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Best Jobs in America

CNNMoney/PayScale's top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.

7. Software Developer
Software Developer
7
"It's a rewarding experience to develop a product or service that has the potential to [improve] someone's life," says Tim Henrich, who owns Loop Science, a software development company near Baltimore.
Median pay: $88,700
Top pay: $129,000
10-year job growth: 27.6%
Total jobs*: 520,800

What they do all day? Computers, applications, videogames, smartphones, and tablets all run on code written by software developers, who also spend time fixing bugs, writing training manuals, and testing, reviewing and maintaining systems.

How to get the job? Programming skills are even more important than a degree in computer science. Developers who are self-motivated often do best, since they may spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer screen. Being well-organized and a great problem-solver also is critical.

What's great? What's not? In a world of ever-expanding technology and gadgets, there's plenty of demand. And having helped build a product that's out in the world can create a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. But spending that much one-on-one time with a computer isn't for everyone. Plus, many projects involve tough deadlines, which can mean long hours trying to fix last-minute issues. --K.A.

What they do all day? Computers, applications, videogames, smartphones, and tablets all run on code written by software developers, who also spend time fixing bugs, writing training manuals, and testing, reviewing and maintaining systems. --K.A.

Quality of life ratings:
  • Personal satisfaction: C
  • Benefit to society: B
  • Flexibility: A
  • Low stress: A
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*Total jobs is estimated number of people working in broader BLS 'job family.'

Sources: PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNNMoney research

Do Software Developers have great jobs, or what? Are these great jobs, or what?
It's still a tough job market, so when CNNMoney, in partnership with data from PayScale.com, set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, first and foremost we looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities.

Other big factors: pay (how strong it is now, and how fast it's growing), overall job satisfaction, and how many jobs are in the field overall.
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