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The Best and Worst Jobs in America Are …

April 17, 2014
Personal Finance
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If you or your children want a crack at the best jobs in America, take this advice: Hire a math tutor.

If you want one of the worst jobs, learn how to chop wood, be a “Waitress in the Sky” or (ahem) write this story for a living.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and measuring factors related to environment, income, stress and outlook, the job website Careercast has ranked the best and worst jobs of 2014. Its analysis comes the same week President Barack Obama is making a $600 million push to increase occupational training opportunities for the long-term unemployed.

Most of the top occupations, however, will take more than a retraining program to get up to speed—requiring a four-year degree or more. Jobs in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have the brightest outlook, taking five of the top 10 occupations. Health care professions such as dental hygienist, audiologist and occupational therapist also look to grow in the coming decade.

The worst jobs are punctuated by low pay, high stress, diminishing job opportunities and sometimes personal danger, such as firefighter, military personnel and corrections officer. Journalism jobs continue to take a beating, as do those for flight attendants.

Here are the best and worst among some 200 professions:

Best jobs of 2014

Rank Job Median annual salary Projected job growth by 2022
1. Mathematician $101,360 23%
2. University professor (tenured) $68,970 19%
3. Statistician $75,560 27%
4. Actuary $93,680 26%
5. Audiologist $69,720 34%
6. Dental hygienist $70,210 33%
7. Software engineer $93,350 22%
8. Computer systems analyst $79,680 25%
9. Occupational therapist $75,400 29%
10. Speech pathologist $69,870 19%

Worst jobs of 2014

Rank Job Median annual salary Projected job growth by 2022
200. Lumberjack $24,340 4%
199. Newspaper reporter $37,090 -13%
198. Enlisted military personnel $28,840 n/a
197. Taxi driver $22,820 16%
196. Broadcaster $55,380 -13%
195. Head cook $42,480 5%
194. Flight attendant $37,240 -7%
193. Garbage collector $22,970 10%
192. Firefighter $45,250 7%
191. Corrections officer $38,970 5%


Read more on NerdWallet: Best Cities for Job Seekers

Illustration by Brian Yee.