You may think you have the worst job in America, but unless you routinely work 12-hour shifts in scorching desert heat or frigid ocean storms, at the constant risk of severe injury or death, you shouldn't complain.
The career guidance website CareerCast.com has evaluated 200 professions across a wide variety of industries, skill levels and salary ranges to determine the best and worst jobs of 2011. To measure each job CareerCast used five core criteria: pay, outlook, work environment, stress and physical demands. It gathered data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, trade association studies and other sources.
Each of the core categories was broken down into elements, with each element given points. In the final result, a higher point total means a less desirable job, and a lower score reflects a more desirable one.
Thanks partly to our infatuation with cellphone apps and cloud computing, technical positions have jumped to the top of the lists this year. The No. 1 job, software engineer, requires computer knowledge, skill with numbers and an ability to design and create software. The profession is considered a low stress one with good pay and a positive hiring outlook--and it isn't the only one.
Mathematician, biologist and actuary are all professions that have reappeared high in the rankings by providing enjoyable work environments and substantial salaries, but the biggest jump this year was for audiologist, which rose from No. 43 in 2010 to No. 9 in 2011. A large number of audiologists are hitting retirement age. Baby boomers, meanwhile, are reaching an age where their hearing may be beginning to deteriorate. More patients and a demand for new professionals make audiology one of the best fields to go into in America.
Other best jobs for 2011 include dental hygienist, meteorologist and statistician.
1. Software Engineer
Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes.
Overall Score: 60.00 Income: $87,140.00
Applies mathematical theories and formulas to teach or solve problems in a business, educational, or industrial climate.
Overall Score: 73.00 Income: $94,178.00
Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters.
Overall Score: 123.00 Income: $87,204.00
Tabulates, analyzes, and interprets the numeric results of experiments and surveys.
Overall Score: 129.00 Income: $73,208.00
5. Computer Systems Analyst
Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions.
Overall Score: 147.00 Income: $77,153.00
Studies the physical characteristics, motions and processes of the earth's atmosphere.
Overall Score: 175.00 Income: $85,210.00
Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.
Overall Score: 182.00 Income: $74,278.00
Analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise.
Overall Score: 192.00 Income: $63,208.00
Diagnoses and treats hearing problems by attempting to discover the range, nature, and degree of hearing function.
Overall Score: 195.00 Income: $63,144.00
10. Dental Hygienist
Assists dentists in diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of a group or private dental practice.
Overall Score: 197.00 Income: $67,107.00
CareerCast, which has ranked the best and worst jobs in America for 15 years, seeks to find professions that provide the best overall experience for employees, not just jobs that shine in one particular area.