9 of 100
9. Certified Public Accountant
Certified Public Accountant
Davis says, “We’re not just bean counters.”
Top 100 rank: 9
Sector: Business Services

What they do: Maintain financial records and analyze the numbers. Especially in this time of economic turmoil, CPAs are needed to make sense of increasingly complex financial transactions -- from buyouts to businesses grappling with changing tax laws.

What's to like: "I really like learning what makes a business run and helping the client understand and have confidence in the financial information I'm presenting," says Spiceda Davis, 34, who worked for big accounting firms before launching her own company, eXFinancial, in Atlanta in 2009.

CPAs are in demand in all sectors -- public accounting firms, corporations, government agencies, nonprofits. University accounting programs are also experiencing a faculty shortage.

What's not to like: The deadlines can be stressful. Corporate life offers more regular hours, but those jobs tend to give you less variety.

Requirements: You'll need a bachelor's degree in accounting -- some CPAs also complete a one-year master's program -- and at least two years of on-the-job experience to get a license in most states.

Do CPAs have great jobs, or what?
Certified Public Accountant stats
Median pay
Top pay $127,000
10-year job growth
Total jobs
Quality of life ratings
Personal satisfaction A
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
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 bachelor’s degrees. Ranked them by 2008-18 growth and pay. More

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