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Nine of America's ten top paid jobs are doctors

Joe Raedle

There's something very similar about America's top-paid jobs in the chart Danielle Kurtzleben posted here yesterday: nearly all of them are in health care.

Nine of the ten jobs with the highest annual mean wages are some type of medical profession. The only other job that manages to crack the top of the list is chief executive, and even that comes in at 10th place.


High doctor salaries matter for federal policy in ways that high lawyer salaries, for example, wouldn't. The United States buys a massive amount of medical care: between Medicare and Medicaid, it helps provide insurance about one-third of all Americans.

Most countries don't pay their doctors like we do; elsewhere they earn significantly less. American orthopedic surgeons earn an average of $442,000 — three times as much as what their counterparts in France earn.

Should American doctors earn more? MedPage Today's Kevin Pho, a physician, has written one of the more insightful posts exploring some of the factors that contribute to higher doctor salaries here, including the high cost of medical school and medical malpractice insurance. The average American medical education now costs $286,000; students graduate with a mean debt of $186,000.

"If you want to pay me like a French doctor, also give me the French cost of medical school and the French medical malpractice system," Pho writes. "Any takers?"