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Jobs Rated 2009: A Comprehensive Ranking of 200 Different Jobs

surgeon, mathematician, lumberjack, roustabout By Andrew Strieber

This is our 2009 200 Jobs Jobs report
See the 200 Best Jobs of 2010

Choosing a career path is one of the biggest decisions you can make. Whether you're the type who "lives to work" or just "works to live," in most cases your job will consume much of your time and be a vital part of your identity. Yet despite this central role employment plays in daily life, many people wind up in a given career virtually by chance. For all those who decide on a profession at an early age, a great deal more simply select the best opportunity that comes along, regardless of their interests. offers help for uncertain job seekers by analyzing 200 different jobs according to 5 vital criteria: Stress, Work Environment, Physical Demands, Income and Outlook. In every area each job receives a specific score, and data is mined to provide the most detailed information possible – for example, rather than listing average incomes, our rankings combine each job's mid-level salary with its outlook score, which eliminates data from employees making too much or too little to provide a more accurate result (for complete details on how we score, visit the Methodology Page).

By bringing data on 200 jobs into one central list and ranking them, serves as a resource for anyone trying to see a clearer picture of today's uncertain job market, whether you're looking to apply to grad school or trying to decide between multiple offers. Even if you just want to know how your job stacks up against another, our rankings can help you find alternatives that may better suit you. In addition to this complete list of 200 jobs, rankings are broken into the 10 best and 10 worst professions, as well as reports based on stress, work environment, and other criteria that will debut in the coming weeks. There is also a ranking of the nation's 10 most satisfying jobs, based on unique data.

  • Find This Job1. Mathematician
  • Applies mathematical theories and formulas to teach or solve problems in a business, educational, or industrial climate.
  • Overall Ranking: 1 Overall Score: 104 Work Environment: 89.720
    Physical Demands: 3.97 Stress: 24.670 Income: $94,160 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job2. Actuary
  • Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters.
  • Overall Ranking: 2 Overall Score: 128 Work Environment: 179.440
    Physical Demands: 3.97 Stress: 20.187 Income: $88,146 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job3. Statistician
  • Tabulates, analyzes, and interprets the numeric results of experiments and surveys.
  • Overall Ranking: 3 Overall Score: 152 Work Environment: 89.520
    Physical Demands: 3.95 Stress: 27.980 Income: $72,197 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job4. Biologist
  • Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.
  • Overall Ranking: 4 Overall Score: 153 Work Environment: 314.370
    Physical Demands: 4.98 Stress: 26.950 Income: $74,273 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job5. Software Engineer
  • Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes.
  • Overall Ranking: 5 Overall Score: 178 Work Environment: 150.000
    Physical Demands: 5 Stress: 25.000 Income: $86,139 Hours Per Week: 50
  • Find This Job6. Computer Systems Analyst
  • Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions.
  • Overall Ranking: 6 Overall Score: 182 Work Environment: 90.780
    Physical Demands: 5.08 Stress: 24.970 Income: $75,160 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job7. Historian
  • Analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise.
  • Overall Ranking: 7 Overall Score: 189 Work Environment: 136.410
    Physical Demands: 5.09 Stress: 28.420 Income: $61,209 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job8. Sociologist
  • Studies human behavior by examining the interaction of social groups and institutions.
  • Overall Ranking: 8 Overall Score: 204 Work Environment: 318.290
    Physical Demands: 5.09 Stress: 34.100 Income: $63,195 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job9. Industrial Designer
  • Designs and develops manufactured products.
  • Overall Ranking: 9 Overall Score: 205 Work Environment: 177.000
    Physical Demands: 6.85 Stress: 32.080 Income: $58,206 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job10. Accountant
  • Prepares and analyzes financial reports to assist managers in business, industry and government.
  • Overall Ranking: 10 Overall Score: 208 Work Environment: 276.780
    Physical Demands: 4.23 Stress: 31.138 Income: $59,173 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job11. Economist
  • Studies and analyzes the effects of resources such as land, labor, and raw materials, on costs and their relation to industry and government.
  • Overall Ranking: 11 Overall Score: 210 Work Environment: 227.350
    Physical Demands: 4.09 Stress: 38.650 Income: $83,222 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job12. Philosopher
  • Studies questions concerning the nature of intellectual concepts, and attempts to construct rational theories concerning our understanding of the world around us.
  • Overall Ranking: 12 Overall Score: 214 Work Environment: 361.440
    Physical Demands: 6.04 Stress: 30.497 Income: $58,200 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job13. Physicist
  • Researches and develops theories concerning the physical forces of nature.
  • Overall Ranking: 13 Overall Score: 230 Work Environment: 269.460
    Physical Demands: 7.98 Stress: 30.314 Income: $100,140 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job14. Parole Officer
  • Monitors, counsels, and reports on the progress of individuals who have been released from correctional institutions to serve parole.
  • Overall Ranking: 14 Overall Score: 234 Work Environment: 381.060
    Physical Demands: 6.47 Stress: 26.463 Income: $46,169 Hours Per Week: 42.5
  • Find This Job15. Meteorologist
  • Studies the physical characteristics, motions and processes of the earth's atmosphere.
  • Overall Ranking: 15 Overall Score: 239 Work Environment: 179.640
    Physical Demands: 6.98 Stress: 29.192 Income: $81,234 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job16. Medical Laboratory Technician
  • Conducts routine laboratory tests and analyses used in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
  • Overall Ranking: 16 Overall Score: 241 Work Environment: 454.300
    Physical Demands: 7.26 Stress: 23.748 Income: $53,100 Hours Per Week: 40
  • Find This Job17. Paralegal Assistant
  • Assists attorneys in preparation of legal documents; collection of depositions and affidavits; and investigation, research and analysis of legal issues.
  • Overall Ranking: 17 Overall Score: 244 Work Environment: 263.820
    Physical Demands: 5.79 Stress: 23.084 Income: $46,155 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job18. Computer Programmer
  • Organizes and lists the instructions for computers to process data and solve problems in logical order.
  • Overall Ranking: 18 Overall Score: 249 Work Environment: 265.080
    Physical Demands: 5.84 Stress: 27.000 Income: $70,176 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job19. Motion Picture Editor
  • Supervises the filming and editing of motion pictures for entertainment, business, and educational purposes.
  • Overall Ranking: 19 Overall Score: 253 Work Environment: 274.680
    Physical Demands: 7.16 Stress: 34.335 Income: $49,368 Hours Per Week: 45
  • Find This Job20. Astronomer
  • Uses principles of physics and mathematics to understand the workings of the universe.
  • Overall Ranking: 20 Overall Score: 255 Work Environment: 314.370
    Physical Demands: 7.98 Stress: 28.069 Income: $102,233 Hours Per Week: 45

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Speaking of CEO, where does CEO fall on this list? I would think the huge compensation would compensate for the long hours on the golf course. Oh wait, I guess that really isn't a job that you get promoted to from the class of people that work for a living.

Your Software Engineer Analysis is GARBAGE

The "Jobs Rated" report, and therefore Strieber's article is total propaganda and/or based on sloppy research and anecdotes instead of true data. It is manifestly shallow too.

I have 25 years as an American embedded C/C++ Software Engineer in 3 huge multi-national companies in the Boston area.

1)As others have commented here, the definition of software engineer is misguided. I let those complaints stand and agree totally.

2)The report ignores the disastrous impact that H1B outsourcing has had on this industry for us Americans. It has driven starting salaries down, bonuses down, and raises down by virtue of supply-and-demand competition. This of course is precisely what the fat-cat senior managers and CEOs wanted Congress to do for them.

3) They ignore the negative impact on rigor. In the good old days, far more rigor and engineering discipline was the norm. Now I see far too often seat-of-the-pants sloppy design and implementation (as well as sloppy middle management who cannot lead engineers too but that's another story).

4) So called "diversity" has wrecked genuine teamwork -- I now speak of local teams in one building. In the good old days most everyone was white, American, and had a common education, culture, and value system. For example, it was a bunch of young white guys that put Americans on the moon in just 10 years. Now with "diversity" I see language barriers, nobody goes out to lunch together on Fridays, nobody gets together after hours for softball or bowling, and nobody invites co-workers (or the boss) over to supper once in a while. Instead, other than required tech meetings, the Chinese hang out with the Chinese, the Indians hang out with the Indians, and the Whites hang out with the Whites, etc. Spare me the anecdotal exceptions -- I have seen the practice for too long in 3 companies over the last 18 years or so.

5) The "globalization" has also wrecked teamwork. When we engineers are forced to cooperate with teams in China and India and Singapore and Mexico, the time difference and language barriers and lack of eye contact inhibits efficient development. Without a team spirit and common vision of the new product, information flow is limited and irritations with the other teams fester.

BOTTOM LINE: Senior Management, CEOs, and Congress have allowed the implosion of genuine American software engineering for the sake of a few dollars. You can point to a million new products to try and say I am wrong but I can point to the way those products are always requiring software patches, bug fixes, and recalls. Shoddy in most every case and Microsoft WinXP is a perfect example what with almost daily fixes. I can also point to thousands of out-of-work American software engineers, the way engineers walk-on-eggshells lest they get laid off, and the stress of always trying to be politically correct in the workplace.

Yes, I acknowledge my rant won't change a thing, but you pathetic young (so-called) software engineers have no idea what great careers and work environments we used to have and you will never see. You have been sold out and ripped off, American kids, and you don't even know it!

I would have agreed if not for your racism

I would have to agree that there is DEFINITELY something wrong with companies outsourcing jobs and/or hiring foreigners and/or illegal immigrants, BUT ONLY when the companies do it so that they can lower wages and benefits.

Your comments about the "good ol white boys" threw off your entire argument and just made you look incredibly ignorant and stupid. Which is a shame cause I thought you were going somewhere with your rant.

For every dollar you earn

For every dollar you earn about 60% of it stands on the foundation built by the 'diversity' guys!! Every single penny of it. So its easy to want to ride on another man as long as you get the easy teamwork chore of calling your boss home to dinner or looking good in front of your mirror or cameras. Shortsightedness is what you have and selfishness is what you promote not benefit of American kids. The chances are if you were at the top and had to make the decisions your betters are making you would do worse and regress the entire human race so that you feel superior to others.
These pages are for real intellectual discussions not festering smelly farts!! I believe you could be one if you ignored your dark side more often.

I would have to agre

I would have to agree that there is DEFINITELY something wrong with companies outsourcing jobs and/or hiring foreigners and/or illegal immigrants, BUT ONLY when the companies do it so that they can lower wages and benefits.
Your comments about the "good ol white boys" threw off your entire argument and just made you look incredibly ignorant and stupid. Which is a shame cause I thought you were going somewhere with your rant.

RE: for every dollar you earn

Wow, talk about short-sighted! Your comment completely lacks intellectual contribution. The original commentator nailed the facts exactly. For a specific example of H1B abuse search USAA insurance/banking, they've imported so many foreign software engineers that San Antonio is developing a Little India community. USAA laid-off their native workers, then immediately replaced them with foreign nationals. This action was performed by a company that was founded, and prides itself, upon the idea of servicing those in America's military, yet they shaft America's workforce. Insulting indeed!

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