Thursday, January 21, 2016

Best Jobs in America? I've actually had some of them.

Last night I was ruing my life as a blogger. Surely, I told myself as I struggled to find a topic that would let me keep my one-a-day blogging streak going, blogger must be the worst job in the world. But then I came to my senses and realized that while keeping up the unbroken Pink Slip streak may be a drag, one of the most fun aspects of my freelance work is the blogging. 

Of course, unlike with Pink Slip, which is a pro bono, Sunday painter labor of love – clearly owned and operated by a cheapskate who pays zip - my clients actually pay me to write their posts.

Even though blogging for fun and profit is enjoyable (as, mostly, is blogging for fun and no profit), it did not make Glassdoor’s list of the 25 Best Jobs in America. As with pretty much any list of anything, the criteria won’t work for everyone. But, hey, number of job openings, salary and career opportunities rating are as good as anything – and less arbitrary and more measurable than more squishy quality of work-life categories.

First up? Data Scientist. With all that big data being hoovered up by all the Internet of Things things there are out there collecting our every everything, with every click (intentional or errant) that we make while surfing being mined, with CCTV capturing our every move made in public…well, it’s no wonder that there’s big demand for those who can make some sense of it. And with a median base salary of $116K, it pays pretty well.

In fact, most of the jobs on the list pay pretty well, kind of a ‘duh’, given that salary was one of the three factors that went into jobs making the list.

Anyway, with all these swell jobs paying good money, I guess it’s no surprise that tax manager ($108K median salary) is Number 2.

Solutions Architect ($119.5K), a fancy name for figuring out what the client needs/wants out of some type of IT implementation and how to give it to them, ranks third. Engagement Manager ($125K), a fancy name for the person who makes sure that the client is happy-dappy with the deployment the Solutions Architect has designed, ranks fourth. While I’ve done needs analysis and extremely high level solution design (make that exceedingly extremely high level), I’d never claim to have been a Solutions Architect. But Engagement Manager? Back in the day, when I worked as a Project Manager on large scale “solutions” (note: post some day on why I hate this word) implementations, the Project Manager was also the Engagement Manager. 

So I’ve had a job that makes the Top Four.

Unlike Number 5: Mobile Developer. Does America really need more than 2,000 more folks developing mostly useless mobile apps?

Rounding out the Top Ten: HR Manager (who knew?); Physician’s Assistant; Product Manager; Software Engineer; and Audit Manager.

By anyone’s definition, I spent quite a few years during my full-time career as a Product Manager. Although it was a job that could be ultra-frustrating – I once defined it as ‘everything it takes to get a product out the door and into the market that no one else wants to do' – I much enjoyed being a Product Manager in the wonderful world of tech. I loved working with techies, I loved talking to clients and figuring out what they wanted in a product, I loved researching the competition, I loved making sure that everything came together, I loved figuring out how to talk about the product...

I don’t think I’d have the patience to do it now, but it was something that I very much enjoyed doing, across multiple companies and multiple products over multiple years.

Variation on a theme: Product Marketing Manager, which came in at Number 13. Product Marketing is a subset of Product Manager. Product Marketers are more outward facing, and don’t tend to get involved in overseeing tasks like QA, documentation, etc. In some companies, the jobs are combined; in others, Product Marketing Manager is carved out. Been there, done that. Liked them both. Marketing Manager is also on the Top 25 list – more promotional, less content oriented than Product Marketing. Been there, done that. Liked Product Marketing a lot more than I liked Marketing Marketing.

The jobs on the list are pretty much high end: STEM, healthcare, finance, tech. Good jobs that require a good education. Trouble is, other than Software Engineer (49,270 job openings) and Nurse Practitioner (5,624 openings), there aren’t all that many of these jobs out here. I know what we’re going to be doing. But are there going to be any good jobs for the not-so-lucky-ducks out who'd like to do something other than greet at Walmart or drive for Uber?

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