The Best and Worst Jobs

By Noah Graff

A recent video from the online Wall Street Journal discusses a survey ranking the “best and worst jobs” of the 2010 economy. On the list, actuary ranked as the best occupation and roustabout ranked the worst.

The study, published by a site called, is based on five criteria: work environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, and level of stress. Feeling good at the end of the day from helping society, and plain old fun were not criteria.

So the best job is actuary—the person who interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters. (Remember Ben Stiller from Along Came Polly. Really relaxed, happy guy.)

The most physically demanding jobs ranked the lowest with lumber jack second to roustabout. In case you’re wondering, roustabouts maintain oil rigging and natural gas equipment. The study rationalized that roustabouts and lumberjacks undergo harsh physical labor in rough, dangerous outdoor environments which then leads to stress. However, there is ok pay for roustabouts at a top-end salary of $49,000 plus overtime, and the employment outlook could be quite good in the present natural gas rush.

Machinist was not mentioned in either list, but welder was number five on the “worst” list, right between dairy farmer at four and garbage collector at six—and NAM wonders why they have trouble getting young people to want to be welders.

Honestly, few of the jobs on both the “10 best” list and the “10 worst” list appealed to me. I’d be more partial to Hollywood film director, pro tennis player, or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition photographer.

Questions: Does the data in the study surprise you?
What is your dream job, and what job is your nightmare?

WSJ’s Sarah Needleman discusses a survey of the best and worst jobs. Of the best, actuary ranked number one. Of the worst, roustabout was on the bottom.

Share this post

7 thoughts on “The Best and Worst Jobs

  1. Noah Graff Post author

    Hi Lou,

    A publication editor was 65. News caster 95. And photojournalist was 189.

    A machinist was 182. Machine tool operator was 177. Tool-And-Die Maker was 166.

    But an Attorney was 80. Janitor 83. Psychiatrist was 98. Clergy was 96. Surgeon was 136.

    Guess it all comes down to personal preference.

  2. B.King

    I have been a machinist for 39 years.
    I know first hand what a lack of respect it comands.
    First off, most people don’t have a clue how products are made
    or where they come from. I have been told many times
    that what I do any body can do. Is it any wonder that the pay scale is
    so low. I don’t get no respect.

  3. Larry

    An actuary? really? —Yawn!!! Other than pay, where’s the reward? Would much rather build homes, grow crops, machine parts, raise animals, drill for oil, design efficient products. I have done these things and they are the jobs that add real value to our economy and are truely rewarding. What added value does an attorney, politician, doctor, broker, government workers, editor, journalist, photographer, psychiatrist, hollywood actor, salesman, marketer, athlete to society? We pay to much for lip service to lumps sitting behind desk and not nearly enough to those that build the better “mouse trap” and improves the lives of mankind. Most of the high pay jobs tend to be the giant sucking sound on America’s ecomonic wallet. . . . .Come on . . .give me your best shot.

  4. Jeff

    Larry, Ouch! As a salesman who fills the hopper that allows many skilled workers utilize their craft I am hurt that you would lump us in with lawyers & politicians :0)

  5. Noah Graff Post author

    Remember Jeff, the study isn’t mine. It’s rather crazy. Basically the least stressful jobs are ranked “the best.”

    And come on Larry. Actors, journalists, athletes–Entertainers! They make life enjoyable after you come home from building and providing the necessities to sustain life. Work to live, not live to work!

    Here’s a clip from “Along Came Polly.” Philip Seymour Hoffman, a wannabe actor (job rank #163) has to fill in as an actuary (job rank #1) for his best friend Ben Stiller. A great performance in a so so romantic comedy.

  6. Tamara Ann

    All of the top 10 jobs sound horrid to me. Ugh, I would go crazy! I could never work in an office environment. My dream job would be a full time glass artist. My nightmare job would be anything in the medical profession. I don’t do blood and guts, even a little. Burning myself while doing glass doesn’t count. lol


Comments are closed.