Do You Have One of the 5 Best Jobs of 2014?

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Landing your dream job is often one of the defining moments of your life, but for millions of people, the job of their dreams lies somewhere out of reach. It doesn't have to be! With some careful planning and a little luck, many people can get the job they've always wanted. It certainly helps to pursue a profession that's in high demand and that offers high pay, a good work-life balance, and a generally rewarding working experience.

We just looked at the 10th- through sixth-best jobs in America for 2014, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report (you can see the full list of America's 100 best jobs here), but now it's time for the final countdown. Here are this year's five best jobs in America. Do you have one of them? Would you like to? Read on to learn more about what makes these jobs so desirable, and maybe you might even find your dream job somewhere in the list. 

5. Pharmacist
Physicians, physical therapists, and nurses can't cover all aspects of patient care. Pharmacists are there to help provide support by dispensing prescription medication and offering patients advice on safe drug use. They, too, are in high demand as more Americans find that they need a pill (or two, or 10) to get them through the day without any number of physical or psychological problems. Pharmacists can be predominantly found in the many thousands of pharmacies across America, but they may also work in hospitals and clinics.

  • Entry-level education: Doctoral degree
  • Entry-level (bottom 10% of profession) pay: $89,280
  • Median pay: $116,670
  • Best pay (top 10% of profession): $145,910
  • Number of jobs in 2012: 286,400
  • Expected new jobs in 2022: 41,400 (14% job growth)
  • Upward mobility: Above average
  • Stress level: Above average
  • Flexibility: Below average 

4. Nurse practitioner
The sheer breadth of opportunities in the medical field has been easy to see over the course of our list, as this is the second time nursing appears (registered nurse is 2014's sixth-best job). Nurse practitioners perform many of the same functions as doctors, including performing patient examinations, ordering and examining diagnostics, authorizing treatment, prescribing medicine, and counseling patients. They're paid much better than registered nurses for this expanded skill set, and that skill set places them in higher demand, although the field is far smaller than that of registered nurses.

  • Entry-level education: Master's degree
  • Entry-level (bottom 10% of profession) pay: $64,100
  • Median pay: $89,960
  • Best pay (top 10% of profession): $120,500
  • Number of jobs in 2012: 105,780 
  • Expected new jobs in 2022: 37,100 (34% job growth)
  • Upward mobility: Average
  • Stress level: Above average
  • Flexibility: Below average 

3. Dentist
No one really likes to see the dentist, but a good dentist is the difference between a healthy mouth and a grimy, disease-ridden face hole -- and the impact of a healthy mouth on a person's personal and professional life can be enormous. In addition to maintaining patients' oral health through cleanings and cavity fillings, dentists have increasingly become cosmetic experts as well, offering services from whitening to veneers to give people the smile they've always wanted.

  • Entry-level education: Doctoral
  • Entry-level (bottom 10% of profession) pay: $74,130
  • Median pay: $145,240
  • Best pay (top 10% of profession): $188,000
  • Number of jobs in 2012: 146,800
  • Expected new jobs in 2022: 23,300 (16% job growth)
  • Upward mobility: Average
  • Stress level: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average 

2. Computer systems analyst
Systems analysts seem to come out of nowhere to break the medical chokehold on our list of 2014's best jobs, but those who work in the field shouldn't be surprised by its high placement. Systems analysts not only need to have a wide range of elite technical skills in computer hardware, software, and networks, but they also need to know how these systems interact and how to take a "big picture" approach to integrate them all optimally. Systems analysts can also work out the financial details of new tech rollouts, and these varied job requirements make them highly specialized generalists. That sort of skill set is bound to remain in high demand in the future, as many generalized specialists find their jobs at ever greater risk of automation.

  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree
  • Entry-level (bottom 10% of profession) pay: $49,950
  • Median pay: $79,680
  • Best pay (top 10% of profession): $122,090
  • Number of jobs in 2012: 520,600
  • Expected new jobs in 2022: 127,700 (25% job growth)
  • Upward mobility: Average
  • Stress level: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average 

1. Software developer
The way you interact with every piece of technology in your life is mediated through software -- which means that software developers are probably among the most important people in your life that you may never meet. These code-cranking wizards can make all the difference between a fluid, intuitive app and a clunky, miserable user interface, which is why the very best of them can become billionaires, and even the worst of them can typically lead comfortable lives. A good software developer has to be fluent in multiple foreign languages (the code) with far stricter logical rules than any spoken language, and must also be able to think big (the entire software package) and small (each line of code) at the same time. Six of the 25 richest people in the world are founders of software (or software-focused) companies, which helps to show just how valuable a good software developer's skill set can really be.

  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree
  • Entry-level (bottom 10% of profession) pay: $55,190
  • Median pay: $90,060
  • Best pay (top 10% of profession): $138,880
  • Number of jobs in 2012: 1,018,000
  • Expected new jobs in 2022: 222,600 (22% job growth)
  • Upward mobility: Average
  • Stress level: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average

The 10 jobs we've looked at today might not seem to have much in common beyond a hefty paycheck, but they all require good critical thinking skills, a broad base of knowledge, some (or a lot of) specialized training, and demand at high levels an ability to connect dots that many people might never have seen to begin with. That's the sort of job that remains very hard to replace in an increasingly automated world, which is why they're in such high demand. Would you like to have one of these jobs? Do you think there are better choices that we've overlooked? Let the world know by posting a comment below.

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  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 12:12 PM, ptliddle wrote:

    Yep i have the best job in America. You do get good pay and a reasonable work life balance as a developer.

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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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