Sure, a good career isn't just about the cold, hard cash. But as a job-seeker, you're always looking for the most lucrative option.
As part of its Consumer Population Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics broke down high-paying professions by gender and median weekly earnings in 2016. GOBankingRates looked at the 20 highest-paying jobs both for women and men, according to the BLS survey, and ranked the professions from lowest to highest earnings. Some of the jobs on this list are top-paying for both men and women.
Still, as wages and salaries continue to climb in this economy, the pay gap between men and women exists in many industries. In 2016, full-time female workers were typically paid 20 percent less than male workers, according to a report from the American Association of University Women. In all instances on this list, if it was a top-paying job for both men and women, men were paid more.
Click through to see how much women and men earn for the top-paying jobs. The differences might surprise you.
- Women earn $1,280 per week
Education administrators are responsible for planning, managing and overseeing the operations and activities of educational institutions, such as primary schools, colleges or school boards. Job titles in this field include principal, superintendent and dean, with salary and tasks varying by role.
To become an educational administrator, you will likely need to obtain a master's degree and complete certain licensing requirements. Many administrators also boast more than a decade of experience working in education, according to PayScale.
Among the top-paying jobs for women, education administrator comes in at No. 18, but does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data.
Find Out: How Much Teachers Make in Every State
Operations Research Analyst
- Women earn $1,300 a week
Operations research analysts assist organizations in identifying and resolving issues affecting their businesses. Using complex analytical and mathematical techniques, they create simulations, perform predictive modeling and outline performance forecasts. Additionally, these professionals prepare reports and briefings and are usually responsible for advising high-level decision-makers within the organization.
You might be able to land a job with a bachelor's degree, but most employers seek candidates with master's degrees in engineering, computer science, analytics or mathematics. And you might have to obtain a background check and security clearance, according to the BLS.
Strong modeling skills can help candidates command high salaries in this field. Additionally, continuing education is imperative if you want to excel.
Among the top-paying jobs for women, operations research analyst comes in at No. 16, with a weekly paycheck of $1,300. It does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data. Offering a good work-life balance, this is one career that won't kill you.
- Women earn $1,306 per week
If you’re looking for a career where you’ll be in demand, and you’re compassionate, resourceful and have good physical stamina, you might consider becoming a physical therapist. Physical therapists rehabilitate injured or ill patients to help them regain movement and manage pain.
To enter the profession, you need a doctor of physical therapy degree, which typically takes three years and often requires a bachelor’s degree and other relevant coursework.
The top-paying physical therapy jobs can be found in home healthcare services and in nursing and residential care facilities, according to the BLS. This is the No. 15 best-paying job for women, with a median weekly paycheck of $1,306. It but does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men.
- Women earn $1,312 per week
Computer programmers write, test and upgrade the code that operates applications and programs. This is a job you can land with an associate degree, but you will likely need in-depth knowledge of various programming languages.
Employers also value experience, which many newcomers earn through internships. Taking classes or having a work history in an employer's industry can also boost your prospects when applying for positions in a specialized field, such as healthcare.
Experience is the most influential factor in determining salary. Additionally, industry leaders can rake in more than $10,000 a year in bonuses and profit sharing, according to PayScale. Women take home $1,312 per week, making this the No. 14 highest-paying job for women. It isn't one of the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data.
- Women earn $1,315 per week
An occupational therapist might help treat an injury, similar to a physical therapist, but more often the occupational therapist focuses on helping patients to adapt so they can perform daily tasks, according to PhysicalTherapyWeb. For example, occupational therapy is critical to helping people with various illnesses and disabilities — like Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism or the loss of a limb — learn to operate independently.
This job typically requires a master’s degree in occupational therapy, plus licensing in your state. With a median $1,315 weekly paycheck, this is the No. 13 highest-paying job for women, but it does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data. Even better than the salary, there's a strong growth outlook for this job in the next seven years.
Computer Systems Analyst
- Women earn $1,328 per week
Computer systems analysis is one of the highest-paying STEM careers. A computer systems analyst designs technology-based solutions that help companies conduct operations more accurately, effectively and efficiently. Additionally, these professionals analyze and test existing computer systems and outline solutions to improve them.
A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is helpful in this industry. However, employers might consider candidates in other majors if they possess the necessary IT experience and traits.
"Anyone interested in a career in tech should master the 'Four P's' — passion, preparation, patience and people skills," said Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications for CompTIA, an IT trade organization.
The top-paying jobs can be found in computer systems design, finance and insurance. This is the 11th-highest paying job for women, with a median weekly paycheck of $1,328. It does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data.
- Women earn $1,342 per week
A management analyst gathers information and analyzes a company's employees, equipment, procedures and other components to find and resolve issues affecting efficiency and finances. Duties include developing strategies for improvement, drafting reports and delivering presentations to decision-makers.
While it's possible to obtain a job with a bachelor's degree, most companies are looking for candidates with a master's in business administration, according to the BLS. Getting a Certified Management Consultant designation can also give you an edge over the competition, and strong strategic planning and business analysis can help you command a higher salary. This is the No. 10 highest-paying job for women, with a median weekly pay of $1,342. It does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data.
- Women earn $1,547 per week
Detail-oriented, compassionate problem-solvers might find a great career as a physician assistant. Physician assistants are part of medical teams, and they examine, diagnose and treat patients. They work in all areas of medicine, including surgery, psychiatry, primary care, family medicine and emergency medicine.
Physician assistants typically need a master’s degree. But they can expect to have good job prospects in upcoming years, especially if they’re working in rural and medically underserved areas, or in primary care, according to the BLS.
Physician assistant is No. 7 on the list of highest-paying jobs for women. It does not appear in the 20 highest-paying jobs for men, according to BLS data.The highest-paying jobs tend to be in outpatient care centers, hospitals and physicians’ offices.
Environmental Scientist and Geoscientist
- Men earn $1,591 per week
Environmental scientists work to protect the environment and safeguard public health. For example, they might look for solutions to decrease waste or clean up pollution. Geoscientists study different aspects of the Earth, including structure.
A bachelor’s degree in science or engineering is required for entry-level positions in both careers, according to the BLS. However, holding a master’s degree could increase your odds of landing a good job.
Among the highest-paying jobs for men, environmental scientist and geoscientist comes in at No. 20. This job does not rank among the 20 highest-paying jobs for women. But there’s a more than $300-per-week difference in earnings between this, the No. 20 top-paying job for men, and the No. 20 top-paying job for women, which is financial analyst.
Medical and Health Services Manager
- Men earn $1,610 per week
- Women earn $1,254 per week
This occupation covers a broad category of job titles, but it’s one of the top-paying jobs for men and women. Essentially, medical and health services managers plan, direct and coordinate services — whether managing an entire medical facility, department or a practice.
If you work in this field, you must stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of healthcare laws, regulations and technologies. You might be required to work evenings or weekends, and be on call for emergencies.
Jobs in hospitals and physicians’ offices offer the biggest salaries, according to the BLS. It’s the No. 19 best-paying job for both men and women, which gets them a median weekly paycheck of $1,610 and $1,254, respectively.
- Men earn $1,659 per week
- Women earn $1,401 per week
Engineering is one of the best fields for women because the pay is generally high and the salary gap tends to be lower than in other industries. In this case, there's a pay gap of $258 per week. It's the 18th-highest paying job for men and the ninth highest-paying job for women.
Engineers' duties can range from research and development to design, testing and involvement in manufacturing and maintenance processes. While these professionals work in multiple areas, including aviation, electrical and computer hardware, the petroleum industry offers some of the best-paying jobs, with mid-career professionals earning about $200,000, according to PayScale.
To land a good engineering job, you will likely need a bachelor's degree along with professional licensing and experience.
"Getting in isn't hard. The challenge is staying in," said Islin Munisteri, a speaker and petroleum engineer, who went on to note that many women quit within the first few years. Look for the right technical mentors, right managers and right projects to succeed, she advised.
- Men earn $1,670 per week
The next step up from financial analysts, financial managers supervise the financial health of organizations and create long-term plans. These days, managers are also spending more time conducting data analyses and advising senior managers, according to the BLS.
To embark on a career in this field, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics or business administration. If you really want to land a job as a financial manager, consider earning a master’s degree in business, finance or economics. Certification is also encouraged.
Those with specialized backgrounds in accounting and finance, for example, will have the best chance at landing jobs, noted the BLS. Financial managers who have a strong grasp of international finance and complicated financial documents will also do well in their job searches.
Financial manager ranks as the 17th-highest weekly paycheck for men, but does not rank among the top 20 best-paying jobs for women.
Personal Financial Advisor
- Men earn $1,714 per week
Personal financial advisors advise individuals on their finances, including investments, mortgages, college savings and retirement. The BLS noted that some advisors even specialize in particular areas, such as retirement.
A bachelor’s degree is commonly required to work as a personal financial advisor, with accepted majors including finance, accounting, economics, math and even law. Moreover, job growth is phenomenal, thanks to the fact that the baby boomer generation is approaching retirement. Those candidates with certifications in specialized areas will have the best job success, noted the BLS.
As a personal financial advisor, men take home a median weekly paycheck of $1,714, placing this at No. 16 for best-paying jobs for men, but not among the top 20 best-paying jobs for women.
Related: How to Find a Financial Advisor
- Men earn $1,727 per week
- Women earn $1,323 per week
From chemists to geologists, physical scientists commonly work in the research arena. According to Study.com, these employees tend to work in a lab setting where they can test and make observations on their findings.
Physical scientists are employed by private companies, schools and even the government. While a bachelor’s degree in physical science is a requirement for the field, a master’s or doctoral degree is needed for more advanced positions. Study.com also noted that undergraduate students commonly specialize in areas of interest.
This job ranks No. 15 for highest-paying jobs for men and No. 12 for women, according to the BLS. In this field, men make $404 more per week than women do.
Electrical and Electronics Engineer
- Men earn $1,736 per week
Electronics engineers develop and design new ways to use electrical power for electrical equipment or systems. Applications include power generation, radar and navigation. A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is required to succeed in this field, according to the BLS. Moreover, securing a Professional Engineering license can help candidates find employment.
Unfortunately, the BLS predicted stagnant job growth due to manufacturing sector decline. However, candidates can potentially find opportunities at engineering services firms, which are looking to hire contract workers to cut costs.
Electrical and electronics engineer ranks No. 13 for highest-paying jobs for men, but it doesn't crack the top 20 for highest paychecks for women.
Human Resources Manager
- Men earn $1,737 per week
- Women earn $1,283 per week
Human resources managers are responsible for directing and overseeing activities and procedures related to recruiting, interviewing and hiring. They also serve as liaisons between employees and management.
You'll need at least a bachelor's degree and related work experience to land this job. And getting certified can boost your prospects — in fact, some companies require this step before they'll hire you.
This job ranks No. 13 for highest-paying jobs for men and No. 17 for women, according to the BLS. In this field, men make $454 more per week than women do. In addition to being high-paying, the human resources profession also has good work-life balance.
Marketing and Sales Manager
- Men earn: $1,745 per week
Marketing and sales managers direct and oversee companies' marketing and sales teams. Along with playing a vital role in marketing research, marketing managers must often plan and manage multiple campaigns at the same time. On the other hand, a sales manager's responsibilities can include assigning territories, outlining new sales strategies, budgeting and developing training programs.
Employers typically seek candidates with four-year degrees and experience, but if you have a solid track record, you can get hired without a degree. According to PayScale, prospective employees should be proficient in Microsoft Office and various marketing software programs.
With a median $1,745 weekly pay, marketing and sales manager places at No. 12 for top-paying jobs for men, but off the top 20 highest-paying jobs for women.
- Men earn $1,747 per week
- Women earn $1,252 per week
Financial analysts assist individuals and businesses in making smart investment choices. Working in banks or other financial institutions, these professionals evaluate finances, study trends and review investment prospects.
Although a bachelor’s degree is required, there is not one set degree path to success. Accounting, economics, finance and other math degrees are all acceptable, according to the BLS.
Job prospects are promising for this career, as portfolios are becoming more complex. However, there are many people attempting to get into this field. Job-seekers who want to gain an edge should consider pursuing certification and a graduate degree.
There’s a pay gap of $495 per week for men compared to women. For women, this is the No. 20 highest-paying job; for men, it’s No. 11.
- Women earn $1,753 per week
Healthcare is another industry that has offered women positive job prospects, high salaries and lower-than-average wage gaps in recent years, according to Gina McKague, president and CEO of McKague Financial. And nurse practitioners are among the top-paid professionals in the field. In fact, it’s the No. 3 top-paying job for women, according to the BLS, while it doesn't crack the top 20 for men.
Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients. Along with writing prescriptions, they often focus on preventing disease and creating health management promotion strategies for particular segments of the population, such as children or the elderly.
The job requires candidates to obtain a master's degree, pass a national exam and earn a license in the state where they intend to work. This is a top-level nursing position, so those looking to advance should pursue a doctoral degree to open up independent research and academic opportunities.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Men earn $1,756 per week
- Women earn $1,680 per week
Computer and information systems managers, also known as IT managers, oversee an organization's computer systems. It might sound like a boring job, but it pays well.
Numerous job titles fall under this category, including chief information officer and security manager. Depending on the job, professional responsibilities can range from conducting evaluations and proposing solutions to setting accessibility rules for employees and outlining protocols for securing customer data.
In addition to a bachelor's degree in a computer or information-related field, employers generally look for candidates with multi-faceted IT experience in areas like security and database management, according to PayScale. Some companies require senior candidates to have graduate degrees and more than a decade of relevant experience, according to the BLS.
This job ranks as the No. 10 highest-paying job for men and the No. 4 highest-paying job for women. Men are paid $76 more per week than women. This job has the smallest pay gap on this list.
Read More: 10 Boring Jobs That Pay $100,000 or More
Information Security Analyst
- Men earn $1,826 per week
With the increasing need for better cybersecurity, information security analysts are in high demand — and will be for the foreseeable future. Information security analysts create and execute security strategies for computer networks and systems in an effort to defend against hackers.
Most positions need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, and employers favor prospective hires that have related job experience. The biggest paychecks are found in management, scientific and technical consulting services, as well as computer systems design and related services.
If you want to move up, an information security analyst can work to become a chief security officer or a computer and information systems manager. This is the No. 9 highest-paying job for men, with a median weekly paycheck of $1,826. It doesn't rank as one of the top 20 highest-paying jobs for women.
- Men earn $1,846 per week
Aerospace engineers design aircraft and spacecraft. They also develop, test and evaluate the prototypes to make sure they function properly. A bachelor’s degree is required to work in this field. The degree can be in aerospace engineering, another engineering field or a science related to aerospace systems.
Although the BLS predicted that this field will decline slightly in upcoming years, professionals who are well-versed in engineering tools and processes, and familiar with modeling, simulation and robotics, will have the best possibilities in their job searches.
Men make a median weekly income of $1,846 — making this the eighth highest-paying job for them. Aerospace engineer isn't one of the top 20 highest-paying jobs for women.
- Men earn $1,863 per week
- Women earn $1,553 per week
Software developers design, test and develop new applications and systems for computers and mobile devices. They also maintain and upgrade existing software. Work tends to be team oriented, and some professionals work directly with a firm's clients.
Most software developers hold bachelor's degrees in computer science or software engineering. However, if you want to work in a specialized area, such as banking, you might need to seek specific knowledge in that field. Additionally, you will need to attend continuing education classes and seminars to stay up to date on the latest technologies and developments.
While tech skills are certainly crucial in this industry, employers are also seeking workers who demonstrate curiosity, creativity, personality and versatility.
"More than ever, companies value employees who think strategically, communicate effectively and thrive when working collaboratively," said Ostrowski.
As software developers, men make $310 more per week than women. This is the No. 7 highest-paying job for men and the No. 6 highest-paying job for women.
- Men earn $1,901 per week
Chemical engineers play a critical role in many industries, working to design processes and solve problems when it comes to producing or using food, drugs, fuel, chemicals and other products. Chemical engineers are employed in industrial plants, refineries and other facilities.
They must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. And employers look for candidates who have practical experience in their field. The top-paying jobs are in petroleum and coal products manufacturing, engineering services and basic chemical manufacturing.
Chemical engineers with no supervisory responsibility had a median salary of $106,300, according to a 2015 survey by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. This is the sixth highest-paying job for men, who bring home a median weekly paycheck of $1,901 per week. It isn't one of the top 20 highest-paying jobs for women.
- Men earn $2,086 per week
- Women earn $1,619 per week
Lawyers represent individual and business clients in civil and criminal litigation or simply supply legal advice. However, becoming a lawyer means first attending four years of undergraduate school, three years of law school and then passing a state bar exam.
Law firms are the largest employers of lawyers, but corporations will add jobs in the coming years, as many are looking to cut costs by expanding their in-house legal departments. With more graduates in law than jobs available, the BLS did note that job candidates should keep an open mind about relocating.
When it comes to men’s salaries vs. women’s salaries, men get paid $467 more per week in general. It’s the No. 5 highest-paying job for both men and women.
- Men earn $2,096 per week
- Women earn $1,839 per week
Pharmacists fill prescriptions, advise patients and, in some states, give flu shots and vaccinations. Pharmaceutical pharmacists conduct drug trials, develop new medicines and help outline safety regulations.
Becoming a pharmacist requires at least six years of study. You'll need to complete at least two years of undergraduate study before you can enroll in a program to get the required doctor of pharmacy degree, which generally takes four years to complete. Plus, you have to pass two exams to get licensed and another exam if you want to administer immunizations.
Not only does this career offer high salaries, but many companies sweeten the deal with bonuses and profit sharing. Nevertheless, men generally take home a paycheck that’s $257 higher than women’s. Pharmacist is the No. 4 highest-paying job for men and the No. 2 highest-paying job for women. There are openings for pharmacists all across the country.
Architectural and Engineering Manager
- Men earn $2,265 per week
Architectural and engineering managers oversee the planning and direction of projects at engineering companies. Some of their responsibilities include determining equipment and staffing needs, supervising and proposing budgets.
A bachelor’s degree in architecture or an engineering-related field is the minimum educational requirement. Many people who work in the field obtain master’s degrees in either engineering, technology management or business administration, according to the BLS.
Job prospects for this field are very positive. Due to aging infrastructure, architectural and engineering managers will be needed for projects that involve improvements and expansions. Men make a median weekly paycheck of $2,265, placing this job at No. 3 for top pay for men. It isn't one of the top 20 highest-paying jobs for women.
Physician and Surgeon
- Men earn $2,343 per week
- Women earn $1,476 per week
Physicians review patients' medical histories, order tests, provide diagnoses and offer treatment. There are many types of doctors, including pediatricians, gynecologists and surgeons.
Entering the field can be challenging. You need to complete four years of undergraduate study before medical school, which is a highly competitive pursuit requiring another four years. Then, depending on your specialty, the required residency will take an additional three to seven years.
Board certification isn't required to practice medicine, but it does boost your job prospects, according to the BLS. While the medical industry offers multiple high-paying jobs, there’s still a major pay gap for men compared to women.
The No. 2 highest-paying job for men sends them home with a weekly paycheck that’s a staggering $867 higher than for women — the biggest pay gap by far on this list. This job ranks No. 7 for highest-paying jobs for women.
- Men earn $2,419 per week
- Women earn $1,876 per week
The duties for this job vary depending on the type of organization, but chief executives are often responsible for outlining strategies and making major decisions. They're also held accountable for overall operations and the company's success.
While educational requirements vary, a CEO candidate tends to hold at least a bachelor's degree. But if you're willing to start in a lower-level position and work your way through the ranks of a company, your experience could land you your dream job. Managerial expertise and knowledge of the industry you want to work in are also important. To excel, expect to work very long hours, travel frequently and manage high levels of stress.
Chief executive is the No. 1 highest-paying job for men and women, but men get paid $543 more per week than women do.
Methodology: The 2016 median weekly salaries for men and women in different occupations were sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey.
Lia Sestric contributed reporting to this article.