Systems Engineer: The Best Job In The US of A
March 22, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Recessions always cause people to take stock of their lives and examine and then re-examine their career paths, and the economic meltdown of 2007-2009 is no exception. So what is the best, most safe job? According to the analysts at the Focus.com collective, that would be a systems engineer.
No kidding. Really. Check out the rankings yourself here if you don’t believe me.
To come to this conclusion, and to rank the best 35 jobs you might think about working toward in the next decade, Focus.com grabbed a big bale of statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor that diced and sliced the growth and decline for 7,000 different jobs over prior years and made projections going forward. The analysts shook out any jobs that didn’t require at least a bachelor’s degree, that would not grow at least 10 percent over the next decade, and that did not have a median pay of at least $65,000. Any job that had fewer than 10,000 positions in America was removed from the list, too, just to avoid the problem of too many people chasing too few job openings. Having done all that, the wheat of 260 jobs was separated from the chaff of those more than 7,000 jobs. (I am pretty certain that newsletter editor did not make the cut. HA!) Now, to get the best 100 of this list, Focus.com’s smarties eliminated jobs that did badly in recessions based on the lack of help wanted ads. Having identified 100 decent jobs, the top 50 were selected based on interviews with 35,000 workers in those 50 jobs, who rated their jobs based on flexibility of the work, the amount of stress they cope with, and the personal satisfaction they gain from what they do. The top 10 of these 50 were massaged to the upper part of the list after detailed interviews with experts.
Focus reckons that the 88,000 systems engineers in the United States have the best of all possible jobs, and the pay isn’t bad, with median salary of $87,100 and a top salary in the range of $130,000. Physician assistant, college professor, and nurse practitioner came in second, third, and fourth, as you can see from the rankings, but the 174,000 IT project managers in the country came in fifth (average salary of 98,700 and top salary of $140,000, probing that money can’t buy happiness). The 13,000 computer and network security consultants made a little more money, at $99,700 (with a top salary of $152,00) ranked eighth. The huge number of software developers (796,000 in America) were no doubt pleased to see a 12th ranking on the list, with a relatively modest $79,400 median salary, and they seemed to be a little happier than the 37,000 software product managers in the land, who make more money ($106,000 median salary) but who have to cope with software developers.
There are worse jobs, and none of them are on the Focus.com list.