Best Doctoral-Level Jobs for 2016

If you’re intrigued by medical services and aren’t daunted at the prospect of mega schoolwork, we’ve got good news for you: The top 10 occupations for 2016 that require a doctoral or professional degree are nearly all in health care. (The one exception is computer & information research scientists.)

The following crème de la crème jobs, ranked from largest to smallest, were selected based on their size, growth, and wages—though there’s still quite a lot of disparity between them. For example, just compare optometrists, a relatively small field paying an average of $54/hour, with surgeons and physicians, a huge sphere paying an average of $103/hour.

Are any of these jobs your dream career? Find out by taking our quick assessment on Find Your Calling.

1. Physicians & Surgeons

29-1067_heroWhat they do: Physicians examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, perform diagnostic tests, etc., besides counseling patients on diet, hygiene, and general healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries (such as broken bones), diseases (such as cancer), and deformities (such as cleft palates).

Growth: There are currently over 366,000 physicians and surgeons in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 23,000 new jobs (7% growth).

Avg. Wages: $103/hour

2. Pharmacists

What they do: Pharmacists dispense drugs that are prescribed by physicians (and other health practitioners). They may also advise physicians about the selection, dosage, interactions, and side effects of medications.

Growth: There are currently 297,000 pharmacists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 15,000 new jobs (5% growth).

Avg. Wages: $57/hour

3. Physical Therapists

29-1123_heroWhat they do: Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help ill or injured people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of the rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Growth: There are currently 210,000 physical therapists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 27,000 new jobs (15% growth).

Avg. Wages: $40/hour

4. Dentists

What they do: Every kid knows! Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They also provide advice and instruction on how to take care of teeth and gums, and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Growth: There are currently 101,000 in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 9,000 new jobs (10% growth).

Avg. Wages: $80/hour

5. Veterinarians

What they do: Vets care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. (Vets provide treatment for animals that is similar to the services a physician provides to treat humans.)

Growth: There are currently 65,000 vets in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 7,000 new jobs (12% growth).

Avg. Wages: $47/hour

6. Internists

29-1063_heroWhat they do: Internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organ systems such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. Internists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to treat patients through medication or hospitalization. They work mostly with adult patients. (Sub-specialists, such as cardiologists, are grouped with physicians & surgeons.)

Growth: There are currently 50,000 internists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 2,000 new jobs (5% growth).

Avg. Wages: $92/hour

7. Optometrists

What they do: Optometrists (what you call “eye doctors”) examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Growth: There are currently 35,000 optometrists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 5,000 new jobs (17% growth).

Avg. Wages: $54/hour

8. Anesthesiologists

What they do: Anesthesiologists focus on the care of surgical patients and on pain relief. They administer drugs (anesthetics) that reduce or eliminate the sensation of pain during an operation or another medical procedure. During surgery, they are responsible for adjusting the amount of anesthetic as needed and monitoring the patient’s heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing. They also work outside of the operating room, providing pain relief in the intensive care unit, during labor and delivery of babies, and for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Anesthesiologists work with other physicians and surgeons to decide on treatments and procedures before, during, and after surgery.

Growth: There are currently 31,000 anesthesiologists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 3,000 new jobs (9% growth).

Avg. Wages: $118/hour

9. Computer & Information Research Scientists

15-1111_heroWhat they do: Computer & information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, medicine, science, and other fields.

Growth: There are currently 27,000 such scientists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 3,000 new jobs (13% growth).

Avg. Wages: $54/hour

10. Psychiatrists

What they do: Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.

Growth: There are currently 26,000 psychiatrists in the US. From 2010 to 2015, there were 1,700 new jobs (7% growth).

Avg. Wages: $88/hour

Data and analysis in this article are from Emsi. Contact Find Your Calling at

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