You probably never heard a mother brag, "My son, the biologist!" but maybe she should.
"These are jobs that most people look at and think 'eh,' when in fact they typically have a strong hiring outlook, rising salary, a fair amount of autonomy and the people who have them tend to really like them," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.
Think: That guy with the pocket protector and calculator. You weren't nearly as dazzled by him as the stockbroker in the pin-striped suit. But he is totally in demand. Boom! Underrated.
This list is, for sure, more subjective than, for example, CareerCast's best and worst jobs. But the economic recovery has provided some objective criteria for the list, Lee said.
"As the economy slowly improves, that changes how various jobs end up getting ranked—their hiring outlook improves more than another and it might move up the list, or the average salary increased," Lee said.
The housing recovery has played a part for several jobs that have seen their hiring outlook improve as the housing market improves.
And, of course, there's that little factor called supply and demand—if there aren't a lot of applicants for a particular job, the salary goes up. Or, if you're starting to see a lot of turnover on your staff, which does happen as the economy and job market improve, what's the first thing bosses try to do to keep talented employees? Raise their salary. Combine that with a job that a lot of people say "eh" about and you've got one of the most underrated jobs.
To come up with these lists, CareerCast takes a look at 200 jobs, using Labor Department and other statistics. On average, Lee said, the hiring outlook for most jobs is about 12 percent, meaning hiring is expected to increase by that much through 2020. For some of these underrated jobs, it's as high as 30 or 40 percent. What's particularly encouraging, he said, is that CareerCast has found more job openings for each one of the jobs on the list than they've seen in at least the last five years.
Click ahead to check out the 12 most underrated jobs for 2013.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 17 Sept. 2013
Median salary: $55,370
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 7%
Shhhhhhh! Keep your voice down, but here's an interesting thing about librarians: They're underrated.
Librarians have a lower-than-average hiring outlook but they rank so high in other criteria, such as low stress level and better office environment than average, that they squeaked into the top 12 list of most underrated jobs.
"Librarians have an opportunity to work in an environment they love. They have good hours. And they're serving the public, which is what most librarians get into this business to do," Lee said.
Median salary: $49,840
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 23%
Electricians are benefiting from the housing-market recovery, which has created more job opportunities than in recent years. Plus, salaries are rising and the hiring outlook is improving—more than double the average for careers on the list at 23 percent, according to statistics from the Labor Department.
Plus, Lee said, it's a lower stress level and electricians can work on their own schedule.
"People tend to not be rushing you because they want you to do the best job," Lee said.
Median salary: $49,140
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 26%
You have definitely never heard a mother say, "My son, the plumber!" But, like electricians, plumbers are getting a nice boost from the housing recovery.
The number of plumbers is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2020, more than double the national average. Plus, salaries are rising, stress is below average and there's more opportunity than in other careers to make your own schedule.
Median salary: $87,760
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 10%
School principals don't have as strong of a hiring outlook as some other professions on the list, but it is the highest paid of the underrated jobs.
In addition to monetary compensation, job satisfaction tends to be high among school principals.
"They have a job that they truly enjoy and get a lot of fulfillment from that," Lee said.
Median salary: $79,340
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 19%
Civil engineers are the engineers who design and supervise large construction projects such as roads, buildings, bridges and water-treatment plants.
As the economy improves, there's more money for infrastructure projects—and that's good news for civil engineers.
Their hiring outlook is above average and their pay is near the top of the list for underrated jobs.
"The job isn't seen as glamorous, but many civil engineers wouldn't want to do anything else," Lee said.
And you'll always have bragging rights to say, "You see that bridge? Yeah, I built that!"
Median salary: $46,990
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 18%
"My son, the legal assistant!," said no mom to anyone ever.
Well, that may be true, moms who wanted their sons to be lawyers, but that's just one reason why legal assistants have one of the most underrated jobs. First, they tend to have better hours and lower stress than lawyers, Lee said, and their hiring outlook is above average. "Probably better than actually being an attorney," Lee said.
"This job has fared well every time we looked at it," Lee said.
Median salary: $31,020
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 33%
EMT is another surprise on the list. First, it has never made the underrated list before and it definitely isn't low stress OR high pay.
But, the hiring outlook is among the highest on the list, at 33 percent, largely because of the economic recovery.
"You had a lot of cutbacks early in recession in municipal budgets and EMTs were especially hard hit," Lee said. "Now all of that is coming back. Despite the fact that they're not paid very well, they're in big demand," he said.
And, when you're in demand, that means there's a good chance your pay is going to start increasing—and quickly.
"The way municipalities compete against each other is by raising salary," Lee said.
Plus, it takes a special person to be an EMT. So, if that's what you've chosen, there's a good chance you love your job, Lee said.
Median salary: $63,550
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 16%
"The perception is, 'What a boring job!' " Lee said.
But accountants make the most underrated list every year.
First, they're very well paid. The hiring outlook is above average. And, if you've picked accounting, there's a good chance you love your job.
"They spend their day doing what they want to do, which is manipulating numbers," Lee said.
So, stop judging him by his pocket protector and calculator—this guy is underrated!
Median salary: $60,300
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 41%
Market research analysts work for companies to determine what's going on in the market. They look at consumer demand and business demand. They took a hit during the recession, with many laid off. But now, demand is bouncing back.
"This is an area that as the economy improves, it's really going to benefit," Lee said. "The hiring outlook is huge. And the salary is also very healthy."
"It doesn't matter what type of company you are. If you're a widget company, you want to know what's the outlook for people buying widgets in the next year across the country and around the world," Lee said.
Median salary: $72,700
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 31%
Biologists have been in demand for several years now, with one of the strongest hiring outlooks on the list at 31 percent.
"They do everything from defense work, such as trying to figure out what the Syrians are doing, to drug and medical development," Lee said. "Biologists are at the fore of that work researching how to prevent disease."
Not only is demand high but supply is low.
"One of the big issues we have in this country is a lack of college graduates in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields," he said.
In fact, all of the top three most underrated jobs for 2013 share that, Lee said.
Median salary: $84,460
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 36%
"The baby boom generation is spending more money on their animals than ever before," Lee said. "Whoever heard of pet health insurance? Now it's a big thing. People treat their animals like children—and vets are right at the core of that," he said.
Plus, vets are getting a boost from the economic recovery and rebound in housing.
"If people don't have money to pay for their own health needs, they're not able to pay for their pet's health needs," Lee said. "An improving economy means people have more money to get a pet in te first place and then pay for their care," he said.
Vets have been consistently on the underrated list for the past few years, coming in at No. 3 last year. And, they have one of the best hiring outlooks on the list at 36 percent.
Median salary: $79,680
Hiring outlook (job growth through 2020): 22%
For the second straight year, the most underrated job is …computer-systems analyst!
These are the people who are managing a company's computer systems, making sure all the servers are working and that everything is up and running.
"As more and more companies use the Internet to do business through e-commerce, and frankly just the explosion of the Internet, the need for systems analysts has risen dramatically—and salaries have followed," Lee said.
"The perception of a computer-systems analyst is a nerd with a pocket protector but, in fact, these are the people who are going to be retiring on the beach," Lee said. "I hope they can surf!"
Don Draper and Gordon Gekko make it look so glamorous but guess what? They're overrated. Check out the 12 most OVERRATED jobs of 2013.