CEOs only 5th among highest paid professionals

FTC Gets Tough on Disclosures
Senior executives, including CEOs, are among best paid in U.S.

CEOs may run their companies with surgical precision, but they don’t make nearly as much as surgeons do.

The median annual income for a corporate leader was $181,210 in 2017, according to data compiled by CareerCast from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A surgeon makes $409,665, the highest paying field.

One upside for current corporate leaders is that the job growth outlook for corporate executives is just 6%. That means it is projected that many will stay where they are, or rise up the ranks.

Kyle Kensing, online content editor at, told FierceCEO that aside from the pay discrepancy CEOs, like surgeons, must have “a lot of skillsets and work under a lot of pressure.”

Senior corporate executives finished fifth among the highest compensated fields. That’s up one from 2016, when their median compensation was $173,256.

Of course CEOs making many, many millions of dollars always grab the headlines. But the data show that the very highly compensated are mixed in with those who work in different regions across the country, from large to small enterprises.

The medical field dominated the most highly compensated ranks, with orthodontists at number 2, averaging $208,000; psychiatrists at 3, with $194,700; and general practice physicians at 4, with $190,490.

Dentists are at 6, with $153,900; petroleum engineers at 7, with $128,230; podiatrists at 8, with $124,830, air traffic controllers at 9 with $122,410; and pharmacists at 10, with $122,230, the data show.

Suggested Articles

Veteran CEO John Schwarz says the times dictate a fresh approach to the chief executive position.

Very little attention has been paid to the flip side of the CEO salary debate: CEOs whose salaries are much less out of kilter with workers' salaries.

Hamid Hashemi, CEO of iPic Entertainment, wants to make moviegoing an elegant experience.