The Nation's Ten Best Jobs

Layoffs, bankruptcies and rising unemployment – the past 12 months have been an especially traumatic time to be looking for a new job. Yet when considering the best and worst jobs for 2010, the upheaval that spread across multiple industries last year hasn't altered the old adage: "the more things change, the more they stay the same." For the second year in a row, job hunters will want to brush up their math, science and computer skills if they want to land a top-ranked, highly rewarding position.

Actuary, a job that entails calculating the probability and financial impact of illness and property loss, ranks as the best job for 2010, based on research into 200 different positions in this year's exclusive Jobs Rated report. Using five key measurement criteria – stress, working environment, physical demands, income and hiring outlook – the Jobs Rated report seeks to compare and contrast careers across a multitude of industries, skill levels and salary ranges, sorting them into a definitive list of jobs that can be called "worst" and "best."

Job Scores in Context


Scoring Range

Physical Demands

3.95 – 43.23

Work Environment

89.520 – 3314.030


$300,118 – $17,057


18.776 – 110.936

Hiring Outlook

45.39 – -39.67

So why is Actuary rated number one? For starters, the position ranks especially well for its low physical demands and stress levels, finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively, out of all 200 jobs. But more importantly, it is actuary's consistently strong performance overall that helped the job rise to the top of the 2010 Jobs Rated list. While we may admire the exceptional – famous stars, successful billionaires and life-saving heroes, for example – top careers in the Jobs Rated report typically don't stand out as the most glamorous, highest paying or most noble. Instead, they are the jobs that offer the greatest chance of enjoying a combination of good health, low stress, a pleasant workplace, solid income and strong growth potential.

In compiling the list of highly-ranked jobs for 2010, Jobs Rated researchers sought to find careers that are likely to provide a positive experience for a majority of employees, not just the uniquely talented. Fitting with this goal, Actuary ranks no worse than 10th in any measurement category, save one – median income, where it finishes 22nd. And even in this case, the job's average high-end income of $161,000 is 11th among all surveyed jobs. For a closer look at the study's methodology, please visit

Moving down the list, math and science-related professions continue to rule, with Software Engineer ranking as the second-best job for 2010. Involving the design and maintenance of software and hardware systems, the job rates well across all categories, finishing 5th for work environment and inside the top 30 for stress, income and physical demands. But what truly helps Software Engineer stand out from other career choices is its hiring outlook. With low unemployment compared to the national average and projected job growth of nearly 45% through 2016, Software Engineer currently has the best hiring outlook of any available job in 2010.

If equations and programming languages aren't your strong suit, there are some other top-ranked jobs that rely on words instead of numbers. Despite ranking just 50th for stress and median income, Historian manages to finish as the 5th best job for 2010, thanks to good ratings for work environment (4th), physical demands (15th) and outlook (15th). And while it may seem surprising that a seemingly obscure job like Historian would rank so well, in fact the career has many applications beyond just the classroom. Apart from academic settings, there is a great demand for Historians in the defense industry and State Department. Considering that the federal government is expected to be a top source of employment in 2010, this demand helps give Historian projected job growth of 24% through 2016.

Rounding out the Jobs Rated of the 10 best jobs for 2010, all of these top-ranked positions have one key element in common. Each requires a high level of education, or at least highly-specialized training:

1. Actuary
2. Software Engineer
3. Computer Systems Analyst
4. Biologist
5. Historian
6. Mathematician
7. Paralegal Assistant
8. Statistician
9. Accountant
10. Dental Hygienist

For more information on the 2010 Jobs Rated report, visit

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