CHICAGO — Few youngsters are likely to answer "actuary" to the question of what they want to be when they grow up, but a new book rates it as the best job of all.
Typical children's choices such as doctor and astronaut ran far behind less glamorous professions such as computer programmers, statisticians and parole officers in "The Jobs Rated Almanac," published by American References Inc. of Chicago.
Actuaries--who interpret statistics to determine expected personal losses due to sickness or disability and material losses from disasters--emerged No. 1 overall, as determined by the almanac's six criteria.
Those criteria: salary, stress, work environment, outlook, security and physical demands.
Jobs at the top of the book's list of 250 positions in the United States aren't necessarily the most prestigious or best paying, because those jobs often have other drawbacks, Almanac Editor and Publisher Les Krantz said.
Actuaries Treated Well
A 23-year-old actuary in training, Mike Vaughan, endorsed the almanac's selection of his profession. He pointed out that his annual salary of $31,000 "was probably 20 to 25% higher than any other job I could have gotten, and it goes up faster."
"Once the (training) exams are over, I'd say the stress would be pretty much non-existent, and the job market is so open I could just walk out and find a new job in a day," said Vaughan, who works for Allstate Insurance.
"Most of the best paying jobs are performed in highly competitive and physically confining environments for long hours," Krantz said. "Don't expect a cushy job if you want to earn more than $50,000 a year."
Actuaries ranked best overall, even though they were not at the top of any of the criteria, but the book says they are treated very well by their employers.
The worst job classification was migrant worker, rated near or at the bottom on all six criteria.
The second worst was commercial fishing, ranked so low because of long hours, seasonal work, high government regulation and tough physical demands.
But William Hermes, a fisherman for 47 years, was unfazed by that.
"It's the only job I've ever wanted," said Hermes, 62, owner of Big Bay DeNoc Fisheries in Garden, Mich. "You're out in the open, you're your own boss and you don't have to answer to nobody."
Ultimately, Krantz agreed, "the job best for an individual is the one the person likes the best. Actuary is a job that would bore me to tears."
The jobs children often cite as future goals fell low in the almanac's rankings because of poor ratings in working environment, job security and physical demands.
Astronauts have the worst working environment, with surgeons second. Firefighters have the longest work weeks and their jobs are the most stressful and physically demanding, according to the book.
Most of the information for the almanac comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau, Krantz said.
HOW JOBS RATE
Here are the best and worst of 250 jobs, as rated by "Jobs Rated Almanac." The ratings were based on salary, stress, work environment, outlook, security and physical demands.
2. Computer programmer
3. Computer analyst
6. Hospital administrator
7. Industrial engineer
241. Football player (NFL)
245. Dairy farmer
248. Construction worker
250. Migrant farm worker