Each year, assorted organizations create and publish lists of best and worst jobs across industries. For example, U.S. News & World Report recently released its Best Jobs of 2012 rankings. At best, lists like these can be informative and provide general occupational details, such as median salary, education, and training requirements. At a minimum, these lists can spark awareness about criteria to consider when choosing a college major or an occupation. Whether you’re drawn to checking out best job lists or not, the following are a few things to consider when pursuing an occupation or particular job.
Projected job growth and median salary: Projected job growth is the estimated change in the number of jobs that will be available within a given time period. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes occupation projections over a 10-year period; the most current report represents 2010–2020 data. The BLS publishes these employment projections as well as median salary figures for specific occupations on its website and in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. The current BLS data can also be accessed within the Gale Career Transitions portal product.
Physical demands, risks, hazards, and environmental conditions: Before pursuing an occupation or particular job, you should consider special job requirements and conditions. Take into account the physical effort required to perform a given job as well as hazards or risks as they relate to an occupation. Will you be working in life-threatening situations—think police officer—or exposed to chemicals and toxins that can be detrimental to your health? Other environmental conditions to consider include noise, lighting, temperature, and the overall condition of the space in which you will be working.
Quality of life: Many aspects of the job can impact your work-life balance and overall quality of life. These vary in importance depending on the individual, but some things to think about include job security, financial stability, work hours, flexible work arrangements, challenge, and stress.
All of this is only part of the equation. To find the right occupation and job requires a holistic approach that includes assessing your interests, values, and skills and then matching these to your education, training, and relevant work experience. With a thorough approach and careful preparation, you should be well on your way to finding the right job for you.