mining engineers in front of a big yellow mining truck

10 Highest Paying Jobs in Australia for 2021

New data has revealed Australia’s highest paying professions and topping the list is medicine. The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) latest taxation statistics are based on the tax returns of 14.7 million Australians for 2018-19, revealing that surgeons, anaesthetists and internal medicine specialists take home the most money per year, significantly outweighing the standard salary.

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While a number of Australians currently find themselves on a government-ordered break from work, the unemployment rate tells a different story. In June, unemployment in Australia fell by 0.2% to 4.9%, however, underemployment is on the rise as the economy reels in response to COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria and New South Wales. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed in the latest labour force statistics that the economy added 29,100 jobs in June despite a 0.5% rise in underemployment to 7.9%.

The average Aussie pockets about $62,549 a year in taxable income, which is (just admit) not up to snuff when trying to keep up with the soaring cost of living in this country. The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) 2021 report highlights that country’s top earners make between $160,000 and $400,000 per annum. These professions range from the fields of medicine to law, engineering to finance and managing directors to CEOs of companies. Then here are the top-paying jobs in Australia in 2021.

surgeons performing operation

1. Surgeon – $394,303

Apparently, surgeons have been at the top of the profession chain since 2010. According to a report from ATO, their average annual income has been supersized by $52,500 in the last 10 years. And to become a surgeon, you’ll need five-six years of specialist surgical training in one of nine speciality areas. The learning experience in these areas is very hands-on, and kind of like an apprenticeship. The nine speciality areas of surgery include general, cardiothoracic, neurosurgery, orthopaedic, head & neck surgery, paediatric, plastic and vascular surgery.

ATAR required: 99.95 (pathway through Medicine)
Study duration: 6-7 years full time
Workers in the profession: 4,150

anaesthetist holding mask over patients mouth

2. Anaesthetist – $386,065

Second up is anesthesiology. Not sure what that is? We’ll we don’t blame you, ya dud. Anaesthetists are medical specialists who administer anaesthetics (substances that induce tolerance to pain). As one of the top-paying jobs in Australia, it (surprisingly) has one of the fewest workers in the profession, second to psychiatrists. Oh yeah, it isn’t a psychedelic career of popping pills and having patients smoke the kush to alleviate pain. It demands a perfect ATAR and several years of hitting the books. And interestingly, it’s advanced to what is now a highly refined, safe and effective field of medicine.

ATAR required: 99.95 (pathway through Medicine)
Study duration: 7 years full time
Workers in the profession: 3,412

smiling internal medicine specialist talking to patient

3. Internal Medicine Specialist – $304,752

Internal medicine specialists deal with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of internal diseases. And if you’re still stumped on “what makes internal medicine doctors different from other doctors?”. Well,  internal medicine specialist is a science that represents the focuses on the interior and exterior of the body. This expertise enables doctors to treat both common illnesses and uncommon ones. Internal medicine specialists take a close look at how all the systems in the work together because a problem in one area could cause complications in another.

ATAR required: 99.95 (pathway through Medicine)
Study duration: 7 years full time
Workers in the profession: 9,959

famous stock trader at stock exchange

4. Financial Dealer – $275,984

Financial dealers wrangle with financial market transactions on behalf of clients and offer advice on financial matters. Financial dealers buy and sell commodities and securities for profit under their name. They monitor the financial marketplace and use their capital for transactions. Because of the fluid state of the constant market and high-value transactions, finance dealers usually on edge and dog-tired. Now, if you wanna become a financial dealer you would have to complete a degree in finance, economics or actuarial studies at a university, then the fiscal market is your oyster, bud.

ATAR required: 91.00
Study duration: 3-4 years full time
Workers in the profession: 4,720

patient woman lying on sofa and talking with psychiatrist

5. Psychiatrist – $235,558

Don’t get psychologists and psychiatrists mixed up. While psychologists can offer interventional treatment to help maintain mental well-being, psychiatrists can prescribe medication for this. Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. A psychiatrist’s education and clinical training help them get their heads around the relationship between emotional & medical illnesses and the relationships with genetics and to work with patients to prescribe medicinal remedies/or interventional treatment plans.

ATAR required: 99.95 (masters of Medicine required)
Study duration: 1-year full time
Workers in the profession: 3,001

oftalmolog does eye diagnostics

6. Other Medical Practitioners – $222,933

There’s quite a number of professions that fall under the “other medical practitioners”. These include dermatologists, emergency medicine specialists, obstetricians and gynaecologists, optometrists, pathologists, radiologists, and oncologists. All professions provide diagnostic medical services, manages patients with acute and urgent illness and injury and treatment and preventative medical and surgical services related to diseases, injuries and deficiencies.

ATAR required: Over 90.00
Study duration: 3-4 years full time
Workers in the profession: 28,404

legal professional taking notes near scales of justice

Working in the judicial system or legal professional doesn’t always generate a high income. Unless you step in up a notch and study the Juris Doctor (JD) professional law degree that includes the study of all the required areas of knowledge for admission to practise law in Australia, then yes. These professions can only be accessed through the JD course, and are a pathway to the law profession for graduates with non-law degrees or those with law degrees from overseas. They enable you to analyse, research, writing and practise advocacy skills and focus on international and transnational aspects of law for legal practice.

ATAR required: 99.5 (pathway of Masters of Law or Juris Doctor)
Study duration: 6 years full time
Workers in the profession: 3,866

mining engineers talking in front of excavator

8. Mining Engineer – $184,507

There’s a sh*t load involved in being a mining engineer. These blokes, or usually the one-off female engineer, will plan and direct the engineering aspects of locating and extracting minerals, petroleum and natural gas from the earth. These engineers also see the design, development and feasibility of the extraction process. They prepare operations, estimate project costs, tally up production schedules, reporting progress, apply appropriate mining techniques, and assessing the natural, technical, financial and safety risks associated with the project. So, yeah, all that technical jazz. You’ll need a bachelor degree in engineering majoring in mining or geotechnical engineering to get into this biz.

ATAR required: 91.00 (pathway of Honours)
Study duration: 4 years full time
Workers in the profession: 8,856

board of directors sitting in cabinet

9. CEO and Managing Director – $164,896

The most senior executive in an organisation is the chief executive officer (CEO). But a CEO who appoints a managing director to do his or her work is kind of like the honcho of the company/organisation. The responsibilities of a CEO include liaising with other companies, setting posts superintending and delegating workers and amplifying revenue. Typically, CEOs and managing directors spur change within an organisation and instigate employees. They’re the one who calls the shots for the company, like the fields of business operations, marketing, finance, human resources and corporate social responsibility.

ATAR required: N/A
Study duration: Typically 5-7 years of experience after study
Workers in the profession: 190,386

engineering managers discussing building plans

10. Engineering Manager – $159,940

An engineering manager is responsible for ensuring that key projects and engineering duties are taken care of.  One of the most important skills that an engineering manager will have is the ability to effectively delegate work, troubleshoot technical issues, plan and oversee projects, lead a team of engineers, budget workers and projects, recruit professionals and liaise with other departments. They also have to prepare reports on the progress of any project. Engineering managers quintessentially have at least 5 years’ experience working in engineering before climbing up to this rank.

ATAR required: Over 90.00
Study duration: Typically 5-7 years of experience after study
Workers in the profession: 25,578

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General FAQs

What is the best-paid job in Australia?

Surgeons are the best-paid in the Australian workforce. They make an annual taxable income of AUD$394,303.

What is the highest salary in Australia?

The highest salary in Australia is AUD$394,303, made by surgeons, followed by anaesthetists bringing in AUD$386,000 a year.

What's a good-paying job in Australia?

There are many good-paying jobs in Australia. Surgeons, Anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, legal professionals and mining engineers are among the highest-paying jobs in Australia.