NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 7, 2009

Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation -- mathematician -- has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.

The study from, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress.

The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of "Jobs Rated Almanac," and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz's own expertise. According to the study:

  • Mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions -- indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise -- unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer.
  • They also aren't expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching -- attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
  • Other jobs at the top of the study's list include actuary, statistician, biologist, software engineer and computer-systems analyst, historian and sociologist.
  • On the opposite end of the career spectrum are lumberjacks. The study shows these workers, also known as timber cutters and loggers, as having the worst occupation due to the dangerous nature of their work, a poor employment outlook and low annual pay.

Source: Sarah Needleman, "Doing the Math to Find Good Jobs," Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2009 and "Top Ten Best (and Worst) Jobs,"

For text:

For study:


Browse more articles on Economic Issues