Best Jobs in 2010

by David Ning · 31 comments

Doh. My career isn’t even close to the top of the list of best jobs in 2010.

Most of us do something to earn a living. Some call it a job, some a career and others claim it’s a passion. That’s important, because our classification denotes how we feel about it. But have you ever wondered how others think your “job” fairs among the thousands of careers out there? Now you can. According to CareerCast, the top 10 jobs of 2010, along with their respective starting salaries are:

  1. Actuary – $49,000
  2. Software Engineer – $54,000
  3. Computer Systems Analyst – $45,000
  4. Biologist – $39,000
  5. Historian – $34,000
  6. Mathematician – $54,000
  7. Paralegal Assistant – $29,000
  8. Statistician – $40,000
  9. Accountant – $37,000
  10. Dental Hygienist – $44,000

Here’s the List of the Best 200 Jobs

So What Can You Learn from This?

Lists always make for an interesting read, but it’s perhaps more important to understand the methodology behind how each one is ranked. So many of us think of jobs as it relates to how much income the career can bring us, but that’s hardly the most important. In the list above, all jobs were graded according to: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands.

You see. Income is important, but the environment and other intangible factors are just as crucial. It’s great to earn $100,000 a year, but it might not be worth it if you have to work 20 hour days and be stressed out for 24.

What Else Can You Learn

Here are a few more snippets I picked up from the list.

  • Starting Salaries Mean Nothing – The historian position really caught my eye, because of it’s low starting salary. It’s not that $39,000 is a very low number, but because historians are usually all phDs, meaning that these people starting out are all around 30, when you are usually at a mid to high level position in other careers. This further reinforces that income means little, but starting salaries mean nothing.
  • Education is Still Important – Too many people believe that education is unimportant, and it’s with good reason because most of us never really gain from most of the material we learn in school. Yet, most of the top jobs require a high degree of knowledge. Knowledge that’s easiest to learn in a school environment. Stay in school, or if you want to have a better career, go back.
  • Outlook Changes (Obviously) – “Go Where the Jobs Are”. We’ve all heard this before, but how can we predict what’s going to happen a decade down the road? The only way to ensure that you will be comfortable is to learn skills that are always in demand, or what I’d like to call “evergreen jobs”. Look at the best jobs in the list. They are in demand whether the sky is falling or not.
  • Income Means Little, Until It Does – Don’t just look for high income jobs, but it’s still important. Don’t stress yourself out excessively, but don’t take the easy way out either. Hard work still pays, literally.
  • This is Just the Average – My sister is a actuary, and this career is ranked in the top 3 positions almost every single time. She makes good money alright, but I always hear about her lack of sleep, and intense work schedule. I know a few people in the field who have a pretty relaxed job, but not everybody will make the same amount money and have the same responsibilities. These lists are just guidelines, and at the end are based on subjective ratings. Before you spend multiple years of your life on schooling to switch careers, do your due diligence first and make sure it’s the right move for you.

So, what else can you learn from this? Anyone going to become a mathematician because of this? Let us know your thoughts.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Naushi says:

    Interesting read!!
    I am a software engineer ( Technical consultant) by profession but am a Mathematics grad (Just did not find enough opportunity in India to be a Mathematician).

    Though I wonder if I can switch to entrepreneurship sometime, as I would love to have my own start up…

  • Wow, I’m surprised to see actuary and dental assistant up there!

  • 2010 is long gone and I was not one of those list in the jobs above. LOL. How about this year 2011?

  • Christine says:

    Well, i guess that’s true in any profession and it’s important to find the right company to work for.

  • Molly says:

    It’s amazing that teacher’s aid is ranked higher then a teacher. thanx for posting.

  • Monica says:

    I was surprised to find that a historian was listed among the best. Wouldn’t have guessed that.

  • Jackie says:

    I think this list is only for the ordinary jobs. How come astronauts aren’t in the top 10 of the list. Whatever, i didn’t see my job is in the top 10, but i am not disappointed about that.

  • Katie says:

    I loved to see my job on the list. you need to find a carer to make more than 6k a month.

  • Sandra says:

    I wouldn’t be happy if my job was on that list. Very interesting how they pull these “jobs” out of the air. Find a career to make more than 54k a year.

  • Joe Morgan says:

    Being on the list isn’t everything… my occupation IS on the list, but it’s near impossible to find employment in this job market…

  • Dominique says:

    I’m surprised at the list too. It’s amazing that teacher’s aid is ranked higher then a teacher. Hmm

  • MoneyReasons says:

    Personally, I’m surprised by the Biologist on the list too… I didn’t realize Biologist were in such high demand…

    Very interesting, I’m in computer services, so I’m glad to see software engineer and computer systems analysts are up there.

  • Dang David, this list is bunk if BTB (Big Time Blogger) isn’t on the list.

    What other job allows you to just write for 1-3 hours a day, respond to e-mails, and then kick back the other 20 hours a day collecting income in the 7 figures.

    I’d choose BTB as #1 over a Dental Hygenist or Actuary ANY DAY.

    • MoneyNing says:

      Me too, but it’s tough for blogging to rank when the starting salary is $0 🙂

      I also don’t think it’s really an occupation per say. It’s the same as classifying “business” as a job too. Although the profit can be limitless, there are ways to lose money too.

      • Are there really ways to lose money blogging David? Operational costs is like $12/yr after everything is set up. So yes, I guess you could lose $12/yr, but things could be worse no?

        • MoneyNing says:

          Oh I was referring to businesses, but most big time money earners think of their blogs as an online empire. When you go that route, there are expenses that can go with it (design, advertising etc etc).

  • Jenna says:

    @Robert I’m curious too. You really can’t just say “these are the best” and not say how/why.

  • Money Funk says:

    I have to say those are pretty reasonable starting salaries. And I realize that I am thankful to have my job and its salary.

    I love what I do – clinical research associate for cancer (run chemotherapy protocol/treatment studies). It should be listed above.

    But, if I decide to change – it’ll will be entrepreneurial. And in the past – I wanted to be an art curator. Thinks to self, “If money wasn’t everything growing up”.

  • Robert says:

    What criteria is used to determine the best job?

    • MoneyNing says:

      Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands. The actual formula is quite complex, so click through to the 200 jobs and you will find out exactly how they do it.

  • Lisa says:

    I met a nurse who told me that she wished she’d become a doctor, I met a doctor who told me that he wished he’d been a lawyer, a lawyer who wished he’d became an engineer, and so on. Are we never satisfied or is it a grass is always greener on the other side of the fence thing?

    BTW, I’m an accountant and some days looking for a penny error gets old.

  • CD Phi says:

    This list is quite surprising. I thought a dental hygienist would make more money but I guess not. I’m also surprised other occupations like those in the technology field didn’t make the list.

  • Craig says:

    Seems like this is also all relative to where you live. Surprised to see a few of those jobs like Historian at the top.

  • JB says:

    I’d still rather be an engineer 🙂

    Although with our field it’s 100% what you choose to do with your degree since i have some friends who are miserable. But i guess that’s true in any profession and it’s important to find the right company to work for.

    • MoneyNing says:

      The right environment will make all the difference. It’s unfortunate that most people will stick with what they’ve got, so companies never learn.

      Imagine if employees all walked if management sucked. That’d make for an awesome future for everybody.

  • Richard says:

    I’d like to be a historian, but take a few years of school and then starting out at $40k or something isn’t possible right now.

    Maybe in another life.

  • Mike Piper says:

    I was an accountant and traded it in to be a writer. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat (even though there was a pay cut). Taxation is fascinating, but filling out forms isn’t fun for anyone. (Well, ok, I’ve met a few people…)

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