The job market has begun a decidedly ungraceful recovery: Jobs have been added to the economy for 18 straight monthsand several gauges are back at pre-recession levels, including jobless claimsand wage growth.But the job growth isn’t always as robust as many hope for and projections suggest it will likely take until at least 2014 to regain the millions of jobs lost during the recession.
If it’s one thing the recession has taught us it’s that not all job prospects are created equal. Job search portal CareerCastis out with their Best and Worst Jobs for 2012 and the jobs that have the best prospects — and those that have the worst — are a direct reflection of what’s going on in the economy.
“The jobs that continue to fare very well are those that fare the best in a tough economy – primarily information technology and health care,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast’s 2012 Jobs Rated Report.
Interestingly, all the reports of shortages of skilled workers in these two fields hasn’t spurred more people to pursue them – in fact, it’s the opposite.
“The shortages are getting more acute!” Lee said.
For that reason, there’s also been an increase in demand for human resources – you need good HR people to find those skilled workers! HR Manager is new to the list this year, as is online advertising manager, reflecting the changing demands in the economy. And you need to offer incentives for those skilled employees to stay: Of the eight jobs that returned to the list again this year, all showed a pay increase compared to 2011.
So what makes a job one of the “best” jobs?
“The top-rated jobs have few physical demands, minimal stress, a good working environment and a strong hiring outlook,” Lee said.
Click ahead to find out what the 10 Best Jobs for 2012 are.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 10 April 2012
Note: Pay levels are “midlevel income”
2012 pay: $99,191
2011 pay: $94,178
Change in pay: +5.3%
Change on list: down 7
“Mathematician has always been in our top 10,” Lee said. “The primary reason here is that the basis of all science is math … Math skills are always in great demand.”
And it’s not just from one industry, it’s across the board. “The types of companies that will hire mathematicians are incredibly huge,” Lee said.
Even when the federal government is cutting its total payroll, it’s hiring mathematicians, Lee said. The defense department alone hires hundreds of mathematicians for the work that the engineers are doing.
2012 pay: $78,148
2011 pay: $77,153
Change in pay: +1.3%
Computer systems analysts study an organization's current computer systems and procedures and make recommendations to management to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One in four computer systems analysts are employed by design firms, according to the BLS, but they can work in many different industries – and many companies right now are hiring their own computer systems analysts.
“It is exploding. People who can work on every aspect of IT infrastructure – programming specific software, etc., are in great demand,” Lee said. “Every company that is trying to take on information technology on their own and build a staff requires this position. And there just aren’t enough [qualified people] available.”
2012 pay: $87,255
New to the list for 2012
In all, CareerCast crunches the numbers for 200 jobs to come up with its 10 best and 10 worst. Every year, it adds and subtracts jobs based on the changing economy. In the case of adding online advertising manager, the decision was simple.
“Every web site needs someone to help monetize it,” Lee said. “You have to seek advertising to pay the bills. Demand for this type of position has grown exponentially, especially for people who have experience,” he said.
The numbers speak for themselves: A search for “online advertising manager” turns up more than 6,000 listings on job-listing site Indeed.com and more than 20,000 on SimplyHired.com.
2012 pay: $72,110
2011 pay: $70,193
Change in pay: +2.7%
Thanks to the aging Baby Boomer population, health-care jobs like occupational therapist remain in high demand.
Occupational therapists treat patients with injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, according to the BLS. They help patients recover and get back to the daily routine of their work and personal lives.
2012 pay: $67,137
2011 pay: $63,144
Change in pay: +6.3%
Audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing problems; most must have a doctoral degree to enter the practice, according to the BLS.
Once again, here is a health-care job that is in high demand due to the aging Baby Boomer population. But there’s an added factor that’s amping up demand – the population of audiologists themselves is aging.
“The need for expertise here is growing quickly,” Lee said. “It’s a profession that really hit its stride in the ‘60s and ‘70s when hearing aids became widespread. But now those people are retiring and there’s a need for younger people to get into that field.”
2012 pay: $104,161
2011 pay: $101,164
Change in pay: +3%
As Baby Boomers get older, they not only need health care – they need financial advice for retirement. And with the stock-market gyrations that resulted from the financial crisis, that demand is even greater.
“People are realizing that they haven’t made the investments they need to make,” Lee said. “Even the savviest investors got hosed. It was a bit of a warning call that they need someone to help them with their investments.”
Not only is there demand for financial planners, but there are fewer people going into this profession than the demand is requiring, Lee said.
2012 pay: $68,109
2011 pay: $67,107
Change in pay: +1.5%
Dental hygienists clean teeth and examine patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis. They are increasingly doing more of the dentist’s work. To be a dental hygienist typically requires an associate’s degree in dental hygiene.
Perhaps a reflection of our declining dental hygiene as a society or the fact that fewer people are pursuing work as a dental hygienist – or both – employment in this field is expected to grow by 38 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.
“It’s a lot like computer programmers – there’s demand and not enough supply,” Lee said.
2012 pay: $99,102
New to the list for 2012
At first glance, HR manager being the No. 3 job was the biggest surprise of the best list, but when you think about employment trends, it makes sense: There are some high-skilled jobs in high-demand fields like health care and information technology that are in demand and there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them, Lee said.
Add to that the fact that a lot of skilled HR managers are retiring and fewer young people pursue human resources as a career and you’ve got a perfect storm for one of the best jobs in America this year.
And, because it requires a qualified HR person to be able to spot and hire these skilled workers, HR managers get paid, on average, just shy of six figures.
2012 pay: $88,202
2011 pay: $87,204
Change in pay: +1.1%
Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty, using mathematics, statistics and financial theory to assess the risk that a particular event will occur, according to the BLS.
There is always demand for risk analysts across all industries – actuary has made the top 10 for four years running -- but the uncertainty that came with the financial crisis, and economic havoc it wreaked on companies, juiced demand for this profession even more.
Add to that the fact that most people who have an accounting background tend to pursue work as accountants because the pay is better and you’ve got strong demand. Employment growth in this profession is expected to jump 27 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.
“The spotlight has risen on this profession,” Lee said. “More actuaries are needed. Demand far outstrips supply.”
2012 pay: $88,142
2011 pay: $87,140
Change in pay: +1.1%
Software engineer has been the No. 1 job for two years running. You can sum that up in two words, Lee said: “Technology revolution.”
Software engineers are the “creative minds behind computer programs,” according to the BLS.
“Every day new demand for new software is not being fulfilled,” Lee said. “Someone right now is in a garage somewhere dreaming up the next big thing and they’re going to need to find 100 programmers to make it happen.”