Best Jobs for 2010

job-ranking-codesThe folks at CareerCast have rated 200 jobs using an index:

Data on each job is broken down into five key categories: Physical Demands, Work Environment, Income, Stress and Hiring Outlook. Jobs receive a score in each individual category, and when these are added together, the career with the best overall score is ranked 1st, while the one with the worst overall score is ranked 200th.

Professors  Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson famously conducted a similar analysis in 1978*, placing Cowboy at the bottom of the list with Doctor, Lawyer, and Such as the three most desirable occupations.

Much has changed, it would seem, in the ensuing 32 years.  The top 20 jobs according to this index:

  1. Actuary
  2. Software Engineer
  3. Computer Systems Analyst
  4. Biologist
  5. Historian
  6. Mathematician
  7. Paralegal Assistant
  8. Statistician
  9. Accountant
  10. Dental Hygienist
  11. Philosopher
  12. Meterologist
  13. Technical Writer
  14. Bank Officer
  15. Web Developer
  16. Industrial Engineer
  17. Financial Planner
  18. Aerospace Engineer
  19. Pharmacist
  20. Medical Records Technician

The worst jobs?

  1. Roustabout
  2. Lumberjack
  3. Ironworker
  4. Dairy Farmer
  5. Welder
  6. Garbage Collector
  7. Taxi Driver
  8. Construction Worker
  9. Meter Reader
  10. Mail Carrier

Cowboy doesn’t seem to have made the list of 200 careers, whilst Doctor has been broken up into several subspecialties (Podiatrist, Dentist, Veterinarian, etc.).   Lawyer made the list as Attorney at #80.

Of course, I can’t imagine that I’d enjoy being an actuary.  The list-makers have that covered, though:

Of course every employee is different, and what you consider a “dream job” might be someone else’s idea of a career nightmare. Because of this, a simple ranking may not be enough — you need to know what a particular job is really like on a day-to-day basis. This is where the survey’s individual scores and rankings can help. If you’re the type who cares a lot about income but doesn’t mind stress, for example, public relations executive might be a great career for you. While the job may seem less desirable with an overall ranking of 79, it ranks 19th for median income and 193rd for stress — perfect for the job seeker who wants good pay and can handle a high-stress environment.

I’m shocked to see Historian so high on the list, given the academic job market.  But they rate the hiring outlook at 22.26, putting it in the Very Good category.

UPDATEDave Schuler explains the rather dubious “Hiring Prospects” rankings:

It only includes percentage growth in the field, income potential, and number unemployed. Availability of jobs isn’t factored in at all. That tends to give a leg up to jobs with very small numbers of employed (so any increase is likely to be a sizeable percentage), decent top incomes, and few unemployed. That means that an extremely selective field (like actuary) will score disproportionately well, particularly if the number of jobs has increased in the field as it has over the last ten years or so.

That’s just absurdly shoddy.

*I’m informed that Ed Bruce actually published an early version of the study in 1975 in a more obscure journal. The findings were popularized by Jennings and Nelson.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    Philosopher? Historian? I’m sure the work is nice but aren’t there very few of these ‘jobs’ available? I’ll file this over in the round file cabinet.

  2. Great. So I’ve clearly wasted my time getting a degree in Roustaboutery.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m rather surprised that actuary is so frequently ranked that high. Yes, it’s a good job but there are only about 20,000 of them nationally. And if you’re smart enough to be an actuary, you’re smart enough to be a physician (whose median income is double the median income for actuaries). Do the math.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Great. So I’ve clearly wasted my time getting a degree in Roustaboutery

    Oddly, being a roustabout is one of the jobs people in my family have held. My mom’s uncle was a roustabout.

  5. sam says:

    Blog Author, Principal, didn’t even make the cut, and with 0 barriers to entry at that (well, almost 0 I guess).

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I think I’ve figured out how Actuary made it to the top: the Hiring Prospects metric is flawed. It only includes percentage growth in the field, income potential, and number unemployed. Availability of jobs isn’t factored in at all. That tends to give a leg up to jobs with very small numbers of employed (so any increase is likely to be a sizeable percentage), decent top incomes, and few unemployed. That means that an extremely selective field (like actuary) will score disproportionately well, particularly if the number of jobs has increased in the field as it has over the last ten years or so.

  7. Eric Florack says:

    Professors Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson famously conducted a similar analysis in 1978, placing Cowboy at the bottom of the list with Doctor, Lawyer, and Such as the three most desirable occupations.

    Ed Bruce, I think.

    (Chuckle)

  8. Mike Mathea says:

    What about Outsourcing consultants. A great job pays well and you get to travel a lot on someone else. What could be better.

  9. Have a nice G.A. says:

    3rd shift porn shop clerk on the interstate, you know the one that has to clean to booths, and gets hit on by horny old gay dudes all night. NO.1 worst job in my rankings.

    Dream job, the next one I get that pays more then 8 bucks an hour.