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How To Choose a Career

by Kyle Christensen

Choosing a career can be daunting. It’s hard to even know what careers are out there, much less which ones provide the things job seekers want: stability, security and satisfaction. When you add in the unique considerations of each individual’s situation, choosing a career can feel more like a gamble than an informed decision.

That’s why Gallup and Amazon have recently partnered to create the Careers of the Future Index (CFI): to make choosing a career easier by aligning young people’s interests and abilities with an accurate perspective on available careers.

Going well beyond the “best paying jobs” lists flooding the internet, the CFI ranks careers according to a range of factors like recent job growth, income, available jobs per worker and resistance to automation, helping students of varying backgrounds choose the best possible career.

Picking a career should be exciting: taking your inherent abilities and interests and aiming them at a rewarding job that fills you with purpose and allows you to live the life you want.

Below are lists of the top-ranking jobs selected from different criteria within the CFI to help young people pick a career path that suits them best. View all the data from the CFI here.

What Are the Best Careers for Those With a Bachelor’s Degree?

On average, workers whose highest level of formal education is a bachelor’s degree work in careers that score higher on the CFI than those who don’t have a bachelor’s degree, especially in terms of income.

The top-ranking career fields where the vast majority of workers have a bachelor’s degree alone are:

  • Information technology
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • Business, management and administration
  • Transportation, distribution and logistics
  • Health science

Large percentages of actuaries, sales engineers, financial and investment analysts, software developers and chemical engineers do not have graduate degrees, yet their jobs score 96 or higher on the CFI.

What Are the Best Careers for Those Without a Bachelor’s Degree?

Not everyone wants or has the means to pursue a college degree, and many rewarding careers might not require formal education. Often, such jobs provide on-the-job training or require job candidates to pass a competency test before employment. Others may require participation in a certificate program or other training.

Many of the careers accessible to workers without a bachelor’s degree score at least as high as the average CFI score for all bachelor’s degree-holding workers.

The top jobs where the majority of workers don’t have a bachelor’s degree are in the business, management, administration; finance; information technology; science, engineering and mathematics; and arts, audio/visual technology and communications fields/industries.

Within these broad categories, the highest-ranking jobs where more than 50% of workers do not have a bachelor’s degree are:

  • managers of firefighters
  • cardiovascular technicians
  • industrial production managers
  • construction managers
  • powerplant operators

For those on the fence about attending college, the following are some careers in which a degree might give them a leg up on the competition. These are the top five careers in which 40% to 49% of workers have less education than a bachelor's degree:

  • Computer network architects
  • Emergency management directors
  • MRI technologists
  • Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians
  • Training and development managers

What Are the Top Careers Overall?

The top-ranking career fields are ones that check all the boxes for careers that are and will remain quality jobs. Each has shown steady growth over time, ranks highly in terms of income, and requires human skill and influence that make it resistant to automation.

Jobs that score highest on the CFI fall into these five fields:

  • Business, management and administration
  • Information technology
  • Finance
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • Health science

Having a graduate or professional degree is strongly associated with working in higher-scoring careers within these fields. The top-ranking careers are surgeons, astronomers and physicists, nurse anesthetists, physicians and project management specialists.

Biggest Gap Between Popularity and CFI Score

While exploring the CFI, job seekers should be careful not to overlook these fields when considering their future careers. Our research shows that these five career fields have the biggest disparity between rank on the CFI and rank for student popularity, meaning they are great career fields that not enough students may be choosing or thinking of.

  • Management (37.8-point gap)
  • Computer and mathematical (34)
  • Business and financial operations (33.7)
  • Life, physical and social science (31.7)
  • Architecture and engineering (22.4)

Careers within these broad categories include jobs like accountant, adjuster, nurse, veterinarian, health technician and manager across all industries and ranges of company divisions.



Young people should consider more than just salary or popularity when choosing a career. With an abundance of available jobs and career paths, students and their advisers can use the Careers of the Future Index to make the best possible career decision -- one that provides stability, security and satisfaction.

To learn more about the Gallup-Amazon Careers of the Future research, explore our interactive page.

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Kyle Christensen is a content writer at Gallup.

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