The 30 highest-paying jobs in California

  • California has an economy bigger than that of most countries.
  • Using wage data from BLS, we found the occupations with the highest average salaries in California.
  • The following are the 30 highest-paying jobs in the Golden State.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

30. Computer hardware engineers

Average annual salary: $153,730

Number of people employed in California: 15,140

What they do, according to O*NET: Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment.

29. Human resources managers

Average annual salary: $154,030

Number of people employed in California: 22,420

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate human resources activities and staff of an organization.

28. All other managers, personal service managers, and all other entertainment and recreation managers

Average annual salary: $154,690

Number of people employed in California: 71,660

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

Average annual salary: $155,130

Number of people employed in California: 1,940

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

26. Advertising and promotions managers

Average annual salary: $158,820

Number of people employed in California: 2,270

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan, direct, or coordinate advertising policies and programs as well as create posters, contests, and other similar promotions for a product or service.

25. Nurse midwives

Average annual salary: $159,590

Number of people employed in California: 1,010

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

Average annual salary: $160,300

Number of people employed in California: 12,040

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

23. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

Average annual salary: $161,250

Number of people employed in California: 5,040

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

22. Financial managers

Average annual salary: $162,650

Number of people employed in California: 92,670

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.

21. Marketing managers

Average annual salary: $176,940

Number of people employed in California: 42,140

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.

20. Lawyers

Average annual salary: $179,470

Number of people employed in California: 84,160

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.

19. Astronomers

Average annual salary: $181,360

Number of people employed in California: 340

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

18. Architectural and engineering managers

Average annual salary: $188,940

Number of people employed in California: 36,100

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

Average annual salary: $195,700

Number of people employed in California: 1,650

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

16. Orthodontists

Average annual salary: $197,710

Number of people employed in California: N/A

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

15. Computer and information systems managers

Average annual salary: $198,210

Number of people employed in California: 81,760

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

Average annual salary: $202,570

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. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Average annual salary: $204,920

Number of people employed in California: 560

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.

12. Nurse anesthetists

Average annual salary: $205,360

Number of people employed in California: 1,710

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

11. Dentists, all other specialists

Average annual salary: $205,860

Number of people employed in California: 440

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

10. Anesthesiologists

Average annual salary: At least $208,000*

Number of people employed in California: 3,500

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.

9. General internal medicine physicians

Average annual salary: $210,620

Number of people employed in California: 3,000

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

8. Pediatricians

Average annual salary: $212,990

Number of people employed in California: 3,250

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

7. Family medicine physicians

Average annual salary: $215,860

Number of people employed in California: 10,920

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

6. Chief executives

Average annual salary: $218,700

Number of people employed in California: 30,150

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

5. Physicians, all other, and ophthalmologists

Average annual salary: $226,200

Number of people employed in California: 30,800

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

4. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

Average annual salary: $229,110

Number of people employed in California: 10,170

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.

3. Surgeons

Average annual salary: $229,430

Number of people employed in California: 4,790

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

2. Obstetricians and gynecologists

Average annual salary: $235,610

Number of people employed in California: 1,440

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.

1. Psychiatrists

Average annual salary: $245,000

Number of people employed in California: 3,970

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

Method and data source

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 Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates program, we found the 30 jobs with the highest average annual salaries in California. To do this, we looked at the 765 detailed occupations that had average annual wage data available for the state in May 2020, the most recently available data.

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

Average annual salaries and number of people employed in each occupation are from BLS’ May 2020 estimates. Where available, we also included a brief description of what workers in the occupation do, from the Department of Labor’s O*NET Online occupational database.

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