Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Jobs in America

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10. Speech pathologist
> Annual median wage: $73,410
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 21%
> Total employment: 135,980

Speech pathologists, or speech therapists, work primarily in schools and hospitals. They primarily treat communication disorders in children and help adults with speech problems — many of which are the consequence of disease, injury, or surgery complications. The job is one of three on this list in the health care field.

As is the case with many of the best jobs identified by CareerCast, speech pathologist positions are not especially easy to get as they often require a master’s degree.

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9. Occupational therapist
> Annual median wage: $80,150
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 27%
> Total employment: 118,070

Occupational therapists work with patients that have a range of disabilities and afflictions. They help the patients to accomplish everyday tasks and expand their capabilities. Employment opportunities for occupational therapists are projected to increase by 27% between 2014 and 2024 — more than triple the projected 7% employment growth rate across all occupations. Not only are occupational therapists in demand, but they are also well compensated. The median salary in the field of $80,150 a year is more than double the $37,040 median salary across all occupations.

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8. Software engineer
> Annual median wage: $100,690
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
> Total employment: 1,604,570

Software engineers have been among the best jobs in the country for years, and the occupation will likely remain in high demand in the future. The number of software engineers in the United States is estimated to increase 17% in the decade ending 2024, much faster than the 7% average for all U.S. occupations.

Software engineers concentrating specifically on applications development are likely to be in even higher demand as the number of products that use such software — mobile phones and appliances, for example — continues to increase.

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7. Mathematician
> Annual median wage: $111,100
> Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 21%
> Total employment: 2,730

As the increasing digitization of commerce, social interaction, and other aspects of everyday life generates increasing amounts of data, companies will require mathematical models and people capable of analyzing the large amounts of information.

The BLS projects the number of mathematicians will increase 21% in the 10 years ending in 2024, three times the 7% projected growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Most mathematician positions require a graduate degree and a strong quantitative background — and they pay relatively well. The typical mathematician earns $111,100 annually, far more than the $37,040 median for all workers.

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6. University professor (tenured)
> Annual median wage: $72,470
> Projected job growth (includes untenured), 2014-2024: 13%
> Total employment: 1,530,010

University professors, specifically those who are tenured, have one of the best jobs in the country. Tenured professors benefit from nearly unparalleled job security as — unlike adjunct and associate professors — their positions are effectively permanent. One of the most difficult jobs to get, university professors typically have a Ph.D. Tenure is typically only granted after at least seven years teaching in a post-secondary institution and a peer review of the candidate’s research and teaching.