Best job in the U.S. this year is software developer, report finds

For several years over the last decade, a day spent examining and fixing teeth was considered to be the “best job” in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey. This year, a job that requires tech savvy and scientific know-how tops the list.

The best job in 2018 is software developer, according to the annual ranking, which uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify jobs with the greatest hiring demand and the best work-life balance, salary and future prospects, among other factors.

The job of dentist, which has frequently topped the annual ranking over the last decade, was No. 2 this year, followed by physician assistant at No. 3 and nurse practitioner at No. 4. Healthcare jobs, including nurse practitioners and physicians, usually dominate the list; this year is the first time since 2015 that a healthcare practitioner has not topped the list. Orthodontist, which held the top spot last year, came in at No. 5.

Software developers, who on average make $100,080, according to the report, are in “huge” demand now and are expected to be in the future, said Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News’ careers reporter, who researched and contributed to the report.


“Our society is more and more dependent on digital technology for all aspects,” she said, “Not just [large tech firms such as] Facebook and Google, but every other business needs software developers to make their applications. Even hospitals are tapping into digital communication to make sure doctors and patients can communicate.”

It’s not the first time software developer has topped the list. In 2014, the techie job usurped healthcare jobs to land in the top spot. Since then, however, healthcare jobs have led the list.

Healthcare jobs are expected to grow 18% by 2026, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the predicted gain of 2.3 million jobs is more than any other industry. That trend, according to Koenig, is largely linked to the large population of aging baby boomers who will need care in years to come.

Koenig also noted that some of the fastest-growing jobs are in healthcare but at opposite ends of the wage spectrum. Heavy job growth is expected in the healthcare support field, which includes lower-paid, less-skilled jobs such as home healthcare aides and medical transcriptionists. Also booming are skilled nurse practitioner jobs, which pay just over $100,000, she said.


Despite their high demand, the healthcare support jobs tend to be heavily filled by women and often don’t require bachelor’s degrees. That, in part, explains why they are lower-paid jobs, Koenig said. “Part of it is the lower educational requirements and the gender trends of pay that unfortunately depress wages in that area,” she said.

Shropshire writes for the Chicago Tribune.