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Most Underrated Jobs of 2012

Computer Systems Analyst By Kyle Kensing

High growth, low stress and rewarding opportunities are some of the traits that shaped our rankings of the Most Underrated Jobs of 2012.

The continued expansion of the tech sector and the nuances required of the job makes computer systems analyst the No. 1 most underrated profession Analysts in this field tend to combine the essential elements of technology and business to function cohesively and make themselves indispensible to their companies. Yet they typically do it under the radar screen, which makes their job very underrated in the minds of most job hunters.

Careers related to the economy also ranked highly as underrated. Economists, market research analysts and accountants all hold prominent positions as some of the most underrated jobs. Also placing highly are veterinarians, a position that scores well according to virtually all Jobs Rated criteria. And automobile mechanic ranks well, with an excellent outlook for the coming years as more Americans keep their vehicles longer.

Of course, identifying a career as underrated is a subjective exercise. However, the Jobs Rated methodology, along with Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, makes the conclusions easier to reach.

The featured fields offer increasing opportunities and rewarding potential for job seekers new to the labor force, as well as those who need a career change. But before you target one of these jobs, make note of the educational requirements – some positions require specialized degrees or additional schooling.


The overrated and underrated distinction is subjective, though using determining factors from the 2012 Jobs Rated report, recent social and economical impact on specific industries, and BLS data helped craft the rankings. The same criteria were used when formulating the most overrated jobs rankings.

  • 1. Computer Systems Analyst

    Median Salary: $78,148
    Projected Growth: 22%
    Stress: 16.480

    Combining technology and business skills -- two of the most essential elements to an organization -- computer systems analysts are the bridges that connect management and IT together. Strong compensation and a positive job growth outlook make computer systems analyst one of the best fields in today’s workforce. Computer Systems Analyst Jobs 

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  • 2. Civil Engineer

    Median Salary: $78,133
    Projected Growth: 19%

    Projected increases in infrastructure-related construction result in a positive outlook for the civil engineering profession. Median salary is $77,560, and a positive work environment rounds out an overall great prognosis for the field.


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  • 3. Veterinarian

    Median Salary: $82,190
    Projected Growth: 36%

    With a median pay range of $82,040, veterinarians are well compensated for rewarding work. People love their pets, and as a result the demand for veterinarians it expected to increase 36%. Combine that with low stress, and veterinarian is a promising career option.


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  • 4. Biologist

    Median Salary: $73,285
    Projected Growth: 31%

    Combining many elements of science, biologists have a unique work perspective. Most also enjoy favorable conditions: minimal physical demands, low stress levels and a pleasant work environment.

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  • 5. Market Research Analyst

    Median Salary: $61,236
    Projected Growth: 41%

    One of the fastest growing fields per the BLS, market research analyst makes a vital impact on the direction of business decisions by applying data of economic and technological trends.

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  • 6. Accountant

    Median Salary: $62,174
    Projected Growth: 16%

    Experienced accountants are in increased demand amid economic turbulence. That spells a jump in employment for a field benefitting from a high quality work environment, low stress and low physical demand.

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  • 7. Legal Assistant

    Median Salary: $46,680
    Projected Growth: 18%

    While opportunities for attorneys dwindle, legal assistants are in increased demand. Legal assistants offer firms versatile professionals who can take on numerous essential tasks, yet tend to work 9-to-5 and avoid the typical stress factors of working in the law.


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  • 8. Economist

    Median Salary: $89,223
    Projected Growth: 6%

    Economists are at the forefront of our national consciousness, the result of the national and global recessions. Their work environment, stress level and physical demands are all highly positive, as is the estimated $89,223 median salary.

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  • 9. School Principal

    Median Salary: $87,122
    Projected Growth: 10%

    Education can be a rewarding field, but low pay is a frequently cited argument against pursuing a career as a teacher. Principals, on the other hand, earn a median salary of $86,970. Principals also take an active approach in formulating the direction of a school and the lives of their students.

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  • 10. Plumber

    Median Salary: $46,660
    Projected Growth: 26%

    Despite slowed growth in the construction sector, specialty trades have provided opportunities for those seeking good jobs. Few are as accommodating as plumbing, which has seen strong hiring growth in the last year and is projected to swell another 26% by 2020.

    “Demand for plumbers is expected to come from new building construction and stricter water efficiency standards for plumbing systems, such as low-flow toilets and showerheads,” the BLS reports. Stability at a turbulent time for construction, employment is a positive, as is the position’s low stress level score.

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  • 11. Electrician

    Median Salary: $48,250
    Projected Growth: 23%

    Similar to plumbers, electricians are in increased demand despite the slow construction market. At 23% projected growth, the BLS estimates 133,700. The reason?

    “Homes and businesses need more wiring than ever before, and electricians will be needed to install the necessary components,” the BLS reports.

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  • 12. Automobile Mechanic

    Median Salary: $35,790
    Projected Growth: 17%

    A study by automotive research firm R.L. Polk & Co. conducted earlier this year finds that owners are keeping their vehicles longer. That means increased need for skilled automobile mechanics, whose expertise keeps cars in commission longer.

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Join the Discussion

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I am a veterinarian in private practice in a large metropolitan area. I graduated from veterinary medical school in 2000. I would very much like to respond to your assertions put forth in this article regarding underrated professions. You have given a brief synopsis wholly unsupported by fact.




First, you enthusiastically inform readers that there is a "real shortage of veterinarians", when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Current veterinary school graduates ae having great difficulty finding jobs. The current economic state has significantly impacted our profession, and the multiple job offers that used to be there for new graduates simply are not there anymore, and haven't been for quite a while.




Your median annual income is also misleading. While the figure named is an accurate refection for someone who has been in practice for a period of time, the average starting salary for most private practice veterinarians is roughly $60,000 to $65,000, depending on the type of practice and where it is located. Couple this with the enormous debt load faced by the vast majority of graduating veterinarians, and the profession does not appear so underrated after all. Average student loan debt faced by newly graduated veterinarians averages from $100,00 to $250,000. When you do the math, you realize how unsustainable this is.




I would also like to point out regarding being able to manage your own schedule. Associate veterinarians do not set their own hours any more than any other employee, and they routinely put in 50 to 60 hour work weeks. In many cases, veterinarians who own their own practices put in even longer hours. There are certain subsets of veterinary medicine which allow for greater flexibility in scheduling, but those are the exception rather than the rule. 




I also must say that I take issue with the comment that veterinarians "do not have to worry with healthcare regulations". While I assume that you're talking about medicare and insurance and the like, and it is true that those do not impact our profession in the way they do those who provide healthcare to homo sapiens, we are actually governed by rules and regulations. Each state has a veterinary medical board that the consumers can file complaints with, and we as veterinarians must answer those complaints when and if they happen. We must follow our state practice acts just like physicians, and we must adhere to the same regulations regarding pharmacy law and laws pertaining to the prescribing and monitoring of controlled substances. We as veterinarians are also no more immune to malpractice suits than any other healthcare professional in today's litigious society. We must maintain accurate medical records and carry malpractice insurance.




Lastly, I would also like to say that your comment regarding baby boomers and all the financial resources they have at their disposal to spend on their pets is, in my experience, a gross overstatement. Again, it would seem that you're somewhat out of touch with the current economic climate. While there has been gradual improvement, many families, baby boomers included, are faced with heartbreaking decisions day in and day out. For many people, the choice is providing aggressive medical care for a sick pet or putting food on the table and paying for their own healthcare and medications.




In closing, I would like to respectfully suggest that you undertake your research a little more thoroughly in the future. The rosy picture you present in your synopsis is at best out of touch with the reality of our profession, and at worst an insult to those of us who dedicate ourselves every day to an extremely difficult and stressful career. Don't misinterpret...I love what I do! But it is a very difficult career choice and requires a tremendous amount of dedication. One should not approach a career in this field with blinders on.




Thank you for your time.








Amber Oteri, DVM



 I'm not sure where this article got the idea that working as a veterinarian is low stress. It is as fast-pased and high-stress as any medical profession, except that our patients sometimes try to attack us. Most veterinarians also must work with a human client who is not our animal patient, and, just like pediatricians, we can only hope our client will want to do what's best for them. Furthermore, even though we pay just as much for school, attend for the same amount of years, and learn about many more species (including human, in the case of zoonotic diseases!), we are viewed and paid as though our work is less significant than human medical doctors. For example, a surgeon is listed as one of the most overrated jobs of 2012: "The high stress surgeons face on a daily basis surpasses that of most any other profession." Small animal general practitioners frequently perform soft tissue surgeries (spays, neuters) and yet our field is "low stress."I am not arguing that veterinarians should be lauded or paid as much as doctors because I know many do not find animals as important as humans. I entered this field understanding and accepting that that is the popular view. I simply don't think we're lucky enough to have a "low stress" job. Besides that issue, I would also argue that while there is possibly a bit of growth for veterinarians entering fields besides dog and cat practitioners, the market is otherwise fairly saturated and will worsen as new graduates are being churned out all the time. In short, I wish we belonged on this underrated list, but I don't believe we do. 

Imagine what it would be if the H1B's and L1's were kicked out

Until the TRUE unemployment (U6) rate of US citizens is more than 5%, then companies sponsoring H1B's and L1's should have an excise tax of 30,000/year/person.  That would both generate money and get hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans back on the job.


I don't expect this to happen because the richest companies in the US are also the biggest benefactors (IBM, Centrytel, Microsoft, . . .).  However, if the politicians really want to reduce the unemployment of Analysts, this is one approach that would have an immediate, measurable, positive impact.



Low stress??????  Try dealing with clients who must choose between paying for treatment or euthansia. Being a vet requires a huge emotional strength and often sleepness nights. Their patients can't talk and tell them what is wrong, they must deal with multiple species with different anatomy, physiology and treatments, they get paid 1/4 to a 1/3 of what a human doctor gets paid., and to top it off, in many markets they must not only be the day vet they must be on-call for emergencies 24/7. Very stressful demanding job.

Veterinarian - Really??

I was very surprised to see veterinarian listed as one of the best underrated jobs, rather I think it should be overrated. (I should know, I am one).Not only is it high stress (not low stress as stated above) - sometimes an animals life is in your hands. The education required involves not only a college degree, but an additional 4 years of veterinary medical school. Both of which can come with a very high price tag for tuition.Take a physician (MD) who goes through the same amount of schooling, but whose median salary is double what a veterinarian (DVM) makes, and I would say that being a veterinarian is not a simple decision.Sure, there is not the headache of insurance companies and Medicare, however there is still the hassle of malpractice insurance (yes, people do sue over their animals medical care) and if you count having to run your own practice as a small business owner, there is definately lots of stress involved. If you love medicine and working with animals, then being a veterinarian can be very rewarding, just don't think that becoming one will be easy or that you are going to make a ton of money doing it.  Erik Pegg, DVM

23% projected growth, really?

As an electrician, I've had to get pretty creative to keep afloat during the real estate crash. I see things coming back but thanks to our President, it's way to slow. 23% growth sounds great but I'm not seeing it in the Seattle area anyway! I don't know if CareerCast should trust the numbers from the BLS. 23% seems more like wishful thinking. What do you other shock jocks think? 

Even 23% growth isn't going to mean much until we stop H1B & L1

Until the TRUE unemployment (U6) rate of US citizens is more than 5%, then companies sponsoring H1B's and L1's should have an excise tax of 30,000/year/person.  That would both generate money and get hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans back on the job.


I don't expect this to happen because the richest companies in the US are also the biggest benefactors (IBM, Centrytel, Microsoft, . . .).  However, if the politicians really want to reduce the unemployment of Analysts, this is one approach that would have an immediate, measurable, positive impact.

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