By Sara Ryan
High paying salaries are a dream many people strive to achieve. However, what careers are most likely to get you there? This map by Insider highlights the top paying jobs, on average, per US state. Of the 14 high paying job positions listed, 11 are drawn from the medical field. Overall the US medical jobs with the highest average pay can land over 200,000 dollars per year.
So why do US doctors in particular make so much? Globally healthcare professionals require an extensive amount of often expensive training. This specialization means high price tags come with a trip to your local doctor. However, US doctors earning twice as much on average as physicians in other wealthy countries comes as no surprise. According to the QS 2023 rankings, 6 of the top 10 medical schools worldwide were located within the US alone. Furthermore, the US is the only country in the world where all medical schools require a previous undergraduate degree to be admitted. A high salary is often regarded as a reward for the years of sacrifice medical professionals make to help others and ultimately save lives.
Although the US healthcare salaries have cost US households more than $700 extra per year (also known as “doctors Tax”) the US has consistently ranked lower in healthcare quality compared to its first world peers. Furthermore, an article published by Jenny Firth-Cozens in the National Library of Medicine, highlighted how the proportion of US doctors and other health professionals showing above threshold levels of stress is around 28% (compared to around 18% for the general working population). Absence, litigation, and the fact that unhappy, tense, tired, or anxious doctors do not produce quality care has cost the US healthcare system vast amounts of money, and in several instances, people’s lives.
Many people have now begun to question whether the higher salaries, at the cost of the general public, are enough in reparations for both the physical and mental health levels of individual doctors and below expected levels of healthcare quality. Many have called for the US healthcare system to draw inspiration from countries such as Norway that with marginally lower medical salaries and a diversion of funds away from solely privatized systems, report higher levels of healthcare performance and levels of doctor satisfaction.
The theme of high stress and highly skilled positions paying higher salaries also accounts for positions such as Chief executive and Financial managers being some of the other highest paying jobs in the US. Financial advisors and managers report stress levels that are 25% higher than the norm for U.S. workers. Although financial qualifications are dwarfed by the extent of medical training, the high turnover and instability that comes with the financial markets and high ranking positions leaves many in the career field to carry the burden of impending employment termination.
All in all, high paying salaries, although glamorized and tempting, often mask sacrifice, suffering and a personal cost beyond what human beings should be expected to deliver. Although the modern world still faces many staggering inequalities, first world countries are moving more and more into a world where human rights are being increasingly respected. Yet, one question is consciously left unanswered, how much suffering can money really justify?