Despite record low unemployment rates, American wage growth has remained fairly stagnant. Across all industries, real earnings have increased just 2.5% this year, only slightly outpacing inflation.
This is not good news for the average American worker who has been coping with stagnant wages for nearly 40 years. However, employees in certain industries are faring far better than average.
To figure out which industries are dishing out the largest paychecks, ConsumersAdvocate.org analyzed the latest BLS employment and wage report. It’s researchers found that average annual wages in the highest paying industries are roughly 3 to 5 times the national average of $53,515. So, whether you are just entering the job market or thinking of a career change, the below industries offer the greatest earning potential.
Here are the 10 highest paying industries in the U.S.
To determine the industries with the highest wages, ConsumersAdvocate.org extracted information from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages for 2016. Only private sector industries with over 100k jobs were considered. Industries were ordered based on their respective Average Annual Wages.
10. Software Publishers
- Average Annual Wage: $147,921
- Average Weekly Wage: $2,845
- Average Annual Employment: 354,290
Over the past five years, the Software Publishing industry has experienced robust growth, as businesses and consumers have increased their investments in software, computers, video games and mobile devices. This growth has been coupled with sizeable increases in wages. The average annual wage is $147,921 or $2,845 per week.
9. Semiconductors and Related Device Manufacturing
- Average Annual Wage: $149,405
- Average Weekly Wage: $2,873
- Average Annual Employment: 182,569
Because of their value in the fabrication of electronic devices, semiconductors are an indispensable part of our lives. Without semiconductors, there would be no radios, TV's, computers or video games, and medical diagnostic equipment would be far less effective. In addition, its industry wages are generous. The average weekly wage is $2,873 or $149,405 per year.
8. Biotechnology Research & Development
- Average Annual Wage: $151,946
- Average Weekly Wage: $2,922
- Average Annual Employment: 171,188
The biotechnology research and development industry includes occupations involved in the biosciences as it pertains to human health. Professionals in this field may conduct research to discover new treatments, or invent new medical devices, or enhance the value of existing diagnostic tests. Also, this is an industry with ample wages. The average annual wage is $151,946 or $2,922 per week.
7. Investment Advice
- Average Annual Wage: $163,224
- Average Weekly Wage: $3,139
- Average Annual Employment: 190,719
Investment advisors are professionals within the financial industry who provide guidance to clients in exchange for fees. Typically, they provide investment recommendations or conduct securities analysis, either through direct management of client assets or through published channels. Average incomes in this industry are healthy - $3,139 per week or $163,224 annually.
6. Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction
- Average Annual Wage: $163,247
- Average Weekly Wage: $3,139
- Average Annual Employment: 167,698
This essential American industry is involved in the exploration, development, and the production of petroleum or natural gas from wells. It also includes the extraction of crude petroleum from shale or tar sands. Generally, these businesses operate oil and gas wells for themselves or for others on a contract or fee basis. In addition, average wages in this industry are generous - $3,139 per week or $163,247 annually.
5. Electronic Computer Manufacturing
- Average Annual Wage: $201,581
- Average Weekly Wage: $3,877
- Average Annual Employment: 105,420
The electronic computer manufacturing industry is primarily involved in manufacturing of electronic computers, such as personal computers, laptops, workstations, servers or mainframe computers. It also includes the assembly or integration of processors, co-processors, memory and storage into a final computer product. In this industry, the average wages are also considerable - $3,877 per week or $201,581 annually.
4. Securities Brokerage
- Average Annual Wage: $202,054
- Average Weekly Wage: $3,886
- Average Annual Employment: 279,695
A brokerage firm is a financial institution that transacts the buying and selling of financial securities between a buyer and a seller. These firms generally serve investor clients who trade in public stocks or securities, usually through the firm’s own registered stockbrokers. Financial professionals in this industry are well-compensated – the average annual salary is $202,054 or $3,886 per week.
3. Internet Publishing and Web Search Portals
- Average Annual Wage: $205,320
- Average Weekly Wage: $3,948
- Average Annual Employment: 202,896
This industry generally includes businesses that are involved in publishing or broadcasting content exclusively on the Internet, or operating search engine portals. The publishing and broadcasting businesses typically provide text, audio, and video content, while the portals provide other Internet services, such as search, email, auctions or news. The average wages in this industry are impressive - $3,948 per week or $205,320 annually.
2. Investment Banking and Securities Dealing
- Average Annual Wage: $255,115
- Average Weekly Wage: $4,906
- Average Annual Employment: 145,727
This industry is comprised of individuals and companies that offer a range of financial services, including investment banking and broker-dealer trading. They also offer banking and wealth management services, as well as securities underwriting and corporate financial services. Professionals in this industry are well-compensated – the average annual salary is $255,115 or $4,906 per week.
1. Portfolio Management
- Average Annual Wage: $266,718
- Average Weekly Wage: $5,129
- Average Annual Employment: 196,420
Portfolio management is engaged in creating the perfect balance in one’s investment portfolio – the exact combination of financial instruments in order to achieve defined financial objectives. Portfolio managers must consider all investment strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities in the effort to maximize a portfolio’s overall return. For this effort, they are generously compensated - $5,129 per week or an average annual wage of $266,718.