NEW YORK - A new ranking of jobs might spur some to work a little harder on that biology homework. The job of biologist takes top overall honors in the latest edition of the "Jobs Rated Almanac." That occupation many dream of, being a cowboy, ranked 248th out of the 250 jobs reviewed in the periodic listing.
Despite the idyllic image, cowboys are paid about $31,000 a year, have limited prospects for advancement and face some of the greatest physical demands, according to the almanac.
Only the physically demanding and low-paying work of the fisherman and the lumberjack ranked lower.
Biologists, in comparison, make an average of more than $92,000 a year and have the best future prospects, sparked in large part by the completion of the human gene map and last year's anthrax scare, according to the book's editor, Les Krantz.
"This book is about the real, honest-to-god, no fooling around workaday week," said Krantz, whose own job (publication editor) got an overall ranking of 31.
It also gives people an opportunity to learn "everything you wanted to ask about your friends' and neighbors' jobs," he added.
Begun in 1988, the sixth edition of the list is set for release Friday. The book, published by Barricade Books, sells for $14.95.
In previous editions, the top spots have gone to actuary and financial planner, Nos. 2 and 3 this time around.
Krantz uses statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Census, professional organizations and telephone surveys in ranking 250 jobs - some of them uncommon, such as roustabout (No. 239) and stevedore (No. 241).
The jobs are ranked according to six variables: income, stress, physical demands, potential growth, job security and work environment.
The new edition's top 10 overall jobs were rounded out by: computer systems analyst, accountant, software engineer, meteorologist, paralegal assistant, statistician and astronomer.
At the other end of the spectrum were the jobs of farmer, construction worker, taxi driver, seaman and ironworker.
Some of the highest paid jobs are coupled with high stress and a poor work environment. The office of president (No. 175) has the highest starting pay - $400,000 - but has the worst work environment and the highest level of stress.
Professional athletes also have the potential for high pay and a lot of time off, but their job comes with substantial stress, limited security and heavy physical demands. Other high-stress, physically demanding jobs, such as police officer and firefighter, come with moderate pay and poor work environments.
Krantz said the side-by-side comparison of jobs can make some people think twice about what they think they'd like to do for a living.
For those who prefer to avoid stress altogether, musical instrument repair ranks easiest on the nerves, edging out florist and medical records technician.
And if money is the object, nothing tops stardom in the National Basketball Association, which can bring an average-earner more than $4.5 million a year, more than double the No. 2 and 3 financial winners: players in Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
Best, worst jobs
The five best and worst jobs ranked in various categories, according to the "Jobs Rated Almanac":
Best overall job:
Worst overall job:
Best working environment:
Worst working environment:
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