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The best-paying jobs in 2020 and how to get them

Want to know what the best-paying jobs in the world are at the moment? Check out our list of the highest paying careers.

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Salary is not the only consideration when you’re looking to improve your career prospects, but having an understanding of the best paying jobs and how to get them can be helpful in planning your career path. As you would expect, medical careers rank highly, but they are far from the only sector with high-paying jobs. 

We’ve selected some of the highest paying careers from a variety of sectors and industries, but one thing they all have in common is that you need to be passionate about your role. Ultimately, the best way to get jobs that pay well is to be interested in the subject. 

To help you understand where your passions lie, we’ve included links to a variety of FutureLearn’s online courses alongside each role. 

Software Developer 

What is a software developer?

A software developer, or software engineer, applies scientific and mathematical principles in order to create the kinds of amazing technology that we use in our everyday lives. As a software developer, you’ll spend your days writing code, designing programs and solving complex problems. You could be employed across a range of industries, ranging from IT to construction, finance and many more. 

How do you become a software developer?

Software developers are in demand — with a projected 25.6 per cent employment growth between 2018 and 2028 and they are also one of the highest paying jobs on this list. Many software developers begin their careers with a qualification in computer science, computing or information technology, or gain hands-on experience through internships. 

How much do software developers make? 

$105,000 / £85,000 / AUD 150,000

Explore software development courses

Learn how to code or build your programming skills, and take your first steps towards becoming a software developer. 


What is a dentist?

A dentist is responsible for the oral health of their patients, including everything from a check up to major surgery. Dentists can choose to specialise in a variety of areas from teeth straightening to surgeries. 

How do you become a dentist?

Becoming a dentist is a long process but the rewards are evident. Usually a five year dental undergraduate degree is the first stage, followed by postgraduate training (dental school in the United States) followed by obtaining relevant qualifications from dental governing bodies. 

How much do dentists make?

$159,000 / £130,000 / AUD 240,000

Discover dentistry

Discover the world of dentistry and how to become a dentist with this online course from the University of Sheffield. 


What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specialises in the treatment of mental health conditions. They are distinguished from other mental health professionals, such as psychologists, in that they are also medically qualified doctors and can prescribe medication. Psychiatrists usually specialise in one area, such as general adult, child and adolescent, or intellectual disabilities. 

How do you become a psychiatrist? 

Becoming a fully qualified psychiatrist requires a significant amount of training. You’ll need a medical undergraduate degree, but from this point it differs by country. In the UK, for example, you’ll then undertake two years of medical foundation training followed by six-year training specific to psychiatry. In the US, you’ll complete an undergraduate degree followed by four years in medical school. 

How much do psychiatrists make?

$220,000 / £180,000 / AUD 330,000

Beyond Diagnosis: Is Psychiatric Diagnosis Helpful?

An introduction to the history, practice, and functions of psychiatric diagnosis.

Healthcare and medicine courses

Becoming a psychiatrist first requires becoming a qualified doctor. Discover a selection of online courses that will help you begin or advance your career in medicine. 


What is a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are medically trained professionals who specialise in the provision of medicines, both directly to patients, and to other healthcare professionals. They have a deep knowledge of medicines and their effects on the human body, can advise on suitable prescriptions and treatments, and are qualified to dispense them. 

How do you become a pharmacist? 

In the UK, you need a masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm) to practise as a pharmacist, which usually takes four years. In the US, it’s a similar path, with a four year PharmD degree required. In Australia, you have a choice of a four year Bachelor of Pharmacy course, or a two year post-graduate Masters of Pharmacy. 

How much do pharmacists make?

$125,000 / £100,000 / AUD 190,000

Pharmacy courses

Discover the world of pharmacy and learn how to start a career as a pharmacist, with our selection of online pharmacy courses.


What is a geologist?

Geologists study the processes and materials of the earth. Their focus is to better understand the workings of our planet, and they use those learnings across a variety of purposes and industries. Geologists are employed in sectors like mining and quarrying, engineering, oil and gas, government agencies and academia. They typically can expect a mixture of field-based work, desk research and laboratory time.

How do you become a geologist? 

Becoming a geologist (or geoscientist) typically requires an undergraduate degree in geology or a related field. This is usually followed by postgraduate study in a specific field of geology, such as environmental geoscience, pollution control or seismology. 

How much do geologists make?

$92,000 / £75,000 / AUD 140,000

Take an introduction to geology

Take your first steps into the world of geology. Discover where materials that make up everyday objects come from and how to use them sustainably.


What is a lawyer?

A lawyer (also known as an attorney or counsel) is a person licensed to practice law and give legal advice. Solicitors and barristers are both types of lawyer. The origins of the profession date back to ancient Greece, where powerful orators would defend their friends and clients in the courtroom. 

The modern role now includes gathering evidence, prosecuting or defending clients, and managing complex litigation. A lawyer’s primary role is to uphold the law while protecting the rights of their clients. 

How do you become a lawyer? 

To become a lawyer via the traditional route, you typically require an undergraduate degree (in the UK/Aus this should be LLB qualified) or a law conversion course (if your degree was unrelated to law) followed by law school (US) or an apprenticeship in a firm of your chosen field, such as barrister or solicitor. 

How much do lawyers make?

$120,000 / £100,000 / AUD 180,000

Explore law courses

The subject of law is vast and covers many specialities. Gain a better understanding of legal fields and process with our online law courses from the world’s major universities.


What is a surgeon?

Surgeons carry out operations and other medical procedures on patients. Surgeons primarily carry out specific operating procedures, but also carry out ward rounds and a range of other administrative duties. Some surgeons choose to specialise in a single area, such as brain surgery or heart surgery. 

How to become a surgeon? 

As with psychiatrists, surgeons are first required to become medically qualified doctors before their surgical training begins. From that point there are usually several years of surgical training within a hospital, followed by further training if you’re choosing to specialise in one area. 

How much do surgeons make?

$208,000 /  £170,000 / AUD 315,000

Browse healthcare courses

The first stage of becoming a surgeon is a degree in medicine. Begin your journey towards this with an online course in healthcare and medicine. 

Finance Manager 

What is a finance manager?

As you would expect, finance is one the highest paying career choices. A finance manager is responsible for understanding the financial health of a company. Also known as a financial manager or finance lead, they provide financial guidance, direct and develop investment strategies and help shape the long term financial goals of their company.  

How do you become a finance manager? 

To become a finance manager, you would typically require a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics or a business-related discipline. This is usually followed by further training and accreditation in specific disciplines, such as accounting. In the UK, for example, common certification is from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). 

How much do finance managers make?

$127,990 / £100,000 / AUD 190,000

Explore finance and accounting courses

Build your finance and accounting skills with online courses covering key finance topics like financial forecasting, money management, and bookkeeping.

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