Special Report

The Easiest (and Hardest) Jobs to Keep

4. Aerospace engineers
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.3%
> Median annual pay, 2012: $103,720
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 7.3%

Aerospace engineers were frequently paid six-figure salaries in 2012.. Because many of those employed in this occupation work on national defense projects, prospective employees are also often heavily screened and require security clearances. Most aerospace workers do not work for the government, however. Aerospace products and parts manufacturing employed 38% of workers, more than any other sector. While the profession is expected to grow 7.3% by 2022, slower than the average growth rate across all occupations, airplane and parts manufacturing is among America’s most robust industries. Plane routes and fleets are perhaps at capacity, but demand for new planes is still very high. For example, Boeing — a global leader in airplane manufacturing — reported a backlog of nearly $500 billion, with roughly 5,500 commercial airplane orders.

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3. Physician assistants
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.2% (tied-2nd highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: $90,930
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 38.4%

Physician assistants perform a range of duties that also vary considerably by location. In more rural areas where there are considerably less doctors, for example, assistants may perform many tasks ordinarily performed by physicians. In general, however, physician assistants perform routine procedures such as setting broken bones, drawing blood, and taking x-rays. Additionally, physician assistants often work closely with patients, recording their progress, counseling them, and providing treatment. A typical physician assistant was paid nearly $91,000 in 2012, and employment is expected to grow by 38.4% by 2022, both nearly the highest figures reviewed.

2. Dentists
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.2% (tied-2nd highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: $149,310
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 15.9%

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, dentists must attend dental school, followed by a one- to two-year residency. To practice, dentists must also receive a state administered license. Most dentists are generalists, but many are orthodontists, endodontists, or specialize in other fields such as pediatrics, pathology, and public health. The median income of dentists was nearly $150,000 in 2012, one of the highest incomes compared to every other occupation. The BLS also projects employment in the field to grow nearly 16% by 2022, also among the higher rates.

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1. Chiropractors
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.1%
> Median annual pay, 2012: $66,160
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 14.6%

Just one in every 1,000 chiropractors was unemployed last year, the lowest figure among all occupations reviewed by the BLS. Chiropractors are required to complete a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, and they often seek additional professional degrees. Chiropractors typically take a more holistic approach to health, as they consider the entire entire body and state of a patient’s health. Chiropractic methods vary widely but share a drug-free approach by which musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders are addressed with manual manipulations of the body. According to the American Chiropractic Association, there is also a growing trend towards specialization and advanced training in the field. The median income of chiropractors was $66,160 in 2012, and employment is projected to grow nearly 15% by 2022, both among the higher figures reviewed.