Australia's top 10 highest paying jobs

By Emilly Parris | 31 July 2020

When it comes to choosing a career, how well you are compensated and your job security are likely to be among the most important deciding factors. There’s no denying that 2020 has been an unpredictable year that has had many of us questioning our next move. Whether your business has had to pivot, or you’ve been let go and decided to carve a new path for yourself—there are still many jobs that offer a high salary, job growth and better job security.

Which job has the highest salary in Australia?

Much of the information in this article refers to the Australian Taxation Office’s findings for the 2017-18 financial year, but it’s difficult to ignore the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had on the job market. So, we’ve also included some other high paying roles based on PayScale data that have not been as strongly affected by the pandemic.

The 10 highest paying jobs in Australia in 2020:

1. Anaesthetist.

An anaesthetist is a physician working as part of a surgical team. They are responsible for ensuring that the levels of general or local anaesthetic are properly administered. During the procedure, they will monitor the effects of the anaesthetic on the patient. 

To work in this field, you’ll need to complete a medical degree, followed by several years of hospital training. In Australia, an anaesthetist will undergo five years of specialist training with the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. ABS data provides a median income of $385,242 (half of the profession earn more than that every year). PayScale figures indicate an income that ranges between $123,000 and $310,000.

2. Surgeon.

It comes as no surprise that surgeons are among one of the top highest paying fields, coming in at number two with an average income of $320,186. A surgeon is responsible for the pre-operative diagnosis, operation and post-operative treatment of a patient for a variety of ailments or conditions. All surgeons begin their training as general surgeons and then have the option to enter into a specialty. 

Neurosurgeons for example, are listed as having an average income of $600,387 according to the ABS report. To become a surgeon in Australia, you’ll need to complete a 4-year medical degree and postgraduate study, followed by five to six years of surgical training.

3. Internal medicine specialist.

Internal medicine specialists or general physicians work in a health care setting (such as a hospital or clinic) and typically diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of illnesses that affect adults. The annual salary for internal medicine specialists is $268,247. As with most professions in the medical field, you’ll need to complete a medical degree and a postgraduate degree to qualify.

4. Psychiatrist.

psychiatrist listening to client

Psychiatrists are mental health practitioners specialising in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of various mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to treat serious and complex mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and addiction. Unlike some other mental health professionals, they can administer medication to patients. 

The average yearly salary for a psychiatrist in Australia is $213,683, with some earning over $306,000 according to PayScale. You will be required to complete a medical degree, training and residency to become a psychiatrist. If you’re interested in entering the mental health field, there are roles in counselling, community support and drug and alcohol addiction support.

5. Mining engineer.

Mining, Resources & Energy is one of Australia’s highest paying industries, with mining engineers earning an average income of $156,126. The role of a mining engineer involves planning, coordinating and directing the extraction of minerals, petroleum and other natural resources from the earth. 

To work as a mining engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Job Outlook projects strong future growth for this occupation, however it’s important to note that mining has slowed down significantly since the start of the pandemic and the effects of social distancing have impacted workers in this industry. 

6. Financial dealer.

One of the highest paying jobs in the finance industry, financial dealers work with clients to conduct market transactions and advise on financial matters. To enter this field, you’ll need a formal qualification in commerce, finance, accounting, economics or actuarial science. To become fully qualified as a financial dealer or broker you may be required to complete postgraduate studies. Financial dealers can expect to earn an average salary of $153,551. 

7. Engineering manager.

Engineering managers bring home an income of $135,164 and are responsible for the planning and coordination of engineering projects within a company. They’ll often supervise a team of engineers and designers over the course of a project. This is a great career path for creative and strategic problem-solvers with a keen interest in engineering and how things work. It is a well-paid position offering many new challenges as this industry evolves. Engineering managers will begin their career by studying engineering at university.

8. Marketing director.

brainstorming concept, woman senior manager

A marketing director is responsible for coordinating and managing marketing activities and leading a team of creatives on a project. They may also create budgets, plans and concepts for marketing campaigns. 

The average income of a marketing director sits at $141,652, with some more experienced professionals earning up to $199,000 per year. Most high level marketers complete a bachelor’s degree before entering employment, but you can get started with a marketing course such as the BSB52415 - Diploma of Marketing and Communication or the 10118NAT - Diploma of Social Media Marketing.

9. Air transport professional.

Air transport professionals refers to those who fly, navigate, control and direct air traffic, including pilots, air traffic controllers and aviation safety officers. It also includes flight attendants who are responsible for the care of passengers onboard a commercial flight. 

Although COVID-19 has affected air travel in recent months, air transport professionals earn a yearly salary of $126,959. Pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers can earn up to $296,000 according to PayScale.

10. Web developer.

The salary range of web developers varies widely and depends largely on skill level, programming language proficiency, size and scope of project and specialty. Front-end developers can earn up to $110,000, while senior web developers who may also be responsible for managing a team of programmers can earn upwards of $120,000. 

Experience in this career will serve you well, as the more experience you have the more room you have to negotiate your salary or other benefits, such as flexible working arrangements. 

Getting started as a web developer is relatively easy in comparison with many of the other roles listed here. You can complete a certificate, diploma or advanced diploma in web-based technologies or web development, which can help you be employable after you graduate.

Are you interested in these high paying jobs?

While most high paying jobs in Australia remain in the medical field, there are many emerging jobs in industries such as engineering, marketing, construction and IT—with salaries increasing every year. It’s worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes in the Australian job market and the information above may not necessarily reflect the current job market.

If you’re interested in changing careers or moving into a higher paying role, Upskilled offers a wide range of online courses in top industries that are hiring right now. If you’re considering online study, now could be the right time to kick-start your career.
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