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(WGHP) — Have you ever been lying in the dentist’s chair while someone in scrubs pokes at your teeth with a sharp metal instrument and thought, “How much do they get paid to do this?”

Well, over at FOX8, we’ve been wondering the same thing, so we decided to head over to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for answers. Here’s what we found after going over the 40 highest-paying jobs in NC.

Anesthesiologists top the list

Nurse holding anesthesia mask in operating room (Getty Images)
Nurse holding anesthesia mask in operating room (Getty Images)

First off, medical jobs unsurprisingly make up the majority of the highest-paying jobs in NC with anesthesiologists making the most at $279,300 a year.

Anesthesiologists are so highly compensated because they do more than just put patients under anesthesia. They are doctors who look after patients before, during and after surgery and may also lead a hospital’s entire anesthesia care team.

A nurse anesthetist (9 on the list) makes $192,830 a year and is typically the person directly responsible for administering anesthesia ahead of surgery.

The only job in the top ten not related to the medical field is chief executive at number 6. They make $220,940 a year.

Why do physicists make $140,000 a year?

Student and professor physics experiment with lasers (Getty Images)
Student and professor physics experiment with lasers (Getty Images)

One surprise we found was that physicists (21 on the list) make more than both lawyers (24 on the list) and pharmacists (30 on the list). Physicists make $140,280 a year while lawyers and pharmacists make $132,190 and $123,770, respectively.

If you’re like us, you’re wondering what exactly physicists do and why they get paid $140,280 to do it.

Physicists work to develop theories about the building blocks of the universe such as space, time and matter.

But on a more down-to-Earth level, the reason they get paid so much is they apply the results from their experiments testing theories and laws to problems in fields like optics, aerospace technology and nuclear energy.

Speaking of nuclear energy

Nuclear cooling towers (Getty Images)
Nuclear cooling towers (Getty Images)

Another surprise we came across was that nuclear engineers (35 on the list) make $121,510 in North Carolina.

Four nuclear power plants serve North Carolina. They’re located in Southport, New Hill, Huntersville and York, South Carolina.

Nuclear power plants work by using heat created from nuclear fission to change water into steam. This process powers the generators which then create electricity.

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Nuclear engineers and others who work with nuclear power are paid highly because many North Carolinians live or work close to a nuclear plant.

The day-to-day operation of the plants is regulated closely by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but an accident could affect the health of people living near a nuclear plant due to dangerous levels of radiation.

North Carolina’s 40 highest-paying jobs

Here’s the full list of the 40 highest paying jobs available to North Carolinians:

  1. anesthesiologists — $279,300
  2. general internal medicine physicians (doctor) — $273,320
  3. orthodontists — $271,270
  4. obstetricians/gynecologists — $247,180
  5. family medicine physicians — $223,190
  6. chief executives — $220,940
  7. ophthalmologists, except pediatric — $198,750
  8. psychiatrists — $193,650
  9. nurse anesthetists — $192,830
  10. podiatrists — $186,100
  11. dentists — $178,980
  12. natural sciences managers — $164,760
  13. pediatricians — $159,530
  14. financial managers — $155,580
  15. sales managers — $147,630
  16. marketing managers — $146,690
  17. computer and information systems managers — $146,690
  18. optometrists — $143,320
  19. postsecondary law teachers — $141,580
  20. architectural and engineering managers — $140,940
  21. physicists — $140,280
  22. health specialties/postsecondary teachers — $139,290
  23. actuaries — $137,190
  24. lawyers — $132,190
  25. personal financial advisors — $131,780
  26. human resources managers — $129,870
  27. general and operations managers — $129,400
  28. training and development managers — $125,900
  29. management jobs — $124,620
  30. pharmacists — $123,770
  31. personal service managers/entertainment and recreation managers, except gambling — $123,150
  32. advertising and promotions managers — $122,670
  33. public relations and fundraising managers — $122,630
  34. purchasing managers — $122,540
  35. nuclear engineers — $121,510
  36. medical and health services managers — $120,060
  37. airline pilots/copilots/flight engineers — $119,900
  38. agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes — $117,880
  39. veterinarians — $117,690
  40. data scientists and mathematical science occupations — $117,370