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Jobs Rated 2011: Ranking 200 Jobs From Best to Worst

Jobs Rated 2011: Ranking 200 Jobs From Best to Worst

By: Andrew Strieber

This is our 2011 Job Rankings report.
See our 200 Jobs Rated Report for 2012

When searching for a new job, how do you decide which opportunities are worth the time it takes to complete an application? Do you only apply to jobs within a certain salary range, with a certain number of hours per week or with responsibilities you know you can handle easily? Or do you apply for every opening that seems to match your skill set? Perhaps you search for positions that "sound cool" or "feel right" or are in industries that get a lot of positive coverage in the media?

Using any of these criteria to search for a job can lead to disaster in today's employment market. Jobs that promise a 40-hour week often require 60 or more, and positions that advertise a six-figure salary may achieve that level only if unreachable conditions are met. Company recruiters say it's a buyer’s market, and they treat desperate job seekers accordingly. After all, even if your supposed dream job turns out to be more of a nightmare, there's no shortage of job seekers who would be happy to take your place.

While the "buyer beware" atmosphere of the current job market can be challenging, you do have ways to protect yourself. Want to know if a job's work environment, hours per week and salary are really as advertised? Or whether that supposedly "hot" field actually has any available job openings? The 2011 Jobs Rated report examines 200 jobs to help you look beyond hype and uncover the facts about different professions - everything from typical salaries to average worker stress.

Each year Jobs Rated researchers survey 200 jobs - from Accountant to Zoologist - scoring them according to five key criteria: Physical Demands, Work Environment, Income, Outlook and Stress. Some factors remain relatively constant from year to year, but others fluctuate greatly due to changes in the job market, technological innovations or current events. Using data from government sources, trade groups and private organizations, every job receives a score and rank in each category, and these ratings are then combined to form a complete ranking of 200 jobs for 2011, from best to worst.

For more information on how we rank all 200 jobs, see our 2011 Jobs Rated Methodology

In 2011, thanks to the popularity of smartphone applications and "cloud" based software, technical positions involving computers have risen to the top of the rankings. Indeed, Software Engineer, Computer Systems Analyst, Technical Writer and Computer Programmer all rank within the top 30 this year, although the Outlook for Computer Programmer is considerably worse due to outsourcing. That said, you don’t need to go back to school for a computer science degree just yet - jobs that rank in the top 50 for 2011 cover a wide variety of disciplines, from medicine and engineering to law and the arts.

Not sure whether that opening you find online would be a great opportunity or a career killer? Check out the Top 200 Jobs of 2011 and their scores in each major category to see which professions truly live up to the hype - and which you’d be better off avoiding.

Of course, just because these jobs all score highly in the five jobs rated measurement criteria doesn't mean they're right for everyone. Some workers might find that their "dream job" actually ranks much further down the list - the old saying "one man’s trash is another man’s treasure" is especially true when it comes to employment. If you want a well-paid job with a great outlook and don't mind intense stress and physical demands, for example, a career as a surgeon might be perfect for you. But because of its stress and work environment negatives, the job ranks 100th for 2011, behind careers that pay less and are arguably less prestigious. On the other hand, a person whocan’t Handle a high-stress environment might be better off with a job like Jeweler, which boasts a serene working environment, but suffers from a poor hiring outlook.

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