Our social services jobs introduce an element of surprise. Take, for instance, nail technician – the No. 49 job overall. It places above more traditional jobs in this sector, like lawyer (No. 51) , elementary school teacher (No. 64) and patrol officer (No. 69), partially because nail care is a low-cost luxury that people of many income levels can splurge on. The BLS predicts 15.6 percent employment growth for this occupation by 2022. Though the median salary is somewhat low – only $19,220 in 2012 – many manicurists and pedicurists work part-time and have flexible schedules. Challenger isn't surprised that personal care jobs like nail technician, hairdresser (No. 65) and recreation and fitness worker (No. 70) made our rankings. "People now have more discretionary income and consumer confidence has risen," he says.
"The idea that these lower-wage and seemingly less-skilled jobs aren't good jobs is such a misconception," Challenger adds. "Unemployment is heaviest among high school grads and those without a high school diploma, and these are often jobs that they can transition into."
Some of the fastest-growing occupations hail from this industry – like brickmasons and blockmasons (35.5 percent) and insulation contractors (37.6 percent) – but their growth rate wasn't enough to insure them a spot in the top 100. It's those construction jobs that possess the just-right blend of high demand and low unemployment that make the strongest showing for 2014. The unemployment rate for this industry's top-ranking job, construction manager, is 4.7 percent, helping it to rise from No. 50 in 2013 to No. 37 this year. With more than 78,000 new openings, the construction management work force should expand 16.1 percent by 2022. "Construction is an area that continues to dig out of the hole it was in," Challenger says. "Debt loads are freeing up, people are going back to work and the housing market is improving, so there's potential."
For this industry, no news is good news. In three years, we've neither added creative jobs to our rankings, nor have any slipped off the list. The three creative jobs we cover – architect, art director and public relations specialist – have held consistently respectable slots year after year. Public relations specialist continues to be the standout, ranking No. 85. Our infatuation with social media bodes well for PR specialists and insures their job prospects: the BLS projects 27,000 new openings by 2022. As an architect (No. 92), your hiring fate will largely be tied to the strength of the construction industry. The BLS predicts 17.3 percent employment growth in this field between 2012 and 2022.
Here are the top 10 jobs:
10. Dental Hygienist
[See: the full rankings list of the 100 Best Jobs of 2014.]