Best Jobs for 2010

best jobs for 2010When you think of the best jobs in America, visions of travel reporter, video game tester, movie star or ice cream taster might dance through your head, but according to a recent CNN Money report, they best jobs in the nation right now are a little less glamorous--and a lot more satisfying in the long run.

The aforementioned jobs don't even make the top 50 list. Those jobs with excellent pay and superior growth prospects did. Interestingly enough, very few of the jobs in the top 50 involved creativity and/or the arts. Most were technical, analytical and health related, although jobs like College Professor leave room for some imaginative flexibiity. The top five are as follows:

1. Systems Engineer: They're the ones who run large projects, such as transportation systems, aerospace and defense projects and major manufacturing projects for the auto industry, medical devices, office machinery, etc. It's challenging work that requires major responsibility and long hours, but you're often able to see the tangible fruits of your labors, and how they affect people on a daily basis. The median annual salary for an experienced worker is $87,100.

2. Physician Assistant: Think most of the perks of being an MD, without the insurance hassles and the expensive and competitive educational requirements. An average physicians assistant makes around $90,000 per year, and does have to have a masters and continuing education hours each year, but they work as part of a physicians team that can help diagnose illnesses, assist in surgery, and in some states, even write prescriptions. The health care industry is recession proof, so your job is safe once you get it -- it's a relatively new position though, so they're aren't a lot of openings-- yet.

3. College Professor: While they don't make huge amounts of money (average salary is around $70,400), the scheduling--usually about four partial days per week--allows them to take on other projects that will not only enhance their pocketbooks, but their status at the university, such as consulting and writing books and articles for publication. Plus, it's a relatively easy field to get into. Although they don't pay as well, opportunities at junior colleges abound, and don't require a PhD, as do many universities for a tenured professor position do.

4. Nurse Practitioner: A few educational and pay steps beyond a regular RN, nurse practitioners are in particular demand right now because of a shortage of primary care doctors, and an influx of retail health and emergency care facilities. Much like a physicians assistant, they can often diagnose and prescribe, but they also educate and treat. The median salary is about $85,200, capping at $113,000.

5. Information Technology Project Manager: They orchestrate high tech projects, like software and mobile phone upgrades, and figure out new methods for implementing cutting-edge technologies. There isn't a corporation out there that doesn't need tech-savvy individuals who can manage both projects and people, and there's plenty of consulting work for those who like to freelance. It requires at least 5-7 years of experience and often a college degree, but one can earn as much as $140,000 per year in this field -- sometimes more.

Don't see anything on the list that floats your boat? Don't worry. CNN Money lists and additional 95 top jobs in America. If you're currently "on the bench," this might be the ideal time to start preparing for one of them.

Next: 25 Worst Jobs >>

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I would just like to set the record straight... The job is Physician Assistant, not physicians assistant. It's not meant to be possessive. Although PA's work under a supervising physician, they are not owned by them. There may be some that don't mind that faux pas, but I would rather stand up for it....

March 17 2010 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


You are too right. People who do not work in the field have no idea what a difficult job this is. For any one FULL TIME position there are probably 200 applicants. For a full time tenure track position (the only type with any security) probably double that.

I spent many years as an adjunct before becoming tenure track then tenured. Approximate hourly wage as an adjunct-$9.00. That's right, nine dollars an hour. Those faculty lucky enough to land a tenure track position still aren't secure-only about 1 in 3 tenure track faculty members actually get tenure.

As for the 'only 4 part times days'-where does this happen? We work early mornings, late nights and in little spaces of time preparing for classes. If we have to publish (and you won't get tenure without publishing)-expect all nighters.

Whoever thinks college professors 'work' part time clearly has no idea what they are talking about.

January 12 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

College Professor! That's a laugh. There are no jobs available for professors these days, unless you count being an adjunct, which pays nothing and offers no benefits. Tenure-track positions at colleges comprise about 27% of the actual workers, and tenure-track positions are down about 35% since last year, and continue to diminish as universities continue to rely on part-time "slave" labor in order to save money. In theory it is a good job, if you can actually get one! If you're thinking of spending an enormous amount of time and energy to become a college professor, you may want to reconsider. It's a pretty dismal situation. I know this because I am currently looking for a position, and it's almost impossible to find one.

January 12 2010 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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