The top 15 highest paying careers in Australia

You may be a recent high school graduate deciding on a career, a recent lay-off or small business owner affected by the global pandemic, or you could just be looking for a career change that you’re passionate about. Whatever it is, staying on top of job trends is important for people at all stages of their professional lives, and knowing what careers have the highest annual salary can go a long way in helping you decide what path you will choose.

Sitting idle while money flows

Which job has the highest salary in Australia?

Neurosurgeons earn the highest annual salary in Australia at over $600,000.

The 15 highest paying jobs in Australia in 2021

We have compiled a list of the highest paying jobs in Australia based on average taxable income based on tax returns from over 14 million Australians over the 2018-19 period compiled by the Australian tax office, as well as additional data collected from Seek and Business Insider Australia. It will come as no surprise that medical specialists dominate the list of big-earners, and for good reason– it’s a lot of study, hard work, high pressure and long hours. However, there are hundreds of specialties in the medical field, so we have lumped a few together so you get a better understanding of what occupations pay best across a number of different fields.

1. Surgeon

Average salary: $394,303.
Surgeons are medical specialists who consult, examine and operate on patients suffering from disease, injury or deformity.

This average income can be a bit misleading, as there are different kinds of surgeons, with type of surgery, expertise and qualifications significantly impacting one’s salary. Of the medical specialists, neurosurgeons were the highest paid with an average of $600,387, followed by reconstructive surgeons at $500,269 and ophthalmologists at $533,511.

Qualifications:

  • Complete an accredited medical degree at university
  • Work in a clinical setting for two to three years

During your third year (PGY3), apply for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Surgical Education and Training (SET) to train in a surgical specialty e.g. brain, cardiovascular, orthopaedic or plastic. This normally takes five to six years.
One SET is completed you can become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) and are accredited to practice as a surgeon.

2. Anaesthetist

Average salary: $386,065.
Anaesthetists are involved in preparing surgical patients for their procedure, which includes pain relief, surgery preparation and implementing a patient care plan before, during and after the procedure.

Qualifications:

  • Complete an accredited medical degree at university
  • Internship in a clinical setting for one year
  • Complete a residency over one (or more) years
  • Apply for the Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetist (FANZA) vocational training program, which takes five years to complete.
  • Once FANZA is completed you are a fully qualified anaesthetist.

3. Internal Medicine Specialist

Average salary: $304,752.
Internal medicine specialists are trained to diagnose, manage and treat complex, sometimes complicated or difficult-to-diagnose health disorders. They often consult with other practitioners and may have particular concentrations or sub specialisations from infectious diseases, cardiology, geriatric medicine to rheumatology.

Qualifications:

  • Complete an accredited medical degree at university
  • Complete an intensive three-year internal medicine residency
  • Training in Adult internal Medicine for three years full-time
  • When you have successfully completed your Advanced Training, the overseeing committee will recommend you for admission to Fellowship.
  • You’ll receive an invitation from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to apply for Fellowship to your Division, Faculty or Chapter.

4. Financial Dealer

Average salary: $275,984.
Financial dealers analyse social trends, market conditions and government regulations, as well as analyse and interpret their client’s financial circumstances in order to buy and sell commodities for profit.

Qualifications:

  • A degree in commerce, accounting, finance or economics
  • Apply for a relevant license from Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
  • Once you are accepted, you’re clear to trade as a financial dealer

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the financial sector, check out our Advanced Diploma of Paraplanning. We also offer part courses, bridging courses and university courses, which cover superannuation, investments, margin lending and commerce.

5. Psychiatrist

Average salary: $235,558.
Psychiatrists specialise in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, through psychotherapy, establishing treatment plans, ordering laboratory testing and assessment, prescribing medication and admitting patients to hospital.

Qualifications:

  • Complete an accredited medical degree at university
  • Become a registered medical practitioner and
  • Apply to the Royal Australasian College of physicians (RACP) to undertake further training and the RACp written and clinical examination
  • Undertake specialised training for a further six years
  • Once completed, you will be admitted to the fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of physicians (FRACP).

6. Other Medical Practitioners

Average salary: $222,933.

As we mentioned, there is a long list of medical practitioners and their roles and salaries vary greatly. Highlight competitive and well-paying medical practitioner roles include cardiologists, orthopedic specialists and gastroenterologists, who have a collective average salary of about $450,000. There are also general practitioners, pediatricians, orthodontists, dentists, periodontists, obstetricians and many more. There are endless avenues of specialisation, and the one you choose will likely be aligned with what you’re most interested in and what demographic you’d most like to help.

Qualifications:

  • Complete an accredited medical degree at university
  • Complete an internship for one years
  • Get medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia
  • Complete one or two more years of prevocational training
  • Obtain fellowship through a specialty training program.

Medical practioner

7. Judicial or other legal professionals

Average salary: $188,798.
Again, this is a broad term which covers many different jobs within the legal sector, however it can range from judges, to all kinds of lawyers specialising in contracts, personal injury, bankruptcy, immigration, crime, corporate or other, to paralegals and administrative assistants. A career in law is exciting because you can choose which field you want to be involved in, and can utilise your skills to make serious changes to legislation at the local, state or federal levels, as well as in court, tribunals and royal commissions.

Qualifications:

  • Complete a Bachelor of Law (LLB) undergraduate degree or a Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Complete Practical Legal Training which can be completed in less than a year.
  • Gain admission from the relevant state or territories Admissions Authority within 5 years of graduation.
  • Apply for a Practising Certificate from the local Law Society.
  • Complete 18 to 24 months of supervised practice at a law firm.

8. Mining Engineer

Average salary:$184,507.
Mining engineers are in charge of evaluating, planning and overseeing the construction of a mine. They identify potential development sites by collaborating with geologists and conducting surveys off the mineral deposits, as well as coordinating the actual employment of staff and implementing safety programs and procedures. They are also responsible for returning the mines to their original state once mining is completed.

Qualifications:

  • Undertake a Bachelor of Engineering degree, majoring in mining or geotechnical engineering ( you may complete years 3 and 4 at Mining Education Australia (MEA), a collaborative venture with several Australian universities).
  • Apply for a job as a Graduate Mining Engineer
  • After two to three years as a Graduate, you will become a Professional Mining Engineer.

9. Enterprise architecture manager

Average salary: $168,762.

Enterprise and systems architect managers are responsible for the overseeing and ultimate direction, performance and technical aspects of the organisation’s IT networks, from upgrading and improving services, to overseeing software and hardware implementation and installation. They are the big picture guys for the IT performance of their company, and are in charge of enterprise architects, software architects and other IT professionals.

Qualifications:

  • Diploma, bachelor or master’s degree in computer science, information technology or a related field
  • Experience as a computer programmer and software developer would be an advantage,as will hands-on experience with various systems, hard drives and cloud computing
  • Experience in management, leadership and business development would also be an advantage.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the information technology sector, we have a range of courses in IT, including a Certificate IV in Information Technology and our Diploma of Information Technology.

10. CEO or Managing Director

Average salary: $164,896.
A chief executive officer or managing director is the most senior executive position in a company, in charge of managing the operations, organisation, its people and its resources. General managers oversee development of business plans, budgets and strategies and identifying risks that could affect the company’s efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, its profitability.

Qualifications:

  • Complete a business-related bachelor’s degree (master’s optional)
  • Build on-the-job experience

There is no singular way to become the head of a company, and there are outliers and many different avenues, but education and experience are two of the most important and consistent factors for success in high-level business.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the business and management sector, head to our Certificate IV in New Small Business, Certificate IV in Small Business Management, Diploma of Leadership and Management and our Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management.

11. Engineering Manager

Average salary: $159,940.
Engineering managers oversee teams of engineers and are generally in charge of planning technical operations, civil engineering and construction projects, depending on the company or agency they are employed by. Day-to-day responsibilities include budgets, schedules and development of quality and safety procedures, as well as overseeing hiring, coordination of activities and liaising with other department heads.

Qualifications:

  • Complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) accredited by Engineers Australia (further postgraduate study, such as the Master of Engineering Management, is advantageous)
  • Secure an internship while studying for work experience
  • After graduation, attain your Engineers Australia membership and register with the National Engineering Register (NER)
  • Become a member of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the business and management sector, we have the following courses:

12. Quantitative analyst

Average salary: $153,539.
A quantitative specialist, or “quant”, has the role of applying statistics and mathematics to analyse financial data and risk management, which in turn helps the company make good business decisions regarding investments, pricing and overall functioning of the company. IUt is a highly in demand role as companies are realising the importance of risk assessment and management in an increasingly turbulent economy.

Qualifications:

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the IT sector, learn about our Certificate IV in Information Technology and our Diploma of Information Technology.

13. Vice president

Average salary: $151,358.

A senior executive position in a company, in charge of managing the short and long-term operations, organisation, its people and its resources. VPs in particular are in charge of overseeing training procedures to upskill, educate or manage employees, as well as assisting with the day-today, business plans, budgets and strategies and identifying risks that could affect the company’s efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, its profitability.

Qualifications:

  • Complete a business-related bachelor’s degree (master’s optional)
  • Build on-the-job experience

There is no singular way to become an executive head, and while there are outliers and many different avenues, education and experience are two of the most important and consistent factors for success in high-level business.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the business and management sector, we have the following courses:

14. Director of information security

Average salary: $149,204.
Information security directors are in charge of keeping company data safe and fending off security threats. Requirements and job obligations vary greatly depending on the type of organisation or industry. Their day-to-day duties include financial obligations like budgeting, resource allocation, strategy, implementation of security, data and technology policies and procedures, as well as HR-related duties like hiring, firing and training.

Qualifications:

  • Complete a certificate, diploma or bachelor’s degree in cyber security, computer science, or a related field
  • Gain relevant work experience

Keep in mind that many security director positions require a graduate certificate or master’s degree in fields such as cyber security or IT security management.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the information technology sector, head to Monarch Institute to learn about our Certificate IV in Information Technology and our Diploma of Information Technology.

15. Enterprise and software architect/manager

Average salary: $138,933 – $142,355 .
Enterprise and software architects are in charge of maintaining the organisation’s IT networks, from upgrading and improving services, to overseeing software and hardware implementation and installation. It’s about staying on top of any IT trends or upgrades that can give your company the edge, and it’s an increasingly important job in this digital age.

Qualifications:

  • Diploma, bachelor or master’s degree in computer science, information technology or a related field
  • Experience as a computer programmer and software developer would be an advantage,as will hands-on experience with various systems, hard drives and cloud computing.

For more information on relevant education and upskilling in the information technology sector, head here to learn about our Certificate IV in Information Technology and our Diploma of Information Technology.

There are many factors affecting the industry, company and field you want to work in, whether it be company culture, work-life balance, stability or opportunity, but how you’re compensated will also be a significant factor. We might not get into work for the money, but it is important to know where the money is, and that we can provide for ourselves and our family.

If you’re interested in medicine, law, finance, business or IT, chances are you can do what you love and get paid a pretty penny to do it. However, education, work experience and a sincere passion for your work are a recurring theme with the top 15, so make sure your skills and knowledge are finely crafted.

Monarch is one of Australia’s leading registered training organisations. We provide education for the real world. Find a course that’s right for you.