CareerCast’s 2016 Most Overrated and Underrated Jobs for College Grads

Posted By Terri Williams on September 16, 2016 at 2:45 pm
CareerCast’s 2016 Most Overrated and Underrated Jobs for College Grads

Perhaps as a result of popular culture, some college students tend to choose majors and career paths based on the “cool” factor – what they perceive as an exciting or fun-filled profession. For example, anyone who has binge-watched the TV series Mad Men, might think that working as an advertising account manager is a glamorous job. Likewise, students might be impressed that broadcasters have local, national, or even international exposure.

If students could peek behind the scenes, these jobs may not be so thrilling. On the other hand, some of the best jobs of the future might not be on anyone’s list of dream jobs despite allowing employees to make a real difference in the world

To help students in the valley of decision, CareerCast released a report this week on the most overrated and underrated jobs of 2016:

Overrated jobs

Position Annual Median Salary Growth Outlook 2016 Jobs Rated Rank
Advertising Account Manager $124,850 9% 137
Author $60,520 2% 144
Broadcaster $37,720 -9% 198
Corporate Executive $102,690 6% 132
Event Coordinator $46,840 10% 158
Photographer $31,170 3% 162
Public Relations Executive $104,140 7% 121
Stockbroker $71,550 10% 122

Underrated jobs

Position Annual Median Salary Growth Outlook 2016 Jobs Rated Rank
1 Computer Systems Analyst $85,800 21% 8
2 Diagnostic Medical Sonographer $63,630 24% 5
3 Dietitian $57,910 16% 15
4 Environmental Engineer $84,560 12% 37
5 Financial Analyst $80,310 12% 27
6 Human Resources Manager $104,440 9% 12
7 Medical Technologist $50,550 16% 28
8 Physical Therapist $84,020 34% 19

Methodology: What makes an overrated or underrated job?

GoodCall asked Kyle Kensing, online content editor for CareerCast, to explain the methodology for determining the most overrated and underrated jobs. “The careers identified as overrated have high numbers of students enrolled or recently graduating from programs specializing in those fields, and many were repeatedly seen in an informal reader survey that asked a question about dream jobs.”

While Kensing says this isn’t a totally scientific ranking method, it does reveal a trend. “The overrated careers rank low in our jobs rated score, and the underrated careers rank highly with strong growth outlook and pay.”

Dangers of pursuing careers based on glamor or fun

The report is designed to help students and job seekers make the best decisions. “It’s critical for new job seekers, including graduates, to understand the reality of any career before getting started,” says Kensing, who explains that sometimes an overrated job might be perfect for some individuals.

But he warns that professions and industries must be chosen for the right reasons. “Pursuing a degree and a career in a field because it seems glamorous overlooks the day-to-day grind,” Kensing says. Conversely, he says it’s a mistake to flippantly dismiss a profession or industry because initially it appears to be boring. “Without actually understanding the nuances of ‘boring jobs,’ students and job seekers may miss the opportunity to discover something they love.”

Bonnie Hagemann, CEO of Executive Development Associates, agrees, adding that even some of the “old school corporate environments” may provide great jobs, such as financial analyst, human resources manager, and computer systems analyst. She adds, “Another benefit to looking at these less “sexy” jobs is that the competition is not likely to be as heavy – less competition equals a better chance of getting a great job.”

GoodCall analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to discover more information about the overrated and underrated jobs:

Behind the overrated jobs

  • Advertising Account Manager: Although this position pays well, usually, the work directly affects the company’s revenue, so account managers are under a lot of pressure to produce results.
  • Author: Besides the fact that the growth outlook is a meager 2%, the majority of authors are freelancers, which means that they’re usually working for multiple clients, juggling multiple assignments, and looking for the next job.
  • Broadcaster: With a -9% job growth rate, low wages, and the pressure of meeting routine deadlines, this profession is anything but glamorous.
  • Corporate Executive: These individuals get paid well to ensure that their companies or divisions perform well. It’s a highly stressful job because they can quickly lose their jobs when goals are not met or mistakes are made.
  • Event Coordinator: For the amount of fast-paced, time-crunched work they perform and the level of responsibility they have to assume, event coordinators aren’t paid well.
  • Photographer: One of the lowest-paying jobs, and although some photographers only have a high school diploma, those in scientific and industrial sectors may need a bachelor’s degree. Also, photographers may need to stand, sit, or kneel for extended periods to capture images.
  • Public Relations Executive: These professionals handle a company’s image and speak with media and the public on its behalf. During crises, their response can either smooth or aggravate the situation – and that’s a lot of pressure.
  • Stockbroker: While paid well, stockbrokers work in fast-paced environments where they either make or lose money for their clients. Their commissions are often tied to their success.

Behind the underrated jobs

  • Computer Systems Analyst: The job growth rate is extremely high, the salary is well above average, and these analysts can work for companies or serve as consultants. Most can telecommute.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: Another job with an exceptionally good job growth rate and wages that exceed the median average. In addition, it only requires an associate degree. Sonographers play a vital role in helping physicians to diagnose medical problems and conditions.
  • Dietitian: With a faster than average job growth rate and good wages, dietitians help people make healthy food choices to achieve better health. Some dietitians are self-employed.
  • Environmental Engineer: These engineers are paid very well, and their jobs are in demand. This is also a “making a difference” job since these professionals work on improving such issues as air pollution, water pollution, waste disposal, and climate change.
  • Financial Analyst: While it may not sound as exciting as a stockbroker, financial analysts make more money and are in higher demand.
  • Human Resources Manager: One of the highest-paying management positions, human resources managers help companies recruit, hire, train and manage employees. They also help companies navigate such issues as harassment and discipline.
  • Medical Technologist: These in-demand medical laboratory scientists study and analyze everything from blood samples to tissue samples to identify abnormalities.
  • Physical Therapist: One of the fastest-growing jobs in the country and one that also pays well. Physical therapists help people who have been sick or injured regain mobility and independence.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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