Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Highest Paying Jobs After Graduate School

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

There are a variety of different graduate schools, ranging from medical and law schools to business and engineering schools. In addition, there are graduate schools for education, science, social sciences and humanities, library and information studies, health, public affairs and fine arts. While a graduate degree is not needed for all occupations, and is only preferred for some jobs, it is a requirement for other careers. Sometimes, very lucrative salaries offset this additional educational requirement.

Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists

Physicians, surgeons and dentists have not only the highest-paying jobs after graduate school, but also the highest-paying careers in the country. For example, anesthesiologists are the highest-paid professionals, with an annual mean wage of $232,830 according to May 2012 salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Surgeons are a close second, earning $230,540, while obstetricians and gynecologists make $217,760, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn $216,440. In fact, most of the other highest-paying salaries belong to physicians, surgeons and dentists with wages ranging from $132,470 for podiatrists to $191,520 for general internists. However, these doctors have very exacting post-graduate requirements. After completing medical or dental school, physicians and surgeons also need 3 to 8 years of internships and residencies, depending on their medical specialty, while dentists need 1 to 2 years of residencies.


Lawyers are the second highest-paid group of professionals, earning $130,880 according to May 2012 salary data from the BLS. Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates make $102,470. This group includes municipal court judges, county court judges and justices of the peace, in addition to trial court and appellate court judges. Lawyers need to complete 3 post-graduate years of law school. Being a judge also requires law school, in addition to experience working as a lawyer.

Physical and Social Scientists

Physicists and astronomers earn $112,900 according to BLS wage and salary estimates from May 2012. Their educational requirement is a Ph.D in physics or astronomy. BLS May 2012 salary data indicates that political scientists earn $104,600. They need either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in political science, public administration or a related field.


Mathematicians make $101,280, reports the BLS in its May 2012 wage data. The educational requirement for mathematicians is either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. if they want to work in private industry. However, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for mathematicians who want to work for the federal government or to be middle or high school math teachers.