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2011 Jobs Rated Methodology

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This is our 2011 Jobs Rated Methodology report.
See Jobs Rated Methodology for 2012

How We Determined the Top 200 Jobs of 2011

In order to quantify and rank the many different aspects of all 200 jobs listed in the 2011 Jobs Rated report, researchers reviewed various critical aspects of each profession to identify general categories that are inherent to every job: These were categorized into five "Core Criteria:"

Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands

Below is an explanation of how we determined the rankings in each of these five Core Criteria. After each Core Criteria item was scored and ranked individually, we computed the Overall Rankings for each job, which are explained at the end of this methodology.


Environment Factors

Jobs Rated calculates the Environment score for each job by measuring two basic factors common to every work environment: the physical and the emotional components. Points are assigned for every adverse working condition typically encountered, so the greater number of points that a job scores, the worse the rank. Conversely, the fewer points a job gets, the better it ranks.

The following categories and points are used to rate the physical work environment:

Physical Environment FactorsScoring Range
The necessary energy component0-5
Physical demands (crawling, stooping bending, etc.)0-12
Work conditions (toxic fumes, noise, etc.)0-13
Physical environment extremes treated as negative scores0-10
Stamina required0-5
Degree of confinement0-5
Total Maximum Points = 50


The following categories and points are used to rate the emotional work environment:

Emotional Environment FactorsScoring Range
Degree of competitiveness0-15
Degree of hazards personally faced*0-10
Degree of peril faced by others0-8
Degree of contact with the public0-8
Total Maximum Points = 41


* i.e. co-workers, customers including medical patients, outside stressful situations of all kinds, etc.

Environment Ranking System

The ranking system is designed so that the higher point totals reflect lower quality environments. After the raw scores are added together, they are mathematically adjusted to reflect average work-hours per week. This adjustment helps ensure the report recognizes jobs with excessive hours per week, and adjusts the scores of those professions accordingly. Point totals are adjusted upward on a proportional scale, depending on the number of hours each job requires.

In addition, this ranking system is designed to give approximately equal weight to the physical factors (with 50 maximum points) and emotional factors (with 41 maximum points). Because of this, a job with negative emotional conditions can easily rank just as low as one with poor physical conditions. For example, the relatively short work week for Statistician (slightly less than 45 hours) help the job score the fewest points in the Environment Rankings. With this low score of 89.520, Statistician rises to number one in the Environment Rankings. In comparison, Firefighter, with its very high scoring emotional component and grueling physical factors – including travel, confinement and very long hours – scored more than 3,300 points, the highest score, and therefore the job finished with the lowest rank in the Environment Rankings.


The scores shown in the ranking tables might look like average incomes, but instead they are actually a derivative of mid-level incomes, and not the average income at all. Since all incomes shown in this table are estimates rounded to the nearest $1,000, there would be many ties if the mid-level income was the sole basis of the score. Instead, the income score was computed by adding the estimated mid-level income and the income growth potential.

Below is an explanation of growth potential, and how it is computed in the scoring system:

Growth Potential

A Software Engineer with a starting salary of $55,000 could eventually earn $132,000, increasing their annual income by $77,000, which is 140% higher than their beginning pay. The Income Growth Potential for this job, therefore, is 140%. Adding this figure (140) to Software Engineer’s listed mid-level income, $87,000, nets a score of 87,140. Because the way that this score is expressed very closely resembles an average dollar-denominated income, a dollar-sign is added to each Income score as an accommodation to those who want at-a-glance estimates of average incomes.

Using this system, the final Income score for Software Engineer is $87,140.


The Three Outlook Factors

The ranking system used to evaluate Outlook awards higher scores to jobs with promising futures. Lower scores indicate a poorer outlook. Our ranking system considers three factors for each occupation. These factors and the weights assigned to them in the ranking system are:

  • Employment Growth:

The "mega factor" for outlook as defined here is expected employment growth through the year 2018, as forecasted by the Department of Labor. It is expressed as a percentage increase in jobs in a particular career field during the period, 2008-2018, which is the Department’s latest available estimate. The Jobs Rated ranking system simply uses this figure as a whole number rather than a percent, and adds and subtracts several numbers to it that are derived from other pieces of data; one is a score for the degree of unemployment and the other is the multiple that one can increase one’s salary. Below is more on these additional factors.

  • Income Growth Potential:

This refers to how much a worker can increase his or her income. See the subsection "Growth Potential" under Income for a detailed explanation. This score for Growth potential is then added to the employment growth score.

  • Unemployment:

Unemployment data reflects estimates, mainly from the Department of Labor, for the third quarter, 2010, the latest available data. Below are five ranges of unemployment that were used in the scoring. Because unemployment is obviously a negative thing, a derivative of the unemployment rate of a particular job is subtracted from the sum of Employment Growth and Income Growth Potential.

Below are the unemployment rankings. Listed after each range in parenthesis is the range of numbers that is subtracted from the sum of the Employment Growth and Income Growth Potential, depending on the degree of unemployment within each designation, which is shown at the far left of the table.

Unemployment Data
Very Lowless than 1% - less than 4% (1-3)
Low4% - less than 7% (4-6)
Moderate7% - less than 10% (7-9)
High10% - less than 14% (10-12)
Very High14% or higher (13-15)



The Physical Factors

The idea of measuring work has long fascinated physicists. They have even devised formulas for it. The Department of Labor has also developed ways of measuring the physical demands of work and, in part, this was used to formulate these rankings.

One method they use is similar to that used by physicists. It relies on how much weight a person is normally required to lift on the job. Five categories are specified:

Physical Demands Categories
Sedentary WorkRequires the occasional lifting of 10lbs or less
Light WorkRequires lifting a maximum of 20lbs
Medium WorkRequires lifting a maximum of 50lbs, but with frequent lifting of up to 25lbs
Heavy WorkRequires lifting a maximum of 100lbs
Very Heavy WorkRequires lifting in excess of 100lbs, with frequent lifting of 5lbs or more


But the federal government also considers other aspects of a job's demands, such as whether the work is primarily indoors or outdoors, and whether or not it involves stooping, kneeling, climbing or balancing. Only when all these factors are considered together can the true physical demands of an occupation be determined.

The ranking system for physical demands used in this report includes many of the elements measured by the Department of Labor. However, an important criterion is added: Overtime – that is, work time in excess of eight hours daily. After all, an executive working till 10 p.m. is likely as tired when he gets home as many construction workers who quit work at 5 p.m.

The Ranking System

In order to compute the Physical Demands of a job, we awarded higher scores to jobs with greater Physical Demands and lower scores to jobs with lesser demands. We arrived at these scores by compiling data used by the U.S. Department of Labor. One point was awarded for each physical component of a job. These components include lifting, pulling, pushing, standing, walking, stooping, kneeling, crawling, climbing, crouching or reaching. We also awarded points for hazards faced, exposure to various kinds of weather, the need for stamina and the work environment.

One to five points was also added for each degree of lifting required based on the five categories previously mentioned, which range from 10 pound lifting at sedentary jobs to 100 pound lifting for very heavy work. One point was also added for each hour, or fraction thereof, that the average worker puts in that exceeds 40 hours per week. These determinations were based on U.S. Census data and sundry estimates provided by those familiar with the work habits of various professionals and tradespeople. The total number of points accumulated represents the score used to determine the rankings.


The 11 Stress Factors

The amount of stress a worker experiences can be predicted, in part, by looking at the typical demands and crises inherent in his or her job. Our ranking system for stress considers 11 different job demands which can reasonably be expected to evoke stress (see list below). Each demand is assigned a range of points. A high score is awarded if a particular demand is a major part of the job, fewer points are awarded if the demand is a small part of the job, and no points are awarded if that demand is not normally required. For example, "deadlines" was one demand measured. Journalists, who often face daily deadlines, received the maximum of 9 points in this category. In contrast, barbers, who seldom face deadlines, received no points. The demands measured and the point ranges assigned to each area are as follows:

Stress FactorsScoring Range
Outlook/Growth PotentialIncome ÷ 100
Working in the Public Eye0-5
Physical Demands (stoop, climb, etc.)0-14
Environmental Conditions0-13
Hazards Encountered0-5
Own Life at Risk0-8
Life of Another at Risk0-10
Meeting the Public0-8
Total Maximum Points = 97 + Outlook/Growth Potential


To compute a score for each occupation, points are added together for all 11 categories.

However, note that these scores reflect only a typical stress profile for any given occupation. For any individual worker, stress can vary greatly depending on the particular working conditions, his or her boss and co-workers, mental outlook and a multitude of other factors which play a part in stress.


Overall Rankings refer to the sum of the rankings in each of the above five Core Criteria above. In the Overall Ranking system, it is assumed that each of the five Core Criteria (Environment, Income, Outlook, Physical Demands and Stress) is equally important. Overall scores are derived by adding together the individual rank that each job has received in the five core categories. Because a high rank in an individual category means it is more desirable than a low rank, this ranking system translates to the lowest score being the most desirable. Therefore the lower the total score, the higher the Overall Ranking.

For example, the top-ranked job in the Overall Rankings in 2011 is Software Engineer. Its Environment rank is 5, its Stress rank is 15, its Physical Demands rank is 12, its Outlook rank is 5 and its Income rank is 23. Cumulatively, these ranks total 60, rendering Software Engineer with the lowest score, which makes it the top rated job for 2011. The lowest ranked job is Roustabout (an oil field worker). Its Environment rank is 194, Income is 160 and so on. Cumulatively, the ranks of Roustabout total 892, the highest score in the Overall Rankings, putting it in the basement at number 200 out of all 200 jobs measured for 2011.

More 2011 Jobs Rated Rankings
The 10 Best JobsThe 10 Worst JobsThe Top 200 JobsJobs Rated Methodology
2010 Jobs Rated Methodology2009 Jobs Rated Methodology


Inaccurate and misleading information

Our local newspaper recently published a list from your website: "Least stressful jobs for 2012". You listed "medical laboratory technician" as the 5th least stressful job. The rankings were "based on 10 factors, including deadline pressure, competitiveness, and physical danger".

First of all, I can only assume that this listing refers to laboratory professionals working in reference labs and not in hospital settings. Had you factored in all medical laboratory professionals, the job category wouldn't have even made this list. Few other jobs have the deadline pressure we have. I really don't think the stress of a journalist's deadlines even compares to the stress of the deadlines we face, where patients' lives very often depend on how fast we produce test results (e.g. trauma and other ER patients; NICU and adult ICU patients). Not only do we have the time pressure but we also still have to insure the accuracy of the results as we strive to perform the tests and report the results as quickly as possible. Turn around time for STAT tests is less than an hour from the time the specimen is received. And we rarely get one STAT test at a time; it's usually many simultaneously. Add to that, doctors interrupting us with phone calls pressuring us to crank out results faster, test results that dictate additional testing be performed before results can be reported, equipment malfunctions, heavy specimen workload, and the new healthcare laws which will mean less money going to hospitals and therefore less money budgeted for employees so that we are forced to do more work with fewer techs. I have worked as a medical laboratory scientist for the past 26 years and have worked in several hospitals of different sizes. These pressures existed in all of them.

Secondly, physical danger is a part of our job. We do fairly heavy lifting on a regular basis, are constantly exposed to blood and body fluids potentially infected with all sorts of diseases, including HIV, work with hazardous chemicals, and work with glass tubes all day long which often break creating exposure to sharps. We also work near radiation sources.

I realize your list wasn't meant to be dead on. However, the medical laboratory profession has struggled for decades to gain respect for the high complexity work we do. We are largely "behind the scenes" and as such, the public really doesn't always have a clear idea of what our job involves and how directly it affects them. We have fought hard to change this but I fear that the recent publication of your list in our newspaper, which WAS seen by the public, may have set us back in this effort.


In 2011 177 Police Officers were killed on duty, and 87 firefighter deaths, yet firefighting is more stressful than being a police officer? No way, when was the last time a fire fighter got sued in court? Or had to have rocks and bottles thrown at them from the people you are trying to protect? I just don't see it, firefighters are in the station, safe when they are not on calls. The police officer is up all night driving around looking for trouble.

It's All Relative

Bottom line is generalizations about the merits of jobs based on income and hiring outlook is worth serious study. Stress levels are really subjective according to a person's temperment, skills, interests and yes who you work with is one of the most important aspects of evaluating job satisfaction. We all have our niches. And it is not always about the money.

The "helping" professions such as fireman, police, teaching, nursing, EMTs and paramedics, etc. are all high stress jobs because we are always expected to do more with fewer resources, have numerous critics (as you can see above) and we deal with people's lives, their well-being. We also tend to be underpaid now relative to the work we do.

By the way, teachers work very hard, have 40-50 parent critics and answer to state regs, federal regs and their school district administrators. Teaching in public schools has become more difficult and dangerous--just look at the news. Yes they have fabulous vacations but the pay is going DOWN, health benefits are LOUSY, resources are thinning out and they work long hours. Give them a break.
Trust me the pensions people are receiving now are not what they used to be and since education is not much of a priority here in the USA as compared to many other developed nations we should be supporting our educators rather than knocking them. The good ones shape our children's lives. What could be more important?

Really now

Shouldn't you all just quit crying and get back to work? If you know so much write your own article.

If it's such a picnic...

I get so tired of the teacher-bashing. Everyone cites the same tired "facts" that are supposed to demonstrate why we should all be floating on a happy little bliss cloud all the time. I have a very simple proposition for anyone who thinks we have it so easy. COME DO IT. One month. Become a substitute. If you're out of work and have a Bachelor's, go through one of the evening/weekend programs for busy adults and get certified. Overpaid for the requirements? How many of these "horrible" private-sector jobs REQUIRE you to continue going for more and more education at your own expense for the duration of your career? If teaching were such a cakewalk, the 5-year "dropout" rate wouldn't be so staggeringly high. The very same people who whine and complain how unfairly "overpaid" we are would never consider teaching because of the salary limitations. Most of the teachers I know don't sit on their bums all summer relaxing...they are either taking classes or working a summer gig to help pay the bills. Finally, there's the myth that teachers can't get fired. It is just that: a myth. Is it like many private sector jobs, "at the employer's pleasure," where you can basically get canned if the boss is in an off-mood and doesn't like your tie that day? No...and it shouldn't be. (No employment should ever be that fragile.) We are protected from unfair/invalid terminations in most cases...though if certain governors in certain states get their way, that won't be the case.

Stressful jobs

What about 100% commission recruiters?


You might as well dispense with the pseudo-scientific methodology explanation and just admit that you are giving your personal impressions of various jobs. Throwing metrics and fancy bullet points into a pretty format doesn't lend your personal opinions any additional credibility.
But thanks for the good laugh...we all enjoyed the entertainment.

What about our teachers.

The standards are constantly changing, the kids change by the year, you deal with over 120 students per day and then each of their parents, everyone has an opinion about how a teacher should teach, pay sucks and I have never met a teacher who only works 8 hours per day. Class sizes are growing depending on the district. I think you guys missed your mark by leaving out teachers. Obviously you have not been a in a public school classroom lately.

Teachers? seriously?

You can't get fired. You get killer benefits and pensions and you work 9 months a year.

Most of us in the private sector work 9-10 hour days, 12 months a year, have to save for our retirement, can and do get fired if we screw up and get NONE of the self-fullment you get out of teaching young people.

The only fulfillment we get is money and being able to pay the bills on time. Teachers = HUGE crybabies.


Yes, we work 10 months. However, during those summer months most of us take continuing education classes. Also, during the 10 months we are "on the job" most of us work 10-12 hour days. Remember, we have to take papers home to grade, engage in ongoing research, and write lesson plans. We are not given time to do any of this during the school day.

Also, we cannot go to the bathroom when we need to, as most of you can. That may seem trivial, but not if you keep getting urinary tract infections.

We are under pressure from all sides - trying to control the behavior of children, parents who come after the teacher instead of disciplining their child, and administrators and upper management who are constantly "changing the game", and the media and public who rarely thank us for all the children we have helped, but constantly seem ready to criticize us.

Yes, we have good benefits, but I have not met anyone in my church who does not have the same benefits by a different name, save the pension. Most of my friend who are not teachers have a pension, but some do not.

And you are wrong about wages, most teachers have a Master's degree and are paid less than those who have no degree or a Bachelor's degree. Our highest salary in my county, which you don't get until you have taught 25 years, is less than my best friend who is a deli manger (with a high school diploma, mind you) is making after 5 years. BTW, she has the same benefits, and profit sharing. Our mid career salary is 45K. Most with a Bachelor's degree in this area begin at that salary and go up from there.

I have worked "in the real world" as a business owner, as a real estate agent, as a bookkeeper, as a maid, as a factory worker, and as a convenience store clerk. I have never experienced the kind of emotional and physical stress that I live with everyday now as a teacher.


Teachers are taking huge pay cuts and reductions in pay in which huge student loans are coming out of. Seriously I make more when I drive a school bus than when I teach. Most teachers have to do continuing education in the summer to keep their credentials. I switched to counseling and I can't even get a internship or Practicum or supervising counselor to finish my degree. If I can't find a job soon my scholarships and student loans will come out of my social security which doesn't even pay the rents now days.


So why didn't you research the job before you got a degree? Don't complain because you made a bad choice. You knew exactly what it was going to be like before you got your degree. If you think that being a teacher is so hard, try getting a real job. We don't get summers off, we have to deal with the same people for 12 hours a day, every day, every year, and we don't get the insane benefits you do.


If you understood the comment string, the guy isn't complaining, it's a reaction to the column and the uneducated about the teaching profession. Maybe the person wanted to be a teacher but wasn't ready for the plethora of numb sculls like you.

Right back at ya...

"So why didn't you research the job before you got a degree? Don't complain because you made a bad choice."

...and where would all those .......

Just where would all those overly stressed employees be without the truly effective teachers that touched their young lives? How would the evaluators like to try and teach in Philadelphia, New York, LA, Chicago, just to name a few. How about trying to coordinate and beg for materials and safe places to teach in Mississippi or New Orleans after the floods. Of course there's the local small town USA districts who are strapped for funding, laying off highly qualified teachers, adding more kids to the small, newly redesigned classrooms, and then expecting the teachers to be the guidance counselor for the kids whose lives are in turmoil, data processor instead of teaching so the district can prove they are worthy of meager state and federal funds, counselors for the parents who just don't get what we are doing, and work 4-5+hours after school dismisses. Oh, yes, we also need to keep up with the changes in education so we continue to take courses in Educational Law, Literacy Enhancement, etc., for which we pay thousands of dollars from our pay. Sounds like whining --- try it before you answer. Come and shadow me any day!

Yes, teaching is low stress

Teaching is low stress compared to the other jobs on the list (and most jobs in general).

1) You can't get fired unless you commit a major felony (child molestation, rape, manslaughter, or murder) and can't teach... because you're in prison.
2) Your income is above average for what's required (an associates or bachelors depending on the jurisdiction).
3) Your benefits are vastly superior to most jobs.
4) You are only on the hook, contractually, for smaller number of hours. Any extra hours you pick up (preparing lessons, correcting homework, whatever) aren't in the spec. For the rest of us, they are required and if we're salaried they're unpaid hours.
5) You get more time off than just about anyone, including executive level employees.
6) Raises are structured into your contracts and aren't based on merit. That's exceedingly rare in the private world.

The vast, vast majority of teaching positions are NOT in inner city, gang infested schools where the teach might get shot at for looking at the wrong hoodlum the wrong way.

The majority of this stems from middle schools. The very young kids aren't as violent, and the really bad ones have dropped out by freshman year of high school. So if you teach K-4 or 10-12, you might get obnoxious kids, but you will rarely get overtly violent ones.

I'll gladly shadow you

I'll gladly shadow you Anonymous! Please reply with your name and number so I can get in contact with you.

Validity, shmalidity...

Ok, folks, just CALM DOWN. It's a descriptive study. Not causal, not experimental. Just information for folks trying to look at careers. So many people making comments are offended by the information, which points to their insecurity. It's not a study about YOUR job, YOUR office, YOUR situation. It's a decriptive look at careers in general. So read it, enjoy it for what it is, and then GO TO WORK. Have a nice day. :)


I totally Agree with you.

RE: All Comments

First of all, the goal of this study was not, and I repeat, was NOT to analyze the quality of the jobs. Therein lies the reason why the study never mentioned whether a person liked/disliked a particular area of academia: The goal was to present solely the level of stress the worker experiences and to relate that level of stress to the average income etc. A person reading this should recognize that the point of this survey is strictly to inform readers and help them make concientious decisions on the jobs out there. They want readers to be aware of the facts, and decide for themselves whether a job is worthwhile.

The way the study was conducted and presented DID allow the author(s) to remain neutral. Had the "quality" of the jobs been discussed, the article would have turned from an informative peice to an argument with strong, oppinionated statements. You guys need to take an english class or atleast undertstand biases before you post. This structure of article was totally valid, and kudos to the author for writing this in a way that stopped them from making absurd statements based solely on their feelings.

This study is totally valid, if any biases exist it is in the description of the jobs where the author put things such as quotations around certain phrases. Sarcastic? Possibly. But too much reading is being done into the author's purpose, this article is stirctly to inform, not to argue. So there is no reason to say that this study or its article are invalid stricly due to the oppinions people "think" went into the article. At that point, you are using biases yourself.

I agree you cannot write an article without a single bias, but you also cant comment or reply without a single bias. Think before you comment, you guys used your own personal biases yourselves when you posted.


...and the only thing healthcare related to make the list was an EMT!!! Who did this crap?


Your income calculation is absurd. Absolutely mind-blowingly stupid. I say this as a qualified actuary and statistician.


I think your study is completely biased for various reasons:
- You do not take into account whether people actually working on such or such job like it, which is according to me the most important factor in determining whether a job is good or bad. I happen to know a roofer who would not change his job to software engineer if he had the opportunity to: why do you think this is?
- You do not take into account the repetitiveness of a job. Routine is something some cannot stand.
- Do you choose the jobs for your study at complete random? The world could not go round with the jobs you selected, but some of them are very similar. Why not actually taking a representative sample of the population?
The way I see it, toll employee should be the worst job in the world: you're paid peanuts (I think, never been one myself), your job is always the same, you get no kind of stimulation whatsoever...

Re: Bias

Hello there bias!

"You do not take into account whether people actually working on such or such job like it, which is according to me the most important factor in determining whether a job is good or bad."

I think that's obvious. However, I think the point is that, assuming one likes ones job, which job is the best. So surely, someone who enjoys one of the "worst" jobs would not enjoy the "best" jobs, but the person who likes the best job is better off than someone who likes the worst job, get it? This isn't claiming that everyone will love software engineer, just that, apart from interest, software engineering is the best job. So if person a likes software engineering and person b likes construction, person a enjoys a more comfortable lifestyle regarding their job.

"You do not take into account the repetitiveness of a job. Routine is something some cannot stand."

Again, you miss the point. The point is, assuming each of these jobs are like, they are ranked in relation to one another.

"Do you choose the jobs for your study at complete random? The world could not go round with the jobs you selected, but some of them are very similar. Why not actually taking a representative sample of the population?"

Going through the jobs list, it seems to me that a lot of the jobs that they left out aren't career type jobs. So they left out like, Home Depot Employee, but really, who thinks that's a career?

"The way I see it, toll employee should be the worst job in the world: you're paid peanuts (I think, never been one myself), your job is always the same, you get no kind of stimulation whatsoever..."

Again you miss the point. The "study" assumes that the job is enjoyed.

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