For several years over the past decade, a day spent examining and fixing teeth was considered to be the “best job” in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey. This year, a job that requires tech savviness and scientific know-how tops the list.
The best job in 2018 is that of a software developer, according to the annual ranking, which uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify jobs with the greatest hiring demand and the best work/life balance, salary and future prospects, among other factors.
The job of dentist, which has frequently topped the annual ranking over the past decade, was No. 2 this year followed by physician assistant at No. 3 and nurse practitioner at No. 4. Health care jobs, including nurse practitioners and physicians, usually dominate the list, but this year marks first time since 2015 that a health care practitioner has not topped the list. Orthodontist, which held the top spot last year, came in at No. 5.
Software developers, which on average make $100,080, according to the report, are in “huge” demand now and are expected to be in the future, said Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News’ careers reporter, who researched and contributed to the report.
“Our society is more and more dependent on digital technology for all aspects,” she said, “Not just (large tech firms such as) Facebook and Google, but every other business needs software developers to make their applications. Even hospitals are tapping into digital communication to make sure doctors and patients can communicate.”
It’s not the first time software developer has topped the list. In 2014, the techie job usurped health care jobs to land in the top spot. Since then, however, health care jobs — particularly dentistry — have led the list.
Health care jobs are expected to grow 18 percent by 2026, according to data from the BLS, adding 2.3 million new jobs, more than any other industry. That trend, according to Koenig, is largely linked to the large population of aging baby boomers who will need care in years to come.
Koenig also noticed that some of the fastest-growing jobs are at opposite ends of the health care spectrum. Heavy job growth is expected in the health care support field, which includes lower-paid, less-skilled jobs such as home health care aides and medical transcriptionists. Also booming are higher-paid and skilled nurse practitioner jobs, which earn just over $100,000, she said.
Despite their high demand, the health care support jobs tend to be heavily female and often don’t require bachelor’s degrees. That, in part, explains why they are lower-paid jobs, Koenig said. “Part of it is the lower educational requirements and the gender trends of pay that unfortunately depress wages in that area,” she said.