careers

From plumber to biologist: The most underrated jobs

Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:49 AM ET

Like books? Librarian, one of the most underrated jobs of 2013, according to CareerCast.com, could be a job for you.
CNBC
Like books? Librarian, one of the most underrated jobs of 2013, according to CareerCast.com, could be a job for you.

Jobs site CareerCast is out with its annual list of the most underrated jobs for 2013 – this year with some surprises.

“These are jobs that most people look at and think ‘eh,’ when, in fact, they typically have a strong hiring outlook, rising salary, a fair amount of autonomy and the people who have them tend to really like them,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.

Supply and demand factors in, of course. If there aren’t many applicants, salary increases. Or, if you’re starting to see a lot of turnover on your staff, which does happen as the economy and job market improve, what’s the first thing bosses try to do to keep talented employees? Raise their salary. Combine that with a job that a lot of people say “eh” about and you’ve got one of the most underrated jobs.

CareerCast examined 200 jobs using Labor Department and other statistics. Particularly encouraging, Lee said, is that CareerCast has found more job openings for each job on the list than in at least the last five years.

The 12 most underrated jobs for 2013:

12. Librarian

Median Salary: $55,370

Librarians have a lower-than-average hiring outlook but they rank so high in other criteria, such as low stress level and better office environment than average, that they squeaked onto the list.

“Librarians have an opportunity to work in an environment they love. They have good hours. And they’re serving the public, which is what most librarians get into this business to do,” Lee said.

11. Electrician

Median Salary: $49,840

Electricians are benefiting from the housing-market recovery, which has created more job opportunities than in recent years. Plus, salaries are rising and the hiring outlook is improving – more than double the average for careers on the list at 23 percent, according to statistics from the Labor Department.

Plus, Lee said, it’s a lower stress level and electricians can work on their own schedule.

“People tend to not be rushing you because they want you to do the best job,” Lee said.

10. Plumber

Median Salary: $49,140

Like electricians, plumbers are getting a nice boost from the housing recovery.

The number of plumbers is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2020, more than double the national average. Plus, salaries are rising, stress is below average and there’s more opportunity than in other careers to make your own schedule.

9. School Principal                                         

Median Salary: $87,760

School principals don’t have as strong of a hiring outlook as some other professions on the list, but they are the highest paid of the underrated jobs. Their job satisfaction also tends to be high.

“They have a job that they truly enjoy and get a lot of fulfillment from that,” Lee said.

8. Civil Engineer

Median Salary: $79,340

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects such as roads, buildings, bridges and water-treatment plants.

As the economy improves, there’s more money for infrastructure projects – and that’s good news for civil engineers. Plus, their pay is near the top of the list for underrated jobs.

“The job isn’t seen as glamorous but many civil engineers wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Lee said.

7. Legal Assistant

Median Salary: $46,990

Legal assistants tend to have better hours and lower stress than lawyers, Lee said, and their hiring outlook is above average.

“Probably better than actually being an attorney,” Lee said. “This job has fared well every time we looked at it.”

6. Emergency Medical Technician

Median Salary: $31,020

EMT is another surprise on the list. First, it has never made the underrated list before and it definitely isn’t low stress OR high pay.

But, the hiring outlook is among the highest on the list, which is largely due to the economic recovery.

“You had a lot of cutbacks early in recession in municipal budgets and EMTs were especially hard hit,” Lee said. “Now all of that is coming back. Despite the fact that they’re not paid very well, they’re in big demand.”

Plus, it takes a special person to be an EMT. So, if that’s what you’ve chosen, there’s a good chance you love your job, Lee said.

5. Accountant

Median Salary: $63,550

“The perception is, ‘What a boring job!’” Lee said.

But accountant makes the underrated jobs list every year, because they’re well paid and the hiring outlook is above average.

“They spend their day doing what they want to do, which is manipulating numbers,” Lee said.

4. Market Research Analyst

Median Salary: $60,300

Market research analysts work for companies to determine what’s going on in the market, particular consumer and business demand. They took a hit during the recession, with many laid off. But now, demand is bouncing back.

“This is an area that as the economy improves, it’s really going to benefit,” Lee said. “The hiring outlook is huge. And the salary is also very healthy.”

3. Biologist

Median Salary: $72,700

Biologists have been in demand for several years now, with one of the strongest hiring outlooks on the list at 31 percent.

“They do everything from defense work, such as trying to figure out what the Syrians are doing, to drug and medical development,” Lee said. “Biologists are at the fore of that work researching how to present disease.”

Not only is demand high but supply is low.

“One of the big issues we have in this country is a lack of college graduates in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields,” he said.

In fact, the top three most underrated jobs share that, Lee said.

2. Veterinarian

Median Salary: $84,460

“The Baby Boom generation is spending more money on their animals than ever before,” Lee said. “Whoever heard of pet health insurance? Now it’s a big thing. People treat their animals like children – and vets are right at the core of that,” he said.

Plus, vets are getting a boost from the economic recovery and rebound in housing.

“An improving economy means people have more money to get a pet in the first place and then pay for their care,” he said.

Vets have been consistently on the underrated list for the past few years, coming in at No. 3 last year. And, they have one of the best hiring outlooks on the list at 36 percent.

1. Computer Systems Analyst

Median Salary: $79,680

The most underrated job – for the second year in a row – is computer-systems analyst.

They manage a company’s computer systems and make sure the servers are working.

“As more and more companies use the Internet to do business through ecommerce, and frankly just the explosion of the Internet, the need for systems analysts has risen dramatically – and salaries have followed,” Lee said.

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