Best Jobs For Women In 2012

Forbes

Looking for a career change or new direction in 2012? You may want to start here.

Jobs expert Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., author of Best Jobs for the 21st Century, provides a rare look at the jobs that women feel most satisfied and successful in. He compiled a top-10 list based on women's high satisfaction levels, from the National Survey of College Graduates conducted by the Census Bureau; median annual earnings for salaried workers, from the Department of Labor (DOL); and the job outlook through 2018, based on projections from the DOL. The results may surprise you.

At No. 1, post-secondary teachers top the list. Not only do women report very high satisfaction rates in the job, median annual earnings range from $59,000 (for foreign language and literature teachers) to $94,000 (for law teachers), well above the average household income in the U.S. Furthermore, the field is expected to grow by 15% and features an average of 55,000 openings each year.

Shatkin believes women likely value post-secondary teaching for its high earnings, prestige and stimulating environments. The National Survey of College Graduates found that women appreciate a job's location and environment more than men, and Shatkin points out that college students are generally excited to learn, colleagues are of high caliber and college campuses provide comfortable amenities. At the same time, post-secondary teachers have a high degree of independence and autonomy, which Shatkin says almost all workers prize.

In fact, women are so fond of autonomy that they want to be the boss. The chief executive title (No. 7) features high satisfaction rates among women and an incredible $165,000 median salary, which also lands it on ForbesWoman's annual list of the best-paying jobs for women. While they are currently only 25% of all CEOs, the ratio may be changing. In 2010, women received 44% of all MBA degrees granted, a 75% increase since 2000. Meanwhile, 40% of all private companies are now launched and owned by women.

Due to cultural influences, women have traditionally been and continue to be the primary caretakers for the family, says Shatkin, which may help explain why many of the best jobs also feature a fair amount of security. It may be hard to land a job as a post-secondary teacher, anthropologist (No. 2), oceanographer (No. 3) or natural sciences manager (No. 4), but once in the position turnover is low, according to Shatkin. In fact, women survey respondents ranked the importance of security above salary and advancement opportunities. "If you're caring for a family," he says, "job security is a top priority."

Women also place more significance on a job's contribution to society than men, according to the survey, which may help explain why women enjoy working as clergy members (No. 5). The position requires good interpersonal skills and verbal acumen, which Shatkin says women test better in, and gives back to the community in a highly meaningful way.

Similarly, medical professionals (No. 9) like dentists, optometrists and physicians are in a helping field and offer a very necessary and valuable service to society. Annual earnings for medical professionals range from $95,000 to $166,000, depending on specialty, and the jobs are projected to grow by 9% to 22% in the next several years.

Jobs with the lowest satisfaction rates among women include food preparers and servers (median salary: $19,000), retail salespeople ($21,000), production workers ($30,000) and secretaries and administrative assistants ($31,000).

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