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Ranking List: Top 20 US Cities of Best-Paying Jobs for Computer Engineers, Lawyers, CEOs & Surgeons, Silicon Valley $140K

Ranking List: Top 20 US Cities of Best-Paying Jobs for Computer Engineers, Lawyers, CEOs & Surgeons, Silicon Valley $140K

The San Jose area has been buffeted by economic turbulence in recent years, but it still pays the nation’s highest salaries in several computer-related fields. Software engineers, database administrators, and network and computer systems administrators earn more in San Jose than in any other American metropolitan area, according to 2009 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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1. Highest-paying jobs in America are led by surgeons and anesthesiologists

The eight highest-paying jobs in America are in the fields of medicine or dentistry, according to an On Numbers analysis of federal compensation data for 801 occupations.

It definitely pays to work in health care.

Topping the list are surgeons, who earned an average of $219,770 in 2009, the latest year for which official figures are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Second in the rankings are anesthesiologists ($211,750), followed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons ($210,710), orthodontists ($206,190) and obstetricians and gynecologists ($204,470).

No occupation outside the health-care field appears until ninth place. Corporate chief executives earned an average of $167,280 in 2009.

On Numbers analyzed earnings for full-time employees across the country, using BLS data extracted from a comprehensive survey of employers.

The database at the bottom of this story has the latest figures for all 801 occupational groups, which are subdivided by BLS into 22 broad sectors.

Jobs that pay the highest, ranked by annual average pay in each sector:

  • Architecture and engineering: Petroleum engineers, $119,960
  • Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media: Art directors, $91,520
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance: First-line supervisors/managers of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers, $44,080
  • Business and financial operations: Personal financial advisors, $94,180
  • Community and social services: Educational, vocational and school counselors, $55,030
  • Computer and mathematical: Computer and information scientists, research, $105,370
  • Construction and extraction: Elevator installers and repairers, $67,950
  • Education, training and library: Law teachers, postsecondary, $109,150
  • Farming, fishing and forestry: First-line supervisors/managers of farming, fishing and forestry workers, $43,720
  • Food preparation and serving: Chefs and head cooks, $44,240
  • Health-care practitioners and technical: Surgeons, $219,770
  • Health-care support: Occupational therapist assistants, $50,830
  • Installation, maintenance and repair: Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay, $61,700
  • Legal: Lawyers, $129,020
  • Life, physical and social science: Physicists, $111,250
  • Management: Chief executives, $167,280
  • Office and administrative support: Postal service clerks, $51,670
  • Personal care and service: Gaming supervisors, $48,920
  • Production: Nuclear power reactor operators, $74,180
  • Protective service: First-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives, $78,580
  • Sales and related: Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents, $91,390
  • Transportation and material moving: Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers, $117,060

Use the tab to winnow the database to a single sector, or simply hit Search to see the entire list. Click View Details to obtain more information about a specific occupation, including its pay ladder. (If an entry is blank, BLS did not provide data.)

The bureau calculates salaries at five percentiles -- the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th. A salary at the 10th percentile on the pay ladder, for example, is higher than 10 percent of all salaries for the given occupation, but lower than the other 90 percent.

BLS does not publish pay-ladder figures above $166,400. If that number is listed, the actual salary is probably higher.

A report on highest-paid private sector jobs in 2005-2007 was published in 2008.

The rest of this week will be devoted to a region-by-region analysis of annual pay. We’ll begin with breakdowns for Eastern metros tomorrow.



2. San Jose remains the golden land for computer jobs

BLS tracks the pay levels for more than 800 occupations, which it groups into 22 broad sectors. The sector of computer and mathematical science occupations is third-highest in annual average pay. It’s topped only by management and legal occupations, which On Numbers analyzed in separate stories the past two days.

We also provided regional breakdowns of pay levels for the EastSouthMidwest and West last week.

Sixteen jobs are included under the umbrella of computer and mathematical science occupations. The database at the bottom of this story contains metropolitan salary breakdowns for all of them.

The following are the metros with the highest annual average pay in each field:

  • Actuaries: Appleton, Wis., $140,920
  • Computer and information scientists, research: Provo-Orem, Utah, $140,080
  • Computer programmers: Rochester, Minn., $129,350
  • Computer software engineers, applications: Barnstable, Mass., $125,040
  • Computer software engineers, systems software: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $124,360
  • Computer specialists, all other: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., $101,570
  • Computer support specialists: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $67,950
  • Computer systems analysts: Farmington, N.M., $109,430
  • Database administrators: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $92,400
  • Mathematical scientists, all other: Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif., $88,560
  • Mathematical technicians: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis., $51,100
  • Mathematicians: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., $121,700
  • Network and computer systems administrators: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $98,570
  • Network systems and data communications analysts: Lebanon, Pa., $113,770
  • Operations research analysts: Bakersfield, Calif., $109,610
  • Statisticians: Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, Md., $106,550

Use the tab to isolate a single occupation in the database, or simply hit Search to view the entire list at once.

Click View Details in the database’s righthand column to get more information about a specific occupation, including its pay ladder.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics did not provide data for all occupations in all areas. If an entry is blank, no statistics were available.

The bureau calculates salaries at five percentiles -- the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th -- to calculate the pay ladder for a specific job. A salary at the 10th percentile, for example, is higher than 10 percent of all salaries for the given occupation in a specific metro, but lower than the other 90 percent.

BLS does not publish pay-ladder figures above $166,400. If that number is listed, the actual salary is probably higher.

 

3. Engineers' salaries are highest in California and Texas

California and Texas are the top-paying destinations for engineers these days.

Aerospace and civil engineers earn more in California metropolitan areas than anywhere else, while chemical and electrical engineers get top dollar in Texas metros, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2009.

The bureau issues annual reports on pay levels for more than 800 jobs, which it lumps into 22 major sectors. On Numbers is taking a closer look this week at the five highest-paying sectors, including the field of architecture and engineering occupations, which is No. 4 in the pay rankings.

Previous reports provided salary breakdowns for the top three sectors (managementlegal and computer occupations), as well as the four regions of the country (EastSouthMidwest and West).

The architecture and engineering sector encompasses 35 occupations, ranging from aerospace engineering and operations technicians to surveyors.

The highest-paying jobs in the field are engineering positions. The following are the five metro areas with the largest annual average pay for seven different engineering occupations. Corresponding statistics for all metros can be found in the database at the end of this story:

Aerospace engineer

  1. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., $127,470
  2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $120,460
  3. Baltimore-Towson, Md., $114,950
  4. Albuquerque, N.M., $114,170
  5. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio, $112,390

Chemical engineer

  1. San Antonio, Texas, $123,530
  2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $121,220
  3. Wilmington, Del.-Md.-N.J., $117,670
  4. Denver-Aurora, Colo., $112,270
  5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif., $111,970

Civil engineer

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $104,110
  2. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, $102,990
  3. Midland, Texas, $99,810
  4. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., $99,650
  5. Baton Rouge, La., $99,430

Electrical engineer

  1. Sherman-Denison, Texas, $121,030
  2. Stockton, Calif., $116,430
  3. Wilmington, N.C., $114,020
  4. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., $113,380
  5. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif., $112,190

Industrial engineer

  1. Idaho Falls, Idaho, $117,490
  2. College Station-Bryan, Texas, $102,150
  3. Anchorage, Alaska, $101,570
  4. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, Wash., $100,680
  5. Albuquerque, N.M., $99,470

Mechanical engineer

  1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., $110,490
  2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $102,240
  3. Anchorage, Alaska, $101,510
  4. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, $100,530
  5. Denver-Aurora, Colo., $97,310

Nuclear engineer

  1. Johnson City, Tenn., $141,350
  2. Richmond, Va., $133,280
  3. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, $131,140
  4. Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, Md., $123,490
  5. Knoxville, Tenn., $119,710

Use the database’s tab to isolate a single occupation, or simply hit Search to view the entire list at once. If you want additional information about a specific occupation, including its pay ladder, click View Details.

BLS did not provide data for all occupations in all areas. If an entry is blank, no statistics were available.

The bureau calculates salaries at five percentiles -- the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th -- to calculate the pay ladder for a specific job. A salary at the 10th percentile, for example, is higher than 10 percent of all salaries for the given occupation in a specific metro, but lower than the other 90 percent.

BLS does not publish pay-ladder figures above $166,400. If that number is listed, the actual salary is probably higher.

 

4. America's highest-paid lawyers are in California

 

The highest-paid lawyers in America aren’t in New York City or Washington, D.C. They’re in San Jose.

The typical lawyer in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area earns $192,020 a year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2009.

The next four metros in the rankings are also in California. New York City is No. 6 nationally in annual average pay for lawyers, and Washington is No. 12. (See the database below for salaries for all occupations in the legal field.)

BLS tracks the pay levels for more than 800 different types of jobs, which it splits into 22 broad sectors. On Numbers is focusing on the five highest-paying sectors this week, a series that began with Monday’s story on the overall leader in annual pay, management occupations.

This week’s sector reports come after last week’s geographical breakdown of pay levels, which had separate stories on the EastSouthMidwest and West.

Legal occupations collectively rank as the second-highest-paid sector in the nation, with annual average pay of $95,820. Included are nine different jobs, ranging from administrative law judges to title examiners, abstractors and searchers.

Metropolitan salary data for all of those occupations can be found in the database. Use the tab to isolate a single job, or click Search to see everything at once.

The most prominent job in the legal sector belongs to lawyers. BLS provides salary breakdowns for lawyers in 388 metropolitan areas and divisions. (A division is a subset of a major metro.) These are the 10 where annual average pay for lawyers is highest:

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $192,020
  2. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif., $170,860
  3. Napa, Calif., $170,400
  4. Madera, Calif., $167,980
  5. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., $167,130
  6. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., $166,130
  7. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif., $157,950
  8. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., $155,120
  9. Modesto, Calif., $153,540
  10. Wilmington, Del.-Md.-N.J., $153,520

Click View Details in the database’s righthand column to obtain more information about a specific occupation, including its pay ladder.

BLS did not provide data for all occupations in all areas. If an entry is blank, no statistics were available.

The bureau calculates salaries at five percentiles -- the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th -- to calculate the pay ladder for a specific job. A salary at the 10th percentile, for example, is higher than 10 percent of all salaries for the given occupation in a specific metro, but lower than the other 90 percent.

BLS does not publish pay-ladder figures above $166,400. If that number is listed, the actual salary is probably higher.

 

CEOs highest paid in Connecticut, N.Y. and San Jose

Nothing pays better than being the CEO, especially in southwestern Connecticut.

Chief executive officers in Connecticut’s Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area earn an average of $217,080 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s the highest figure for CEOs anywhere in the country.

The New York City and San Jose areas are the runners-up in pay levels for chief executives.

On Numbers provided salary breakdowns last week for nearly 800 occupations in the EastSouthMidwest and West, based on BLS figures for 2009. This week’s stories will take a closer look at the occupational sectors that pay the most across the entire country.

BLS splits all occupations into 22 broad sectors. At the top of the scale are the following five sectors, which will be the subjects of this week’s reports. Each is listed with its total number of employees and the annual average pay for all occupations within the sector:

  • Management occupations, 6.1 million workers, $102,900 average
  • Legal occupations, 1 million workers, $95,820
  • Computer and mathematical science occupations, 3.3 million workers, $76,290
  • Architecture and engineering occupations, 2.4 million workers, $73,590
  • Health-care practitioner and technical occupations, 7.2 million workers, $69,690

The management sector includes 33 occupations, ranging from administrative services managers to transportation, storage and distribution managers. Metropolitan pay levels for all of these jobs can be found in the database below. (Use the tab to isolate a single occupation, or simply hit Search to view the entire list at once.)

The highest-paying job in the management sector is chief executive. The following are the 16 U.S. metros where the annual average pay for chief executives surpasses $200,000:

  1. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., $217,080
  2. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., $215,280
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $214,580
  4. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif., $210,780
  5. Durham, N.C., $210,380
  6. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., $209,690
  7. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash., $209,070
  8. Danbury, Conn., $207,720
  9. Asheville, N.C., $207,230
  10. Albuquerque, N.M., $204,890
  11. Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J., $203,170
  12. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., $201,280
  13. Newark-Union, N.J.-Pa., $201,180
  14. Wilmington, Del.-Md.-N.J., $201,020
  15. Goldsboro, N.C., $200,700
  16. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, $200,660

Click View Details in the database’s righthand column to obtain more information about a specific occupation, including its pay ladder.

BLS did not provide data for all occupations in all areas. If an entry is blank, no statistics were available.

The bureau calculates salaries at five percentiles -- the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th -- to calculate the pay ladder for a specific job. A salary at the 10th percentile, for example, is higher than 10 percent of all salaries for the given occupation in a specific metro, but lower than the other 90 percent.

BLS does not publish pay-ladder figures above $166,400. If that number is listed, the actual salary is probably higher.

 


 

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