The highest-paying companies in America

Paychecks in America vary tremendously. On average, U.S. workers earn just under $50,000 a year, which takes into account workers who live off poverty wages as well as those who earn six-figure sums. Companies in just a few sectors pay the highest wages. In the top 25 paying companies in the United States, the average salary is nearly triple the salary of the average U.S. worker.

Based on figures provided by employee review website Glassdoor, 24/7 Wall St. examined the highest paying companies in America. Consulting firm A.T. Kearney leads U.S. companies with workers reporting median total annual compensation of $167,534. Technology company Broadcom rounds out the top 25 with a median compensation of $140,000 a year — tied with Adobe.

The companies that pay their employees the most operate primarily in two industries: consulting and tech. These companies offer high salaries to attract some of the nation’s most highly-skilled workers, who demand the pay to match their expected performance. This is overwhelmingly the case with technology companies, which dominate the list, comprising 20 of the 25 highest paying jobs.

See all 25 of the highest-paying companies:

To identify the 25 highest paying jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Paying Companies in America for 2016. The report is based on reported salaries and compensation figures by employees of U.S.-based companies with at least 50 salary reports on Glassdoor over the past 12 months. Only companies for which all forms of compensation were reported were considered. Total compensation includes annual salary as well as cash bonuses, commission, and tips.

These are America’s highest paying companies.

1. A.T. Kearney

> Median total compensation: $167,534
> Median base salary: $143,620
> Industry: Consulting
> Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois

The median compensation at consulting firm A.T. Kearney is $167,534 a year, higher than at any other company in the United States. Like other consulting firms, a relatively large portion of the pay comes in the form of commissions. The high salaries are also largely due to very high barriers to entry, as top consultants often rely on personal contacts, reputations, and highly specialized knowledge. Not only are these professional skills difficult to acquire and very valuable, but they are also at present impossible to automate.

2. Strategy&
> Median total compensation:
 $160,000
> Median base salary: $147,000
> Industry: Consulting
> Headquarters: New York, New York

After acquiring Booz & Company in the spring of 2014, consulting giant PwC changed the newly acquired firm’s name to Strategy&.The new consulting firm, while relatively young, benefits from PwC’s enormous international network. Many of PwC’s clients are likely attracted by the firm’s reputation and experience in the industry. Likewise, many of the highest-paid employees at Strategy& are compensated for their connections, experience, and reputations with clients.

3. Juniper Networks

> Median total compensation: $157,000
> Median base salary: $135,000
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California

The ongoing shortage of talent in technology-related fields has driven up salaries of employees working in the industry. Tech companies such as Silicon Valley-based Juniper Networks have no choice but to offer competitive salaries to attract skilled workers. Juniper Networks, which employs nearly 9,000 people, reported revenue of $4.8 billion in 2015.

4. McKinsey & Company
> Median total compensation:
 $155,000
> Median base salary: $135,000
> Industry: Consulting
> Headquarters: New York, New York

Working for McKinsey & Company pays well, and some also enjoy the prestige of working at one of the largest and oldest consulting firms in the world. Consulting firms comprise the second largest share of America’s highest paying companies after technology companies. This is largely due to the relatively difficult-to-acquire personal relationships and experience coveted in the business. These professional traits serve as high barriers to entry for prospective employees.

5. Google
> Median total compensation:
 $153,750
> Median base salary: $123,331
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: Mountain View, California

Google is by far the largest search engine in the world, accounting for more than two-thirds of all Internet searches worldwide. There are an estimated 3.5 billion Google searches every day. The Internet giant is also generally considered by both employees and outside reviewers as a very good place to work. CEO Sundar Pichai has a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor. Reviewers frequently mention exceptional perks and bonus options.

6. VMware
> Median total compensation:
 $152,133
> Median base salary: $130,000
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: Palo Alto, California

VMware, a cloud software company, is owned by information technology company EMC. EMC, in one of the largest technology mergers of all time, will merge with Dell in a $67 billion deal expected to be finalized in the middle of this year. As a consequence of the merger, VMware announced around 900 job cuts at the beginning of this year. Still, VMware employees are some of the nation’s highest paid workers, with median annual compensation of $152,133.

7. Amazon Lab126
> Median total compensation:
 $150,100
> Median base salary: $138,700
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California

Founded in 2004, Amazon Lab126 is a segment of online retail giant Amazon. Well-known Amazon products and services, including the Kindle and Amazon Fire TV, were developed at the subsidiary. To attract workers with skill sets often necessary in research and development fields, the company is strategically based in Silicon Valley. Lab126 also offers competitive pay to better appeal to talented employees.

8. Boston Consulting Group
> Median total compensation:
 $150,020
> Median base salary: $147,000
> Industry: Consulting
> Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts

Consulting firms, after technology companies, consist the largest share of the highest paying companies in the country. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is one of the world’s Big Three strategy consulting firms along with Mckinsey & Company and Bain & Company. As such, BCG is not just among the nation’s top paying companies but also highly prestigious, for both prospective employees as well as clients.

9. Guidewire
> Median total compensation:
 $150,020
> Median base salary: $135,000
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: Foster City, California

The typical employee at software company Guidewire is paid $150,020, one of the top 10 compensations of any U.S. company. The technology industry has grown much faster than the available pool of qualified employees, leading to a shortage of talent. Largely as a result, the pay at Guidewire likely remains high so it can compete for the best talent.

Guidewire, which primarily makes software for insurance companies, acquired in March EagleEye Analytics, which specializes in property and casualty insurer decisions.

10. Cadence Design Systems
> Median total compensation:
 $150,010
> Median base salary: $140,000
> Industry: Technology
> Headquarters: San Jose, California

While high pay does not necessarily lead to job satisfaction, the highly paid employees at Cadence Design Systems also enjoy their jobs. The semiconductor design company recently touted its inclusion on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015. The company is based in San Jose, California — one of the collection of cities known as Silicon Valley — where it has access to a greater number of qualified applicants.

More on the highest-paying companies

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor, explained, “The things that move technology companies forward are big ideas, innovation, and collaboration.” Because these key qualities and expertise are very difficult to replace with automated techniques, the jobs remain in demand and the salaries remain high. By contrast, employment in health care, retail, and manufacturing positions have been increasingly vulnerable to offshoring and automation.

A high level of college education was not always needed in order to land a high-paying job, and this list would certainly have been very different 50 years ago. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, services-producing industries have grown steadily in recent decades, while goods-producing industries have slowly declined. Professions in goods-producing industries have been far more vulnerable to offshoring and automated techniques than service-producing employment.

Pay is closely tied to industry performance, and the highest paying jobs tend to be in economically healthy industries. The computer design and related services industry, which has been growing at a fast rate for several decades, is representative of the technology sector’s growth overall. Employment in the industry grew at an incredible 8% each year from 1994 to 2004. Over the next 10 years through 2014, the industry’s employment grew at a 3.4% annual pace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By contrast, employment for all jobs is projected to grow at an annual rate of under 1% from 2014 through 2024.

With skyrocketing demand for qualified technology workers, companies are engaged in a talent war over the short supply of prospective employees. Even Walmart — a company that frequently faces accusations of underpaying its employees, and perhaps the most unlikely company on this list — runs its technology arm, Walmart eCommerce, out of Silicon Valley and pays those workers competitive wages. “The hunt for talent is serious and active no matter what the name is on your door,” Dobroski said.

Immunity of a job to being replaced by automation also applies to consulting positions, which comprise the remainder of the list with the exception of Visa, a financial services company. Dobroski explained that while consulting firms do not get the same level of attention as technology companies, consulting relies heavily on skills that are not likely to be automated any time soon. There are also very high barriers to entry for both new consulting firms and job applicants. Clients often demand a high level of experience, and the highest paid employees at consulting firms frequently come with extremely valuable personal relationships and connections, which, again, are impossible to automate.

24/7 Wall St. is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.


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