The Jobs Rated Almanac Guides the Future Workforce

ThinkstockPhotos-78778568It’s been more than 20 years since I first started working on the Jobs Rated Almanac, and at we’ve produced many Jobs Rated reports since then, including our new 2015 report on the nation’s best and worst jobs.

Over that time, the question I’m asked most often by readers and the media is: What motivates us to tackle this immense project every year? It’s obviously a lot of work to compile the massive amount of data needed for each new report, not to mention the interviews and anecdotes we collect and include. Yet the answer for me is easy, thanks to the wonderful feedback we receive each year: To help high school and middle school kids turn their career dreams into the most realistic path possible, and to help those in a mid-career transition make a smart choice about their future.

After each report is published, many of the comments we receive are from teachers, typically those who work with students ranging from 7th graders to high school seniors. Their feedback and questions cover a gamut of topics, but inevitably focus on how our reports help them assist their students by viewing career options in a new way.

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Prior to 7th grade, when you ask a student what they want to do when they grow up, teachers say the answer typically falls into one of two buckets:

  1. What their Mom or Dad (or Uncle or Aunt or sibling) does; or
  2. A career they view as glamorous (and probably unattainable), such as becoming a professional actor, dancer, athlete or astronaut.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with having big career goals, and the truly gifted may attain them. But for everyone else, teachers say it’s very helpful to have a guide that gives their students the ability to evaluate which careers may suit their skills and interests best, both after graduation and for years to come. That’s where our Jobs Rated Reports seem to strike a chord.

For the 9th grader who loves crunching numbers to win his fantasy baseball league, learning about the career path of an actuary or data scientist may spark a career interest that simply didn’t exist before. For the 10th grader who excels at solving number puzzles and equations, she likely has the skill set needed to thrive as a computer programmer or analyst. And for those students who have great empathy and a willingness to help others before themselves, careers in teaching, counseling and medicine, among many others, suddenly seem appealing.

In each case, our reports reflect very bright futures for these professions. That’s the information many teachers leverage in their classrooms to prompt students to think realistically about which careers they might be good at. It doesn’t hurt that the careers at the top of our rankings also will reward them with years of hiring and salary growth, often in a less stressful, more rewarding work environment.

“It’s great to show my students how the skills they enjoy using can relate to real-life careers, and what those careers might be like for them in 10 or 20 years,” says Beth, a 9th-grade teacher in central New Jersey. “What’s most interesting is that my kids often change their minds about the jobs they think they’ll like after just a few minutes of investigation. And for others, the rankings confirm for them that they know exactly what they want to do now and forever.”

Beth gives the example of one student who she says was determined to become a firefighter, even though no one in his family has ever worked in that profession.

“I gave him the Jobs Rated report showing that firefighter is one of lowest-ranked jobs due to high stress, low pay and long hours. He said that none of that matters, and that the report only motivates him more because he knows how important firefighters are to their communities, and that he better follow that path since others may not due to the report’s negative findings. Now that’s dedication!”

We’ve also hear each year from a range of other readers who have used our findings to help direct them into a new path at mid-career. I’ll never forget the military soldier who studied to become a financial planner after leaving the service because, he said, it seemed like a great match for his skills after he saw the job ranked highly in our report.

Making a career change in mid-life is never an easy task, especially if the change is being forced by a layoff or another economic necessity. But by identifying your skills that are most transferable, you can target new industries that will value both your skills and your experience and will allow you to tap into them in new ways.

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Tony Lee

Tony Lee
Tony Lee is chief alliance officer of Adicio, and publisher of CareerCast and the Jobs Rated report.

Tony Lee

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