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1. Software Architect
Software Architect
Chaiken, a software engineer for more than two decades, relishes the more collaborative work.
Top 100 rank: 1
Sector: Information Technology

What they do: Like architects who design buildings, they create the blueprints for software engineers to follow -- and pitch in with programming too. Plus, architects are often called on to work with customers and product managers, and they serve as a link between a company's tech and business staffs.

What's to like: The job is creatively challenging, and engineers with good people skills are liberated from their screens. Salaries are generally higher than for programmers, and a typical day has more variety.

"Some days I'll focus on product strategy, and other days I'll be coding down in the guts of the system," says David Chaiken, 46, of Yahoo in Sunnyvale, Calif., whose current projects include helping the web giant customize content for its 600 million users. Even though programming jobs are moving overseas, the face-to-face aspect of this position helps cement local demand.

What's not to like: You are often outside the management chain of command, making it hard to get things done.

Requirements: Bachelor's degree, and either a master's or considerable work experience to demonstrate your ability to design software and work collaboratively.

Do Software Architects have great jobs, or what?
Software Architect stats
Pay
Median pay
(experienced)
$119,000
Top pay $162,000
Opportunity
10-year job growth
(2008-2018)
34%
Total jobs
(current)
110,000
Quality of life ratings
Personal satisfaction B
Job security B
Future growth A
Benefit to society C
Low stress C
Flexibility A
From the November 2010 issue
Notes: All pay data from PayScale.com. Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least two to seven years in the field). Top pay represents the 90th percentile. Job growth is estimated for 2008-18. Total current employment level is estimated number of people working in each specific job

Sources: PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and MONEY research
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MONEY and compensation experts PayScale.com used Bureau of Labor Statistics growth forecasts for 7,000 jobs, and identified industries with the biggest increases in jobs requiring bachelorís degrees. Ranked them by 2008-18 growth and pay. More

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