One word: medicine.

As you’ll notice in the list below, derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent wage estimates, medical careers make up eleven of the top 20 careers. Although we here at ClassesAndCareers do not advocate choosing a career based solely on annual salary, even we have to admit: medical careers look like a pretty good place to be.

Other sweet careers exist. Among this list are also sprinkled some management, engineering, psychiatry, and legal careers. Without further ado, here are 2012’s top-earning careers:

1. Anesthesiologists ($234,950)

Anesthesiologist Highest Salaries

These experts are still riding high, despite a recent dip. Forty-one percent of anesthesiologists reported no increase in earnings since last year, while 34 percent said their earnings have actually dropped. Before you grab that box of tissues, however, consider that 59 percent of anesthesiologists say they feel fairly compensated for their work.

2. Surgeons ($231,550)

Performing up to 500 surgeries per year, these hard-working professionals put in an average of 50 to 60 hours per week. That breaks down to an average hourly wage of $74.21. Which may sound good in comparison with your typical minimum wage, but not when you consider med school and other costs associated with maintaining licensing.

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists ($218,610)

Twenty-six percent of OB/GYNs reported an increase in earnings between 2010 and 2011. Satisfaction is significantly lower with 55 percent saying they do not feel fairly compensated for their work. Forty-percent reported that they don’t feel rich because of debts and expenses. But, hey, there’s always the joy of bringing babies into the world, right?

4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons ($217,380)

If you’ve had wisdom teeth removed, you’ve met these guys. If your surgeon looked especially happy, now you know why. Aside from having to work in the human mouth (a.k.a. the Dirtiest Place on Earth), this career field enjoys higher than average job growth and flexible schedules.

5. Orthodontists ($204,670)

Look past the extra years of dental school and the examinations, and you find a career that seems to have the best of both worlds. Dentists typically work between 30 and 40 hours per week, and their hours tend to be flexible.

6. Internists, General ($189,210)
7. Physicians and Surgeons, All Other ($184,650)
8. Family and General Practitioners ($177,330)
9. Chief Executives ($176,550)
10. Psychiatrists ($174,170)
11. Pediatricians, General ($168,650)
12. Dentists, All Other Specialists ($168,000)
13. Dentists, General ($161,750)
14. Petroleum Engineers ($138,980)
15. Podiatrists ($133,870)
16. Prosthodontists ($130,820)
17. Lawyers ($130,490)
18. Architectural and Engineering Managers ($129,350)
19. Natural Services Managers ($128,230)
20. Marketing Managers ($126,190)

So, do you work in one of these fortunate careers? Has this list prompted a career move for you? Discuss in the comments below!

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