Here's something for students, their parents and current professionals to think about: What kind of work offers the best opportunities in terms of pay, career growth and the number of job openings?
Jobs that rank high based on all three criteria tend to cluster in three areas, according to employment site Glassdoor. These roles are often found in technology, healthcare, and business fields, with many offering annual salaries in the six-figure range.
While Glassdoor picked the top jobs for 2016 based on current data for these roles, these professions will likely continue to rank highly for years to come, said Scott Dobroski, associate director of corporate communications at Glassdoor. Many of the top jobs are in demand across a wide variety of industries, which explains why so many openings are available for these roles.
"If you are a student right now or even in the workforce and you are frustrated and want a change, these 'best jobs' should act as a guiding light and indicator," Dobroski said. "The biggest theme is that most of them are actually found in all industries. That means there's opportunity and need. There are only a few that are niche professions."
Even though these jobs are in high demand across America's industries, many of them require education and experience, whether that's a degree in accounting, for instance, or years of medical training.
Read on for a look at America's top jobs for 2016.
11. Analytics manager: $105,000
This role is new to Glassdoor's annual list of top jobs, and it demonstrates the importance that companies are increasingly putting on data. Analytics managers analyze data for their companies, creating new strategies for increasing revenue and efficiencies.
While good communication skills are necessary, this job also requires familiarity with analytics software, programming skills and a degree in a STEM-related field, such as math or computer science.
Some professionals may be able to score a job in this field through non-traditional means, such as through a tech-related bootcamp that can teach programming in SQL, for instance, Dobroski said. "Physics, math, engineering or STEM-related backgrounds are highly preferred," he said.
10. Audit manager: $95,000
Audit managers are hired by companies to monitor company policies, procedures and internal controls, often overseeing issues such as vendor payments and payrolls. Job openings on Glassdoor now include searches for audit managers at companies ranging from the restaurant chain Panda Express to the money-sending service MoneyGram.
These jobs require a background in accounting or finance, such as a bachelor's degree in accounting, as well as experience with public accounting.
9. Software engineer: $95,000
This in-demand job is fairly broad, given that companies across the country are looking for talented workers with the skills to program software, whether that's in languages like C++ or scripting in Python. Current job openings on Glassdoor range from posts at shoe retailer Zappos to financial institutions such as TD Ameritrade.
Candidates must prove their expertise and talent with coding, which usually means getting a college degree in computer science or related field and acquiring programming experience. Glassdoor has more than 49,000 job openings for software developers, the most among the top 11 jobs.
8. Product manager: $106,680
This profession usually involves overseeing development of a tech product, which can range from a mobile game to a new crowdfunding website. Tech skills are usually required, as well as excellent communication and management skills. While a tech-related college degree may not be necessary, these jobs often require experience with programming and web-related applications.
7. Physician assistant: $97,000
Physician assistants are medical professionals who are licensed to practice and prescribe medicine, and they work everywhere from hospitals to physicians' offices.
Becoming a PA requires entry to a competitive medical program, as well as college coursework in areas including chemistry and physiology. Some programs require years of experience with health care and patients, such as previous work as a paramedic or lab assistant. Individuals interested in becoming a PA enroll in a program that takes about three years to complete and includes classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The next steps are certification and receiving a state license.
Glassdoor has more than 3,000 openings for the role, including jobs at hospitals and health care facilities across the U.S.
6. HR manager: $85,000
With more than 3,000 job openings for this role, American corporations are clearly hiring additional human-resources managers. Thanks to a stronger economy and stronger hiring, that's helping boost demand for this role, in which people oversee hiring, training and reviewing employees.
Getting a job as an HR manager typically requires a degree such as a master's degree in human resources management, good people and communications skills, and experience in the field.
5. Mobile developer: $90,000
With Americans increasingly using their mobile phones for everything from paying bills to playing games, companies are looking to hire specialists who can program for mobile devices.
Job requirements include a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, as well as experience in software development and mobile application development, such as iOS or Android application development.
4. Engagement manager: $125,000
This is a new entry to Glassdoor's list of top jobs, thanks not only to its high pay but because there's a lot of opportunity and variety involved in the job, Dobroski said.
"You could major in communications or social sciences or in technical skills," he said. "It's a hybrid role."
Engagement managers work with a company's clients to understand what they need and to make sure their company is on track to deliver a project. While the role might not require a bachelor's degree in a STEM-related field, most jobs require tech-related experience, as well as strong communication skills.
3. Solutions architect: $119,500
This job involves developing and documenting technical designs, either for a company or its clients.
Candidates generally need a wide range of technological experience, ranging from computer security to database experience. Good interpersonal skills are also important, given that the job requires working with different teams within and outside of their own companies.
2. Tax manager: $108,000
Given that taxes are an inevitable part of life, this role is in high demand. Companies in many industries are hiring experienced tax professionals to help them review and prepare their taxes, as well as outline and understand corporate tax planning issues.
Tax managers need a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or a similar field, as well as experience in public accounting and certification such as a CPA.
1. Data scientist: $116,840
This relatively new role made it to the top of the list because of its "very handsome salary" and job opportunities, Dobroski said. Data scientists are increasingly in demand in all corners of Corporate America given the vast amount of data that's now being generated by online applications.
"All industries now need data scientists," he said. "Companies are paying more attention to data and making sense of it."
While a technical background is often preferred, with some companies requiring a master's or doctorate in a technical field, it's possible to find a job in this growing field after attending a data science bootcamp. These weeks-long courses train aspiring data scientists in working with data sets, with the promise of helping them secure a job in this growing field.