10 Reasons Not to Rely on Best Jobs Lists

The news media frequently promotes best jobs lists, and the public eats this information up without actually knowing how the occupations on them earn this recognition. Usually, the careers that make it onto them have a great job outlook, a lot of openings for the near future, or high earnings. While it is essential to consider these factors, these lists don't always present the full picture. There are also other points to consider when choosing a career.

Best jobs lists serve a purpose—they can expose you to options you may not have thought of before—but be wary of depending on them too heavily. They may lead you in the wrong direction and cause you to waste time, effort, and money. Here are 10 reasons it is a bad idea to rely on best careers lists.

Just Because It's a Top Career Doesn't Mean It's a Good Match for You

Young businessman looking bored at the computer
Jose Luis Pelaez/The Image Bank/Getty Images

To choose an occupation, always take into account labor market information like job outlook, employment prospects, and median earnings. All are important factors to consider, but they aren't the most important ones. To have a successful career, make sure to choose an occupation that matches your personality type, interests, values, and aptitude. Do a self assessment to learn about yourself and thoroughly explore any careers you want to pursue.

You May Not Like the Work

Businessman on phone at desk hand on forehead
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Before deciding that an occupation is right for you, even if it seems suitable based on your character traits, learn about the typical job duties. Then ask yourself if you would enjoy performing them for at least five days a week for eight hours a day. Even a high salary or excellent job prospects won't make it palatable to do work you don't like. In addition to reading job descriptions, conduct informational interviews with people who work in the careers that interest you to get their perspectives.

Statistics Fluctuate

Businesspeople standing on painted up going graph on asphalt
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Labor statistics are not stable. Because of this, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics updates their figures about job outlook and prospects every two years. Employment growth for a particular occupation may slow down and job openings may not be as plentiful. As a result, best careers lists frequently change and what may be in the top ten this year, may be closer to the bottom of the list a couple of years from now.

The Salary May Be Insufficient

Man reaching for dollar bill hanging on string from large finger
Turnbull / Getty Images

Best jobs lists that are based only on job outlook neglect to consider earnings. Some of the occupations with excellent growth don't pay well. Although making a lot of money doesn't directly translate into job satisfaction, you must earn enough to pay your bills. Before you choose an occupation, make sure you will be able to live on the earnings it will provide.

The Educational Requirements Could Be Out of Your Reach

University fees
SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

Some very high paying occupations require a graduate degree, for example, a master's, law, or medical degree, or a doctorate. Not everyone wants to stay in school for upwards of six or eight years. Sometimes it has nothing to do with wanting to stay in school but instead with being able to afford to continue your education. Before settling on an occupation, decide if you can spend the required time preparing for it.

The Requirements May Be Deceptive

female plumbing engineer with her boss
sturti / Getty Images

If you believe some best jobs lists, there are careers with excellent salaries that require only a high school diploma. Dig a little deeper and you will find there is more to the requirements. Although you may not need a college degree, you may have to go to vocational school or do a lengthy apprenticeship. A college degree may even be necessary to get any position above entry-level.

Employment Growth May Be High But Job Openings Are Few

Hire me office desk
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Fast growing occupations do not always produce a lot of jobs openings. Employment growth only means that there will be more people working in an occupation in a target year than there are now. It indicates nothing about total employment in that field. For a small occupation—one with few workers—even an excellent job outlook will yield few projected job openings. Here's an example: an occupation employs 100 people. It is projected to grow by 100%, a very high rate. This will result in an increase of only 100 jobs.

High Salaries Don't Necessarily Come With a Lot of Opportunities

a help wanted ad in the newspaper
Bartomeu Amengual / Getty Images

The highest paying occupations may not always hold the best opportunities for the future, and in fact, many do not. If you are enticed by money and choose to ignore the fact that a high salary won't necessarily lead to job satisfaction, at least make sure to learn about job prospects. To experience those earnings, you will need to be able to find a job.

Job Opportunities Vary By Location

Dream job road sign
exdez / Getty Images

Best career lists that are based on job outlook and prospects typically look at national averages. Those projections may not be the case for your city. As long as you are willing to relocate, this isn't a problem. Just move to the city that has the best opportunities. However, if you don't want to relocate, choose an occupation that is expected to do well locally.  Projections Central is a useful tool for learning about the local employment outlook.

You May Overlook Some Other Options

Professionals Standing Together
FatCamera / Getty Images

If you only rely on best careers lists, you will miss out on learning about some exciting occupations that may be a good fit. There are hundreds out there that won't show up on a best jobs list because it isn't one of the top jobs, but may not be too far behind. Remember that a profession doesn't have to be one of the best to be a fantastic option for you.