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Median pay: $119,000 Top pay: $162,000 10-year job growth: 24.6% Total jobs*: 3,426,000
What they do all day?
Great software architects are designers and diplomats. They create innovative and valuable programs, but they also translate highly technical plans into a vision the C-suite can understand. They are a crucial link between a company's tech unit and management.
How to get the job?
Unless one's last name is Gates or Zuckerberg, a computer-related degree is strongly advised. A high-level position, it requires lots of experience, technical smarts and fluid communication skills.
What makes it great?
It's an opportunity to create and shape a company's computer strategy. More responsibility also brings higher pay for a designer who wants to trade a PC screen for the conference room.
What's the catch?
Tech teams and management often speak very different languages that can lead to misunderstandings and even flare-ups. Putting out fires on both sides is crucial.
Quality of life ratings:
Benefit to society
Published: October 29, 2012
Notes: All pay data from PayScale.com. Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least five or seven years in the field). Top pay represents the 90th percentile. Job growth is estimated for 2010-20, and based on people working in broader 'job family' from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*Total jobs is estimated number of people working in broader BLS 'job family.'
Sources:PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNNMoney research
It's still a tough job market out there, so when CNNMoney and PayScale.com set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, first and foremost we looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities.