One of the most well-known facts about investing is that dividend-paying stocks far outperform non-dividend-paying stocks in the long term. This means that every long-term investor should own at least one dividend-paying stock, and depending on your age, investment goals, and risk tolerance, maybe a diversified portfolio full of them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the top dividend-paying stocks that you should consider investing in today.

1. Ensign Energy Services Inc.: 4.5% yield

Ensign Energy Services Inc. (TSX:ESI) is one of the world’s largest oilfield service providers to the crude oil and natural gas industries. It pays a quarterly dividend of $0.12 per share, or $0.48 per share annually, giving its stock a 4.5% yield at current levels. The company has also increased its annual dividend payment every year since it first began paying dividends in 1995, making it one of the top dividend-growth plays in the market today.

2. Pembina Pipeline Corp.: 4.1% yield

Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL)(NYSE:PBA) is one of the leading transportation and service providers to North America’s energy industry. It pays a monthly dividend of $0.145 per share, or $1.74 per share annually, which gives its stock a 4.1% yield at today’s levels. The company has also increased its dividend for three consecutive years, and its consistent free cash flow generation should allow for this streak to continue in fiscal 2015.

3. Sun Life Financial Inc.: 3.65% yield

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF) is one of the world’s largest financial services organizations, and it is the 13th largest life insurer by market capitalization. It pays a quarterly dividend of $0.36 per share, or $1.44 per share annually, giving its stock a 3.65% yield at current levels. It is also worth noting that the company has maintained this quarterly dividend payment since 2008, and its financial stability could allow it to continue doing so for the next several years.

Which of these dividend stocks should you buy today?

Ensign Energy Services, Pembina Pipeline, and Sun Life Financial represent three of the market’s top dividend investment opportunities today. Foolish investors should take a closer look and consider investing in one or more of them.

Want three more of our TOP dividend stock picks?

These three top stocks have delivered dividends for shareholders for decades (and even centuries!). Check out our special FREE report: "3 Dividend Stocks to Buy and Hold Forever." Click here now to get the full story!


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Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.