Best Jobs in America

CNNMoney/PayScale's top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.

How we picked the Best Jobs

It's still a tough job market, so when we set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, first and foremost we looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities. Other big factors: pay (how strong it is now, and how fast it's growing), overall job satisfaction, and how many jobs are in the field overall.

For the first time this year, we also looked at the likelihood of moving up the ladder (considering, where possible, how many people end up in higher job titles 5 years down the road). We also weighed how flexible, meaningful or low stress a job is and how difficult it is to enter the field. Here are the details:

CNNMoney and compensation experts PayScale.com began with more than 13,000 job titles, and identified those that require at least a bachelor's degree:

  • Using PayScale.com survey data, we cut jobs where median pay is below $40,000 for workers with at least five or seven years' experience (depending on what's typical for a given job).
  • We also screened out jobs that might be great, but are relatively tiny, excluding any titles with fewer than 5,000 positions nationwide.
  • We rated the remaining jobs based on an equally-weighted combination of the factors outlined below (excluding promotion opportunities). The highest-ranking 150+ jobs became contenders for this year's list. Any job in the top 20 last year was automatically included among the contenders.

From that group, we then identified and ranked the top 100 based on a variety of data. Most heavily weighted:

  • Job growth estimates for 2010-2020, according to BLS forecasts.
  • Median pay for experienced workers, based on PayScale.com's database of 40 million profiles.
  • How big the field is: i.e. The estimated number of people working in the broader BLS 'job family.'
  • Overall job satisfaction, according to a PayScale.com survey of 200,000 workers on quality-of-life factors.

Other factors included:

  • how much education is required to enter the field
  • promotion opportunities
  • how employees rated their jobs for stress, flexibility, and meaningfulness, according to the quality-of-life survey.

When there were multiple job titles from the same category among the top jobs, we selected the one with the highest overall rating.

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