Hey kids, want to grow up to land the best job in the country? Then keep poring over those math and science textbooks. Jobs that require a range of STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) claimed 14 spots in Glassdoor’s new “50 Best Jobs in America” survey, out Monday.
This includes the top-seeded position: data scientist, a job in which you employ considerable math and computer programming skills to wrestle huge amounts of raw data into intelligible and useful data sets.
That job took the crown with a leading Glassdoor score that reflected the number of openings for the position (currently 4,184), a top company satisfaction rating (reflective of culture and values) and a healthy median base salary ($110,000).
Where the best tech jobs are
In fact, four of the top five jobs in the survey were for tech workers, including DevOps engineer (#2; 2,725 openings; $110,000), data engineer (#3; 2,599 openings; $106,000) and analytics manager (#5; 1,958 openings; $112,000). In fourth position was tax manager.
Among the other tech jobs on the list were database administrator (#7), user-interface designer (#9), solutions architect (#10) and software engineer (#16).
The most lucrative tech job of them all was solutions architect, with a base salary of $125,000.
The proliferation of technology-related jobs is due to those skills now being needed at businesses that don’t consider themselves traditional tech companies, says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, the nation’s second largest online job site that features employee ratings on 640,000 companies.
“The theme this year is the diffusion of tech jobs out of the traditional tech sector and into healthcare, finance and even in some cases government and retail,” says Chamberlain. “That’s a big change.”
Or put another way: These days, almost every company is in some way a tech company, requiring workers who are able to create and maintain a firm’s technological infrastructure.
The economist says the latest Glassdoor data — which follows a 2016 survey of the top 25 jobs that also found data scientist in the top spot — shows how tech positions are becoming more specialized.
Where you once just had a job described as software engineer, now you have DevOps (engineers who focus on developing networks) and solutions architect (analysts who construct the answers to systems problems).
The competition for such employees is intensifying, as evidenced by the six-figure salaries and high corporate culture scores, he says.
“Any company with data today is trying to get these people,” says Chamberlain. “The problem in filling these positions is that generally employees’ skills have not kept up with the demand.”
Despite this shortage of skilled workers, tech companies at large remained staffed by only a portion of the population — mostly white and Asian males. Although Microsoft, Google and others have stepped up efforts to find tech talent among people of color and women, the overall numbers have yet to move significantly.
Oracle recently was hit by a lawsuit from the Department of Labor over allegations that the software giant routinely paid its white men more than their counterparts and for favoring Asians for technical roles. It denied the charges and said the complaint was politically motivated.
Chamberlain says that as with past economic shifts, progress often is slow in coming.
“Whenever there are big changes in industry, the labor market lags behind because it takes years for workers to retool,” he says. “In response to this skills shortage, we’ve seen ballooning in for-profit boot camps for tech, where in 12 weeks you learn to code, or learn statistical skills. But that’s not for everyone because you have to have some good math skills to start with.”
President-elect Donald Trump anchored his campaign to job creation, particularly in the hard-hit manufacturing section.
But Chamberlain doesn’t see those kinds of jobs rebounding. Instead, he urges workers to spend even a few hours a month trying to learn new skills that will better position them for this tech-centric world.
“Politicians love to talk about manufacturing jobs because appeal to nostalgia, but most economists say those jobs will never return,” he says. “The future is in skilled services, not in making physical things.
“It might mean you install solar panels, or you’re a technician who does maintenance work on robots. That’s really the future for jobs in these depressed areas,” Chamberlain says. “Automation is changing every job today. People need to make an effort to do training to stay on the profitable side of automation, blue and white collar workers alike.”
That advice presumably also would apply to the job at the number 50 position on Glassdoor’s list: construction project manager, with a median base salary of $85,000.
But then again, as anyone who has grappled with home projects can attest, there’s no outsourcing that critical human role to a computer program anytime soon.