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The top 11 highest-paying jobs in healthcare

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There are many high-paying jobs in healthcare and postgraduate study can be the bridge for health professionals to move into higher-paying roles in the industry.

A career in healthcare offers the chance to make a genuine difference. Healthcare is meaningful work, but some sectors of the industry don’t have a reputation for the highest salaries. However, there are many opportunities for financial growth and job satisfaction.

As with any industry, salaries vary widely from role to role, depending on your location, qualifications and experience. Within the healthcare industry, your field of specialisation can also impact the salary you can expect to receive.

Considering your career options within health? Learn more about a selection of the highest-paying jobs in the industry.

Jobs in healthcare: what are the highest-paid positions in 2024?

Healthcare is a broad industry with diverse opportunities. The highest-paying jobs in healthcare tend to be medical specialisations, but there are other jobs that also offer attractive salaries. Below we’ve outlined a range of these positions.

1. Surgeon

Surgeons are among the highest-paid healthcare professionals, with salary packages upwards of $500,000 due to their extensive education and training, and the critical nature of their work. According to figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), they make an average income of $457,000. ​​The demand for surgeons continues to grow strongly across the nation.

Within the surgical profession, there are nine specialisations – ranging from cardiothoracic to orthopaedic – with a constant demand for skilled professionals. Training to become a surgeon is rigorous and can take more than 10 years. It involves the completion of a medical degree, followed by an internship, resident training and specialist training through the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.

2. Anaesthetist

A typical salary for an anaesthetist in Australia is $405,000. Like surgeons, anaesthetists are highly skilled, and this is reflected in their compensation. They play a crucial role in patient care during surgeries, requiring a high level of expertise and bearing significant responsibility.

While not as in demand as other medical professionals, the job outlook for anaesthetists is good as the profession is predicted to grow from 5,800 jobs in 2021 to 6,000 by 2026.

Anaesthesiology training is similar to that of a surgeon, with specialist training instead completed through the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

3. General practitioner

General practitioners provide medical support to their patients, including general healthcare treatment, specialist care referral and prescription of medications. They play a pivotal role in the health system, helping to treat patients out of hospital.

According to job search platform SEEK, the annual salary for a general practitioner in Australia is $375,000. Demand for GPs and resident medical officers is high and will continue to be in the future with a projected job growth of more than 10 per cent in the five years to 2026.

After completing the relevant medical degree, internship and resident training, general practitioners complete the specialist training through the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

4. Psychiatrist

With a growing focus on mental health in the community, psychiatrists are in high demand.

Psychiatrists earn high salaries – averaging $255,000 to $275,000 annually – due to their ability to diagnose and treat complex mental health issues. Demand for these professionals will continue to rise in the future with an estimated 5,900 jobs by 2026.

A psychiatrist differs from a psychologist primarily because a psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor. As such, they can prescribe medication, while a psychologist cannot.

Like all medical specialists, psychiatrists must complete specialist training after their medical degree, internship and resident training. This is done through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

5. Dentist

As a dentist, you can expect a typical annual salary of $185,000, according to SEEK. This reflects the specialist skills required to treat teeth, gums and associated conditions and diseases. The job outlook for dentists is good, rising from 17,500 jobs in 2021 to an estimated 22,300 jobs in Australia by 2026. As such, these professionals will be in demand.

To become a dentist, you must complete a relevant degree and register with the Dental Board of Australia. To maintain your registration, you must also undertake continuing professional development (CPD).

6. Health leadership

There are also high-paying jobs in healthcare outside of medical specialisation. One such opportunity is in health leadership. Health team leaders start on a salary of $90,000 but salaries can reach $190,000 and more in leadership roles.

Healthcare and social assistance is the largest-employing industry in Australia and the number of people employed in healthcare continues to grow. As such it makes sense that the demand for leaders will also grow.

The pathway to this type of role involves postgraduate study in health leadership and management. Even if you don’t have clinical experience, there are opportunities to lead in health planning, consulting and public health policy.

7. Dermatologist

With an average base salary of $188,387, dermatologists, particularly those in private practice, are in high demand. The demand for medical practitioners such as dermatologists, obstetricians, ophthalmologists and pathologists continues to rise with a projected job growth of 7 per cent from 2021 to 2026.

Dermatologists are specialists in skin health, treating skin concerns and conditions, including eczema, acne and skin cancer. They also perform cosmetic treatments, helping to drive demand.

To become a dermatologist, you must complete a medical degree, an internship and resident training. This is followed by specialist training through the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

8. Director of nursing

In the nursing profession, a director of nursing is a higher-paid role. SEEK reports that the average annual salary is between $135,000 and $155,000. Demand for nurses in management positions is expected to grow strongly over the coming years with an incredible growth of 23.1 per cent from 18,400 jobs in 2021 to 22,600 jobs in 2026.

A director of nursing is responsible for supervising a team or team of nurses, working alongside other health professionals and overseeing patient care. To make this move in your career, you’ll need a minimum of two years of experience as a registered nurse in order to qualify for a postgraduate degree in health administration or health services management.

9. Radiologist

Radiology is another specialist area of medicine that is among the healthcare industry’s high-paying jobs. The average annual base salary for a radiologist is approximately $150,000 however, salaries can be much higher for more experienced professionals. The future job outlook for all medical imaging professionals such as radiologists and sonographers is expected to grow from 15,900 in 2021 to 18,200 by 2026.

Radiologists require a deep understanding of medical imaging. They often work with advanced technology and diagnose diseases and conditions that are critical for patient care and planning.

In addition to a medical degree and training, to become a radiologist, you must also complete five years of specialist training through the Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

10. Nurse practitioner

The average salary for a nurse practitioner in Australia ranges from $135,000 to $150,000, significantly higher than a registered nurse’s average annual salary of $88,000. The number of nurse practitioners in Australia is growing as the healthcare system grows. The average yearly growth rate in this profession is almost 10 per cent.

To become a nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse with the relevant experience to be admitted to a Nursing and Midwifery Board-approved master’s program. Once endorsed by AHPRA, you can then provide advanced care or work as a primary healthcare provider.

11. Sonographer

In Australia, sonographers typically earn between $110,000 and $130,000, making it one of the highest-paid allied health jobs in Australia. Sonographers specialise in medical imaging using ultrasound equipment and use their skills to interpret the images.

To become a sonographer, you must complete a relevant undergraduate degree, followed by Graduate Diploma or Master of Medical Ultrasound.

How to get a higher salary in healthcare

A number of factors influence the salaries for jobs in healthcare. Dr Vivek Eranki, CEO of Cosmetique, explains that some healthcare jobs are more in demand than others, particularly in niche fields, which drives salaries higher.

Healthcare professionals can increase their salaries by:

  • pursuing advanced specialisations in their field. “Specialists with extensive training and years of practice often command premium remuneration due to their advanced skills and expertise,” Dr Eranki says.
  • studying at a postgraduate level or attending workshops and seminars that contribute to professional development. “Higher levels of education and accumulated experience in the healthcare sector typically correlate with higher salaries,” Dr Eranki adds.
  • polishing their negotiation skills to highlight their accomplishments and seek out new opportunities and salaries.
  • relocating to areas of the country that have more demand. Dr Eranki says the geographical location of the job can affect salary.
  • moving from the public to the private sector. Dr Eranki says the private sector tends to offer higher salaries.

Dr Eranki himself undertook postgraduate study for the purpose of increasing his salary.

“Postgraduate studies demonstrate a commitment to one’s profession, signify advanced expertise, and can qualify an individual for more specialised, higher-paying roles,” he says. “In highly competitive sectors, such as healthcare, additional qualifications can distinguish candidates, positioning them for leadership roles and advanced practice positions that come with increased financial rewards.”

Take the next step towards a higher-paying job

Postgraduate study can be the bridge you need to accelerate your career towards the highest-paying jobs in healthcare. FEE-HELP is also available for many postgraduate healthcare courses to assist you with the financial aspects of study.

Thinking about how postgraduate education can take your career to new heights? Browse the nursing, social work, leadership and management, counselling, mental health and psychology courses available through GlobalHealth Education’s university partners.

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