This is our 2010 10 Best Jobs report. See the 10 Best Jobs of 2011 
Layoffs, bankruptcies and rising unemployment – the past 12 months have been an especially traumatic time to be looking for a new job. Yet when considering the best and worst jobs for 2010, the upheaval that spread across multiple industries last year hasn't altered the old adage: "the more things change, the more they stay the same." For the second year in a row, job hunters will want to brush up their math, science and computer skills if they want to land a top-ranked, highly rewarding position.
Actuary, a job that entails calculating the probability and financial impact of illness and property loss, ranks as the best job for 2010, based on research into 200 different positions in this year's exclusive CareerCast.com Jobs Rated report. Using five key measurement criteria – stress, working environment, physical demands, income and hiring outlook – the Jobs Rated report seeks to compare and contrast careers across a multitude of industries, skill levels and salary ranges, sorting them into a definitive list of jobs that can be called "worst" and "best."
So why is Actuary rated number one? For starters, the position ranks especially well for its low physical demands and stress levels, finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively, out of all 200 jobs. But more importantly, it is actuary's consistently strong performance overall that helped the job rise to the top of the 2010 Jobs Rated list. While we may admire the exceptional – famous stars, successful billionaires and life-saving heroes, for example – top careers in the Jobs Rated report typically don't stand out as the most glamorous, highest paying or most noble. Instead, they are the jobs that offer the greatest chance of enjoying a combination of good health, low stress, a pleasant workplace, solid income and strong growth potential.
In compiling the list of highly-ranked jobs for 2010, Jobs Rated researchers sought to find careers that are likely to provide a positive experience for a majority of employees, not just the uniquely talented. Fitting with this goal, Actuary ranks no worse than 10th in any measurement category, save one – median income, where it finishes 22nd. And even in this case, the job's average high-end income of $161,000 is 11th among all surveyed jobs.
Moving down the list, math and science-related professions continue to rule, with Software Engineer ranking as the second-best job for 2010. Involving the design and maintenance of software and hardware systems, the job rates well across all categories, finishing 5th for work environment and inside the top 30 for stress, income and physical demands. But what truly helps Software Engineer stand out from other career choices is its hiring outlook. With low unemployment compared to the national average and projected job growth of nearly 45% through 2016, Software Engineer currently has the best hiring outlook of any available job in 2010.
If equations and programming languages aren't your strong suit, there are some other top-ranked jobs that rely on words instead of numbers. Despite ranking just 50th for stress and median income, Historian manages to finish as the 5th best job for 2010, thanks to good ratings for work environment (4th), physical demands (15th) and outlook (15th). And while it may seem surprising that a seemingly obscure job like Historian would rank so well, in fact the career has many applications beyond just the classroom. Apart from academic settings, there is a great demand for Historians in the defense industry and State Department. Considering that the federal government is expected to be a top source of employment in 2010, this demand helps give Historian projected job growth of 24% through 2016.
Rounding out the Jobs Rated of the 10 best jobs for 2010, all of these top-ranked positions have one key element in common. Each requires a high level of education, or at least highly-specialized training:
Whatever position you're interested in learning more about, CareerCast.com's Jobs Rated data will be a valuable aid to help ensure that your choice measures up to the standards you've set for yourself. In the coming months, job rankings by stress, hiring outlook, income and more will be released, giving you the best options in fields ranging from Agriculture to Zoology.
If Actuary is the best job of 2010, followed by Software Engineer and Computer Systems Analyst, which positions should you avoid? Read on to see the Jobs Rated list of the 10 WORST jobs for 2010 .
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This is our 2010 10 Worst Jobs report. See the 10 Worst Jobs of 2011 
Picture this as your typical workday: You wake up at 5a.m. (or 5p.m. for the night shift) and head to the dining hall for a breakfast of cafeteria food. Next comes a 12-hour shift working outdoors in either the desert heat, an ocean storm or the bitter cold of an Alaskan winter. There may even be armed groups nearby eager to kidnap you for ransom. As for the work itself, it's backbreaking physical labor with a high risk of injury or death. And when the day is over, you still can't go home because you work in an isolated location that you're able to leave only every two weeks or so. And when it's time to sleep, you head to your shared dorm room and crash until 5a.m., when work starts all over again.
Sound like fun? While conditions vary, this is the life of most Roustabouts , a job that ranks as the worst in 2010, according to research into 200 different positions in this year's exclusive CareerCast.com Jobs Rated report. while Roustabout is a title that can also be given to circus workers, in this case it refers to those who perform routine physical labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines. What makes this particular career worse than all others for 2010? The Jobs Rated report evaluates positions based on five key measurement criteria – stress, working environment, physical demands, income and hiring outlook – and in the case of Roustabout, the job finished near the bottom for every one.
In particular, Roustabout was hurt by poor rankings for physical demands (198th) and work environment (194th). Beyond these two major deficiencies, however, the job also ranked within the bottom 20 for stress and hiring outlook, and the bottom 40 for both median and high-end salary. And while Roustabout is an entry-level position that workers can progress from, it offers a median salary of $31,000, which is relatively low considering the job's dangerous nature. In addition, even high-end pay tops out at just $49,000, although this can be supplemented by overtime pay. In addition, the unemployment rate for Roustabouts was very high last year, and as investment moves away from traditional oil and gas energy sectors, the career is expected to experience negative growth, with demand falling by 6% through 2016.
Comparing jobs across multiple industries, skill levels and salary ranges, the 2010 Jobs Rated report seeks to identify careers that offer the best combination of good health, low stress, a pleasant workplace, solid income and strong growth potential. Because of this, while some Roustabouts may enjoy life on an oil rig, its combination of isolation and challenging work conditions make it a poor choice for the typical job seeker.
These same problems apply to the second-worst job for 2010, Lumberjack. After finishing as the worst job of 2009, Lumberjack improved slightly this year, largely due to an improved hiring outlook. That said, unemployment for the profession was still very high, and demand is expected to fall by 1% through 2016. In addition, Lumberjack fared poorly in virtually every category, ranking 199th and 196th for physical demands and work environment, respectively, and finishing in the bottom 20 for both stress and hiring outlook. And while the prospect of working in "the great outdoors" may seem enticing, keep in mind that the conditions involved in large-scale commercial timber felling aren't exactly the same as a leisurely walk in the woods.
Beyond Roustabout and Lumberjack, most of the other jobs on this year's 10 worst list have at least one glaring reason that causes them to rank so low, whether it's potential for serious accidents (Ironworker), long hours and isolation (Taxi Driver) or having to handle other people's trash (Garbage Collector):
These jobs require varying levels of training and some, such as Mail Carrier, offer better job security than most, but each has at least one significant detriment – whether it's extreme physical exertion, high risk of injury, low salary or lack of advancement opportunity. And while there will be some people for whom these jobs are ideal, each year Jobs Rated researchers try to find the careers that are likely to provide a positive experience for a majority of employees, not just a select few. So if you're a job seeker who seeks a career that pays the most, has the best prospects and doesn't risk life and limb, it's probably smart to avoid one of these 10 worst jobs for 2010:
Whatever position you're interested in learning more about, CareerCast.com's Jobs Rated data will be a valuable aid to help you make the most of your job search. To find comprehensive data on fields ranging from Agriculture to Zoology, check out our complete ranking of 200 different jobs .More 2010 Jobs Rated RankingsThe 10 Best Jobs The 10 Worst Jobs The Top 200 Jobs Jobs Rated Methodology