If you want to make money, start reading those medical textbooks, because physicians have the highest-paid job in the U.S. for a third year in a row. Their median salary? $187,876, according to Glassdoor’s list of the best-paid jobs in America.
In fact, the medical industry has a lock on rich salaries: Out of the five top high-paying jobs, health-care-related careers—physician, pharmacy manager ($149,064), medical science liaison ($132,842), and pharmacist ($125,847)— take up four of the slots. That supports data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows healthcare jobs to be among the fastest-growing in the U.S. That includes home health aides, nurse practitioners and even phlebotomists — the people who draw your blood at the doctor’s office.
Isn’t tech supposed to be the biggest driver of growth in the U.S.? Apparently not.
Although tech jobs like software engineering manager ($109,350) and scrum master ($95,167) accounted for 11 of the top 25 jobs, none were in the top five.
The high pay for both industries, however, makes sense. Healthcare and tech jobs demand many years to learn difficult, specific skills and the ability to make sense of complex systems from computer networks to the human body. In the U.S., becoming a physician can take about four years of college, four years of medical school, and 3-8 years of residency, and additional fellowships.
“High pay continues to be tied to demand skills, higher education and working in jobs that are protected from competition or automation,” Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain said.
Money matters, but it’s not the only factor
Salary matters a lot for job seekers. Glassdoor said that almost seven in ten people believe that salary and compensation are two of the most important factors when deciding whether or not to take a job. But as we all know, money doesn’t always lead to happiness. In Glassdoor’s 2017 list of best jobs in America, “best” takes job openings and overall job-satisfaction into account, not just salary, and with these added factors, tech jobs and their candyland of perks dominated the list. The top three jobs were data scientist, DevOps engineer and data engineer.
Why doctors make money but aren’t always happy
In his memoir “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician,” Dr. Sandeep Jauhar examined the “collective malaise” of what it’s like to practice medicine in the U.S. In his book, he cited a 2008 survey of 12,000 physicians where only 6% said they had a positive morale. Other surveys showed similar conclusions where up to 40% of practicing physicians wouldn’t become doctors if they could it all over again, and an even higher percentage wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue it either.
What’s causing this bad diagnosis is increasing bureaucracy where insurance companies don’t give doctors time to fully examine patients, among other factors. Doctors also work in high-pressure environments in which they can forfeit sleep for days at a time and are responsible for life-and-death decisions. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that almost 30% of physicians-in-training have symptoms or a diagnosis of depression.
So for all prospective physicians looking to care for patients and make that impressive money: manage your expectations and go in with eyes wide open.