The Top Jobs and Best Workplaces of 2017

Spring means job interviews for 2017 college graduates. But college grads aren’t the only ones job hunting. This season brings out the wanderlust even in longtime employees.

To help all the new grads and workers with a roving eye, we checked out this year’s batch of best-jobs lists (a spring tradition in the media) and summed up their findings. We looked at Glassdoor, U.S. News & World Report, CNN and Careerbuilder — and in addition, we included a peek at Forbes’ annual survey of best employers.

These lists have different takes on top jobs — and it’s worth considering how their approach aligns with your own thinking. But, if there is a single lesson for job seekers: One ticket to a high-paying career is a degree in a STEM field — that’s science, technology, engineering and math. Even if you are drawn to the arts, humanities or social sciences, it’s best to develop some expertise in science or technology to bring to the market.

Here is how five different evaluations of that market saw the best prospects:

View No. 1: Health-related jobs dominate

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

U.S. News’ 100 top jobs rankings take into account not just pay but also factors like the potential for growth in a career and the potential for work-life balance. This survey reports what education and training are required for each job as well as typical job satisfaction and median salary.

Health care jobs rose to the top of the list: 52 of the 100 top jobs are in health care and related areas. The current U.S. shortage of health care professionals means that jobs in medicine promise strong employment and good salaries. The study also noted that because these jobs require a human touch, they won’t be as readily replaced by automation.

Other top job prospects identified by the survey were in technology, math and statistics.

1. Dentist

  • Number of new jobs forecast: 23,300
  • Median salary: $152,700
  • Unemployment: 0.1 percent

The availability of newer dental cosmetic procedures, like composite bonding, porcelain veneers and tooth whitening, is encouraging growth in this health care field.

2. Nurse practitioner

  • Number of new jobs forecast: 44,700
  • Median salary: $98,190
  • Unemployment: 0.7 percent

Nurse practitioners, Registered Nurses (RNs) who have obtained advanced training in specialty areas like pediatrics or family practice, are in demand. Their work and relative autonomy can be very satisfying. They can perform exams, prescribe medication, authorize treatment, order lab tests and analyze the results and provide patient education, according to the U.S. News report.

3. Physician assistant

  • Number of new jobs forecast: 28,700
  • Median salary: $98,180
  • Unemployment: 0.6 percent

As a PA, you’d be able to diagnose and treat illnesses, perform procedures and assist in surgery. Patient education and follow-up also are a big part of the PA’s job.

View No. 2: Number crunchers in front

Data scientist
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

Glassdoor, a jobs site, compiled its 50 Best Jobs rankings from three metrics: earning potential (derived from median annual base salaries provided by users), users’ job satisfaction ratings and number of job openings. The top jobs scored well in all three categories.

Glassdoor uses information gathered from its users. The job titles included in the survey are those that received at least 100 job-satisfaction ratings and 100 or more salary reports from U.S.-based users in 2016.

Data scientist

  • Median Base Salary: $110,000
  • Job Openings: 4,184
  • Job Score: 4.8 (of possible 5)
  • Job Satisfaction: 4.4 (of possible 5)

BigDataUniversity (BDU)* says:

Data scientists apply statistics, machine learning and analytic approaches to solve critical business problems. Their primary function is to help organizations turn their volumes of big data into valuable and actionable insights.

Skills and tools needed include: Python, R, Scala, Apache Spark, Hadoop, data mining tools and algorithms, machine learning, statistics.

*BDU is an IBM community project that makes technical education available online for free. The content and tool sets used in courses are offered at no charge and courses are accessed “at your pace based on your priorities,” BDU says.

DevOps engineer

  • Median Base Salary: $110,000
  • Job Openings: 2,725
  • Job Score: 4.7 (of possible 5)
  • Job Satisfaction score: 4.2 (of possible 5)
DevOps is a fairly new field that brings together the areas of software development and information technology. DevOps pros concentrate on automating the delivery of software. the goal is to build, test and release software more quickly and reliably, Wikipedia says. The ability to communicate and collaborate is critical. DevOps Digest lists some of the skills and tools required.

Data engineer

  • Median Base Salary: $106,000
  • Job Openings: 2,599
  • Job Score: 4.7 (of possible 5)
  • Job Satisfaction score: 4.3 (of possible 5)

Software engineers who design, build and integrate and manage data are called data engineers. They “prepare the ‘big data’ infrastructure to be analyzed by Data Scientists,” according to BDU. Skills and tools used in this field include Hadoop, MapReduce, Hive, Pig, MySQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Data streaming, NoSQL, SQL and programming.

View No. 3: Best by high satisfaction, low stress, pay potential

Woman working on app development on a computer
nd3000 / Shutterstock.com

CNN Money uses data from PayScale to compile its list of the 100 best careers. Among the criteria: job satisfaction, low stress and rising pay.

  • Median Pay: $97,100
  • Top Pay: $133,000
  • 10-year job growth: 19 percent

Mobile app developers build and update apps used on phones, tablets and other mobile devices to ensure that they’re secure and easy and fun to use. They often get their hands on the very latest technology before it is released to the public.

  • Median Pay: $131,000
  • Top Pay: $200,000
  • 10-year job growth: 7 percent

Risk managers have the responsibility of identifying the range of risks that might affect a company — from natural disasters to cybersecurity breaches and public relations messes — preventing them where possible and developing plans to manage crises when they happen.

3. Landman

  • Median Pay: $93,600
  • Top Pay: $161,000
  • 10-year job growth: 7 percent

This esoteric job (despite the name, women presumably can do it, too) entails working for energy companies to negotiate mineral rights from property owners. The work involves researching land titles and hammering out deals.

View No. 4: Top jobs by demand

dotshock / Shutterstock.com

Rather than building a list of top jobs, Careerbuilder highlights five career categories in which demand for employees is especially strong. Features of these jobs:

  • They pay about $20 an hour and up, on average.
  • They grew faster than the general labor market between 2012 and 2016.
  • They have great numbers of job postings monthly.

To come up with a field’s average earnings, Careerbuilder lumps together salaries from jobs whose pay is vastly different — doctors, nurses and physical therapists, for example — making the data on average hourly pay less meaningful.

Top fields include:

Information technology

  • Average earnings: $41/ hour
  • 2012-2016 job growth: 12 percent
  • Jobs include: data scientist, user interface/ front end developer, product manager, mobile software engineer and information security manager.

Health care

  • Average earnings: $38/hour
  • 2012-2016 job growth: 8 percent
  • Jobs include: family practitioner, medical director, ICU nurse, cardiologist, physical therapist and rehabilitation nurse.

Business and financial operations

  • Average earnings: $35/hour
  • 2012-2016 job growth: 8 percent
  • Jobs include: operations manager, business process analyst, product development specialist, financial analyst and office manager.

View No 5: Top jobs by employer

Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

Fortune calls its annual 100 Best Companies to Work For survey “the most extensive employee survey in corporate America.”

The poll uses an anonymous survey of about 230,000 workers who assess their own workplaces, leaders, support for personal and professional lives, and workplace relationships. Other data include companies’ responses to a questionnaire about compensation and benefits, hiring practices, recognition, training and diversity programs, Fortune says.

Fortune’s list says of top-ranking Google’s determination to grow and keep a satisfied workforce:

… [I]t also takes a ­rigorous analytical approach to morale. It boosted its parental-leave policies, for example, after finding that mothers were leaving at higher rates — the result was a 50 percent reduction in attrition for working moms.

Fortune’s top 10 employers.

  1. Google
  2. Wegmans Food Markets
  3. The Boston Consulting Group
  4. Baird
  5. Edward Jones
  6. Genentech
  7. Ultimate Software
  8. Salesforce
  9. Acuity
  10. Quicken Loans

What would you value most when considering a new career or job? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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