The Highest Paying Jobs in California Are in Science and Engineering

highest paying jobs in california
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Silicon Valley aside, the state of California isn’t as famous for its geeky workers as it is for celebrities and models. But beyond the glitz of Hollywood, there are some seriously high earners in California who have nothing to do with being beautiful. Not to say you can’t be both beautiful and geeky, but these high-paying jobs require more brain power and a lot less glamour. According to PayScale data, these are the highest paying jobs in California.

Computer and Information Research ScientistsMedian pay $112,000

Computer and information research scientists are the highest earners in the state of California. For this type of job role, workers are required to first have a PhD in computer science or a related field. Their main job duties are to research, develop, and design new computing technologies. They also come up with new and innovative uses for old technology. At the end of the day, these workers aim to solve complex business problems through the use of technology.

Computer Hardware EngineersMedian pay $106,000

Trailing behind computer research scientists, computer hardware engineers earn a similar salary with half the educational requirements as computer research scientists. Computer hardware engineers tend to work in research lab environments, where they conceptualize, build, test, and design different types of computer models. In California, you will likely find computer hardware engineers working in high-tech development at places like Apple or Google.

Material Scientists Median pay $102,000

California has one of the highest concentrations of material scientists in the country. Their job role is to research the different chemical properties of materials such as metals, alloys, polymers, and glass. Essentially, it’s up to material scientists to develop new and innovative material that can be used in different products and applications.

Electronics EngineersMedian pay $99,000

Electrical engineers are responsible for the safety and management of all electrical equipment. A bachelor’s degree is required for this type of work but related experience is also preferred. You can find electronics engineers working in an office setting, as well as on-site. They design electronic systems for a variety of uses, including scientific, industrial, and commercial applications.

Astronomers Median pay $97,000

Believe it or not, employment for astronomers is actually expected to grow by 7 percent in the next few years. But if you’re going into this type of work, you’ll probably need a PhD in physics. Astronomers spend most of their time working in an office setting, but also work in observatories and laboratories where they can perform research.


PayScale created this report based on top-paying titles in a specific region. These lists are filtered by relative commonness to focus on jobs that are not only well-paying, but also unique to the region. This was done to remove obviously high-paying jobs that are found everywhere (e.g. general doctors, lawyers, etc.). Median pay is the national median (50th Percentile) annual total cash compensation.

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