10 Reasons Not to Rely on Best Careers Lists

Lists of best careers are hyped in the news media. People love to look at them. This site even highlights them from time to time. They tell us what occupations are predicted to grow the most, pay the best and have the most job openings over the next year or decade. They serve a purpose but it should not be to answer the question "What career should I choose?" Best careers lists can expose to you to options you wouldn't have otherwise considered. In that way they can be very useful. If you depend too heavily on them when choosing a career, however, they can lead you in the wrong direction. Here are 10 reasons it's a bad idea to rely on best careers lists.

1
Just Because It's a Top Career Doesn't Mean It's a Good Match for You

Young businessman looking bored at the computer
Jose Luis Pelaez/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It's great to pick a career that has a great job outlook or pays well. If it's not suitable for you, in terms of your personality type, interests, values and aptitudes, however, you do not have a good chance of succeeding in it or being satisfied with it. Before you commit to pursuing any career, it is essential to make sure it's a good match for you. More

2
You May Not Like the Work

If you don't like what you're doing, it won't matter how much you are earning or what your chances of finding employment are. You will hate every moment you spend at work ... and that's a big part of your day. You have to learn as much as you can about an occupation whether you pick it out of a hat or off a list. Read about any occupation you are considering and make sure the actual job description appeals to you. You should also interview people who are employed in the careers in which you are interested to get their point-of-view. More

3
Numbers Change

Labor statistics are not stable. As a matter of fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics updates their figures every two years. Employment growth for a particular occupation may slow down. Job openings may not be as plentiful. As a result, best careers lists frequently change and what may be in the top ten this year, may be somewhere further down the list a couple of years from now. More

4
The Salary May Be Too Low for You

There is no correlation whatsoever between salary and employment growth or job prospects. Occupations with a bright future or with a ton of job openings, may not necessarily pay well. The good news is compensation is not actually a strong predictor of job satisfaction. Before you choose an occupation, make sure you can live on the earnings it will provide.

5
The Educational Requirements Could Be Out of Your Reach

Some very high paying occupations require a graduate degree, for example a master's, doctorate, law or medical degree. Not everyone wants to stay in school for upwards of six or eight years. Sometimes it has nothing to do with wanting to stay in school and more to do with being able to afford to continue your education. Before you settle on an occupation make sure you are willing to spend the required time preparing for it. More

6
Some Lists Can Be Deceptive

There are jobs that pay quite well but don't require more than a high school or equivalency diploma, or so it may seem. When you dig a little deeper, you might find that it is only the entry-level jobs in some of those occupations that don't require a college degree. If you want to advance into the higher paying positions you will need one. In addition, you will have to rack up several years of experience. More

7
Employment Growth May Be High But Job Openings Few

Fast growing occupations may not always produce a lot of actual jobs. The BLS expresses employment growth as a percentage that compares a base year to a target year that is a decade later. A hypothetical occupation that employs 100 people and is projected to grow by 100%, a very high rate, will only see an increase of 100 jobs. If you decide to go into this career, you will have a lot of competition when you are searching for work.

8
Salary May Be High But Outlook May Be Poor and Job Openings May Be Few

The highest paying occupations may not actually hold the best opportunities for the future, and in fact, many do not. If you want to pick a career just because median earnings are high, go for it. Keep in mind, though, that you may not get to experience what earning all the money is really like if you can't find a job.

9
Job Opportunities Vary By Location

If you choose an occupation from a best careers list you better make sure that designation is also true where you live. Just because an occupation is expected to experience high growth nationally, it doesn't mean it will grow a lot locally. Likewise, plentiful job openings on average, doesn't many you will have your pick of jobs where you live. If you don't want to relocate, make sure you have a good chance of finding employment near your neck of the woods. Projections Central is a useful tool for learning about the outlook for different occupations, state-by-state. More

10
You May Overlook Some Other Options

If you don't look beyond the relatively few occupations that appear on best careers lists you may miss out on learning about some very interesting occupations that could be a great match for you. There are hundreds of occupations out there. Don't limit yourself by only looking at the very top ones. You should definitely worry about employment outlook and the number of job openings that will be available when you are ready to start working, but when it comes time to choose a career, pick one that suits you and has a good future. Remember that an occupation doesn't have to be in the top 10 to be a viable option. More