The 10 Best Jobs in the U.S. in 2016

HR manager ranked No. 6 for career and earnings potential

By Roy Maurer January 28, 2016
  • Source: Glassdoor

  • No. 1: Data Scientist. Job Openings: 1,736 | Base Salary: $116,840

  • No. 2: Tax Manager. Job Openings: 1,574 | Base Salary: $108,000

  • No. 3: Solutions Architect. Job Openings: 2,906 | Base Salary: $119,500

  • No. 4: Engagement Manager. Job Openings: 1,356 | Base Salary: $125,000

  • No. 5: Mobile Developer. Job Openings: 2,251 | Base Salary: $90,000

  • No. 6: HR Manager. Job Openings: 3,468 | Base Salary: $85,000

  • No. 7: Physician Assistant. Job Openings: 3,364 | Base Salary: $97,000

  • No. 8: Product Manager. Job Openings: 6,607 | Base Salary: $106,680

  • No. 9: Software Engineer. Job Openings: 49,270 | Base Salary: $95,000

  • No. 10: Audit Manager. Job Openings: 1,001 | Base Salary: $95,000

Data scientists—those numbers savants tasked with making sense of the reams of data that companies amass—have the career with the most earnings potential in the U.S., according to The top 10 careers chosen for the employer review website’s second annual best jobs in America list is heavy on technology and business roles, with HR manager coming in at sixth place.

“In 2016, we are seeing a rise of engineering, technology and professional business-related positions,” said Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA. “Specifically, there is strong demand for data scientists, solutions architects and software engineers.”

Software engineers are the most in-demand among the top 10 at No. 9, with 49,270 current openings determined by Glassdoor. Data scientists, software engineers and the other tech roles on the list are not only in-demand at technology firms, but across industries, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for Glassdoor.

“Since all companies have an online presence these days, they all need people who know how to build online and mobile platforms,” he said. “In addition, they need technical people who can manage and store data that helps them make better business decisions, compared to years ago when businesses didn’t have data management at their fingertips to review and analyze. I expect these jobs to continue to be hot and in-demand for several years to come.”

Several professional business services jobs round out the top 10, including tax manager, engagement manager, human resources manager, product manager and audit manager.

Median annual base salaries, total openings per job category and career growth opportunities based on employee ratings on Glassdoor were analyzed to create an overall job score for each occupation. The median base salaries for the top 10—which range between $85,000 and $125,000—are far higher than the $47,230 annual median wage for U.S. workers.

Solidifying its reputation as a standout career, data scientist recently garnered the top spot on Glassdoor’s list of the best jobs for work/life balance as well. With tough competition among companies to hire for these top positions, employers should tout their culture and perks to job applicants, Griffin said, and “give them a sense of how they can add value to the organization’s overall mission.”

HR Getting Respect

It makes sense that HR is making these top jobs lists, said Laura Mazzullo, owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruitment firm focused on the placement of HR professionals.

HR manager also appeared on CareerBuilder’s recent hottest jobs for 2016 list—calculated by comparing the number of jobs posted vs. the number of people hired, and factoring in job growth and salary.

“It’s so rewarding that HR, a field that many of us knew was incredibly valuable and integral to the overall success of an organization, is finally gaining the recognition it deserves,” Mazzullo said. “You cannot have a successful business without successful people and a successful culture.”

Mazzullo said she’s witnessed an increase in demand for HR managers, especially for small and midsize organizations. Larger firms are structuring their HR departments to be split into areas of specialization, she said.

“Creative, innovative firms are recognizing the importance of a strong organizational development or talent development function, so I’ve seen a trend toward more opportunities arising for those experts,” she said. “These folks are focused on organizational change, succession planning, organizational effectiveness and leadership development. These are all areas that may not have been as pressing even a few years back.”

She further pointed out that “the title ‘HR manager’ can be quite elusive and mean different things. In one company, it can be very operational in nature, focused on benefits, payroll and compensation, whereas in others it’s talent-focused.”

Mazzullo said she’s seeing a trend toward organizations desiring more-strategic HR managers who “are really an integral part of the business and a trusted advisor to senior leaders.” HR managers “have made a huge shift from what may have been considered years ago as a support function, and [are] now a crucial part of the leadership team in many organizations.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy



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