The 25 Best Jobs of 2015

Jada A. Graves, Laura McMullen

The Best Jobs of the Year

Picking a job is personal, and there isn't one "best job" that would suit everyone. Still, our list of 100 outstanding occupations exemplifies what makes working worthwhile: good pay, manageable work-life balance and good job prospects. Before you send out your first application, check out which jobs top our list for 2015.

No. 1: Dentist

Median Salary: $146,340

Unemployment Rate: 0.9 percent

Expected Job Openings: 23,300

The best dentists deftly balance patient care with turning a profit -- what good is the most nurturing dentist in town if he or she never sees any patients? But before getting to that stage, they endure rigorous technical and practical training in a competitive dental program.

No. 2: Nurse Practitioner

Median Salary: $92,670

Unemployment Rate: 0.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 37,100

It's a nurse practitioner's array of capabilities, coupled with the fact he or she can work independently of physicians when treating patients, that makes this No. 2 job an attractive career choice.

No. 3: Software Developer

Median Salary: $92,660

Unemployment Rate: 2.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 139,900

Software developers could work on the applications side, designing software, or on the systems side, building operating systems.

No. 4: Physician

Median Salary: $186,850

Unemployment Rate: 0.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 123,300

Physicians are at the top of the health care food chain. Their responsibilities range from diagnosing and treating patients, to instructing on proper diet, hygiene and disease prevention.

No. 5: Dental Hygienist

Median Salary: $71,110

Unemployment Rate: 1.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 64,200

In addition to cleaning teeth, dental hygienists educate patients on proper oral hygiene. Something else of note: Many dental hygienists work part-time, but the average salary for this job eclipses $70,000.

No. 6: Physical Therapist

Median Salary: $81,030

Unemployment Rate: 1.5 percent

Expected Job Openings: 73,500

A physical therapist's job description might include helping someone who is paralyzed regain mobility or a cancer survivor renew his or her strength. The profession should grow 36 percent by 2022, which is much faster than the average of all occupations.

No. 7: Computer Systems Analyst

Median Salary: $81,190

Unemployment Rate: 3.5 percent

Expected Job Openings: 127,700

Applicants with a business background will have better chances of finding a position in this field, which involves consulting with organizations on the IT systems they might need and then coordinating the implementation of those systems.

No. 8: Information Security Analyst

Median Salary: $88,590

Unemployment Rate: 3.5 percent

Expected Job Openings: 27,400

If you've watched the news this year, then you probably have a good idea how important this No. 8 job is for companies and the government. These analysts plan and monitor the security of computer networks, and the occupations should grow 36.5 percent by 2022.

No. 9: Registered Nurse

Median Salary: $66,220

Unemployment Rate: 2.0 percent

Expected Job Openings: 526,800

Nursing is an indispensable profession in health care; one in which workers are almost always needed. This year is no different, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 19.4 percent growth in this field by 2022.

No. 10: Physician Assistant

Median Salary: $92,970

Unemployment Rate: 1.4 percent

Expected Job Openings: 33,300

Working under the supervision of doctors, physician assistants interpret X-rays and blood tests, record patients' progress, conduct routine exams and treat a range of ailments.

No. 11: Web Developer

Median Salary: $63,160

Unemployment Rate: 3.8 percent

Expected Job Openings: 28,500

Web developers are responsible for the sleek fonts and clean layout you love on your favorite websites, and the profession is one of the fastest-growing jobs this decade.

No. 12: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Median Salary: $66,410

Unemployment Rate: 2.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 27,000

These professionals must have the technical abilities to use medical equipment, as well the social savvy to deliver life-changing news ("It's a girl!") to parents and patients.

13. Occupational Therapist

Median Salary: $76,940

Unemployment Rate: 0.6 percent

Expected Job Openings: 32,800

Not all therapy involves evaluating clients reclining on Barcaloungers. Occupational therapists, for instance, help patients with physical, mental and developmental disabilities to assimilate in society.

No. 14: Market Research Analyst

Median Salary: $60,800

Unemployment Rate: 3 percent

Expected Number of Jobs: 131,500

Market research analysts study our habits as consumers and use those observations to counsel companies on how to package, brand and sell products.

No. 15: Marketing Manager

Median Salary: $123,220

Unemployment Rate: 3.9 percent

Expected Job Openings: 22,900

Marketing managers are behind the advertising campaigns that sway consumers one way or another in "iOS to Android," "General Motors or Ford" or even "ChapStick or Carmex" decisions.

No. 16: Accountant

Median Salary: 65,080

Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent

Expected Job Openings: 166,700

Whether working with individuals, corporations or nonprofits, accountants must be detail-oriented, organized and skilled with numbers.

No. 17: School Psychologist

Median Salary: $67,760

Unemployment Rate: 2 percent

Expected Job Openings: 16,400

This job's flexibility and potential for upward mobility help it claim the No. 1 spot in our rankings of the Best Social Services Jobs. It's also the only social services job that landed on this list of the best 25 jobs across all industries.

No. 18: Mechanical Engineer

Median Salary: $82,100

Unemployment Rate: 2.7 percent

Expected Job Openings: 11,600

This job is a perfect blend of right- and left-brain thinking: These engineers shepherd devices from the theoretical design phase to the technical production phase.

No. 19: Occupational Therapy Assistant

Median Salary: $55,270

Unemployment Rate: 2.4 percent

Expected Job Openings: 12,900

In this job, you'll work alongside occupational therapists, assessing patients' abilities and devising a plan of action to improve their quality of life.

No. 20: Operations Research Analyst

Median Salary: $74,630

Unemployment Rate: 3 percent

Expected Job Openings:19,500

Similar to a market research analyst, this No. 20 job is an advisory position that involves helping businesses and organizations operate more efficiently.

No. 21: IT Manager

Median Salary: $123,950

Unemployment Rate: 3.5 percent

Expected Job Openings: 50,900

IT managers are the go-to personnel when your email won't send or your word processor won't open. As head of the IT department, they triage the operations of an organization's technical network.

No. 22: Civil Engineer

Median Salary: $80,770

Unemployment Rate: 3.4 percent

Expected Job Openings: 53,700

Part of the payoff to this job is looking around and seeing the fruits of your skills and labor. Civil engineers have a hand in building bridges, retrofitting buildings and damming reservoirs.

No. 23: Cost Estimator

Median Salary: $59,460

Unemployment Rate: 1.9 percent

Expected Job Openings: 53,000

These professionals coordinate the technical, mechanical and fiscal elements of construction projects. Relative to other U.S. News Best Construction Jobs, cost estimators are typically paid handsomely for their work, pulling in a salary that's second only to construction managers within the industry.

No. 24: Esthetician and Skin Care Specialist

Median Salary: 28,940

Unemployment Rate: 3.8 percent

Expected Job Openings: 17,700

While estheticians don't get paid much compared to other U.S. News Best Health Care Jobs, they do typically enjoy flexible work schedules and the ability to improve people's appearance.

No. 25: Financial Advisor

Median Salary: $75,320

Unemployment Rate: 2.5

Expected Job Openings: 60,300

No wonder financial advisors were able to slip into the top 25 jobs: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 27 percent employment bump in the profession between 2012 and 2022, meaning more than 60,000 new jobs to go around. More interested in hiring a financial advisor than being one? Check out the U.S. News Advisor Finder.

Jada A. Graves is the Careers product manager at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter @jadaagraves, circle her on Google+ or email her at