The best jobs—and the worst ones—of 2016

Reporters ranked low, but journalists fired back

Kristin Tyndall, EAB Daily BriefingKristin Tyndall, editor

The results of Career Cast's latest ranking of 200 jobs in America might not surprise you.

At a time when companies and colleges alike are working to collect, analyze, and use their data better, the top two jobs in Career Cast's list focus on precisely these goals. Nearly every other job in the top 20 falls in the health, engineering, or computer science fields.

According to Career Cast, the top 20 jobs are:

1. Data scientist

2. Statistician

3. Information security analyst

4. Audiologist

5. Diagnostic medical sonographer

6. Mathematician

7. Software engineer

8. Computer systems analyst

9. Speech pathologist

10. Actuary

11. Occupational therapist

12. Human resources manager

13. Dental hygienist

14. Biomedical engineer

15. Dietitian

16. Meteorologist

17. Network and computer systems administrator

18. Optometrist

19. Physical therapist

20. Petroleum engineer

To create the list, Career Cast researchers gave 200 jobs a score in each of four categories: environment, employment outlook, income, and stress level. For the environmental score, researchers considered both physical and emotional factors; for the income score, researchers weighed both median annual income and growth potential. Researchers rated a job as more stressful if it included demands such as frequent travel, deadlines, public-facing work, and competitiveness.

The 'worst' jobs

At the other end of the spectrum, the industries are more varied.

The 10 jobs at the lowest end of Career Cast's ranking are:

191. Firefighter

192. Taxi driver

193. Advertising sales person

194. Retail sales person

195. Pest control worker

196. Enlisted military

197. Disc jockey

198. Broadcaster

199. Logger

200. Newspaper reporter

This was the third year in a row that reporter came in last.

Another point for STEM?

On its face, the list would seem to be yet more evidence that everyone interested in getting a job after college should major in STEM—or welding.

The best jobs list is dominated by health, mathematics, and computer science, while the 'worst' job focuses on writing.

But the context of this report makes for a much more nuanced picture.

First, in a survey we reported on last week, business leaders said that the skills they need most from new hires are soft skills—mainly written and oral communication. So while many employers are hiring data scientists, they seem to want data scientists who can both crunch numbers and write an easy-to-read memo about the results. Employers want sonographers—but sonographers who respond sensitively to patients.

In short, employers want well-rounded professionals.

Second, journalists quickly reacted to the Career Cast report, tweeting and commenting about how much they love their jobs.

Many pointed out that there is no "best job" for everyone—different jobs work for different personality types. As one reporter said: "The 'best' jobs sound like my idea of hell. Sitting in a cubicle crunching numbers for a spread sheet? No thanks." Another chimed in: "I was born to do this."

Thus, as I've argued before, the answer to ensuring that new grads get good jobs isn't figuring out how to talk every college student into filling up their schedule with STEM courses. Instead, we should work toward getting every student into a field that suits their strengths and interests—and helping students from all majors gain the skills and experiences that will make them attractive to employers (Hare, Poynter, 4/13; Career Cast release, accessed 4/18).


Next in Today's Briefing

Survey: Colleges lack the data analytics tools they need

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