Special Report

The Easiest (and Hardest) Jobs to Keep

7. Detectives and criminal investigators
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.8%
> Median annual pay, 2012: $74,300
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 2.0%

The majority of detectives and criminal investigators are employed by local governments or the federal executive branch. The median income of detectives and investigators was $74,300 in 2012, among the higher figures reviewed. If a detective or investigator was employed by the federal government, she could likely make far more, with such employees frequently earning more than $100,000 annually as of 2012. While high levels of education are often a requirement for professions with the lowest unemployment rates,
detectives and investigators are typically only required to have a high school diploma in addition to law enforcement experience.

6. Medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.4% (tied-5th highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: $33,070
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 6.7%

Medical and dental technicians service and help make a range of prosthetics and appliances, such as dentures, dental crowns, and eyeglasses. Unlike most of the relatively secure professions, such technicians are not typically highly educated, and they are paid far less than most Americans. The median pay of medical and dental laboratory technicians was just $33,070 in 2012, one of the lower incomes reviewed. The profession is projected to grow, albeit slowly, with the BLS estimating a 6.7% growth between 2012 and 2022. Still, the unemployment rate among workers in the profession is among the lowest. As is the case with other medical professions, the low unemployment rate among laboratory technicians is likely due in part to growing demand for medical services, particularly among the aging baby boomer generation.

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5. Physicians and surgeons
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.4% (tied-5th highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: Greater than $187,200
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 17.8%

Less than 0.5% of physicians and surgeons were unemployed last year, a lower rate than for the vast majority of occupations. The BLS also forecasts the number of physicians and surgeons to grow by 17.8% by 2022, one of the faster growth rates reviewed. The large and aging baby boomer population partly explains this growth trend. The requirements for Physicians and surgeons typically include education and training that span more than a decade and that can be very demanding. Physicians and surgeons examine, counsel, and perform procedures on patients with physical injuries and diseases. Those employed in the occupation are also well compensated, with a median pay of more than $187,000 in 2012, one of the highest earnings.