17 Highest Paying Jobs In California

Last Updated on January 29, 2024

Are you looking for the highest paying jobs in California? You are in the right place. Finding well-paying jobs is your way to a quality life especially when you live in a state like California, where the cost of living is higher than the national average, you really should go for high paying jobs.

California is the third largest state in the United States, densely populated, and its economy also ranks among the biggest in the US and the world. San Francisco, San Diego, and LA are all in California. The state also has beautiful attraction sites some of which you already know like Disneyland, Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite National Park, and Hollywood.

The standard of living in California is high and it is a great place to live. If you are looking to where to live in California, you can use our article on the 11 Best Places to Live in California to find a suitable place. But if you are just visiting, maybe on a business trip or as a tourist, check out this list of the most popular fast food restaurants in California to try out.

Regarding higher education, some of the best colleges in the US and the world are located in California. Caltech, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, and others are in California.

When it comes to jobs, as a densely populated state with a high standard of living there are job openings at restaurants, tourist attraction sites, cafes, and other big companies with a great salary. If you have your high school diploma or GED, you can live, work, and earn a decent salary in California.

If you are looking to relocate to California to live and work permanently then you should know the highest paying jobs in California. A high-income job is what you need to live comfortably and enjoy the quality of life in California. But if you would prefer to start a business, then our article on the best 25 lucrative business ideas in California to start is for you.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the highest paying jobs in California and included the best jobs in California that you can apply for even without a degree.

California Economic Outlook

California’s economy is one of the largest in the United States, with a gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion as of 2021. As the most populated state in the US, California is a tech hub and is home to a lot of large companies like Apple, Google, and Meta. It’s also arguably the most popular state in the US with its iconic tourist spots, such as Hollywood, Disneyland, and Silicon Valley.

What Is the Cost of Living in California?

The cost of living in California is $2,417 for one person. This cost is 1.25 times more expensive than the national average cost of living at $1,951. California is considered one of the most expensive states in the US, but it’s 18th in the best states with good quality of life.

The cost of living index will vary dramatically depending on where you live. In major cities like Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the cost of living will be much higher.

Is California a Good Place to Work?

Yes, California is a good place to work because numerous high-paying jobs in California are available for job seekers. Also, California has the largest economy in the US, which means the career development potential can be limitless. Being ranked 18th best out of 55 places to live in the US tells you a lot about its living and working conditions.

List Of Highest Paying Jobs In California

There are a lot of high-paying jobs in California most of which require a high level of education. However, other career paths don’t require a degree with great average annual wages.

In this section, we take a closer look at the highest-paying jobs in California. We detail their various job descriptions and some of the professional degree and education requirements needed. This section will be followed by the best jobs in California that pay well but don’t require a degree.

1. General Surgeon

A general surgeon is a medical specialist who performs surgery on patients to cure a wide range of illnesses. They also carry out emergency medical operations and repair damages caused by injuries.

They are also in charge of the operating room and the supervision of other medical professionals. General surgeons take almost 20 years to be highly regarded as licensed medical professionals in their surgical specialization, and this is the highest-paying occupation in California.

The average salary of a general surgeon in California is $477,000 per year.

2. Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists, like optometrists, provide eye care services, such as vision testing and eye exams. However, they differ from optometrists in treating eye conditions and performing eye surgeries. They are licensed to treat glaucoma, remove cataracts, and fix other eye problems.

Ophthalmologists need a Doctor of Optometry degree and a license to practice their profession. Optometrists often also need a doctoral degree, though they don’t perform surgery. The salary of ophthalmologists in California ranges between $301,023 and $409,629 per year making it one of the highest paying jobs in California.

3. Vice President of Marketing

Vice presidents of marketing lead the company’s marketing team in executing marketing strategies and achieving business goals. They are responsible for brand management, market research, goal-setting, and budget reviews, to name a few. They provide tactics in response to changing market dynamics and recommendations on strengthening the company’s brand position in the market.

The salary of the Vice President of Marketing in California falls between $275,363 and $353,853 per year.

4. Pain Management Physician

Pain management physicians recommend treatments to patients with chronic pain problems and work in various healthcare facilities. They help patients relieve their pain and guide them in coping with the stress of chronic pain.

RELATED: Top 10 Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants In California

Like any other doctor, to be a pain management physician, you’ll also need to complete a pre-med degree, finish medical school, get a license, and then pick a specialization related to pain management.

The salary of a pain management physician in California falls between $346,765 and $550,482.

5. Internal Medicine Physician

Internal medicine physicians, also known as internists, are medical doctors who diagnose and treat a range of diseases involving internal organs. They employ both surgical and non-surgical methods to provide healthcare services and treat patients. Like other physicians, you need a medical degree, license, residency, and specialization to be an internist.

An internal medicine physician is one of the highest-paid professionals in California with an annual salary ranging from between $240,168 and $302,918.

6. Hospitalist Physician

Hospitalist physicians focus on examining, diagnosing, and treating patients in the hospital. They manage patients and patient history and offer them direct care and advice on preventative care. They also conduct research and recommend medicine and treatment programs.

The salary of hospitalist physicians in California falls between $248,017 and  $429,673  per year making them the highest-paid professionals in California.

7. Pulmonary Physician

A pulmonary physician has various job responsibilities and some of them include the examination and diagnosis of disorders and lung diseases. They also consult with patients to determine the best treatment plan, they also interpret pulmonological exams.

The average salary of pulmonary physicians in California is $325,549 per year.

8. General Surgery Physician Assistant

General surgery physician assistants support surgeons before and after surgical procedures. Apart from assisting surgeons, they also help prepare patients for surgery. They also monitor patients and provide medical care after leaving the operating room.

General surgery physician assistant is one of the highest paying jobs in California with an average salary of $164,000 per year.

9. Software Engineer

A software development engineer is one of the many types of software engineer jobs with a strong job outlook in the job market. Software development engineers’ primary duties revolve around software programs, from their creativity and design to their deployment and maintenance. To get this role, you’ll need a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, programming, or other related fields.

The average salary of a software engineer in California is $162,790 per year.

10. Vice President

Vice presidents are usually the second or third in command at a company. They support the president or chief executive officers by supervising all internal affairs of the organization. They oversee the various departments in a firm and represent the president in his absence during board of directors meetings. Vice president roles require a minimum education of bachelor’s degree, extensive business acumen in various departments, and leadership experience.

The average salary for a vice president of a company in California is $315,315 per year.

11. Judges

This is one of the highest-paying jobs in California with an annual salary of $163,286. To become a judge, you must graduate from law school and gain many years of experience as a lawyer before being appointed as a Judge by your state or country.

12. Airline Pilots

According to Indeed, airline pilots in California earn an average salary of $132,258 per year. To get into this field, you will have to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aviation or a related field then attend flight school or take a flight training program as a commercial pilot, earn your license, and apply for jobs in airlines.

13. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Thanks to technological advancement, these professionals are in high demand everywhere in the world, especially in a place as urban as California. As a computer and information systems manager, your duties include identifying hardware and software options, managing IT budgets, overseeing the IT department of a company, developing and implementing maintenance procedures, and many more.

To get into this field, you will need, at least, a bachelor’s degree in computer science and many years of experience working in IT. They are also one of the highest paid in California with an average salary of $129,780 per year.

14. Chief Executives

Chief executives are found in every company, business, or organization. They are barely seen around the offices but they do the most work. Most of their work is done in the background but their key responsibility is to ensure the continuous and successful operation of the organization irrespective of whatever it is going to take to keep it going.

A master’s in business administration or EMBA degree with many years of experience is how you can break into this role. It is a tough one and calls for the toughest people who can make tough decisions.

These guys are one of the highest-paid people in California with salaries ranging from $692,300 to $1,180,392 per year.

15. Dentist

Dentists treat infections of the teeth and improve general oral care. To become a dentist, you will spend about 8 years in school. From 4 years of bachelor’s degree to 3 or 4 years of medical school. After which they will need to take a licensure exam to become certified dentists.

This is one of the highest paying jobs in California with an average annual pay of $178,387 per year.

16. Nurse Anesthetists

This is a special nurse who administers anesthesia to patients who are about to go into surgery. An advanced nursing degree in anesthesiology is required to break into this role but first, you must become an RN and then practice for a few years to gather experience before taking professional CRNA programs.

CRNAs in California earn salaries over $250,000 per year making it one of the highest-paying jobs in CA.

17. Obstetrics and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs)

Obstetrics and Gynecologists are special physicians who offer medical and surgical care to pregnant women and women suffering from female reproductive system disorders. Their specialty is focused on women and girls.

It is one of the highest paying professions in California. They earn over $300K per year in California.

This wraps up the section for highest paying jobs in California, let’s dive into the next section.

Highest Paying Jobs in California Without a Degree

In this section, you will find a list of the highest paying jobs in California without a degree and how much they pay annually. Let’s get started.

Real Estate Agent | $93,163

Being a real estate agent in California pays well, as there are a lot of expensive homes and properties in this state. A real estate agent doesn’t require a college degree. You’ll only need a high school diploma and pass a licensing exam for real estate agents.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator | $80,394

Nuclear power reactor operators monitor nuclear reactors, generators, and turbines. They also check quality control, detect anomalies, and implement control measures. You don’t need to enroll in any degree program for this role. A high school diploma would be enough for this role.

Web Developer | $75,001

A web developer builds and maintains websites. They are in charge of a website’s look and also handle the technicalities of developing a website. A college degree or a graduate degree isn’t required to get this role. You can instead join boot camps or learn from other resources to be a web developer.

Boilermaker | $59,956

Boilermakers need some engineering skills to perform the duties needed in their job. They assemble, install, and maintain boilers and other large containers that hold liquids and gas. A high school diploma is required here, but passing the apprenticeship is what will help you get the job.

Police Officer | $46,175

Police officers have various responsibilities in their job description, such as reporting criminal incidents and speaking to victims and witnesses at crime scenes. Although some police agencies require a college education, police officer applicants typically only need a high school diploma to be considered for the job.

Front Desk Manager | $78,173

Front Desk Managers work in the hospitality industry like hotels. They supervise employees and ensure that their services are enjoyed by the customer. They also handle other tasks such as creating reports about customer satisfaction, updating customer records, processing high-level transactions, resolving guest complaints, and creating policies for customer service.

Massage Therapist | $83,017

Here is another high-paying job in California without a degree. You can become a massage therapist by enrolling in a massage therapy apprenticeship program and gradually grow your experience from there. You can also take certification courses in massage therapy, many are available for free online, to get started.

This wraps up the section on highest-paying jobs in California without a degree. These are jobs you can get into with just your high school diploma but it is advised to take professional courses to stand out from the crowd.


What job is the highest-paying in California?

Surgeon is the highest-paying job in California. They receive an annual average income of $464,100, which surpasses the average annual salary of general surgeons all over the US at $410,400.

What are the most in-demand jobs in California?

Five of the in-demand jobs in California are solar photovoltaic installers, occupational therapy assistants, statisticians, and information security analysts. All of these have above 30 percent employment growth forecast by 2028. A degree in nursing can also lead to careers with a strong job outlook in California.

What are the fastest-growing industries in California?

The fastest-growing industries include agriculture, tourism, healthcare, construction, and IT.

What are the best cities in California to live in?

The following are the top 11 best California cities to live in:
San Diego
Los Angeles
Lake Tahoe
Santa Monica
San Francisco
San Jose

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