28 Top Jobs and Industries for the Class of 2015

There’s plenty of advice on which way to turn after college graduation, with different guides slicing and dicing the trends in different ways. Here’s a guide to the guides.


It’s college graduation season — and a great moment to study the job market — especially if you’re just stepping into it, but also if you’re just entering your freshman year.

In the long run, you want a job that gives you satisfaction, plenty of chances to grow and advance and, of course, enough cash to enjoy a high quality of life.

There is a multitude of “best jobs” lists for those of you beginning your career journeys, and the choices depend on where you look, according to Money Talks News’ Stacy Johnson. But job surveys differ in their methodology, emphasizing a variety of values and factors, so they offer an array of suggestions.

OK, so some things are a given: Computer professions and the medical field are growing. But let’s look at a few websites that break it down, aiming to guide you in the direction of wealth and happiness.

1. ‘Big growth, great pay, satisfying work’

CNNMoney partnered with Payscale.com to choose the top 100 careers with “big growth, great pay and satisfying work.” Their choices are based on median pay, top salaries and expected 10-year job growth.

In addition, these jobs are graded on quality of life, using a letter-rating method. According to their methodology, described here, these are their top 10:

  • Software architect: Median pay, $124,000; top pay, $169,000; and 10-year-anticipated growth, 23 percent. Quality of life/personal satisfaction, A; benefit to society, B; telecommuting, A; and low stress, A.
  • Video game designer: Median pay, $79,000; top, $115,000; and growth, 19 percent. Personal satisfaction, A; benefit to society, B; and low stress, A.
  • Landman (handles the business side of oil, gas and mineral exploration): Median, $103,000; top, $160,000; and growth, 13 percent. Personal satisfaction, A; benefit to society, A; and low stress, A.
  • Patent agent: Median, $126,000; top, $182,000; and growth, 13 percent. Personal satisfaction A; benefit to society, A; and low stress, A.
  • Hospital administrator: Median, $114,000; top, $207,000; and growth, 13 percent. Satisfaction, A; benefit to society, A; and low stress, C.
  • Continuous improvement manager: Median, $96,000; top, $130,000; and growth, 12 percent. Satisfaction, A; societal benefit, B; and low stress, A.
  • Clinical nurse specialist: Median, $89,000; top, $130,000; and growth, 19 percent. Personal satisfaction, A; benefit to society, A; and low stress, B.
  • Data developer: Median, $88,200; top, $126,000; and growth, 23 percent. Satisfaction, B; benefit to society, C; telecommuting, A; and low stress, A.
  • Information assurance analyst: Median, $96,400; top, $126,000; and growth, 37 percent. Satisfaction, B; benefits to society, B; and low stress, A.
  • Pilates/Yoga Instructor: Median, $62,400; top, $119,000; and growth, 13 percent. I leave it to you to figure out the quality of life scores.

Check out the details on the next 90 jobs that CNNMoney/Payscale selected here.

2. Industries with strong revenue, employment growth, above average salaries

Research firm IbisWorld scoured more than 700 industries and harvested fields that show strong revenue, employment growth and above-average salaries, for at least the next five years. Here are the top six businesses for new grads as filtered from Ibis data by Fortune Magazine.

  • Hospitals/health care: Medical industry careers are in demand, partly because of aging baby boomers, and are projected to grow by 19.5 percent between now and 2020. Current average industry salary: $66,567.
  • Software development: Demand for smartphone app developers will skyrocket to an annual rate of 37.6 percent, far outpacing the projected 15.5 percent growth rate of the software business as a whole. The job market for software engineers, developers and programmers remains strong, however, with an average annual 2015 salary of $147,274.
  • Engineering: The industry “is expected to hire thousands of new graduates over the next five years as business confidence increases,” according to Ibis. This leads to a growth rate of 19 percent. Average industry salary this year: $87,246.
  • Semiconductor and circuit engineers: Demand for advanced wireless consumer electronics and new chip technology that can integrate existing Wi-Fi and mobile networks will generate 16 percent growth by 2020. Average salary: $93,167.
  • Management consulting: As the economy recovers and companies invest more in strategy, the need will increase, with an 18 percent anticipated growth rate in the next five years. Average 2015 industry salary: $58,702.
  • Accounting: The industry, projected to grow 17 percent, benefits from the recent rise in financial regulation. More globalization will also require expertise in U.S. accounting standards. Current average salary: $67,474.

3. Careers that ‘shine in terms of salary, work-life balance and expected employment growth’

U.S. News & World Report lists what it calls 25 careers that “shine in terms of salary, work-life balance and expected employment growth.” This list is gleaned from a total of 100 careers. Here are their four top jobs.

  • Dentistry: Median income: $146,340. U.S. News predicts that almost 25,000 jobs will open in 2015.
  • Nurse practitioners: Median income of $92,670, and close to 37,000 openings are anticipated.
  • Software developers: Median income of $92,660, and there should be about 140,000 openings. On the applications side, designing software; on the systems side, building operating systems.
  • Computer System Analysts: Average salary of just more than $81,000, and there are more than 120,000 openings expected in 2015.

4. Bucking the trend in job recommendations

CareerBuilder, through its Economic Modeling Specialists International, subsidiary topped its list with a career that bucks the trend:

  • Marketing executive: People in this professional can earn about $120,000, and the most recent gap between postings and hires is about 23,000. Job growth is expected to be 10 percent in the next few years.
  • Software developer: Applications jobs yield an average salary of just more than $90,000, and the postings/hiring gap is about 21,000. Expected growth: above 15 percent.
  • Registered Nurses: There is a postings/hiring gap here of just more than 21,000, and the expected growth is more than 15 percent. Median income: almost $93,000.

The remaining jobs on the list, mostly computer related, can be found at CareerBuilder’s website.

5. Jobs employees rate highly

Glassdoor.com rates the best jobs using employee input: Those who have already made their choice and are busy striving for the golden ring.

Here are five of Glassdoor’s top choices:

  • Physician assistant
  • Software engineer
  • Database administrator
  • Product manager
  • Data scientist

More can be found on a Glassdoor blog.

For those headed for a liberal arts degree, don’t despair.

According to Forbes, those students should visit school career services offices starting in their freshman year for advice on how best to make themselves marketable. They should also network, especially with graduates who are working in their fields of interest, Forbes says.

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Stacy Johnson

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