These are the jobs that you usually don’t hear a mother proudly say, “My son is a ________!” or see Hollywood glamorizing one of these underrated jobs -- but when you look at the stats, they should be!
“You never saw a movie about a civil engineer or a TV show starring a computer-systems analyst!” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com.
The job listing and advice site has come out with its annual listof the most underrated jobs – and the most overrated jobs.
So, what makes a job underrated?
“The pay is better, the hiring outlook is better , the level of stress tends to be lower, and the physical demands aren’t that great,” Lee said. “It’s a good job with a good forecast.”
He added: “The most underrated jobs offer increasing opportunities and rewarding potential for job seekers new to the labor force, or those who need a change.” What’s more, several of these positions don’t even require a college degree.
Click ahead for the 12 Most Underrated Jobs of 2012.
Median Salary: $36,200
First, being an auto mechanic doesn’t require a college degree. Second, with cars increasingly becoming technologically advanced, demand for those who understand how it all works – and know how to fix it when it breaks -- is high.
And, this profession has the baby boomer generation to thank for an added boost in demand. Not because boomers have more cars – though, they do – but because it was a popular career choice in the 1960s and now many of those boomer mechanics are retiring. You have a huge segment of the profession retiring and boom! You have a jolt in demand for those entering the profession.
Median Salary: $48,179
Like mechanics, being an electrician also doesn’t require a college degree. You’ve also got advanced technology and a lot of boomer electricians retiring which boosts demand.
The pay can be low if you work for a firm and get paid a flat rate, but when you become an independent contractor your earnings potential and autonomy jumps.
Median Salary: $47,186
Same deal for plumbers – doesn’t require a college degree and a ton of baby boomer plumbers retiring makes for a sweet outlook for the plumbing profession.
Not to mention, no matter what happens in a recession or down economy, most people know very little about plumbing and will still need to call in a professional to fix that leak or repair a pipe. Plus, when the economy and housing market start to come back, there will be master baths and new kitchens to build!
Median Salary: $87,122
“People look at teaching as being in a classroom with kids all day,” Lee said. “But a principal is management. You manage and lead, but don’t have the same stresses as you do in a classroom. You have a higher level position, more authority, and more power,” he said.
And, while schools have been hard hit by municipal, state, and federal budget cuts, the school outlook is starting to turn, Lee said.
Median Salary: $89,223
You never heard someone say, “My son is an economist!” -- but maybe they should be!
While most industries from housing to Wall Street were ravaged by the recession, “this is one profession where the recession had an impact – in a good way,” Lee said. “Now you have companies employing economists, where they never used to, to forecast where sales are going.”
So with all the private hiring, the job outlook has improved significantly beyond where economists used to be employed, which was at banks or universities.
Median Salary: $47,159
This is an interesting one: Attorney made the list of overrated (at No. 6), while legal assistants came in on the underrated list.
First, legal assistants have a variety of job options – be it at a law firm or in the legal department of a corporation. And, it doesn’t require that you go to law school. Plus, Lee adds, you don’t always have to put in the long hours that attorneys do and the whole case isn’t riding on you.
Median Salary: $62,174
Oh, accountants. When was a movie ever made that didn’t show them as nerdy and uninteresting? Well, accountants, you can stick this in your pocket protector – you are among the most underrated jobs!
“In fact, it’s a very solid, secure profession,” Lee said. “Accountants are needed whether the economy is good or bad.”
And, let’s face it, the most recent downturn and subsequent scrutiny on accounting highlighted the need for accountants even more.
Median Salary: $61,236
“This is one where we’ve become such an incredible consumer nation and market research has really elevated it to where there isn’t a product or service that doesn’t require market research,” Lee said. “And yet most people don’t think of market research as a profession. They might think of going into marketing but that’s different from market research.”
Median Salary: $73,285
When was the last time you heard a kid say, “I want to be a biologist when I grow up!”
Right. Well, maybe they should.
“There’s a lot of demand,” Lee said. “Biologists have a lot of things going for them. They’re needed by the whole military complex, with biological weapons. At the same time, they have mapped the human genome – so, there’s biological science in health care.”
“The need for biologists is very large. And yet biology is a field that has not attracted huge numbers of new graduates,” Lee said.
Median Salary: $82,190
“With the amount of work and school being so high, the perception is that, ‘If I’m going to do that, I should just be a person doctor!’” Lee said.
In fact, there’s a real shortage of veterinarians, he said. Plus, you get to manage your own schedule, and you don’t have to worry about health-care regulations!
What’s more, Lee said, Look at the baby boom generation: “They are at the wealthiest stage of their lives, and they all have pets!”
Median Salary: $78,133
The only time civil engineers really get respect seems to be on the History Channel. And this area of engineering, which is on the lower end of the engineering pay scale, tends to not be that popular.
But right now, Lee said, there is huge demand for rebuilding bridges, roads, and other infrastructure, all of which require civil engineers.
“At long last, we seem to be moving forward with infrastructure improvement in the country,” Lee said, adding that there are actually shortages of engineers right now.
Median Salary: $78,148
These are the guys who study an organization’s computer systems and procedures and make recommendations for how to better organize, manage, and upgrade technology.
These guys aren’t usually the heroes in the movie – if they’re even in the movie – but if you’ve ever used a computer at your job you know this is one of the most necessary, and underrated, jobs.
“It’s a terrific job,” Lee said. “Demand is extremely high. Pay is strong. And you get to work pretty autonomously.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to grow 22 percent in the next decade.
Computer systems analysts, we salute you. Your job is underrated!