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Top Health Care Careers: Info About the Highest Paying Careers

The highest-paying careers in health care are those of various medical specialists. All require a bachelor's degree, four years of medical school and a minimum of two years of advanced training in the form of a residency, internship or both. Some specialties require additional training beyond the residency.

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Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterologists specialize in treating diseases of the gastrointestinal system and liver. They must complete a 2-3 year gastroenterology fellowship following the medical school residency. Some choose to embark on a second fellowship to become gastrointestinal (GI) oncologists or GI radiologists.

Career and Salary Info

Gastroenterologists work in hospitals, clinics and in group and individual private practices. Payscale.com reported most annual salaries in this profession as ranging from $127,985-$480,219 in December of 2013.

Surgeon

Surgeons are physicians specially trained in performing operations. Some perform general surgery, while others specialize further in certain areas of the body, such as the heart, brain, musculoskeletal system, or in plastic or reconstructive surgery to various areas of the body. General and specialty residencies for surgeons are provided by independent medical centers and universities, and last 2-7 years. The added advantage to university-based residencies is that they include teaching experience.

Career and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgeons made an annual mean salary of $230,540 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). A 2010 BLS study projected a 24% growth for all physicians and surgeons between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are responsible for pain relief and maintenance of vital body signs of surgical patients. They work in labor and delivery, operating rooms and intensive care. According to the American Medical Association, anesthesiologists must complete an internship after medical school, followed by a 2-year residency in anesthesiology (www.ama-assn.org).

Career and Salary Info

The BLS reported the mean annual salary for anesthesiologists as $232,830 in May 2012. Anesthesiologists are classified under physicians and surgeons, and they were projected to see faster than average job growth from 2010-2020.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

These dental surgeons diagnose and treat diseases and injuries of the facial and mouth region. They remove impacted and diseased teeth, plan and replace dental implants, repair facial bones and tissues and treat pathologic conditions, such as infections of the jaw, oral cavity and salary glands. After four years of dental school, they must complete a residency and pass a written and oral exam.

Career and Salary Info

The mean annual salary for this position was $216,440 in May 2012, according to the BLS. The majority of these professionals were employed by dentists' offices.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics