Doctorate degrees have always had an air of eliteness about them, what with the doctor title and all. Indeed, doctorate degrees represent the highest level of achievement in our modern education system. But not all careers for doctorate degree-holders are equal. For the extra years in school, some yield a far greater return on investment than others.

To determine which doctorate degree-holder careers (and careers from other professional degrees) made for the best investments, we looked into the numbers at Economic Modeling Specialists International. Based on job growth and salary over the last three years, we assigned a score to each career to come up with this list of top 15 careers for doctorate degree and professional degree-holders:

You can find out more about what doctoral degrees are available by visiting our doctorate degrees page.


1. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Total job growth: 5,046
% growth: 103%
Hourly salary: $86.30

Surpassing every other career on our list with spectacular job growth and a salary that most of us would drool over, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon career field is impossible to ignore. But this isn’t a career that you just jump into within a few years. Because they perform surgeries that include jaw injuries, facial deformities, head and neck cancer, and salivary gland disease, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons need both medical and dental education. In fact, prospective oral and maxillofacial surgeons can expect to put eight to ten years of college in addition to several more years of training and experience before they become a full-blown oral and maxillofacial surgeon.


2. Anesthesiologists

Total job growth: 3,864
% growth: 11%
Hourly salary: $86.89

Anesthesiologists enjoy the second highest salary on our list. Couple that with a decent growth rate and you get the runner-up in our list. To become an anesthesiologist requires a bachelor’s degree and then a M.D.-eight years of education-before undergoing four more years in anesthesiology residency. If you’re like most anesthesiologists, you’ll spend another year learning an area of specialization. That’s a lot of education that can lead to a very promising, limitless career.


3. Family and General Practitioners

Total job growth: 15,015
% growth: 16%
Hourly salary: $77.21

Yep, that’s another medical career. In fact, you don’t have to crunch the numbers too much to see that most of the best careers for doctorate degree holders lie in the medical field. Higher than average growth and stunning salaries pull this career field into the third spot on our list. If you’re looking for the more stable work schedule of seeing and treating a regular group of patients during regular hours, this might be the career for you. To get there, you’ll need four years to get your bachelor’s degree, then another four years to earn a doctorate degree, and then spend several years in a residency program at a hospital.


4. Physicians and Surgeons, All Other

Total job growth: 22,919
% growth: 9%
Hourly salary: $81.53

The Physician and Surgeon career field is expected to grow by 24% by 2020 and enjoys a ridiculously comfortable salary. It’s no wonder that it’s in our top four. Like Family and General Practitioners, Physicians and Surgeons must go through four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical education, and then three to eight years of internship and residency.


5. Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Total job growth: 2,690
% growth: 14%
Hourly salary: $83.69

Are you interested in working directly with women and babies? Well, you might be able to do that and make a very nice lifestyle for yourself as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB-GYN, for short). With an impressive growth rate and a very strong salary, OB-GYNs diagnose and treat female patients with going through gynecological cancer, pregnancy, or reproductive problems. After the eight years for a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree, OB-GYNs usually undergo four years in residency and then one to three years of additional training in a subspecialty area.


6. Surgeons

Total job growth: 3,512
% growth: 8%
Hourly salary: $89.19

7. Pediatricians, General

Total job growth: 2,940
% growth: 11%
Hourly salary: $72.39

8. Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists

Total job growth: 8,346
% growth: 8%
Hourly salary: $36.47

9. Internists, General

Total job growth: 2,920
% growth: 6%
Hourly salary: $81.87

10. Optometrists

Total job growth: 2,668
% growth: 10%
Hourly salary: $45.60

11. Postsecondary teachers

Total job growth: 79,292
% growth: 6%
Hourly salary: $30.84

12. Psychiatrists

Total job growth: 1,436
% growth: 7%
Hourly salary: $78.50

13. Dentists, All Other Specialists

Total job growth: 466
% growth: 8%
Hourly salary: $74.77

14. Dentists, General

Total job growth: 3,861
% growth: 5%
Hourly salary: $68.61

15. Veterinarians

Total growth: 3,654
% growth: 7%
Hourly salary: $39.22


Want to see what doctorate degrees are available? Visit our doctorate degrees page.

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