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The 10 Best Careers -- By Starting Salary, Best Benefits, Job Satisfaction & More

Whether you're a soon-to-be college grad or a seasoned veteran, knowing the "bests" and the "worsts" of the career world will give you a leg up in deciding where to start out, where to stay or where to move on to.

Accountants, both private and public, came in fifth and sixth place for best starting salaries.

10 Best Starting Salaries

  1. Software design & development $53,729
  2. Consulting $49,781
  3. Design/construction engineering $47,058
  4. Financial/treasury analysis $45,596
  5. Accounting (private) $44,564
  6. Accounting (public) $41,039
  7. Registered nurse $38,775
  8. Sales $37,130
  9. Management trainee $35,811
  10. Teaching $29,733

10 Best Companies to Work For

(Based on employees' responses to the "Great Place to Work Trust Index," a proprietary employee survey developed by the Great Place to Work Institute.)

  1. Wegmans Food Markets
  2. W. L. Gore
  3. Republic Bancorp
  4. Genentech
  5. Xilinx
  6. J. M. Smucker
  7. S. C. Johnson & Son
  8. Griffin Hospital
  9. Alston & Bird
  10. Vision Service Place

Looking for a satisfying job? Medical scientists made second place.

10 Most Satisfying Jobs

(Based 35 percent on potential for job growth, 35 percent on salary growth potential, 20 percent on how many in the field hold a college degree, and 10 percent on freedom to be innovative and creative.)

  1. Personal finance adviser
  2. Medical scientist
  3. Computer software engineer
  4. Chiropractor
  5. Environmental engineer
  6. Biochemist and biophysicist
  7. Sales manager
  8. Epidemiologist
  9. Computer system analyst
  10. Athlete

10 Fastest Growing Fields
(These will add the largest percentage of positions through 2012.)

  1. Network systems & communications analysts 57.0%
  2. Physician assistants 48.9%
  3. Software engineers 45.5%
  4. Physical therapist assistants 44.6%
  5. Fitness trainers 44.5%
  6. Database administrators 44.2%
  7. Dental hygienists 43.1%
  8. Hazardous material removal workers 43.1%
  9. Computer systems analysts 39.4%
  10. Environmental engineers 38.2%

10 Hottest Jobs
(These will have the most net gains through 2012 (in thousands)).

  1. Teachers (K-12) 724,000
  2. Registered nurses 623,000
  3. Post-secondary teachers 603,000
  4. Customer service reps 458,000
  5. Computer support 420,000
  6. General operations managers 376,000
  7. Sales representatives 356,000
  8. Truck drivers 337,000
  9. Software engineers 307,000
  10. Accountants and auditors 205,000

10 Companies With the Best Benefits

Loggers have the most dangerous job in the United States, based on number of fatalities a year.

(Based on retirement plans, strong medical coverage, premium subsidies by employers, disability options, group life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment coverage, medical and retirement packages for part-time employees, and effective communication methods to enable workers to capitalize on those benefits.)

  1. Flexible Steel Lacing Company, Downers Grove, IL
  2. American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, D.C.
  3. American Lung Association, New York, NY
  4. GuideOne Insurance, West Des Moines, LA
  5. Campus USA Credit Union, Gainesville, FL
  6. The Washington Trust Company, Westerly, RI
  7. Southwest Power Pool, Inc., Little Rock, AR
  8. Glatfelter Insurance Group, York, PA
  9. Moran Towing Corporation, New Canaan, CT
  10. Fremont Co-operative Produce Company, Fremont, MI

10 Most Dangerous Jobs
(Based on fatality rate.)

  1. Logging workers
  2. Aircraft pilots
  3. Fishers and fishing workers
  4. Structural iron and steel workers
  5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  6. Farmers and ranchers
  7. Roofers
  8. Electrical power line installers/repairers
  9. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
  10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

Recommended Reading

Working Long Hours Now Proven to Kill You: How to Work Smarter, Not Longer

12 Signs it is REALLY Time to Leave Your Job


The Great Place to Work Institute

Fast Company Where the Best Benefits Are

CNN Money: Where the Hot Jobs Will Be

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