities, and other financial activities of a branch, office, or department of an establishment.


22. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

Graham Taylor/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US158,120

Number of people employed in California: 4,930

What they do, according to O*NET: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of members of police force.


21. Astronomers

Christian Horz/Getty ImagesGriffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Average annual salary: $US164,130

Number of people employed in California: 360

What they do, according to O*NET: Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.


20. Marketing managers

kate_sept2004/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US169,200

Number of people employed in California: 40,900

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate marketing policies and programs, such as determining the demand for products and services offered by a firm and its competitors, and identify potential customers.


19. Lawyers

Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US173,970

Number of people employed in California: 83,750

What they do, according to O*NET: Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions.


18. Architectural and engineering managers

YP_photographer/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US179,860

Number of people employed in California: 34,140

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering, or carry out research and development in these fields.


17. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates

John Elk/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US184,340

Number of people employed in California: 1,690

What they do, according to O*NET: Arbitrate, advise, adjudicate, or administer justice in a court of law.


16. Dentists, all other specialists

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US184,560

Number of people employed in California: 420

What they do, according to O*NET: This is a catchall category for dentists not listed in some other occupational group.


15. Computer and information systems managers

vm/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US185,640

Number of people employed in California: 75,700

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming.


14. Natural sciences managers

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Average annual salary: $US188,710

Number of people employed in California: N/A

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and statistics, and carry out research and development in these fields.


13. Pediatricians

Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images

Average annual salary: $US200,270

Number of people employed in California: 3,160

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent children’s diseases and injuries.


12. Family medicine physicians

David McNew/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US203,320

Number of people employed in California: 11,050

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population.


11. Anesthesiologists

ChaNaWiT/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: At least $US208,000*

Number of people employed in California: 3,850

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who administer anesthetics prior to, during, or after surgery or other medical procedures.

*BLS does not have an exact wage estimate for this occupation.


10. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

David McNew/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US208,070

Number of people employed in California: 10,340

What they do, according to O*NET: Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo.


9. Physicians, all other, and ophthalmologists

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US210,140

Number of people employed in California: 32,070

What they do, according to O*NET: This is a catchall category for specialised doctors not listed in some other occupational group. Some specialties include dermatologists, hospitalists, ophthalmologists, and urologists.


8. General internal medicine physicians

Rick Bowmer/AP Images

Average annual salary: $US212,510

Number of people employed in California: 3,410

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose and provide non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems.


7. Chief executives

Getty

Average annual salary: $US216,520

Number of people employed in California: 31,730

What they do, according to O*NET: Determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private and public sector organisations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body.


6. Orthodontists

Master Video/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US220,410

Number of people employed in California: 420

What they do, according to O*NET: Examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies.


5. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Mikhail Olykainen/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US222,180

Number of people employed in California: 690

What they do, according to O*NET: Perform surgery and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions to treat diseases, injuries, or defects.


4. Nurse anesthetists

MindStorm/Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US227,290

Number of people employed in California: 1,270

What they do, according to O*NET: Administer anesthesia, monitor patient’s vital signs, and oversee patient recovery from anesthesia.


3. Obstetricians and gynecologists

Orlin Wagner/AP Images

Average annual salary: $US236,730

Number of people employed in California: 1,540

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who provide medical care related to pregnancy or childbirth and those who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases of women, particularly those affecting the reproductive system.


2. Psychiatrists

Zinkevych/Getty Images

Average annual salary: $US236,930

Number of people employed in California: 3,560

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.


1. Surgeons

vadim kozlovsky / Shutterstock

Average annual salary: $US248,100

Number of people employed in California: 3,650

What they do, according to O*NET: Physicians who treat diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive, minimally invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods.

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