When it comes to jobs, mathematicians are No. 1

Want one of the best jobs in the nation? Then do the math -- and do a lot of it. According to a new report, mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries are now three of the four best jobs to be had.

The CareerCast.com report ranks 200 jobs each year based on a number of criteria, including income, outlook, environmental factors, stress and physical demands. Mathematician, this year's No. 1 job, and statistician, No. 3, both jumped up 17 places from last year's ranking. Actuary, last year's winner, fell to No. 4, while tenured university professor took second place on the new list.

Mathematicians came in first because demand for people who can do statistical analysis is growing in all business sectors. That need is expected to lead to a 23 percent increase in demand by 2022. As you might expect, the pay isn't too bad. Last year, mathematicians earned a median annual salary of $101,360.

"In today's data-driven economy, math skills unlock a world of career opportunities," Tony Lee, CareerCast's publisher said in a statement. "In fact, the outlook for all STEM careers is very positive, as evidenced by many of this year's best jobs -- mathematician, statistician, actuary, software engineer and computer systems analyst."

Another hot category is health care. In the coming decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects U.S. employers to add 5 million new health care jobs. And almost all the rest of CareerCast's top 10 jobs this year are health care-related -- audiologist, dental hygienist, occupational therapist and speech pathologist. The exceptions are Nos. 7 and 8, both perennials on the list -- software engineer and computer systems analyst.

At the other end, it was a grim year for newspaper reporters and lumberjacks, which were, respectively, Nos. 199 and 200 on the list. Automation is making it safer to cut down trees, but that also means fewer people are needed. There's also less demand for some forest products as more people are getting their news not on paper but on screens. That's also why newspaper reporter is becoming an endangered species.

Others at the bottom of the list include enlisted military personnel, taxi drivers, broadcasters, head cooks, flight attendants, garbage collectors and firefighters.

Even these jobs have someone to look down on, though. Each year the 200 professions included in the report are evaluated for relevance in today's workforce, and outdated job titles are eliminated, such as bricklayer, typist/word processor and stationary engineer automobile assembler.

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    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.