The most (and least) profitable professions in Massachusetts

Massachusetts workers ran companies and classrooms in 2013.

They drilled oil and teeth.

They developed websites and construction sites.


Nearly 3.25 million Massachusetts residents worked in 2013, laboring across about 740 job titles, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Massachusetts occupations took home an average annual salary of $56,410 — almost $10,000 more than the national figure — in 2013.

The medical and financial industries paid the highest salaries, with average annual pay extending well into six figures. In stark contrast, some retail and food service positions made tens of thousands of dollars below the state average.

Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics average salary data, the Globe ranked the highest, lowest, and mid-range paying professions in Massachusetts in 2013.

What are the highest paying jobs in Massachusetts?

Job title Number of jobs in Mass. Number per 1,000 jobs in Mass. Annual mean salary in Mass. Annual mean salary in US
Surgeons 1130 0.35 $240,700 $233,150
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons 320 0.10 $231,040 $218,960
Anesthesiologists 620 0.19 $219,160 $235,070
Obstetricians and Gynecologists 510 0.16 $209,610 $212,570
Internists, General 3080 0.94 $207,140 $188,440
Family and General Practitioners 2850 0.87 $204,810 $183,940
Chief Executives 11670 3.58 $201,970 $178,400
Dentists, All Other Specialists 120 0.04 $195,440 $170,340
Orthodontists 400 0.12 $194,830 $196,270
Psychiatrists 990 0.30 $186,920 $182,660

SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics

With one exception, Massachusetts positions that made the highest salaries were all held by people with medical or dental degrees. Surgical positions, both medical and dental, garnered the most take-home pay, followed by anesthesiologists, obstetricians and gynecologists, and general internists.


While the medical positions topping the list are lucrative, they were also rare. None of the positions saw more than one job per 1,000 in Massachusetts. The medical role with the highest job market penetration in Massachusetts was general internist, of which there were 3,080 positions in 2013.

There were quite a few more chief executives — more specifically, 11,670 of them — in the state. They made $201,970 on average in 2013, which was the seventh highest paycheck that year.

And the lowest?

Job title Number of jobs in Mass. Number per 1,000 jobs in Mass. Annual mean salary in Mass. Annual mean salary in US
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop $19,890 $19,650
Cooks, Fast Food 9580 2.94 $20,260 $18,870
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food 52650 16.16 $20,520 $18,880
Shampooers 420 0.13 $20,900 $18,910
Dishwashers 14290 4.39 $21,280 $19,180
Amusement and Recreation Attendants 6070 1.86 $21,770 $20,310
Cashiers 68560 21.04 $21,830 $20,420
Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers 2310 0.71 $21,940 $20,370
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers 2920 0.90 $22,280 $20,890
Automotive and Watercraft Service Attendants 2510 0.77 $22,460 $21,960

SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The least lucrative positions in the state made about one-tenth of the highest paid ones in 2013. The lowest-wage workers were employed in food service, retail, and typically seasonal jobs, such as lifeguarding or running rides at amusement parks.

Of the lowest paying jobs, food preparation and serving workers (including in fast food establishments) and cashiers saw the highest job market penetration. The position of cashier, which made an average of $21,830 in 2013, had the third highest number of employed workers in the state at 68,560. Food preparation and serving had the eighth highest worker population at 52,650.

Only two of the top 10 most held jobs in 2013 made above the state average annual salary. Most of their salaries hovered in the $20,000 and $30,000 range. Positions included retail salesperson ($25,820 a year,) office clerks ($33,860 a year,) and waiters and waitresses ($26,790 a year.)

Which positions fall in the middle?

Job title Number of jobs in Mass. Number per 1,000 jobs in Mass. Annual mean salary in Mass. Annual mean salary in US
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers 7170 2.20 $56,140 $46,110
Plant and System Operators, All Other 140 0.04 $56,270 $54,300
Electro-Mechanical Technicians 1240 0.38 $56,440 $54,160
Healthcare Social Workers 10430 3.20 $56,570 $52,520
Credit Counselors 920 0.28 $56,900 $44,960
Court Reporters 160 0.05 $56,960 $54,760
Costume Attendants 50 0.02 $57,020 $49,400
Industrial Engineering Technicians 2670 0.82 $57,080 $54,170
Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas 150 0.05 $57,090 $46,060
Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors 1880 0.58 $57,100 $53,850

SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics


The careers that brought home the salaries closest to the state average of $56,410 were a mixed bag, requiring varied amounts of training and schooling.

One thing the positions on the list shared was they all collected higher annual salaries in Massachusetts than nationally.

Overall, nearly 200 of Massachusetts’ 739 jobs had salaries within $10,000 of the state average. The majority of those positions received pay higher than the national average.

What’s the average annual salary for your position in Massachusetts? In the United States? Check out the complete list of jobs and salaries.

Catherine Cloutier can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.