17 Jobs that Pay 500k a Year (The Full List)

A job is when you rent out your time, which is typically 40 hours a week and get compensated for your time and exclusivity in relation to your employer. As in all capitalistic things, supply & demand, as well as specialisations, matter most when determining the value you bring to the job. Some dream jobs pay more than others, way more in certain parts and that obviously attracts aspiring new entrants to that labour market. 

My mother always pushed for higher education as she all well knew that it is a key determinant in being able to land a specialisation and hence a higher than average paying job. I am sure your parents had similar plans for you. 

According to the latest data from the well known U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean salary for a full-time worker in the United States is $53,490 per year or $1,028 per week (for a 40-hour work week). This average, however, comes with wide dispersions. At the moment, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), for example, employers are required to pay $7.25 an hour by federal law, which comes out to about $15,080 a year for full-time workers. Meanwhile, you have CEOs of multi-billion $ companies like Jeff BezosTim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg earning millions. 

What are the highest paying jobs which don’t require you to be a CEO or famous sports star? We analyze the best options for you if you are looking out where to start to career or are just interested in a job change. Read on. 

jobs that pay 500k a year

What jobs pay you 500k a year?

A 500k a year job typically means you are working in an area with a high level of specialisation. That also means that many years of education have been spent in getting you to that required level. In addition, the talent pool striving for those jobs is generally quite competitive so in order to get there, you will have to stand out from the rest. 

Here is a list of what jobs pay 500k a year:

1. Investment Banker

As we have reviewed in another article, investment bankers are very highly skilled and therefore highly paid. With money and the societal impacts the great financial crisis had on people the banker’s reputation has suffered immensely. No wonder they are disliked by the wider community, which we also analyzed here.

Investment bankers typically make salaries in the range of $100,000 to $200,000, and they often receive bonuses that are a significant percentage of their salaries. Overall, a 5-year investment banker is expected to earn around half a million dollars a year in total compensation with that pay increase the senior banker goes up the career ladder. 

Investment bankers are usually required to have a high degree in education, often coupled with either an MBA degree or a CFA. Work-life balance, from personal experience also, is not the most enticing. Expect to work 10-14 hour days and sometimes that means working on weekends too especially in your earlier days. 

2. Hedge Fund Manager

Hedge funds are highly sophisticated and specialised individuals working in investment and wealth management. A hedge fund typically is an investment fund that is investing their partner’s and clients’ assets usually involving a higher degree of risk in search of higher returns. Hedge funds typically invest in a variety of assets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and options.

Hedge fund managers are usually paid a $200,000 salary and have typically commissions of a certain percentage of the performance they are able to generate in the overall fund. Say they are managing $20 million and have to hit a 10% return. In this example, say they had a 20% cut on their performance, they would, in addition to their salary get $400,000 in bonuses. 

Hedge fund managers, as investment bankers, typically have higher education diplomas and are known to be fiercely competitive. Job security, despite the great pay, is not the greatest. If you don’t perform, you basically are being asked to leave. Might be fair to some, but intolerable for others.

3. Venture Capitalist

Venture capital is a type of investment that is used to finance the start-up of new businesses. Venture capitalists typically invest in smaller companies that are in their early stages of development and have high growth potential. 

Similar to Hedge Funds and Investment Banking, Venture capitalists (VC) can expect to earn a high payout during their employment. Similarly, high barriers to entry, typically only recruiting from top business schools, a venture capital job in the United States typically pays around $183,660 per year. The most lucrative part of the overall pay, however, comes in form of performance-related bonuses which can be a multiple of your annual salary. Similar to private equity, a VC earns money through carried interest on the fund’s return on investment, generally referred to as the “carry.” 

4. Lawyer

It is no secret that lawyer salaries can vary immensly depending on the type of law they are practicing, the size of the firm they work for, and the location of their law practice. However, according to some estimates, the average wage for a lawyer in the United States is around $130,000 per year and $80,000 straight out of law school. 

This, however, can dramatically change if you are specialising in certain areas. A finance-related or corporate lawyer that are involved in mergers & acquisitions and corporate finance, in general, can earn anywhere up to $600,000 a year. Seasoned lawyers in well-established private practices can also earn anywhere up to $1 million per year. 

5. Accountant

At first glance, accountant sounds probably the wrong category to be earning multiple thousands of dollars a year. A typical accountant makes $100,000 a year. As in investment banking this, however, can drastically change the more senior and specialised an accountant gets. 

Climbing the ladder all the way to partner level in one of the top accounting firms can be very lucrative. The top 4 accounting firms are Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG). A partner in those firms is not only an employee but also a company owner and therefore entitled to part of the company’s net profits. On average, a partner in any of those firms can earn $550,000 a year. 

6. Doctor

Becoming a doctor is no easy task. Many hours of gruelling studies and more demanding assistant jobs await before you can even be calling yourself a doctor. The highly acclaimed and responsible job offers also good financial awards. 

The average salary for a doctor in the United States is around $187,890 per year. This amount, however, will increase with your specialisation and seniority. A seasoned hospital doctor and head of a department can make $400,000 a year. The most financially lucrative job for a doctor, however, is opening or joining a private practice. Private specialized doctors easily make half a million dollars to $750,000 a year. 

7. Dentist

Similar to doctors, dentistry is a specialised field which requires years of hard-earned education before you are even allowed close to anyone’s mouth. The average salary for dentists in the US is around $149,310 per year. 

If you open your own business practice, as I know from my dentist, your earnings can be much higher. A specialized dentist with his or her own practice can earn $500,000 a year depending on location and how many clients one has. 

8. Surgeon

A surgeon is typically a doctor who, after many years, has specialised in a certain direction in surgery. Top surgeons are much sought after and usually have an international reputation if you are at the top in what they do. With specialisation comes the reward you are entitled to for your services. While doctors and surgeons are primarily driven by their ability to help and save people’s lives their financial compensation is also very rewarding. 

The average wage for a surgeon in the US is around $251,890 per year. With seniority and specialisation, however, this can easily go up to $600,000 a year if you work for one of the top US hospitals

9. Orthodontist

In case you didn’t know, an orthodontist is a specialized dentist who acquired deeper knowledge in the fields of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The field of orthodontics includes the use of braces, retainers, and other appliances to correct teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly.

An orthodontist in the United States makes an average of $208,000 per year. This, as is the case for dentists, can dramatically increase if you go down the route of opening your practice. As a private business owner in this area, you can comfortably earn half a million dollars a year. 

10. Pharmacist

The pharmacist is a somewhat underappreciated job in my view. The hours of education needed to start a career in this area is no easy task. In order to become a licensed pharmacist in the US, you must have a reputable Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy school.

The average salary for a pharmacist in the United States is around $116,670 per year. Similar to dentists and doctors this can change to multiples if you open your own private practice in which case you can also expect to be earning between $450,000 and $550,000 per year. 

11. Software Developer

The gig economy has opened the doors wide open to this area of expertise. Now, there are many degrees in experts and specialisations in this field. If you are a genius software developer in a certain software language for either the gaming, financial or crypto industry you are well sought after. 

According to the well known U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for software developers was $115,590. This, however, can change as mentioned in which field of expertise you are in. In finance, a senior software developer, especially those in charge of teams can make anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000 a year. 

12. Psychiatrist

Similar to the medical field doctors, surgeons and dentists operate in the predominant specialisation and experience is the key determinant of your overall compensation. To become a psychiatrist, you will need to complete an accredited medical degree, followed by a specialist psychiatric training program

The average pay for psychiatrists is similar to doctors and is in the region of $185,000 per year. A private practice practitioner can earn anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000 a year depending on location. Bigger cities usually pay better than rural areas. 

13. Engineer

Engineers, depending on the area of speciality can earn very high salaries. Environmental engineers receive the highest salary, according to the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They typically work in the construction sector and find solutions to environmental problems using modern technical expertise and in-depth knowledge of the earth sciences, biology, and chemistry.

Engineers’ salaries can vary greatly depending on their field, experience, and location. However, based to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for engineers was $100,220. Top engineers working for some of the highly technical automotive or oil-related companies can earn a multiple of that. Top engineers in those areas can easily earn $350,000 to $550,000 a year. 

14. Sports Athlete

There is no general rule about how much an athlete can earn. As such, even looking at national statistics is meaningless as the variation is simply too large. It highly depends on what sport you are in and how proficient and skilled you are. Many Olympic sports like wrestling or canoeing don’t offer many lucrative financial awards. Being in the top 5 in those sports only makes a fraction of an average US NBA or NFL player. 

The average NFL player’s salary is $2 million whereas an average NBA player can earn $6.4 million per year. 

15. Actor

Similar to sports people, actors can make very little to multiple millions a year. The average actor’s salary is $52,000. Top Hollywood actors in addition to endorsements can earn multiple millions. Some of the top-earning actors include Dwayne JohnsonMark Wahlberg, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

16. Physicist

Physicists are typically employed by national laboratories or private sector companies involved in scientific research and the development of products and technologies. A physicist needs at least a bachelor’s degree in physics, although many physicists have a master’s degree or doctorate.

Depending on whether your career is more academically focused your salary will be quite different to what you can earn in the private sector. On average a physicist makes $59,000 a year.

This can, however, dramatically change if you work in the private industry for a top tech company. In specialised areas of automotive, aircraft and military sciences a top physicist can earn anywhere between $350,000 and $500,000 a year. 

17. Real-Estate agent

I am sure you watched the series “Million Dollar Listings” that appears in hot places like New York, Miami or Los Angeles. Top earning real estate agents and brokers are competing to sell the most lucrative houses. Their earnings are pure commission based. The higher the value of a house the larger their payday. A typical 3-5% commission can earn them multiple thousands of dollars per transaction. 

Salaries as a beginner are very low and according to the National Association of Realtors, the median yearly income for real estate agents in the United States was $39,800. Becoming a top-selling real estate agent is a multi-year quest. Only then you will be in a position to claim annual paydays of $500,000 and more. 

What jobs give you a million a year?

There are not that many jobs that pay you a million dollars a year. The high-paying jobs that do are similar to the ones mentioned above, namely investment bankers, venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, and also chief executive officer (CEO) or chief financial officer (CFO) of large corporations. Opening your own company, however risky it might sound, is usually the way to make a multiple of what you would earn in a job. After all, you are renting out your time for the prevailing market rate. If you have a fantastic business idea, go after it and earn all the money you want. 

How much is 500k a year hourly?

$500,000 a year is $41,667 a month. This means you would be earning $9,615 a week and therefore $1,374 a day. That’s a cool $57 an hour or 95 cents a minute. Not bad at all. 

How many people make over $500,000 a year?

Earning above half a million dollars a year in the US would generally put you in the top 1% of earners country-wide. To be more precise, nationwide, it takes an annual income of $538,926 to be among the top 1%. Among the approximately 1.4 million taxpayers who meet this threshold, the average annual income is about $1.7 million, which is roughly 20 times the average income of $82,535 when looking at all taxpayers. This are all figures that have been derived from publicly available information.

Is 500k a good salary?

500k is an excellent salary. You can do extremly well for yourself and your family with that much money. Considering that the average US salary is approximately 40k you can be assured to be better off by quite a significant margin. 

Your lifestyle, however, is going to be the main determinant of whether this salary is good enough or not. If you want to fly first class only and dine in Michelin-starred restaurants on a regular basis including driving expensive cars, 500k dollars is probably not going to make it. I have met many highly paid people, who especially in their younger years have struggled financially. It is prudent to save money for a rainy day and be prudent with the things you want to spend your money on. 


A job is when you rent out your time, which is typically 40 hours a week and get compensated for your time and exclusivity in relation to your employer. As in all capitalistic things, supply & demand, as well as specialisations, matter most when determining the value you bring to the job. Some jobs pay more than others, way more in certain parts and that obviously attracts aspiring new entrants to that labour market.

The highest paying jobs are typically in the fields of investment banking, hedge fund management, venture capital, law, software developers, accounting, and medicine. These high-paying jobs require a high level of education and skills, and the competition for these jobs is fierce.

Earnings in these jobs can range from $100,000 to $1 million per year, depending on the specific job, level of experience, and other factors.

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