5 industries with the best paying jobs in Australia

We have an incredibly diverse job market in Australia, full of interesting – and in many cases high-paying – careers across every industry. While the pursuit of finding a fulfilling career is universal, knowing which sectors offer the highest-paying jobs can help you navigate your career trajectory with a little more confidence. 

In 2024, there are a few industries that stand out for their exceptional remuneration and promising occupational opportunities.

1. Medicine 

The healthcare industry, especially in the medical field, continues to be a financial frontrunner with some of the most lucrative career choices. 

Specialisations like surgeons, anaesthetists and physicians consistently rank among the highest-paying jobs in Australia. Not only do these roles require years – and sometimes more than a decade – of education and training, they also come with substantial financial rewards.

  • Surgeons are highly skilled professionals across specialities such as neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, orthopaedic surgery, reconstructive surgery, among other disciplines. Their work demands intensive training and residency. Surgeons in Australia earn much more than the national average, with neurosurgeons potentially earning a salary of more than $800,000.
  • Anaesthetists manage a patient’s comfort and pain levels during surgical procedures by administering anaesthetics. It’s a demanding profession that has key responsibilities – so it’s no wonder they’re the second highest-paid medical professionals in the country.
  • Physicians cover a broad spectrum of medical specialities, acting as caregivers, diagnosticians and consultants, all in one. Physician salaries are a reflection of their advanced training in a medical speciality, their diagnostic abilities and responsibilities for ongoing patient care.

2. Energy 

As the Australian energy sector shifts towards more sustainable practices and renewable energy, there are now high-paying opportunities in roles like energy managers and environmental specialists. High earners must know how to address climate change issues and help the company transition to cleaner energy sources.

  • Energy managers oversee how energy resources are used within industries or businesses. Their responsibilities might include rolling out sustainable practices, optimising energy consumption, adhering to the latest regulatory standards and more. 
  • Renewable energy engineers develop, design and implement renewable energy systems, with their day-to-day role covering everything from research and innovation to using tech like solar, wind or hydroelectric power.
  • Environmental specialists work to evaluate and then mitigate the impact of the environment on specific industries. They work on strategies to reduce carbon footprints and manage waste, as well as ensure companies comply with environmental regulations.

3. Information technology (IT) 

The IT industry continues to be a powerhouse for well-paying jobs. Our continued reliance on technology and its permeation into every aspect of our lives means the demand for skilled IT professionals is higher than ever.

  • Software developers are integral to designing and maintaining software systems. They are masters at coding and testing, as well as keeping apps and programs functional. 
  • Data scientists interpret complex data to extract meaningful insights and make data-driven decisions for their employers. They have to be able to handle large datasets and conduct statistical analysis, with predictive modelling becoming a more essential skill for digital-forward businesses. Depending on where you work around the country, you can expect the average salary for a data scientist to tilt towards $125,000.
  • Cyber security analysts help protect our digital systems and thwart cyber threats from attacking sensitive data. With cyber security breaches rising year-on-year, these professionals are commanding higher and higher salaries.

4. Marketing and Public Relations

The demand for skilled professionals in marketing and public relations has only gotten greater in the digital age. From marketing directors and brand managers to PR specialists and everything in between, there are some impressive roles in this field.

  • Directors of communications are responsible for a company or organisation’s communication strategies, including internal and external communications, to ensure all messaging is aligned with the brand’s guidelines, mission, values, and vision. This role offers the highest remuneration within this sector.
  • Brand managers spearhead brand building activities, working to enhance a brand’s image and shape consumer perceptions. Their meticulous planning and brand-positioning skills are therefore rewarded with competitive compensation.
  • Digital marketing managers are responsible for driving and maintaining a brand’s online presence through long-term digital marketing strategies and short-term advertising campaigns, with salaries averaging in the six-figure mark.

5. Legal    

As it has been for decades, legal professions continue to be some of the most financially rewarding careers in Australia. Lawyers working in corporate law, commercial litigation, as well as barristers and senior legal counsel can command huge salaries. This is because of the complexity of legal frameworks and the integral role of legal advisors across industries.

  • Barristers are key players in the Australian legal system. As specialists in courtroom advocacy, they provide expert legal opinions and often work across multiple areas of the law. They not only represent clients in court, but also provide legal advice based on their in-depth knowledge of the law. For established senior counsel barristers, average operating profits can surpass $580,000 annually.
  • Commercial lawyers are masters in resolving legal disputes concerning business affairs. They represent clients in court, handle arbitration and mediation, and must have extensive legal knowledge and strategic acumen.
  • Senior legal counsel work within the legal department of established firms and provide broad legal guidance for the company. Their responsibilities might include legal risk management and policy formulation, as well as on-the-go support as they steer the organisation through complex legal matters.

There are so many opportunities across so many different industries for Australians looking to start a new career or change their current circumstances. While money isn’t always the most important factor in finding a fulfilling career, these five industries could provide you with the right avenue for growth and success.

Protect your financial future 

It takes years to build and maintain a career, with people dedicating time and effort to secure their family’s financial future. Considering life insurance could also help provide financial security for you and your family – request a quick quote from Guardian Insurance today and find the right cover to suit your needs.