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What we learned from the 2022 Best Jobs list

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated February 24, 2022
|5 min read

There are conflicting schools of thought about how to find a fulfilling career. Lifehack suggests you “find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living.” Harvard Business Review says “your job doesn’t have to be your passion.” Both can be true. But, rather than relying on generalizations to inform your next career move, why not look at data? It’s all available on Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs list.

Employees across the country shared what they love about their jobs on Glassdoor’s ratings platform, and we did a deep dive into those reviews to learn what makes the best jobs truly the best. 

How we find the best jobs

In the age of influencers of every stripe, no one would blame you for assuming the best job involves a seven-figure payday for posting globe-trotting photos or rating cute dogs. While both sound amazing, there’s more to the methodology in selecting Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America than what pays top dollar for the littlest amount of effort.

The 50 Best Jobs in America report identifies specific jobs by weighing three factors equally: median annual base salary, overall job satisfaction rating, and the number of job openings. 

For a job title to be considered, it must receive at least 100 salary reports and at least 100 job satisfaction ratings shared by U.S.-based employees over the past year. 

A job title must also have at least 2,000 job openings as of December 12, 2021, to be considered.

Tech rules the top 10

With some of the best-paying jobs and the best work-from-home jobs available, it’s no surprise that tech jobs swept most of the top 10 positions on the list — and almost half of the list entirely (24/50 jobs are tech roles). Seven of the 10 best jobs are in either a “software” or “engineering” category. 

The top job for 2022 is enterprise architect in the software architect category, up three spots from last year’s ranking. The median salary for the position is almost $145,000, and there are more than 14,000 openings nationwide for enterprise architects. 

Coming in second is full-stack engineer, in the software engineer category, (over $101,000 annually, and 11,252 openings.) Fun fact: full-stack engineer surged to the top despite being absent from the 2021 and 2020 rankings.

In third place is data scientist. If you’re a numbers whiz with an analytical mind, there are more than 10,000 openings for a position that could net you about $120,000 annually. Data science has the added draw of being a constant presence on the Top 50 list: it ranked second in 2021 and third in 2020. 

This year’s list showed that software engineers are really happy thanks to being high-earning jobs with plenty of open positions. Software engineer positions claimed half of the spots in the Top 10, ranking fourth, (DevOps Engineer, >$120,000/10,000 openings), sixth (machine learning engineer, >$130,000/6,800 openings), eighth (software engineer, >$116,000/64,000 openings), and ninth (Java developer, >$107,000/10,000 openings).

Managers love their work

Manager is the most common title in the ranking that doesn’t involve software or engineering. From strategy manager (#5) and product manager (#10) to human resources manager (#13), business development manager (#14), and marketing manager (#19), managers enjoy combining technical skills with soft skills like communication.

Customer success manager (#50) pays less than the other manager positions on our list, yet still has a 4.0 satisfaction rating and earns a median salary of $73,702.

Signs of the times 

Two non-tech areas on the list reflect the times we’re living in: human resources and mental health.

As Americans experience a major shift in how, where, and why we work, human resources managers (#13) and recruiters (#17) are increasingly important to helping businesses keep employees happy. 

On an individual level, many Americans are embracing therapy in the face of pandemic-related uncertainty. According to the American Psychological Association, psychologist referrals almost doubled from 37% in 2020 to 62% in 2021. While psychiatrists (#22) and psychologists (#34) are busier than ever, they remain satisfied with their jobs. 

Can money buy happiness?  

Money isn’t the only factor in employee satisfaction, but well-compensated employees tend to be more satisfied with their jobs. While the average American salary is $56,310 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — taking into account a broad range of professions and wildly varying costs of living — the average salary of our Glassdoor Top 50, by contrast, is $107,304.  

On this year’s list, 27 of the top 50 professions earn over $100,000 annually, with psychiatrist (#22) being the only one with a median salary of over $200,000 ($252,385 with  ~6,000 job openings nationwide).

Most of the positions on the 2022 Best Jobs List have a median salary well over the American average, and only one — realtor, #48, $54,090, falls below that. There are a few reasons, however, that could justify the lower salary and high satisfaction score of 4.4 among realtors. The job is notoriously flexible, so it’s a lucrative option for people who may only want to work part-time. And given the soaring housing prices in the U.S. right now, many realtors are earning more than ever.

The very good news about very good jobs 

If there’s one jump-for-joy takeaway from Glassdoor’s Best Jobs List,  it’s that you don’t have to spend years and tons of money on an additional degree for many jobs in tech. Given the number of tech billionaire founders who dropped out of college — Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey to name a few — the trend in tech is to accept proof of skills as evidence of qualification for a job, rather than only looking for candidates with a college degree.

If you’re interested in transitioning into a tech field, it’s possible to do so as a self-taught programmer or with the help of relatively quick and affordable coding boot camps.

Ready for a new opportunity?

A generation ago, children were taught that career options included things like physician (#16), attorney (#27), or engineer. But today’s job market is full of jobs that weren’t even on our radar 20 years ago. Job seekers have the opportunity to pioneer new fields and pivot throughout their careers. It’s a thrilling time to be part of the workforce. 

As we shy away from the belief that you have to spend a lifetime doing just one thing or that a degree is the only path to a job offer, there's never been a better time to seek out one of the best jobs in the country. Are you ready to find a job you love? Start by browsing open positions on our Best Jobs '22 list.