Health care jobs require years of higher education. But workers willing and able to make that investment see it pay dividends in the form of high salaries and ample opportunities. Plus, experts predict there will be great demand for nurses, physicians and other medical practitioners in the years to come.

Those factors make health care jobs some of the best available in the U.S., according to the Best Jobs of 2019 ranking. Other industries represented at the top of the list include business and technology, the category that holds this year' s top job, software developer.

Data for this ranking comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an arm of the federal Department of Labor. The highest median salary the agency records is $208,000, so some of the following professions may offer median annual incomes higher than that amount.

Check out the best careers and learn about each profession.


For companies, governments or clients, accountants prepare and evaluate financial records for accuracy and to make sure taxes are promptly paid. Their responsibilities may entail making presentations or writing reports. These professionals may work as public accountants, who produce reports required by law, or management accountants, who work with internal budgets.

Accountants need at least a bachelor' s degree, and many have roles that require them to earn certified public accountant licenses.


As modern mapmakers, cartographers use surveys and images to collect and study geographic data, then turn it into useful visual representations. They're employed by the government and firms that specialize in architecture, engineering and science.

Cartographers typically have bachelor's degrees in cartography, geography, surveying or geomatics.


Many mathematicians analyze data and use statistical theories to help make decisions for businesses and government offices. Others work in academic settings, teaching and conducting research about how the universe works.

Surgeon (tie)

Pay is high for this job – but so is stress. Surgeons work under extremely high pressure, spending days and nights hovering over the operating table while treating diseases and illnesses through surgery. They need steady hands, sharp reflexes and solid problem-solving skills.

These doctors may specialize in orthopedics, neurology, cardiovascular health or even plastic surgery, providing cosmetic or reconstructive services to patients. Surgeons must earn undergraduate and medical school degrees, then complete years of residency training.

Physician (tie)

This is a catch-all term for doctors of all varieties. Some physicians are internists whose work focuses on specific organ systems, including the liver, digestive tract or kidneys. For example, cardiologists are experts in heart health, while dermatologists focus on the skin. Other physicians work in family medicine, advising on common conditions such as minor injuries and infections and providing annual checkups. No matter their specialty, physicians may prescribe medicine, order and interpret tests and provide advice.

Nurse Practitioner

In most states, these advanced nurses can perform many duties associated with doctors, including diagnosing disease, prescribing medicine, requesting medical tests and referring patients to specialists. Nurse practitioners may work with specific sets of patients, such as people with mental illness, children or older adults.

After completing college, nurse practitioners must earn master' s degrees and licenses. They work in hospitals, outpatient centers and doctors' offices.

Orthodontist (tie)

Orthodontists specialize in shifting crooked teeth and correcting misaligned bites. Tools of their trade include braces, retainers and spacers.

The path to the orthodontist chair passes through many educational institutions. After graduating from college, these professionals must complete dental school (another four years) and then a specialized orthodontist program (another three years). Then they need to earn state licenses. The payoff for all that work? High salaries and above-average work-life balance.


Treating medical problems that arise in the mouth is the specialty of dental doctors. They use X-rays, exams and tools like drills to diagnose and care for issues such as cavities and gum disease.

These oral health care experts earn college degrees, then attend specialized graduate programs. They may work with other dentists or run their own practices while collaborating with dental hygienists.


When businesses and government agencies need help making sophisticated decisions and solving complicated problems, they turn to statisticians. These math whizzes gather data, then use theories, models and specialized software to predict outcomes.

College degrees and master' s degrees are typical for statisticians, often in subjects such as mathematics, economics or computer science. They may specialize in fields like engineering or physics.

Software Developer

For the second year in a row, software developer tops this list. That's thanks to how integral digital technology has become to our personal and professional lives. Software developers pay attention to both aesthetics and function as they create and fix applications and programs for computers and smartphones.

Software developers typically have college degrees in computer science or a related discipline. Employment opportunities in the field are soaring; they' re expected to increase by more than 30 percent by 2026.