Earning potential isn't the only thing you look at while searching for a job, so why should it be the main consideration when ranking what's already out there?
For their 2011 Jobs Rated Report, CareerCast took into account the physical and emotional work environment, potential for stress, physical demands, and the hiring outlook as well as the mid-level (not average) incomes in order to rank 200 U.S. jobs from best to worst. And it makes for some interesting, unpredictable results.
Because of high stress levels and low earning potential, teaching jobs, which have been in the news so much this year, placed squarely in the middle of the pack, in 100th place. School principals fared better, in 41st place, ranking higher than judges (54th) because even though judges earn tens of thousands of dollars more, principals have a better chance of actually finding a job.
What other jobs did CareerCast evaluate? Dentists (75th), mechanical engineers (62nd), and members of the clergy (68th) all fared better than airline pilots (high stress levels put them in 140th place), bartenders (ranked 159th, because long-term career prospects are slim), and farmers (177th, because of the amount of physical labor involved). Did your mom insist that you become a doctor or a lawyer? Those jobs rank 101st and 82nd, respectively. The jobs on the 10-worst list were mostly in housing construction, and industry that was severely affected by the recession and has been slow to recover.
Click here to read their full report, or keep reading for the 10 best and 10 worst jobs on their list.
10 best jobs
- Software engineer. Software engineers research, design, develop, and maintain software systems for nearly every industry out there, which makes for plenty of job security in the field.
- Mathematician. Not all mathematicians are academics. They also teach and solve problems in business and industrial settings.
- Actuary. Actuaries interpret statistics and determine probability. They crunch the numbers for the insurance industry, helping to decide whether you're a good risk and how high your rates should be.
- Statistician. These people are the big bean counters and number crunchers, analyzing and interpreting experiments and surveys. Low stress levels helped this job earn its high rank.
- Computer systems analyst. While software engineers deal with the programs themselves, computer systems analysts plan and develop the systems for business and scientific institutions. The income potential and number of jobs available are high, while the physical demands are quite low, which makes this job a highly coveted and stable one.
- Meteorologist. Everyone wants to know about the weather, and the interest in climate change research has pushed this job into the top 10.
- Biologist. The biotech industry is still booming, and biologists get to spend their time in a relatively good work environment.
- Historian. You don't have to stick to sciences in order to land a Top 10 job; historians are in high demand.
- Audiologist. As Baby Boomers age, jobs that cater to the needs of an older population will continue to grow. Audiologists help diagnose and measure hearing problems, which puts the job in a high-growth industry.
- Dental hygienist. When you go to the dentist, you actually spend much more time with the dental hygienist, who perform cleanings, preliminary diagnostics, and more.
10 worst jobs
- Roustabout. Roustabouts do most of the maintenance work for oil rigs and pipelines-hard physical work that takes place day and night in dangerous conditions. The BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, and the suspension of deepwater drilling, made job prospects for roustabouts even more difficult.
- Ironworker. Ironworkers perform high-stress work in dangerous conditions for low pay.
- Lumberjack. Little job growth and lots of hard labor earned lumberjacks a spot on the worst-jobs list.
- Roofer. Though the construction industry often offers a sneak peek at the economy, installing and repairing roofs can be a high-stress, hard-labor, low-paying job.
- Taxi driver. Taxi drivers drive 100,000 or more miles each year, and the cargo they carry can be rude, messy, and demanding. It's a low-paying job with high stress levels and potentially horrible work environment.
- Emergency Medical Technician. Low pay and high stress make this job a tough one. Not to mention the dangerous conditions under which EMTs have to work.
- Welder. While skilled welders may be able to land jobs easily, entry-level positions are hard to come by.
- Painter. Another construction-related jobs on the 10 worst list. Why? Dangerous working conditions, toxic chemicals, low pay, and low job security.
- Meter reader. Monotony makes for a stressful work environment, and low pay keeps this job at the bottom of the rankings.
- Construction worker. The home construction industry was hit hard by the recession and still hasn't fully recovered, making jobs for construction workers difficult to find and keep.
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