How the Best Careers Were Selected

A career is too nuanced to be judged purely on statistics.

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A career is too nuanced to be judged purely on statistics, so we used both quantitative and qualitative criteria to pick the U.S. News Best Careers. From the hundreds of careers and variants in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook plus other candidate careers, we selected the 31 that offered outstanding opportunities based on:

Job satisfaction, defined as spending a high percentage of time on activities that many people would consider rewarding or pleasant.

Training difficulty, defined by the length of training typically required, adjusted by the amount of science and/or math involved.

Prestige, based on an informal survey of college-educated adults.

Job market outlook, based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor and professional organizations, with the career's resistance to being offshored considered.

Pay, with data provided by, which has an extensive database of individual employee compensation profiles.