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The 12 Best Jobs in Pennsylvania for 2012

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Looking for a great job in the Keystone State? Taking care of people or computers are the keys to success. Based on the latest Jobs Rated report from, positions in the red-hot healthcare and technology industries offer the best balance of pleasant working conditions, good salaries, and strong projected growth in Pennsylvania through the end of the decade.

Currently at 7.5%, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania has improved steadily in recent months (down from a peak of 8.7% in February 2010), and hiring continues to outpace the national average. But not all jobs in the Keystone State are created equal. Some growing industries like gaming and mining offer many opportunities, but create jobs that typically require long hours or a high risk of injury. Factoring in both projected growth and working conditions, Software Engineer, a job at the forefront of the nationwide tech boom, ranks as the best job in Pennsylvania for 2012.

Benefiting from an excellent work environment, few dangerous physical demands and low stress – not to mention a median salary of nearly $90,000 – Software Engineer was named America’s best job of 2012 earlier this year. In Pennsylvania, thanks to the presence of technology companies like Microsoft, Symantec and Oracle, as well as the headquarters of companies like Bentley Systems and EPAM Systems, demand for Software Engineers is expected to grow by 2.2% annually through 2018, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In addition, the computer, science and engineering industry in Pennsylvania is expected to grow by 10.4% overall through the end of the decade.

Jobs in the healthcare sector also rank well, with Pharmacist, Dental Hygienist, Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist all finishing among the top five jobs in Pennsylvania for 2012. Each position boasts a projected annual growth rate between 1.4% and 1.7% through 2018, and overall the healthcare industry is projected to expand by 15.4% in Pennsylvania through 2020, according to the Pennsylvania DOLI.

Based on a measurement of average stress levels, work environment and physical demands, combined with projected local job growth through the end of next year, the following positions rank as’s 12 best jobs in Pennsylvania for 2012:

  • 1. Software Engineer

    Work Environment: 41.00
    Stress: 10.42
    Median Salary: $90,530
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 2.2%

    Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes.

    1 of 12
  • 2. Pharmacist

    Work Environment: 65.29
    Stress: 15.7
    Median Salary: $111,570
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.7%

    Advises physicians and patients on the affects of drugs and medications; prepares and dispenses prescriptions.

    2 of 12
  • 3. Dental Hygienist

    Work Environment: 54.55
    Stress: 12.09
    Median Salary: $68,250
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.5%

    Assists dentists in diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of a group or private dental practice.

    3 of 12
  • 4. Physical Therapist

    Work Environment: 59.13
    Stress: 15.70
    Median Salary: $76,310
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.6%

    Plans and directs treatment to improve mobility and alleviate pain in persons disabled by injury or disease.

    4 of 12
  • 5. Occupational Therapist

    Work Environment: 54.13
    Stress: 13.10
    Median Salary: $72,320
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.4%

    Develops individualized programs of activity for mentally, physically, developmentally and emotionally impaired persons, to aid them in achieving self-reliance.

    5 of 12
  • 6. Veterinarian

    Work Environment: 67.94
    Stress: 15.9
    Median Salary: $82,190
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.7%

    Administers to the care of animals through the use of preventative and diagnostic techniques.

    6 of 12
  • 7. Physician Assistant

    Work Environment: 72.80
    Stress: 32.07
    Median Salary: $86,410
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.7%

    Aids in the performance of essential procedures which free physicians to attend to more specialized aspects of their work.

    7 of 12
  • 8. Medical Secretary

    Work Environment: 48.28
    Stress: 15.14
    Median Salary: $31,114
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 2.1%

    Transcribes dictations, prepares correspondence, and assists physicians and other medical scientists in compiling reports, articles, speeches and conference proceedings.

    8 of 12
  • 9. Computer Systems Analyst

    Work Environment: 47.39
    Stress: 16.48
    Median Salary: $77,740
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.3%

    Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions.

    9 of 12
  • 10. Financial Planner

    Work Environment: 50.00
    Stress: 18.61
    Median Salary: $104,161
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.3%

    Related to careers in portfolio management, the financial planner offers a broad range of services aimed at assisting individuals in managing and planning their financial future.

    10 of 12
  • 11. Registered Nurse

    Work Environment: 65.75
    Stress: 30.16
    Median Salary: $64,690
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.5%

    Assists physicians in administering holistic medical care and treatment to assigned patients in clinics, hospitals, public health centers, and health maintenance organizations.

    11 of 12
  • 12. Computer Programmer

    Work Environment: 50.18
    Stress: 12.61
    Median Salary: $47,161
    Projected Annual Growth Rate - Pennsylvania: 1.4%

    Organizes and lists the instructions for computers to process data and solve problems in logical order.

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Each year Jobs Rated researchers survey 200 jobs – from Accountant to Zoologist – scoring them according to five key criteria: Physical Demands, Work Environment, Income, Hiring Outlook and Stress. Some factors remain relatively constant from year to year, but others fluctuate greatly due to changes in the job market, technological innovations or current events. Using data from government sources, trade groups and private organizations, every job receives a score and rank in each category, and these ratings are then combined to form a complete ranking of 200 jobs for 2012, from best to worst.

Jobs Rated 2012 Methodology

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