25 top-paying companies

1. Southern Ohio Medical Center
Average total pay: $490,647
For: Physician*
Best companies rank: 36

How did a regional hospital network in the heart of Appalachian Ohio find its way to the top of our list of best paying companies? By offering strong pay to draw talented doctors, with an average salary of close to half a million dollars.
Southern Ohio sweetens the pot by matching employees' 401(k) contributions 100% up to 2% of salary and by offering perks such as its SOMC Adventures, which include New York shopping sprees, Caribbean cruises, visits to Amish country, and dinner trips.
The company also pays generously for professional development as part of a grow-your-own philosophy: Southern Ohio reimburses tuition not only for employees, but also for their family members. Internal candidates always get first dibs on open positions for which they are qualified. The proof is in the personnel: 31 of the hospital's 32 directors rose up from hourly staff positions.

2. Bingham McCutchen
Average total pay: $228,851
For: Associate*
Best companies rank: 30

Bring your friends to Bingham McCutchen. If landing a job with top pay isn't enough, the law firm's employees can collect up to $25,000 for helping colleagues get jobs there too.
Bingham's bonus bonanza rolls on. Early last year, the firm gave its associate attorneys merit pay between $7,500 and $35,000. A few months later, the firm handed out a special Spring Bonus of between $2,500 and $20,000. In 2010, Bingham paid out $9 million in associate bonuses alone.
For retirement, Bingham will contribute up to 12.5% of employees' compensation into a money-purchase pension plan. Its employees give plenty back, too. The firm's lawyers performed more than 57,000 hours of pro bono work in 2010. For animal-loving employees and partners, Bingham offers voluntary pet insurance at a group discounted rate.

3. Alston & Bird
Average total pay: $201,233
For: Associate*
Best companies rank: 24

For employees of Alston & Bird who aren't sure how to manage all that money they're making, the law firm offers quarterly investment seminars. Everyone is eligible for a year-end merit bonus and profit-sharing of up to 7% of salary.
Paralegals and staff are specially feted each year during a week-long celebration with door prizes including roundtrip airline tickets, TVs, and cash. All employees are also eligible to receive a gift from Tiffany & Co. after every five years of service.
A&B also gives out spot bonuses of up to $2,000 for things like a service contribution that significantly impacts the firm. A&B offers 90 days of maternity leave, as well as three weeks off for new dads -- and it reimburses up to $7,000 of adoption costs. Employees looking to give a little back can get 15 hours a year of paid time off for community service.

4. Perkins Coie
Average total pay: $189,409
For: Associate*
Best companies rank: 58

Health insurance is on the house at Perkins Coie. The law firm pays 100% of medical and dental premiums to full-time employees who work at least 25 hours a week.
The firm regularly provides free breakfast and lunch at a number of its offices. In the off-hours, it sponsors book and softball clubs. Other extras include pet insurance and long-term care insurance for employees' parents and grandparents.
Perkins is also looking out for its employees for the long haul, kicking 7.3% of team members' salaries into a retirement fund and matching 401(k) contributions up to fifty cents on the dollar up to 6% of salary. Staff employees are eligible to receive up to two months' paid sabbatical leave to do anything they want, except work for pay.

5. EOG Resources
Average total pay: $188,663
For: Engineer*
Best companies rank: 72

Talk about pay-dirt. Through its BCFe Awards (that's Billion Cubic Feet Equivalent for the uninitiated), employee divisions of EOG reap big bonuses when they hit key milestones. Pools range from $200,000 to $500,000, up to a possible cumulative payout of $2,450,000 over the productive life of a project at the independent energy exploration and production company.
EOG offers a shockproof retirement plan, matching 401(k) contributions buck-for-buck up to 6% of annual compensation. It also offers a company-funded retirement contribution of up to 9% of annual compensation. All new hires receive stock appreciation rights (SARs), and all employees are eligible for annual SARs grants as part of their compensation packages.

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