If you're a college senior starting the job search, or a high school student or college undergraduate in the process of choosing a major, you probably want to try to find a good career. While there's no real way to know whether you'll like your job until you're doing it, there are a number of resources that can help give you some idea.
Based on a matrix of salaries, employment outlooks, and working conditions, the job site CareerCast.com has ranked 200 jobs from best to worst. Their 2010 second annual report provides a rank and a brief description for all 200 jobs, in addition to more detailed top 10 and bottom 10 lists.
For 2010, the top job in America was Actuary. In addition to high earning potential, the job also offers a very good hiring outlook, low physical demands, a good work environment, and relatively low stress. By contrast, the worst job in America was Roustabout--not only do they risk life and limb working on oil rigs in the middle of nowhere, but they don't even get paid very much to do so. With a national push toward green energy, the job outlook is supposed to be particularly bad for this field.
The full top ten were:
For the most part, the top 10 jobs all require a bachelor's degree or higher and all require at least some level of postsecondary education. By contrast, most of the bottom 10 jobs require little if any postsecondary education, with an emphasis instead on physical labor. Lumberjacks, ironworkers, dairy farmers, and welders follow roustabouts to make up the bottom five.
You can find the full list on CareerCast's website or reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. If you'd like to check out other highly-rated jobs, late in 2009, CNNMoney.com released a similar ranking of the 50 best jobs in America. Beyond browsing lists of the best and highest-paying jobs, there are many other strategies for exploring potential careers and choosing a college major. The best advice is to consider a wide range of criteria and decide what ultimately will make you happiest. Doing a college internship or two in promising careers couldn't hurt, either.