Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that every state in America has a medical professional at the top of the income pyramid, making medicine an excellent career choice for individuals looking for the best-paying jobs. How far the income from a good job takes you depends on the cost of living of each individual state — the differences are huge. Some states have high costs of living that reduce the purchasing power of jobs that pay a lot, whereas others offer both high pay and low costs.
Along with cost-of-living figures accurate as of the second quarter of 2017, here are the best-paying jobs in each state.
- Salary: $287,250
Alabama's orthodontists make a good salary, but it can cost a lot to earn it. At the University of Alabama-Birmingham, for example, four-year tuition at the school of dentistry can cost about $120,000, including books and fees. The figure is more like $260,000 for non-Alabama residents paying out-of-state tuition.
On the plus side, Alabama has the 10th-lowest cost of living in the country, with housing costs among the very lowest. Its overall cost of living index is at just 90.7 percent of the national average.
Take a Closer Look: The Cost of Living in Alabama
- Salary: $269,530
High-salary jobs are plentiful across Alaska, with the median annual household income ranking second in the nation, only slightly behind New Hampshire. High salaries help offset the high cost of living in Alaska. Overall costs are higher only in Hawaii and California, but Alaska health costs are by far the highest in the country — a whopping 46.7 percent above the national average. That said, you'll benefit from the lack of a state income tax in Alaska.
- Salary: $282,080
Attending medical school at the University of Arizona can set state residents back more than $61,000 per year, including living and other expenses; out-of-state residents face expenses of over $83,000. Costs of living in the state are slightly below average across the board, with only the cost of groceries ticking slightly above the national average. Although physicians don't have easy jobs by any stretch of the imagination, being a surgeon in Arizona is one of the top-paying jobs in the country.
Also in Careers: 10 Best and Worst Jobs for Work-Life Balance
- Salary: $266,980
Internal medicine specialists in Arkansas benefit from a state with the second-lowest cost of living in the country. Housing costs are particularly inexpensive in Arkansas, averaging about 26 percent lower than the national average. Grocery, health, transportation and utility costs are also lower than average, and in some areas, dramatically so.
- Salary: $282,410
California has a booming and diverse economy that would be the sixth-largest in the world if it were its own nation. Although a great place to live, it does carry a high price tag, with overall living costs trailing only Hawaii's. Transportation costs are 27.4 percent above the national average, but that isn't the biggest sting — average housing costs in California soar more than 125 percent above the U.S. average.
Colorado: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Salary: $274,740
Topping the list of jobs that pay well in Colorado is oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Colorado is a good place to make a living. With the exception of housing costs — about 17 percent above the U.S. average — most Colorado costs are in line with national averages.
- Salary: $275,800
Connecticut has some of the highest-paying jobs in the country, with the median annual household income ranking No. 4 nationwide. Anesthesiologists are at the top of the bunch, with their high salaries helping to offset the high cost of living. Connecticut residents face the 40th-highest cost of living in the country, and housing costs are steep at nearly 30 percent above the national average.
- Salary: $269,170
Delaware surgeons earn a good living, but they put in the time to get there. In addition to medical school, surgeons have to endure a residency that is at least five years long — six years for neurosurgeons. Overall, Delaware residents face a higher-than-average cost of living, but transportation, health and housing costs are actually lower than average.
- Salary: $274,210
The Sunshine State's anesthesiologists earn high salaries, just like the highest-paid medical professionals in other states. Costs of living are right at the national average. If you're not willing to put in the four years of medical school plus three years of residency to become an anesthesiologist, you can still earn about $98,000 in Florida as an anesthesiologist assistant, with only about half the schooling required. Whatever your profession, you'll enjoy not having to pay state income taxes.
- Salary: $271,160
Georgia surgeons have the same long residency as all surgeons — five years or longer. But their salaries are far above the median for Georgia, which sits at $50,768. The $271,160 surgeon salary goes a long way in a state ranking ninth lowest in cost of living, especially in terms of buying a house. With a median home price of just $157,600, a surgeon could pay cash for the average home out of one year's salary and still have more than $114,000 left over.
Across America: How Much Home You Can Get for $300,000 in Every State
- Salary: $273,040
Although Hawaiian podiatrists make a good salary by any standard, their income is in line with the highest-paid jobs in most other states. This can be problematic in a state like Hawaii, which easily has the highest cost of living of any state in America. Overall, costs are 66.4 percent above the national average in Hawaii, with homes costing nearly 2.25 times the national average.
- Salary: $280,790
Idaho surgeons enjoy a winning combination — very high salaries with very low living costs. The median home price is just $194,100, running about 15 percent below the national average. Only transportation costs in Idaho tick significantly above the national average, running 3 percent above the U.S. index.
- Salary: $262,770
Illinois orthodontists don't have the highest average salary on our list, but the state of Illinois is not particularly expensive, ranking No. 24 in terms of cost of living. With the exception of high transportation costs, the state is less expensive than average in all other categories. As with many other states, living in the big city — in this case, Chicago — can be more expensive. For example, Chicago charges additional gas taxes that make the state's higher-than-average transportation costs even higher.
- Salary: $271,630
Indiana surgeons earn a higher-than-average salary in a state with a lower-than-average mean salary. As is often the case, this salary reflects the lower-than-average overall costs in the state. Indiana has the 11th-lowest cost index in the country, bolstered by low housing prices.
- Salary: $283,990
Anesthesiologists continue their run of success in Iowa, again taking the top spot in the state with a high $283,990 salary. Iowans, in general, are paid quite well, and they enjoy low costs relative to the rest of the nation. Iowan homes come in at a very modest cost of $125,300, and the overall Iowan price index comes in about 9 percent below the national average.
- Salary: $287,410
Kansas anesthesiologists have the distinction of having the best-paying job on our list, in any state. The cherry on top is that Kansas has the fourth-lowest cost of living in the country, turning a job that pays well into one of the best jobs you can get. Kansas anesthesiologists will find their money can go a long way in a state with below-average costs in every category, especially housing, averaging almost 26 percent lower than the rest of the nation.
- Salary: $278,080
If you want to earn a medical degree at the University of Kentucky, you should expect to spend over $65,000 a year if you're a Kentucky resident and over $90,000 if you're a non-resident. The payoff comes in the forms of a high salary in a state with average or lower-than-average costs in every major expense category, ranging from transportation and housing to utilities, groceries and health.
- Salary: $276,390
Anesthesiologists are at the tops of the income charts again in Louisiana, at $276,390 versus the state median of $45,922. Louisiana is another state with below-average costs in every major category, coming in at 5.4 percent below average overall.
- Salary: $271,570
Maine might be known for its lobster, but it's also a great place to make a living if you're a surgeon. At $271,570, surgeons are well compensated for the high costs and long hours of getting a medical education. It is a bit expensive if you want to live in Maine, so you might need a good salary — the median house price is $195,000, pushing the average housing expense to almost 19 percent above the national average.
- Salary: $275,640
Maryland household income is third highest in the nation — and surgeons' salaries are at the top of the list. With the exception of health costs, which fall about 8 percent below average, Maryland's costs are among the highest in the country. Taking a big bite out of those high Maryland salaries are housing costs, at nearly 80 percent above the U.S. average.
Massachusetts: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
- Salary: $270,140
The cost of living in Massachusetts is even higher than in Maryland, but the top earners on our list — maxillofacial surgeons — aren't paid quite as much as their top-earning northerly neighbors. Housing prices in Massachusetts are over 69 percent higher than average, and even transportation costs — which are the closest-to-average costs in the state — are 6 percent above average.
- Salary: $259,280
With the exception of West Virginia, Michigan's top job pays the lowest of any other on our list. Michigan anesthesiologists still earn a great living, with their $259,280 salary seeming even larger in the state with the seventh-lowest cost of living in America. Transportation costs are just slightly above the national average, but the median home price is low, standing at just $134,700.
- Salary: $285,060
Surgeons in Minnesota earn among the highest salaries of any job in the country. The land of 10,000 lakes has higher-than-average health, grocery and transportation costs, but otherwise, has a modest cost of living. Surgeons looking to buy homes with their high salaries will have plenty of options, with a median home price of $209,700.
- Salary: $270,430
Mississippi carries the lowest cost of living of any state in the Union. Overall costs index nearly 15 percent below the national average, with housing costs by far being the lowest in the nation: 30.7 percent below average, with a median of just $113,800. Whereas the Mississippi median income is also the lowest in the country, Mississippi pediatricians earn among the highest incomes in the whole country, not just in the state.
- Salary: $265,420
Orthodontists, the top-earning workers in Missouri, may not have the highest salary among the 50 states, but Missouri's cost of living makes that money go much further. Missouri is among the cheapest states in the U.S., with living costs 10.1 percent below the national average. Utilities tick 4 percent above average, but housing costs are some of the lowest in the country at 25.9 percent below national norms.
Montana: Obstetrician and Gynecologist
- Salary: $270,700
The Big Sky state is one of three where gynecologists are the top earners. Overall, costs in Montana are on par with the national average, but there's a wide disparity depending on what you're purchasing. You can expect to pay about 6 percent above national averages for housing, for instance, but you'll save big on utilities, which are the cheapest in the nation at 77.2 percent of the U.S. average.
- Salary: $285,640
If you want to earn a lot in Nebraska, be a surgeon. With a mean salary of $285,640, Nebraskan surgeons earn among the highest salaries in the country despite living in a below-average-cost state. Your budget will go much further here, where the median home value tops out at $150,900.
- Salary: $271,490
As a Nevada anesthesiologist, you'll get to keep more of your $271,490 salary because you won't have to pay state income tax. This is offset to some degree by high transportation costs, at 9.5 percent above the national average; high housing costs, at 7.2 percent higher than average; and health costs, at 6.6 percent above the national average.
New Hampshire: Physician
- Salary: $272,820
New Hampshire claims the title of having the highest mean salaries in the country, and physicians are at the top of that list. New Hampshire costs are above average across the board, but not as high as you might expect in a state with such high incomes — the state only ranks 13-highest in terms of overall cost of living. Even housing costs are only 8 percent above average, with the median home price coming in at $247,500.
New Jersey: Surgeon
- Salary: $286,710
It's a long haul to becoming a surgeon in New Jersey. In addition to the long years of medical school and residency, med students in New Jersey can expect to pay upward of $155,000 in four-year tuition — more than $247,000 for out-of-state students. This is on top of a potential $30,000 or so in annual living expenses.
High salaries are needed in New Jersey to offset the cost of living, particularly when it comes to housing, which comes in at just over 51 percent above the national average.
New Mexico: Surgeon
- Salary: $281,150
New Mexico is one of the lowest-wage states in the country, ranking No. 46 with a mean salary of $45,119. But if you're a surgeon, you'll earn one of the highest salaries in the whole nation. Costs in New Mexico aren't bad, either. With the exception of transportation and health costs, which lie just above and just below the national average, respectively, costs are generally low. Utilities, for example, are 15.3 percent below the U.S. average.
New York: Anesthesiologist
- Salary: $271,900
New York anesthesiologists, although highly paid, are not near the top of our list on a country-wide basis, despite New York's cost of living being the country's fifth highest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But the cost-of-living numbers might be somewhat skewed, because the state has both very expensive and very affordable regions. Whereas Manhattan apartments can go for millions of dollars, some counties carry an average home price below $100,000.
North Carolina: Surgeon
- Salary: $283,170
You can attend medical school for the princely sum of $55,180 per year at North Carolina's prestigious Duke University. If you make it through your five-year-plus residency and become a surgeon, you'll be rewarded with one of the country's highest salaries, at $283,170 on average. Costs of living remain low across the state, with the exception of health costs, which are 6.9 percent above the national average.
North Dakota: Anesthesiologist
- Salary: $285,290
Earnings for North Dakota anesthesiologists are higher than earnings for most occupations on this list. Living costs are just about average, indexing at 98.9 percent compared to the nation as a whole. Although housing and utility costs are lower than average, you'll pay a premium for groceries, transportation, health and miscellaneous costs.
- Salary: $273,150
All workers, including anesthesiologists, the highest-paid workers in Ohio, benefit from the low cost of living in the state. At an average of 7.7 percent below the national average, the state is inexpensive by almost any measure. Housing costs are particularly affordable at 76.5 percent of the national average.
- Salary: $283,500
Oklahoma surgeons enjoy one of the highest average salaries in the country coupled with the fifth-lowest overall cost of living. Oklahoma costs average 10.1 percent below the national average, highlighted by an extremely low median home price of $115,300.
Oregon: Obstetrician and Gynecologist
- Salary: $247,580
Oregon OB-GYNs have a lower mean salary compared to some of the others on this list, but $247,580 is still nothing to sneeze at. Oregon is a high-cost state, with the cost of living coming in at 31.7 percent above the national average. However, Oregon has one of the lowest utility costs of any state, at 20 percent below average.
- Salary: $268,730
Pennsylvania is one of the many states where being an anesthesiologist will earn you the highest mean salary. The state also boasts one of the finest medical schools in the country, the University of Pennsylvania, where a year's tuition will set you back $54,036. The state's cost of living is just 1.6 percent above the national average, and health costs are low at just 91.5 percent of average.
Rhode Island: Surgeon
- Salary: $284,010
Surgeons earn the biggest salaries in the smallest state in the nation. And you might need a surgeon's salary to live comfortably in the ninth most-expensive state in the country — the 10th if you include the District of Columbia — with a cost of living coming in at 22.3 percent above average. You'll face large premiums in terms of housing, utilities and miscellaneous costs in the state, at 139, 27.3 and 17.4 percent above average, respectively.
South Carolina: Surgeon
- Salary: $264,930
South Carolina's overall costs come in just below the national average, and you can get an especially good deal on housing. Median home prices lie at $145,400, keeping South Carolina's housing costs at more than 14 percent below the national average.
As in many other states, surgeons take top billing on the salary scale in South Carolina, with the mean salary coming in at $264,93 — a princely sum in a state with the eighth-lowest salary among the 50 U.S. states.
South Dakota: Anesthesiologist
- Salary: $283,980
South Dakota anesthesiologists undoubtedly welcome the combination of high average salaries and no state income tax. Cost-wise, the state is just about average overall, although housing costs are high at 14.7 percent above the national average. Still, the median home price of $174,700 is still quite affordable for the state's high-earning anesthesiologists.
- Salary: $270,140
Money goes a long way in Tennessee, so anesthesiologists' $270,140 mean salaries can seem like even more. The state ranks third lowest in terms of the cost of living, boosted by very low housing costs, at 22.6 percent below the national average. Just $143,300 is enough to buy the median-priced house in the state, and no other costs even approach the national average.
- Salary: $271,230
Knocking people out for a living can garner you a knockout salary in Texas. And anesthesiologists get to keep more of that money, because Texas doesn't impose a state income tax. Housing is affordable, with the median home going for $169,500. On an overall basis, you can expect to find living costs 9.4 percent below the national average.
- Salary: $267,020
Utah boasts beautiful scenery, generally below-average living costs and high salaries, especially if you are a pediatrician. Grocery costs sit a hair above average, and at nearly 20 percent below average, utilities are among the most affordable in the country.
- Salary: $269,880
Vermont anesthesiologists are well compensated, but a lot of that money goes to high living expenses. Overall, Vermont's cost of living is 20.9 percent above the national average, with no real place to hide — grocery prices are 12.7 percent above average, and housing (47.6 percent above average), utilities (21 percent above average), transportation (10.6 percent above average) and health costs (3.5 percent above average) are all high. Even "miscellaneous" costs are 7.8 percent above average.
See the Difference: The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These 10 US Cities
- Salary: $262,130
Orthodontists top the charts in terms of highest-paying jobs in Virginia, at $262,130. The state carries average or below-average living costs, for the most part, with the notable exception being housing. At 12.2 percent above the national average, this single category is enough to push Virginia's overall cost of living 2.2 percent above the U.S. average.
- Salary: $264,120
Washington orthodontists might need to save more of their high salaries than earners in other states, as living costs can be high. Although state costs overall are 8 percent above average, there are some huge outliers. For example, health costs are 18.1 percent above average, and transportation costs are 17.6 percent higher than average. Grocery and housing costs are also well above average. A saving grace for the state's cost of living is the lack of state income tax.
West Virginia: Physician
- Salary: $229,110
West Virginia physicians carry the highest salaries in the state, but the amount they earn is far below the salaries paid by the other highest-paying jobs on our list. Part of the reason for the lower salaries for West Virginia physicians is the low average level of salaries in the state overall — $42,824, which ranks 48th among the 50 states.
Wisconsin: Obstetrician and Gynecologist
- Salary: $276,060
At 13.5 percent above average, Wisconsin's health costs are among the country's highest, and they help raise the state's overall cost profile. Still, the $276,060 mean salary that OB-GYNs enjoy goes a long way, with costs in most other categories remaining modest. Housing is especially affordable, at 12.2 percent below the national average.
- Salary: $259,940
Salaries for Wyoming physicians are a bit lower than the mean salaries for top earners in other states. On the upside, Wyoming has no state income tax, and a median home price of $194,700 keeps housing costs 19.6 percent below the U.S. average. Groceries and utilities, on the other hand, cost a pretty penny in Wyoming: 12.2 percent and 4.0 percent above average, respectively.