About the U.S. News Best Jobs Ranking Methodology

An insider’s look at our process for selecting and ranking the best jobs of the year.

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Choosing an occupation is personal, so there is no ideal way to determine the best job overall. Still, U.S. News' Best Jobs rankings offer job seekers an intuitive method to compare professions based on components that matter most: the number of expected openings, advancement opportunities, career fulfillment and salary expectations. The result of our efforts is a list of jobs ranked according to their ability to meet those employment concerns.

The Best Jobs methodology is divided into two components: The first is how U.S. News selects jobs to profile. The second is how those jobs are ranked against each other.

Selecting the Jobs

To identify professions that should be included in the 2014 rankings, we started with data on jobs with the greatest hiring demand, or in other words, the highest projected number of openings from 2012 to 2022, as categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobs at the top of our list were then selected for the 2014 Best Jobs analysis and rankings.

Ranking the Jobs

U.S. News ranks jobs in an overall list and in category-specific lists, such as "Best Health Care Jobs" and "Best Technology Jobs." Occupations are ranked based on our calculated overall score, which combines several components into a single weighted average score between 0 and 10.

The overall score is calculated from seven component measures: 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, median salary, employment rate, future job prospects, stress level and work-life balance. For each measure, jobs receive a score between 0 and 10.

Here are the component measures and their weight in computing the overall score:

  • 10-Year Growth Volume (10 percent)
  • 10-Year Growth Percentage (10 percent)
  • Median Salary (30 percent)
  • Job Prospects (20 percent)
  • Employment Rate (20 percent)
  • Stress Level (5 percent)
  • Work-Life Balance (5 percent)
  • About the Component Measures

    1. 10-year growth volume. This is the total number of new jobs the BLS expects will be created for an occupation over 10 years. For example, BLS projects the United States will add 139,900 new software developer jobs between 2012 and 2022.

    Why is it important?

    An occupation with significant job growth is likely to have many new job opportunities in the future.

    How is this score calculated?

    We translate job growth volumes from a number to a score of up to 10 points. Those occupations expected to grow by 500,000 openings or more received the highest score: 10. Occupations with job growth numbers between 200,000 and 499,999 earned 8 points; between 100,000 and 199,999 earned 6 points; less than 100,000 openings earned 4 points and any occupations in which numbers were expected to decrease received 2 points.

    2. 10-year growth percentage. This is an occupation's employment percentage growth over the course of 10 years. For example, the BLS estimate of 139,900 new software developer jobs between 2012 and 2022 equates to 22.8 percent job growth.

    Why is it important?

    The 10-year growth percentage measures how rapidly an occupation is expanding. A high growth rate indicates strengthening demand for this type of worker.

    How is this score calculated?

    We translate job growth percentages from a number to a score of up to 10 points. Occupations for which the projected growth rate increased by 30 percent or more earned the total possible 10 points; those for which growth increased between 20 and 29 percent earned 8 points; where growth increased between 10 and 19 percent, the job earned 6 points and where growth increased by 9 percent or less, the job earned 4 points. Any occupations that saw growth decrease received 2 points.

    3. Median salary. This is the median salary earned by someone employed in a given occupation, according to BLS.

    Why is it important?

    Most people prefer higher salaries to lower salaries.

    How is this score calculated?

    We translate median salary from a dollar amount to a numerical score using the following formula: Salary Score = SQRT(Median Salary) 40. We set a maximum salary score of 10 points.