Top 15 Highest Paying Jobs to Start in California 2024

Ronnie Gift

The highest-paying jobs in California have been in top search these days. California possesses one of the most substantial economies worldwide, creating a breeding ground for some of the most lucrative job opportunities.

Many professions cater to these aspirations, whether you are already residing in California and seeking to enhance your income or contemplating a move to the state to secure better pay.


Job seekers in California can revel in the advantages of a flourishing economy, delightful weather, and breathtaking landscapes stretching from the Pacific Coast Highway to the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains.

The state proudly claims the top spot for the largest economy in the United States. It stands among the world’s economic giants, boasting an impressive gross domestic product surpassing $3 trillion as of 2020.


Furthermore, California leads the nation in agricultural output and excels in exporting computers, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products.

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In this article, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the highest-paying jobs in California, explaining their typical responsibilities and providing insights into the average salaries associated with each profession.


Working and Living in California

Highest paying jobs in California

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau, a single individual’s average annual income in California was $36,960 in 2019, while the median household income reached $75,240 per year.

Notably, California’s cost of living surpasses the national average by approximately 50%, primarily due to high housing expenses.

In 2019, economists from MIT estimated that a single adult with no children needed to earn at least $39,000 annually to cover living expenses in California.

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According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, residents were found to allocate over one-third of their income towards rent in 2016.

As you embark on your job search in California, consider exploring communities with affordable housing options, a thriving job market, and lucrative career opportunities among the highest-paying jobs in the state.

15 Highest-Paying Jobs in California

Here are the highest-paying jobs in California:


1. Senior information security analyst

Mean annual salary: $101,095

The role of a senior information security analyst involves evaluating information risks and addressing enterprise-wide data vulnerabilities. Responsibilities include:

  • Formulating policies and standards that adhere to existing regulatory norms.
  • Conducting technology risk training.
  • Handling queries from internal and external auditors.
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2. Pharmacists

Average annual salary: $152,780

Pharmacists are responsible for preparing medications based on physician prescriptions. They may work in retail pharmacies, hospitals, or healthcare facilities. Compounding pharmacists create customized medications for patients with specific needs.

Pharmacists must complete a doctoral degree in pharmacy and fulfill state licensing requirements, which generally entail four years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. In some specialized areas, residency programs may be necessary.

While the overall job growth for pharmacists is projected to decline by -2% nationwide between 2020 and 2030, the demand for these professionals in California is estimated to grow by 6% from 2018 to 2028.


3. Construction project manager

Average salary: $101,918 per year

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Construction project managers oversee all aspects of construction projects. Working alongside engineers and architects, they develop plans, establish budgets, and set timelines. Their duties encompass hiring employees and subcontractors, obtaining necessary permits, and ensuring all construction aspects comply with regulatory codes.

4. Dentists

Average annual salary: $145,620

Dentists diagnose and treat patients for oral diseases, perform tooth repairs, and offer preventative oral care.

Most dentists work in dental offices, though some establish their own practices or work for government agencies. Dentists can specialize in areas such as oral surgery, orthodontia, or prosthodontics, in addition to practicing general dentistry.

To become a dentist, one must complete an undergraduate degree, earn a doctorate, and undergo post-doctoral training while meeting state licensing requirements. An aging population and a greater focus on preventative healthcare drive the demand for dentists.


5. Java developer

Average salary: $103,390 per year

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Java developers design, develop, and maintain Java-based software applications. They may collaborate with web designers and software engineers to integrate Java into websites and applications.

Java developers are involved in a product’s entire development life cycle, from inception through testing and deployment.

Additionally, they may gather user requirements, troubleshoot issues, and assist with quality assurance testing.

6. Research Scientist

Average salary: $116,300 per year

Research scientists conduct investigations within various scientific fields. Their work includes:

  • Designing and conducting experiments.
  • Analyzing data.
  • Reporting findings to other researchers
  • Writing papers and reports.
  • Conducting fieldwork.

Research scientists may also provide teaching and supervision to junior staff. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in California.

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7. Actuary

Average salary: $117,220 per year

Actuaries utilize mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess financial risks. They devise strategies to help businesses avoid or minimize the impact of unfavorable events.

8. Senior marketing manager

Average salary: $118,767 per year

Senior marketing managers oversee a company’s marketing staff and ensure the effective promotion of the company and its products.

Responsibilities typically include market research, strategic planning, implementing marketing strategies, and analyzing team performance.


9. Physician assistant

Average salary: $119,181 per year

Physician assistants collaborate with licensed physicians to provide medical services to patients. Their duties include:

  • Obtaining patient histories.
  • Conducting examinations.
  • Diagnosing illnesses.
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Ordering and analyzing lab tests.
  • Assisting with medical procedures.
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10. Financial Reporting Manager

Average salary: $120,803 per year

Financial reporting managers prepare government financial filings and quarterly financial releases and report financial trends and issues to management.

They play a crucial role in assisting management in making decisions that impact the company’s budget. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in California.

11. Senior web developer

Average salary: $121,239 per year


Senior web developers are tasked with creating functional websites that meet client needs.

They also lead teams of junior developers; they provide guidance and training when necessary, dedicating significant time to writing code and testing website functionality.

12. Software engineer

Average salary: $124,787 per year

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Software engineers design, develop, and maintain software systems, spanning operating systems, business applications, mobile and web applications, games, connected hardware devices, and networking systems.

They create new software, adapt existing software, and write tests for existing code.

13. Chief information officer

Average salary: $137,748 per year


The chief information officer (CIO) oversees the company’s technology strategy.

This executive manages IT personnel, plans strategic growth objectives, aligns technology with business goals, and addresses risk management.

Establishing IT policies and procedures is also a significant aspect of the CIO’s role. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in California.

14. Contract attorney

Average salary: $140,633 per year

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Contract attorneys work for law firms on a contractual basis for a limited period. Their tasks include drafting contracts, settlements, and other legal documents; conducting research; preparing reports; and supporting legal teams.

15. Engineering manager

Average salary: $154,289 per year


Engineering managers coordinate and direct activities and research within architectural and engineering companies.

Their responsibilities encompass consulting with staff to develop project specifications and procedures, preparing budgets, recruiting employees, and implementing policies and standards for technical work.


These highest-paying jobs in California offer diverse and lucrative opportunities across various industries.

From technology and healthcare to finance and construction, these professions provide attractive salaries and present exciting career paths for individuals seeking success in the Golden State.

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Whether you’re a seasoned professional or aspiring to enter these fields, California’s thriving economy and job market promise rewarding prospects for those willing to pursue excellence and make a significant impact in their chosen professions.


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