Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Kentucky 2024 (Inc Salaries)

Stephen Ramotowski
May 20, 2024 · 12 min read

This article explores the 10 highest-paying Jobs in Kentucky in 2024, taking a closer look at all the important job details: full job description, job outlook, qualifications, and expected salary.

Within the past years, Kentucky rose from being the 3rd worst state for jobs (2019) to the 8th state with the best job market in the U.S. in 2023.

That's not all. Residents have also seen employment in Kentucky grow by 2.7%, and job openings have increased by 6.7% in the past few years.

With the Kentucky job market stronger than ever, companies are preparing for expansion and their first course of action. Hire more workers. Because of this, professionals can now have more choices and opportunities in the Bluegrass State.

If you’re looking to build or advance your career in this state, you need to consider two important factors– your location and the type of job to look for.

Concerning location, Wallethub has named two Kentucky cities as the best places to get a job in 2024: Louisville (116th) and Lexington—Fayette (112th). 

On the other hand, knowing which jobs offer the highest salaries helps narrow down your choices. With that said, stop browsing the different job post details and look at the top 10 highest-paying jobs in Kentucky for 2024 below:

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Kentucky 2024 (Inc Salaries)

1. Anesthesiologist

  • Salary Range: $358,000 to $635,000, with an annual median wage of $335,400

  • US Job Outlook (2022-32): 3% (1,000 employment opportunities)

Anesthesiologists are the medical sector's pain management authorities. They are the doctors who administer and prescribe medications that keep patients from feeling pain and asleep during a surgical operation or an invasive procedure.

In addition to maintaining anesthesia, they also play a significant role in providing care for people and keeping them stable throughout the surgery by monitoring their heart rate, breathing, and other vital signs.

After college and medical school, anesthesiologists must complete a residency program in anesthesiology. They must also obtain a Kentucky medical license and be board-certified by either the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

Over 120 anesthesiologists work in the Central and South Central Kentucky areas, making them the nonmetropolitan areas with the highest number of employed professionals in this role.

2. Cardiologist

  • Salary Range: $362,000 to $676,000, with an estimated annual salary of $325,100

  • Job Outlook (2022-32): 3% (600 job openings)

Cardiologists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat all heart diseases and conditions. With their in-depth knowledge of the cardiovascular system's inner workings, they are the most qualified professionals for treating high blood pressure, chest pain, arrhythmia, and other heart diseases.

Those with more advanced training are authorized to also perform various procedures and invasive techniques to remove any blockage in the blood vessels. 

On top of eight years of education (college and medical school), cardiologists also have to spend three more years in residency training for internal medicine and another three years to get specialized fellowship training in cardiology.

The last step is to pass the certification exam administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Elizabethtown, Richmond, and Louisville are the three cities in Kentucky with the highest pay for cardiologists.   

3. Podiatrist

  • Salary Range: $248,000 to $463,000, with an estimated yearly pay of $239,700

  • US Job Outlook (2022-32): 1% (300 job prospects)

Podiatrists are foot doctors, meaning they specialize in treating, diagnosing, and managing any illnesses and conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and other parts of the leg.

Despite being called doctors, podiatrists don't go to medical school but have associations and schools of their own.

Because of this, they have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree instead of a medical degree. After graduation, they must also finish a Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency (PMSR) training.

The next step is to obtain fellowship training to gain subspecialization, which may include limb preservation, wound care, and more. Lastly, they need to get board-certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery.

Work-from-home Podiatrists, Independent Contractors, and Non-surgical Podiatrists are some of Kentucky's best-paying related podiatrist roles.

4. Psychiatrist

  • Salary Range: $224,000 to $418,000, with an annual median wage of $225,100

  • US Job Outlook: 7% (1,900 employment opportunities) 

Psychiatrists are the mental health experts in the medical industry. This means they treat, diagnose, and prevent all types of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, such as sleep disorders, sexual dysfunctions, substance use, and depressive and anxiety disorders.

Just like psychologists, psychiatrists also offer talk therapy. But more than that, they are also licensed to deliver specialized treatments like medication, light therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and brain stimulation procedures.

After medical school, psychiatrists are required to complete a psychiatry residency program and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination to secure their Kentucky medical license, which will enable them to practice general medicine.

To become board-certified in their role, they also have to pass the exam administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. 

The highest-paying cities in Kentucky for psychiatrists are Louisville, Bowling Green, and Paducah.

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5. Truck Owner/ Operator

  • Salary Range: $215,000 to $365,000, with an expected yearly salary of $217,800

  • US Job Outlook (2022-32): 4% (89,300 job vacancies) 

Truck owners/ operators are entrepreneurs who manage and oversee the operations and procedures of a trucking business. Their primary responsibilities include managing the business finances, records, and paperwork. They are also in charge of planning the trucks' routes, loads, and schedules.

Since they are also CDL drivers, owners and operators sometimes take part in the operations, driving the trucks and transporting the cargo.

The first step for truck owners/ operators is to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) with the suitable class (A, B, or C) corresponding to the type of truck they will drive.

After that, they must obtain a USDOT and MC number through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

They can already lease or purchase a truck, get truck insurance, and hire drivers.

Since this position requires extensive management and entrepreneurial expertise, truck owners should also obtain an MBA.

Offering an annual pay 27.5% above the Kentucky average, Hebron Estates is the city that offers the highest pay for truck drivers and operators.

6. Orthodontist

  • Salary Range: $176,000 to $329,000, with an average pay of $178,000 per year

  • U.S. Job Outlook (2022-32): 4% (300 job opportunities) 

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in correcting misaligned bites and crooked, gapped, or twisted teeth.

They conduct in-person exams and assess dental X-rays, teeth photos, and molds. They customize a treatment plan to address and correct dental irregularities using the data collected from these diagnostic tests. After that, they treat the existing problems using advanced dental appliances like retainers, aligners, and braces.

Orthodontists start their careers via the same pathway as regular dentists: a bachelor's degree in any life sciences and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree.

Next, they must complete a specific number of clinical hours and pass the National Board of Dental Examination (NBDE) to get their dental license.

Hebron Estates is the highest-paying city for orthodontists, with an annual salary that's 17.5% above the Kentucky average.

7. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Salary Range: $165,000 to $307,000, with an average yearly salary of $169,300

  • US Job Outlook (2022-32): 9% (4,500 employment vacancies)

As Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), nurse anesthetists are educated to perform more than the essential functions of a registered nurse. These healthcare professionals are specifically trained to physically assess, monitor patients, and administer anesthesia to patients undergoing invasive medical procedures and surgeries.

Considered pain management experts in the nursing industry, they work closely with other surgery team members, including anesthesiologists and surgeons, to formulate anesthesia plans tailored to the patient's unique medical condition and needs.

Aside from completing nursing school and obtaining a Kentucky nurse license, APRNs must also gain at least a year of critical care experience, obtain a doctoral degree in Nurse Anesthesia, and pass the National Board of CRNA (NBCRNA) examinations.

There are over 820 CRNAs in Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN, making it one of the metropolitan areas with the highest level of employment for this position.

8. Computer Network Architect

  • Salary Range: $99,000 to $175,000, with an average annual salary of $110,400

  • US Job Outlook (2022-32): 4% (10,200 job openings)

Computer network architects design and build companies' data communication networks, from Local Area Networks (LAN) to Wide Area Networks (WAN).

More than that, they are also responsible for selecting the right software and hardware that will meet the organization’s technological needs. Other job duties include maintaining, configuring, and optimizing the network devices to ensure maximum performance.   

Their expertise is highly valuable in various industries, specifically finance, insurance, and telecommunication.

The essential requirement for computer network architects is a bachelor's degree in either Information Technology or engineering. However, some companies may prefer candidates with a master’s degree, so getting an MBA degree is a good idea.

In addition, they need to earn several years of work experience and obtain relevant certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP). 

According to Ziprecruiter, Paducah offers the highest pay for computer network architects, which is 31.6% above the Kentucky average.

9. Nurse Educator

  • Salary range: $83,000 to $123,000, with an estimated salary of $91,500 per year

  • U.S. Job Outlook (2022-32): 18% (15,600 job vacancies)

*Categorized by BLS as postsecondary teachers 

Nurse educators are the foundation of the nursing industry because they educate prospective nurses about clinical skills, patient care methods, and the industry's best practices to prepare them for the future.

These academic professionals work both in academic settings where they teach the basics to nursing students and in healthcare settings where they instruct the staff nurse about the latest updates on healthcare standards,

Nurse educators are also registered nurses, meaning they have graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

To become eligible for teaching, they need to obtain advanced education, which includes either a Master of Science in Nursing (MNP) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in education.

According to ZipRecruiter, Kentucky's highest-paying nurse educator roles are Pediatric Nurse Educator, Clinical Unit Nurse Educator, and Remote Nurse Educator. 

10. Petroleum Engineer

  • Salary Range: $84,000 to $156,000, with a median annual wage of $88,800

  • US Job Outlook: 2% (1,200 employment opportunities) 

Petroleum engineers are the professionals responsible for finding new oil and gas sources. These experts play an essential role in every step of the exploration process—from extraction to production.

Their main goal is to formulate drilling and well methods and determine the right technologies to maximize production while minimizing the process's impact on the environment.

All petroleum engineers start their careers with an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering or other branches of engineering.

To increase their chances of landing an entry-level job, they must gain practical experience through cooperative education programs on supervised job training. On the other hand, getting an MBA degree can also help them get higher-paying roles. 

Louisville offers the highest pay for petroleum engineers, 26.1% above the Kentucky average. 


The Kentucky labor market is going strong, but many factors can affect your job search and chances of getting hired for any of these K.Y. jobs. Along with obtaining work experience and a higher level of education, networking and having a diversified skillset can positively impact the success of your job search.

According to career resources, having a business degree is one of the best moves you can make because it equips you with advanced skills (management and leadership) that are highly sought after by most employers. Not only that, but it also offers plenty of networking opportunities where you can make industry connections which are vital in advancing your career in your chosen industry.

The good news is that Nexford is here to help you get any of the best jobs available in Kentucky. This US-accredited university offers online MBA and BBA programs, which can help you take your career to new heights in the most accessible, affordable, and flexible way possible. 


What is the highest-paying job within Kentucky State in 2024?

The anesthesiologist will be the highest-paying job in Kentucky State in 2024, with a salary range of $358,000 to $635,000. This role also has an opportunity to receive an estimated additional pay of $137,600 through cash bonuses or profit sharing.

Fun Fact: This occupation, along with other types of doctors, ranks second in the list of the highest-paying jobs in the USA.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which Kentucky jobs are projected to have the highest level of growth?

Most of the Kentucky jobs in this list have a good job outlook. However, two stand out the most, and both belong to the nursing sector: Nurse Educators and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

BLS projects that the need for nurse educators will grow by 18%, equivalent to around 15,600 job opportunities. On the other hand, the employment of CRNAs is expected to increase by 9%, or around 4,500 employment opportunities, until 2032.

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What is the best career path in Kentucky in 2024?

Since 7 out of the 10 highest-paid Kentucky jobs and the 2 fastest-growing occupations belong to the healthcare sector, it's the best career path in Kentucky this year.

What skills or expertise is required for high-paying Kentucky jobs?

As per resume resources, here are the top skills you need to develop to land a good-paying job in Kentucky:

  • Good communication skills,

  • Problem-solving abilities,

  • Critical thinking,

  • Time and project management,

  • Organization,

  • Analytical skills,

  • Initiative,

  • Computer skills,

  • And good work ethic.

And since healthcare jobs make up the majority of the list, the industry-specific skills you need to have are:

  • Active listening,

  • Teamwork and collaboration,

  • Management and Leadership,

  • Empathy,

  • Flexibility and adaptability,

  • and in-depth knowledge of biology, chemistry, and other life sciences. 

Download Our Free Report now to determine which skills you need to prove proficiency in your trade and get hired for the top jobs available in Kentucky.

What qualifications are required for high-paying Kentucky jobs?

The education qualifications for these K.Y. jobs vary depending on which industry they belong to. For example, doctors need a medical degree, while CRNAs must have a doctor of nursing degree.

On the other hand, you need to have at least a master’s degree to increase your employability in the tech and engineering industries.

Lastly, a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree is highly recommended to land a higher-paying role in almost all industries.

Why is gaining a BBA/MBA degree beneficial to gain a high-paying job in Kentucky?

While it may not seem like it, a business degree is a valuable tool for healthcare professionals. An online BBA program can help them develop interpersonal and communication skills, teamwork, and collaboration—all of which are necessary for becoming good healthcare providers.

More than that, an MBA degree allows them to perform clinical tasks and take on administrative and leadership roles, increasing their earning potential in the process.

It also allows them to learn the business side of healthcare, perfect for doctors or psychiatrists planning to open their practice.

About the author
Stephen Ramotowski
Stephen Ramotowski

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