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Wondering which jobs pay the most? You might not be surprised to learn that the jobs with the highest salary in Australia are those in the medical industry. Australian Taxation Office data shows medical practitioners are the top earners nationwide, with Surgeons averaging $394,303, Anaesthetists at $386,065, and Internal Medicine Specialists at $304,752.
However, as our annual Hays Salary Guide shows, there are plenty of jobs that pay over $200K outside of medicine – perhaps even some in your industry. Here, we share insights into some of the highest paying jobs in Australia and the drivers behind the salaries these professions command.
If you are planning your future career goalsand want a long and happy working life, you shouldn’t just focus on going after the jobs with the highest salary. However, knowing what jobs pay the best in your preferred industry can help you map out your future career, giving you insight into the level of commitment required to join the ranks of the top earners in Australia.
The 22 highest paying jobs in Australia in 2022 - 2023
Along with the latest recruitment insights and trends, our Hays Salary Guide reveals typical salaries for thousands of jobs across Australia. Based on this data, we’ve collated the following list of some of Australia’s highest paying jobs.
While most of the salaries listed here are for roles in Sydney, there are a few exceptions that we will disclaim. For example, sectors like mining and oil & gas will understandably have the top earners in Western Australia. The ACT leads in salaries for defence since military spending is in the federal domain.
For salaries in other locations or other roles in your field, please see our complete Hays Salary Guide.
Legal: Equity Partner (up to $750K)
Equity Partners are top earners in the legal profession today. Equity partners in top tier private practices in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney report average salaries of at least $500K (Sydney tops the list at $700K-plus).
But research indicates that the road to becoming an Equity Partner at a law firm takes up to 15 years. Although the financial return can be lucrative, legal professionals need to consider their commitment to the pathway seriously. Before making it as an Equity Partner, lawyers are known to log long hours in highly competitive environments.
If you’d prefer an in-house career, a General Counsel typically earns $250-350K+.
Executive: CEO and MD ($600K)
For CEOs and managing directors in commercial organisations with turnovers between $50m-$500m, the typical income is $600K.
For COOs and EGMs, incomes in commercial organisations with turnovers between $50m-$500m are typically around $500,000. CFOs and FDs in the same organisations typically earn around $450K.
McKinsey & Company highlights that CEOs are top performers in a range of key areas, including organisational strategy, organisational alignment, external stakeholder relations and board engagement.
CEOs and other Executives seeking new opportunities should show how they have advanced service delivery in their organisation by introducing new technologies and strategies. Executives also need to demonstrate their ability to foster collaboration and strengthen team culture in remote work environments to attract new career opportunities and top salaries.
Retail: General Manager (up to $510K)
As it has with so many sectors, the pandemic has had a major impact on Australia’s retail sector, inducing a survival state in many physical retailers. It should come as no surprise that consumer-caution toward retail spending has resulted in steadying salaries. Salaries in retail are wide-ranging, with upper-echelon average income ranging from $153K-$408K for head office Retail Directors and Merchandise Managers/Buying Directors and $204K-$510K for General Managers.
Other jobs that can pay over $200K in retail include Group Planning Managers/Directors ($153-300K), National Operations Managers ($153-306K), Heads of Design/Creative Directors ($122-255K), Buying Managers ($150-204K) and Planning Managers ($133-204K).
E-Commerce Managers have also risen in prominence, with the highest reported salaries reaching above $200K.
Accountancy & Finance: Head of Treasury ($408K)
Within the sector, Heads of Treasury have some of the top paying jobs in Australia. The typical pay for a Head of Treasury in Sydney is $408K. For accounting professionals aspiring towards jobs that pay well in treasury management, expect that you will require more than 10 years’ experience in finance, banking, accounting and/or in-house corporate treasury experience.
Other top paying roles can be found for Group Financial Controllers (typically $265K in organisations with turnover exceeding $300m), Heads of Internal Audit ($265K), Senior Commercial Managers/Directors ($255K in organisations with turnover exceeding $300m), Heads of Risk (also $255K) and Managers/Heads of Financial Planning/Analysis ($230K).
In professional practice, Corporate Finance Principals/Directors ($220K), Insolvency Principals/Directors ($200K) and Tax Consulting Principals/Directors ($180K) are top earners.
Property: Development Director (up to $388K)
Jobs with the highest salary in Australia’s property sector today include Development Directors, who can earn an average salary of between $224-388K in Sydney (although Melbourne Development Directors have the highest typical salary at $306K). Meanwhile, Development Managers can receive an average salary of between $133-255K and $179-245K for Client-side Project Directors.
Acquisitions Managers with 4+ years’ experience have a typical salary of $204K, with the highest earners bringing in as much as $388K in Sydney.
Energy: Project Delivery Director (up to $357K)
In the energy sector, the highest paying jobs go to Project Delivery Directors in design engineering (renewables). The highest earners are in Sydney ($224K-$350K) and Melbourne ($306K-$357K). Some of the essential capabilities Project Delivery Directors draw on to succeed in their roles include a collaborative approach to stakeholder relations and a strategic approach to be prepared for inherent uncertainties on big projects.
High paying roles in the energy sector can also be seen in renewables for Construction Managers ($153-230K), Project Development Directors ($184-224K) and Grid Connections Managers ($173-220K).
In transmission and distribution/generation, the highest paying jobs are for Engineering Managers ($163-240K), Transmission Line Design Engineers ($122-200K) and Principal Design Engineers ($143K-$180K).
Construction: Construction Manager (up to $320K)
The construction sector has many in-demand and high paying roles across different areas and geographies. The highest paying jobs in building construction are Construction Managers ($250-320K), Project Managers ($160-250K), Senior Estimators ($120-200K), Site Managers ($150-220K) and Design Managers ($180-240K).
In civil construction, Construction Managers can receive a typical salary of between $180-280K and Project Managers between $160-210K. In residential construction, a Construction Manager can earn a typical salary of between $160-220K, while a Senior Contracts Administrator earns between $120-200K.
Technology: CIO and CTO ($306K)
Tech salary trajectories traditionally run on two tracks. Many roles see a steady increase in salary. However, in high demand areas, salary increases trend up at even greater speeds.
There are many roles in tech that command average salaries between $150-$200K. However, the major typical salary earners are in leadership positions in Sydney, and they include CISOs ($255K), CIOs ($306K) and CTOs (also $306K). Other high paying jobs in tech include Project Directors ($260K), Program Managers ($210K) and Enterprise Architects ($230K) in projects & change management, along with Senior Project Managers ($200K). Learn more about the highest paying tech jobs in our related article.
Marketing & Digital: Executive Director of Communications ($300K)
Executive Directors of Communications in PR & Communications have the biggest earning potential, expecting a typical salary of $300K in Sydney. Sydney-based Marketing Directors can expect to earn an average salary of $220K, while Directors of Communications ($200K), Bid Managers ($180K), Sponsorship/Fundraising Directors ($175K) and PR Directors (also $175K) also earn strong salaries.
Human Resources: Head of HR/HR Director ($300K)
Given the seismic impact that COVID-19 has had on the world of work, HR professionals are essential advisors for many organisations who need to navigate the changing world of business. Demand for skilled and experienced HR professionals has consequently intensified. Heads of HR/HR Directors in organisations with more than 1,000 employees have the biggest earning potential, typically $300K in Sydney, $280K in Melbourne and $250K in Perth.
Average annual typical salaries are also high for Heads of L&D/L&D ($224K) and Heads of/Directors of Remuneration & Benefits ($204K).
Banking: State Manager ($300K)
The banking job market is bouncing back in a big way, with organisations expanding to offer many attractive career opportunities.
As for which jobs pay the most, according to our latest findings, State Managers typically earn $300K. Meanwhile, in business & commercial lending and corporate & institutional lending, Executive Managers and heads of departments like financial planning, credit, market and operational risk, compliance, anti-money laundering and regulatory risk have some of the best paying jobs in Australia with salaries frequently sitting above $200K.
Life Sciences: Medical Director ($275K)
If you’re employed in Life Sciences, career opportunities abound. The industry, an essential player in response to the pandemic, is increasing permanent staff levels. The biggest typical salary earners in Life Sciences nationally include Medical Directors ($275K), Health Economics/Market Access Directors ($265K), Heads of Regulatory Affairs ($200K), Heads of Drug Safety (also $200K), Clinical Director/Head of Clinical (also $200K) and Senior Medical Advisors ($195K).
Mining: Registered Mine Manager (up to $280K in WA)
There’s a lot of money to be made for those who can build a successful mining career. In WA, Registered Mine Managers in metalliferous mining engineering and Process Managers in mineral processing are among the sector’s top earners and can expect to earn typical salaries up to $280K and $255K, respectively. Chief Geologists, Underground/Quarry Managers and Exploration Managers can also earn up to $260K. Meanwhile, industrial design Project Managers can earn up to $230K and Engineering Managers up to $220K.
There are many other mining roles in fixed plant maintenance, mobile plant maintenance, industrial construction, industrial design, and OHS and environmental, with average salaries close to or exceeding $200K.
Engineering: Project Manager (up to $255K)
In Engineering, plenty of jobs average typical salaries of over $150K. Some of Australia’s top engineering professionals work in rail infrastructure, such as Project Managers ($122-255K), Systems Assurance Specialists ($122-250K) and Signalling Specialists ($102-240K).
The typical pay for a Building Services Manager is between $143-204K, while an Associate in civil & structural engineering typically earns $156-204K.
Facilities Management: General Manager (up to $255K)
Within the FM sector, General Managers have the highest salaries, averaging between $153-255K. Meanwhile, Bid Managers, Engineering Managers, Operations Managers and Contracts Managers can all earn up to $153K.
Defence: Sales Director (up to $330K in ACT)
Thanks to a steady increase in defence spending by the Federal Government, the highest paying jobs in Australia’s defence sector belong to Sales Directors ($200K-330K) and Bid Managers ($200K-300K) working in Bids & Business Development in Canberra.
In operations, Directors and Program Managers are the highest paid defence jobs, earning up to $300K and $260K, respectively. In logistics, Supply Chain Managers lead with salaries of up to $230K.
Sales: Director of Sales ($250K)
Australia’s top sales jobs’ earners are Directors of Sales, who typically receive $250K. Add the commission and benefits often associated with sales packages, and the total yearly earnings can be much higher. Other top earners are National Sales Managers (typically $180K) and Business Managers ($155K).
Insurance: Head of Claims ($200K)
The highest salaries in the insurance sector belong to Heads of Claims and Chief Underwriters working in life insurance ($200K typical). Heads of Claims in general insurance average $180K. In various states in Australia, Underwriting Managers in general insurance and Account Directors in insurance broking can expect typical salaries of at least $170K.
Contact Centres: Director of Customer Service ($200K)
Contact Centres’ highest typical salary earners include Directors of Customer Service/Contact Centres ($200K) and Contact Centre Managers ($140K). Other strong salaries for Contact Centre jobs are seen for Project Managers ($122K), Collections Managers (also $112K), Operations Managers ($140K) and Sales/Telesales Managers ($110K). With Australia’s contact centre job market experiencing a skills shortage, career opportunities are strong.
Logistics: Supply Chain Director ($200K)
Australia’s highest paying jobs in the logistics sector include Supply Chain Directors ($200K), Operations Managers in warehouse/distribution (typical pay $140K), Supply Chain Managers ($’155K) and Branch Managers in international trade ($150K in WA).
Education: Principal (up to $400K in Non-Government Schools)
With the market size of Australia’s education sector reaching over $130 billion in 2022, it’s no surprise that education leaders are becoming some of the top earners. Some non-government school Principals have reported salaries as high as $400K (up to $208K in Government schools).
Other top earners in the education jobs include Directors of Study ($138K), Heads of Department ($120K) and early childhood Area Managers ($102K).
Oil & Gas: Exploration Manager (up to $306K in WA)
With Western Australia accounting for around 70% of Australia’s crude oil and condensate, it’s no surprise that this state has some of the highest earners in the industry. In WA, geoscience Exploration Managers are earning up to $306K while Engineering Managers in petroleum engineering are taking home up to $310K.
Queensland is also a lucrative area, with Drilling Managers typically earning around $245K. Other high earners in WA include Commissioning Managers ($240K) and Ops Managers ($230K).
Find more of Australia’s highest paying jobs
As you can see, plenty of the highest paying jobs in Australia exist across a wide range of industry sectors. Whether you’re looking to get into mining, education, retail, defence, or any other area, many roles offer competitive pay and a secure, long-term future. Countless Australians have pursued enjoyable, rewarding careers with a high earning potential, so why shouldn’t you?
For more information on which jobs pay the most in Australia, download the Hays Salary Guide. Our flagship report is full of findings pertinent to employers and candidates navigating the world of work and offers an insightful portrait of typical salaries across 28 sectors and industries.