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Best and worst jobs for 2010

Would you rather be an actuary than a roustabout?

By Teresa Mears Jan 11, 2010 1:12PM

Career Cast has come up with a list of the best and worst jobs for 2010, ranking 200 jobs from  best to worst by taking into account physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.


Of course, some of those factors are entirely subjective. NFL quarterback, for example, is sure to rank high on the physical demands scale, but if you’ve got the athletic ability, it could be a pretty good job. The rankings don’t take into account the cost of education and training for the jobs.


If you want a top job, you’d better be good at math, though historian and philosopher (would I need more education for this?) also were in the top 20.


These are the top 20 jobs:

  • Actuary
  • Software engineer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Biologist
  • Historian
  • Mathematician
  • Paralegal assistant
  • Statistician
  • Dental hygienist
  • Philosopher
  • Meteorologist
  • Bank officer
  • Web developer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Pharmacist
  • Medical records technician

If you’re wondering how some other fields ranked, economist came in 26th, ranking high in working environment and income but very low in availability of jobs. Lawyer was ranked 80th and doctor (general practice) came in 128th. Pro athlete was not on the list.

The jobs that fell into the bottom 20 had a combination of flaws: low salaries, difficult working conditions, serious risk of injury or death, and poor employment prospects, Career Cast noted. Two exceptions are emergency medical technician and firefighter, where the employment prospects are good but the jobs have high levels of stress and difficulty. Plus, Career Cast finds those fields underpaid relative to their actual value.

The lowest ranking job was roustabout (an entry-level job on oil rigs), which suffers on all levels: intense physical demands, high stress and a median income of just $31,000.


And the bottom 20 (starting with the least objectionable):

  • Choreographer
  • Machinist
  • Sailor
  • Newspaper reporter
  • Stevedore
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Sheet metal worker
  • Firefighter
  • Photojournalist
  • Butcher
  • Mail carrier
  • Meter reader
  • Construction worker
  • Taxi driver
  • Garbage collector
  • Welder
  • Dairy farmer
  • Ironworker
  • Lumberjack
  • Roustabout

What would be your best and worst job? My worst job was sorting tax forms for the IRS when I was a teenager. The pay was good, but the job was excruciatingly boring, and they didn’t want you to talk, which made for a poor working environment. I much preferred my weekend job at the zoo concession stand, which provided more of an intellectual challenge, plus I had really interesting co-workers. My best job was as a newspaper section editor, but the demand for newspaper editors is pretty low these days.


When you’re evaluating jobs, how much does each of these factors matter: physical demands, stress, pay and working environment?


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