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

Stephen Ramotowski
May 20, 2024 · 13 min read

This article talks about the highest-paying jobs in Tennessee in detail. We’ve included information about their job description, employment outlook, education requirements, and salary information, so keep on reading. 

Settled within the Appalachian and Great Smoky Mountains of the southeastern United States, Tennessee is not only known for its picture-perfect landscapes, vibrant musical culture, and southern charm. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be 193,000 job openings in Tennessee in the next few years, so we can also consider this state a paradise for job-seekers. From the music-related Nashville jobs to the advanced healthcare sector in Memphis, it has a thriving job scene in diverse industries that offers a wide range of opportunities for professionals from all walks of life. 

The primary industries contributing to the state's steadily growing economy include the healthcare, manufacturing, technology, agriculture, and transportation sectors.

If you want to know about the highest paying jobs available in Tennessee for 2024, you have come to the right place. Here, we listed down the high paying jobs added daily together with the full job description, qualifications and requirements, and expected earnings for each job title.

 

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Tennessee (Inc Salaries)

1. Physicians/Surgeons

Medical doctors can be considered physicians, surgeons, or both. They are medical professionals involved in diagnosing, treating, managing, and preventing injuries, diseases, and various medical conditions. Specific responsibilities depend on the type of specialization they focus on, such as anesthesiologists for procedures involving anesthesia and cardiologists for heart-related concerns.

Qualifications and Requirements

To become a physician-surgeon in TN, you'll need a bachelor's degree with pre-medical coursework and a  Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. After med school, you must complete a residency program, obtain board certification, and get supervised training in your chosen specialty. Next, complete and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) and meet state-specific requirements to get a license to practice.

Job Outlook

The BLS projects employment of physicians and surgeons to increase by 3% until 2032, with an expected 24,200 job openings each year. Further, Johnson City, Tennessee, is among the top-paying metropolitan areas for physicians in all 50 states, with 250 positions and an estimated 3.09 employment per thousand jobs.

Salary Information

The yearly pay for physicians and surgeons varies widely depending on their specialization. Here are the highest paying jobs in TN for physician-surgeons, extended.

 

2. Registered Nurse

Nurses promote wellness and health, provide patient care directly, and work closely with other healthcare professionals. 

They ensure quality service delivery by assessing patient conditions, administering medications, keeping accurate medical records, monitoring vital signs, and performing treatments and diagnostic procedures.

Qualifications and Requirements

To become a nurse in TN, you must complete a diploma program, an associate degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. 

Then, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN).

For specialized nursing positions, you need to pursue additional advanced degrees, board certifications, or education.

Job Outlook

Employment for registered nurses in the US is projected to grow 6% by 2032, with about 193,100 job openings on average each year. 

On the other hand, overall employment for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which include nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives, is projected to grow by 38% until 2032, a much faster rate than the average for all occupations.

Salary Information

While the average annual salary for a registered nurse in TN is around $75,300, nurse specialists and APRNs receive a much higher median pay. The nursing sector has the following high-paying jobs:

A registered nurse can transition to other high-paying healthcare jobs with additional education, training, and licensure or certifications. 

These include pharmacist or clinical physician's assistant positions, with an average annual salary of around $117,600 and $121,100, respectively.

 

3. Airline Pilot

Airline pilots are tasked to operate and navigate commercial aircraft safely. 

To do this, they are also rigorously trained to be aware of strict safety protocols that will allow them to make essential split-second decisions to handle different flight situations, ensuring a safe and comfortable flying experience. 

Their other responsibilities include conducting pre-flight checks, communicating with air traffic stations, monitoring the aircraft during flights, and facilitating precise takeoff and landing.

Qualifications and Requirements

Education and training for airline pilots in TN include earning a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, aviation, or a related field. 

They must also complete a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)- -accredited flight training program in a flight school or aviation academy. 

Aspirants would also need to earn pilot ratings and licenses, such as a private pilot license (PPL) or commercial pilot license (CPL). Their licenses must come with instrument rating and multi-engine rating which they can obtain through ground and flight training. 

Once flight training is completed, a pilot must complete the right number of flight hours to be qualified for an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate, which is needed to fly commercial airplanes.

Job Outlook

BLS projects the employment of airline and commercial pilots to grow by 4% by 2032, with 16,800 estimated job openings expected each year.

Salary Information

The median annual salary for Airline Pilots in TN is around $191,400 plus additional pay, amounting to $74,000 each year.

 

4. Truck Owner Operator

A truck owner-operator is an independent contractor who manages and leases their trucks for commercial use, such as transporting materials and goods for clients. More than managing the business, he also directly operates the vehicles which may include cars, dump trucks, and other commercial vehicles.

A dedicated owner operator is also responsible for maintaining his trucks, ensuring safe and timely delivery of goods, and playing a significant role in the logistics needs of companies and businesses.

Qualifications and Requirements

The first step to becoming a dedicated owner-operators is to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. 

The next step is to obtain years of experience in the trucking industry.  

Once you’re ready to start your own business, you need to purchase a truck or lease one from a trucking company, and secure operating authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

Lastly, you must also learn to set routes, logistics, regulations, and business operations. Getting freight contracts by networking with companies, shippers, and brokers is also helpful.

Job Outlook

BLS classifies truck owner-operators as heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. Employment in this sector is projected to grow by 4% by 2032, with about 241,200 job openings yearly. 

Truck transport for freight in the US is expected to rise as the demand for goods by businesses and households increases.

Salary Information

Considered one of the high paying jobs in Nashville, a typical truck owner operator in TN receives an average annual salary of about $185,200 with an estimated additional pay in commissions, profit shares, and bonuses of $80,600 per year.

 

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5. Company President

Presidents such as Chief executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are top leadership positions in companies and organizations who are in charge of overseeing all operations, making major decisions, and setting the direction toward efficient, profitable, and sustainable goals. 

As the highest management official in the company, this position is one of the top paying jobs in USA.

Qualifications and Requirements

Becoming a president-COO or CEO in TN requires extensive experience and expertise in the specific field or industry in which they are involved. 

However, these will all begin with getting entry-level roles before progressing to higher positions after some time. 

In terms of educational qualifications, most companies hire graduates with bachelor's degrees in the relevant field, but advanced degrees or an executive education program are ideal. 

Having degrees in business administration, management, or finance is also helpful. ABBA or MBA degree proves to be a valuable tool for getting this position.

Job Outlook

BLS projects the overall employment of top executives to grow by 3% until 2032

This means there will be an estimated average of 311,600 job openings for such positions each year.

Salary Information

President-COOs receive an average annual pay of $161,600, while President-CEOs earn a median yearly salary of $161,200

The estimated additional pay for these positions comes from cash bonuses, profit shares, and commissions, amounting to $107,800 and $105,300 per year, respectively.

 

6. Lawyer

Lawyers are legal professionals who represent individuals, businesses, and organizations in court and other legal proceedings. 

In addition to advocating for their client’s rights, they also handle other aspects of the case, like researching, negotiating contracts and settlements, drafting documents, and analyzing case laws to advocate for their client's interests and rights.

They also offer non-court services like providing legal advice and strategic information regarding different areas of expertise. 

Qualifications and Requirements

To become a lawyer in TN, individuals may be required to obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school, and pass the Tennessee Bar Examination administered by the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners.

After passing the bar exam, they must fulfill additional requirements, such as character and fitness evaluations, before being admitted to practice law in Tennessee. 

Continuing legal education (CLE) and ongoing professional development are essential for lawyers to stay updated with changes in laws, regulations, and legal practices throughout their careers.

Job Outlook

In the US, employment of lawyers is projected to increase by 8% until 2032. There will be about 39,100 job openings for lawyers every year.

Salary Information

TN lawyers are paid an average annual salary of $157,800 and an estimated $88,500 additional pay each year.

 

7. Security Architect

A security architect designs and implements security policies, systems, and strategies to protect an organization’s digital assets and data. 

They prevent, identify, and address risks or threats of breaches to maintain confidentiality and the integrity of the technology infrastructures.

Qualifications and Requirements

A security architect position requires a bachelor's degree in computer science, Information technology (IT), cybersecurity, or related fields. 

Additionally, years of practical experience in cybersecurity and IT roles will build a strong foundation.

To demonstrate your expertise, pursue industry certifications such as Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). 

Building your portfolio and networking with other cybersecurity professionals can help you through the employer's application process.

Job Outlook

According to BLS, employment of computer network architects, including security architects, is projected to grow by 4% from 2022 to 2032, meaning there will be an average of 10,200 job openings each year. 

The demand will likely increase as firms and companies continue designing and upgrading new IT networks.

Salary Information

Security Architects in TN, on average, are paid $148,000 yearly with an estimated additional pay of about $37,400 annually.

 

8. IT Director

IT directors, also known as IT managers or IT project managers, coordinate, plan, and direct an organization's computer-related activities. They head the IT department with duties and responsibilities that include developing goals, implementing computer systems, and ultimately meeting the IT goals of the company.

Qualifications and Requirements

To become an IT director, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in IT, cybersecurity, management information systems, or related fields. Consider also obtaining advanced degrees like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focusing on information technology or a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT). 

You also need at least a few years of experience in an IT company or position to progress into a supervisory position. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certifications, Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM), Project Management Professional (PMP), or vendor-specific certifications from technology providers are also a plus.

Job Outlook

 BLS categorizes IT directors under computer and information systems managers, with a 15% projected employment growth until 2032

This means there will be an average of about 46,900 job openings annually.

Salary Information

IT directors in TN are paid an average annual salary of $146,300, with an estimated additional pay of about $37,400 yearly.

 

9. Aircraft Engineer

Sometimes also called aerospace engineers, aircraft engineers design, develop, test, and ensure the quality and safety of an aircraft, including related equipment and systems. They specialize in several areas, such as propulsion systems, aircraft design, flight control systems, or aircraft maintenance and repair.

Qualifications and Requirements

To become an aircraft engineer in Tennessee, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, or something related. 

You could also pursue advanced degrees like a Master of Science or Ph.D. in those fields.

While licensure is not often required for entry-level positions, you can obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license from the Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners to demonstrate your expertise and credibility. 

Specialization and advanced certifications, such as those offered by professional organizations like the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) or the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), will also expand your career prospects.

Job Outlook

BLS projects employment of aircraft engineers to grow by 6% by 2032, with about 3,800 job openings on average per year.

Salary Information

Aircraft engineers earn a median annual salary of $122,000 in TN, with additional pay averaging around $36,300 per year.

 

10. Clinical Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) work under the supervision of a physician to diagnose, treat and examine patients. 

They do what most other medical workers do, such as reviewing medical histories, examining and interpreting diagnostic tests, diagnosing injuries or diseases, and providing treatment or prescribing medication.

Qualifications and Requirements

Becoming a clinical physician's assistant requires a bachelor's degree in healthcare-related fields like biology. 

You also need experience in patient care, such as working as a paramedic, medical assistant, or other occupations involved in addressing patient needs. These qualify you to apply for a master's degree or a physician assistant education program. 

After completing a PA program, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) to become licensed or Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).

Job Outlook

BLS projects employment for physician assistants to grow by 27% from 2022 to 2032, with about 12,200 openings estimated yearly.

Salary Information

The average annual salary for clinical physician assistants in TN is around $121,100, with additional pay amounting to about $19,200 annually.

 


Conclusion

Overall, the highest paying jobs in Tennessee are diversified and offer lucrative career opportunities for people of various educational and professional backgrounds. 

While most of these high-paying jobs encompass a wide range of job training and experience requirements, the job satisfaction, compensation, and benefits are definitely worth it.

If you seek a full-time, high-paying Tennessee job and professional growth, we highly recommend earning a BBA, MS or MBA through part-time and fully remote degree programs offered by Nexford.


FAQs

What is the highest paying job in Tennessee in 2024?

Physician-surgeons are the highest paying job in Tennessee, with anesthesiologists having an average annual salary ranging from $339,000 to $607,000

Additional pay alone is estimated at $132,300 per year.

 

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

The BLS projects APRNs to have the highest level of growth at 38%, followed by physician assistants at 27% and IT directors at 15%.

 

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What is the best career path in Tennessee in 2024?

Based on average salary and job outlook, the best high paying jobs in Tennessee in 2024 are physician-surgeons, specifically anesthesiologists. 

Other healthcare professionals, such as advanced practice registered nurses or physician's assistant positions, are among the highest-paying jobs.

 

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

Soft skills required for top jobs in Tennessee, especially in the healthcare industry, include excellent communication, compassion and empathy, attention to detail, patience, organizational skills, and problem-solving skills. 

Hard skills and expertise are dexterity, leadership skills, physical stamina, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

If you want to discover if your skills are the right fit for any of the highest paying jobs in Tennessee for 2024, Download Our Free Report now by clicking the button!

 

What qualifications are required for high paying Tennessee jobs?

You can find high paying jobs in Tennessee with at least a bachelor’s degree in your chosen field. However, further education, licensure, certifications, and relevant experience will all be beneficial in expanding your career choices and improving your chances to get hired.

 

Why is it beneficial to gain a BBA/MBA degree to gain a high paying job in Tennessee?

A BBA or MBA degree provides specialized knowledge and skills in marketing, finance, management, strategy, and operations, which is valuable in all industries. 

This will give you a competitive advantage and help you explore more jobs and progress into managerial or supervisory roles faster. 

If you are currently employed, consider applying for an online BBA or online MBA program, which you can gain whilst working around your job.

About the author
Stephen Ramotowski
Stephen Ramotowski

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