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How we picked the Best Jobs

job market’s getting stronger -- finally! So when we set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, we not only looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities, but ones that are satisfying as well. Other big factors: pay (how strong it is now, and how fast it's growing) and how many jobs are in the field overall.

We also weighed how meaningful or low stress a job is, how difficult it is to enter the field, and the likelihood of moving up the ladder (considering, where possible, how many people end up in higher job titles 5 years down the road). And for the first time this year, we factored in, where possible, ability to telecommute. Here are the details:

CNNMoney and compensation experts PayScale.com began with more than 14,500 job titles, and identified those that require at least a bachelor's degree:

  • Using PayScale.com survey data, we cut jobs where median pay is below $40,000 for workers with at least five or seven years' experience (depending on what's typical for a given job).
  • We rated the remaining jobs based on an equally-weighted combination of the factors outlined below (excluding promotion opportunities and ability to telecommute). The highest-ranking 500+ jobs became contenders for this year's list. Any job in the top 20 last year was automatically included among the contenders.

From that group, we then identified and ranked the top 100 based on a variety of data. Most heavily weighted:

  • Job growth estimates for 2012-2022, according to BLS forecasts.
  • Overall job satisfaction, according to a PayScale.com survey of 400,000 workers on quality-of-life factors.
  • Median pay for experienced workers, based on PayScale.com's database of 40 million profiles.
  • How big the field is: i.e. The estimated number of people working in the broader BLS 'job family.'

Other factors included:

  • how much education is required to enter the field
  • promotion opportunities
  • how employees rated their jobs for stress and meaningfulness, according to the quality-of-life survey
  • percent who can telecommute at least part of the time.

When there were multiple job titles from the same category among the top jobs, we selected the one with the highest overall rating. Comments? E-mail the editor