I don’t just have an interest in what’s on the top jobs lists every year because I write this column. As a parent, I’m also trying to figure out job trends year over year so I can help my sons navigate their career field by pairing their interests with potential future jobs. Although my kids aren’t even in high school yet, my wife and I try to talk to them often about what they can see themselves doing for a living. I typically suggest they should both become dentists (It always ranks high on the top jobs list and is number one this year) and that they should consider opening a practice together, like our dentist did with his brother. But then I picture them fighting over the best dental drill or who gets the office with the better view much like they do now over the bigger pizza slice or who gets first dibs on the Xbox, and then I think that being dentists in different towns, or even countries, might be the better decision. And while neither one has an interest in the dental arts, we will keep talking with them about jobs and careers and share the top job lists with them as they are published each year.
Realizing that the term “top jobs” can be somewhat biased, US News & World Report continued their tradition of being extremely methodical in making their selections for this year’s Top Jobs lists. “Choosing an occupation is personal, and of course, there is no ideal way to determine the best job overall. However, the U.S. News Best Jobs rankings offer job seekers an intuitive method to compare professions based on the components that matter most: salary, the number of expected openings, advancement opportunities and career fulfillment. The result of our efforts is a list of jobs ranked according to their ability to meet those employment concerns.
“To identify the professions that should be included in our 2017 rankings, we started with data on jobs with the greatest hiring demand, or, in other words, those with the highest projected number of openings from 2014 to 2024, as categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobs that topped the list were then selected for the 2017 Best Jobs analysis and rankings.” (Source: US News & World Report)
Once the jobs were selected, they were then ranked both in an overall top jobs list, and in their specific industries. These industries included: Business, Construction, Creative and Media, Education, Engineering, Health Care, Health Care Support, Maintenance and Repair, Sales and Marketing, Science, Social Services, and Technology. Job rankings were based upon their scores in seven component measures: median salary, employment rate, 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, future job prospects, stress level and work-life balance. If you have the time and/or interest, the full report is always an interesting read.
Healthcare is still a healthy choice
No matter what your opinion is of the country’s current healthcare insurance crisis, healthcare from an employment perspective is still tops. In the “100 Best Jobs” category, which ranks jobs based on pay well, work-life balance, if they’re a good match for our talents and skills while being challenging but not too stressful and offer room to advance, US News & World Report deemed dentist, nurse practitioner and physician assistant as number one, two and three, respectfully. In fact, the only two jobs in the top 10 of the “100 Best Jobs” list that weren’t in the healthcare sector were statistician (No. 4) and computer systems analyst (No. 8).
For all the parents of college students that want to make a lot of money or recent college grads who can’t afford to start out on their own just yet, tell them to go to medical school. The top best paying jobs are also in the healthcare sector: 1. anesthesiologist; 2. surgeon; 3. oral and maxillofacial surgeon; 4. obstetrician and gynecologist; 5. orthodontist.
The top jobs crystal ball
The current employment picture is a good one. First, unemployment hovers around all-time lows - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) it was 4.7 percent in Dec 2016. The BLS is also expecting job growth to increase by 6.5 percent between 2014 and 2024, which translates into the creation of approximately 10 million new jobs. So, given that context, what does the Top Jobs report from US News & World Report tell us about where employment is headed? More importantly, what should we do, and have our kids do, to prepare for this continued evolution in jobs?
First, we must realize that there is no one perfect job. As a parent, would I love for my boys to become dentists? Absolutely. But it ultimately isn’t up to me. It’s up to them. But I’m also not going to tell my kids, “just do whatever makes you happy.” I might as well break the rudder off a sailboat and tell them to go navigate their way to Key West from Galveston without a life preserver in a tropical storm. Whether we’re looking to advance our current careers, looking for a new one, or as guidelines for our kids, the seven US News & World Report component measures are a great place to start the career conversation with ourselves or our kiddos:
1. High median salary – will what we get paid doing this job cover our monthly expenses and help us save for the future so that one day we have the option to tell The Man to take this job and shove it, even if we love coming to work each and every day?
2. High employment rate – it’s harder to get a job in a field with high unemployment. Also see, “out-of-work actor.”
3. High 10-year growth volume – Will there be a lot of these jobs in the future? Or will it have a severely negative growth volume, such as encyclopedia salesman or town crier?
4. High 10-year growth percentage – How fast is this occupation expanding? If it’s high and it’s something you do then you’ll be more in-demand than white orchids backstage at a Katy Perry concert.
5. High future job prospects – How easy will it be to snag this job based upon demand? For example, nurse practitioners, especially in inner cities, will have high future job prospects. With the glut of lawyers being churned out every year from law schools across the country, guess where newly-minted lawyers fit on the future job prospects scale?
6. Low stress level – Is the job not just turning your hair gray, but is it causing you to tear out massive clumps of it, further aggravating your carpel-tunnel syndrome, which was also caused from the unyielding stress from said occupation?
7. High work-life balance – because our kids and our spouses should at least know what we look like in case we really do go missing and we’re not just camped out at work for 100+ hours a week.