Most Popular Items in the Occupational Outlook Handbook

Interested in becoming a detective or a veterinarian or a software developer? You are not alone. These occupations are among the most visited pages of the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, our online career information guide.

On October 24, BLS released the 2016–26 Employment Projections and incorporated these projections into updates of the Handbook, which features 325 occupational profiles. Think you know everything a doctor or a police officer does from watching reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Law and Order: SVU”? Think again. The BLS profiles discuss what workers do in an occupation, the education and training needed to work in an occupation, the pay, the job outlook, and other topics.

Just over one-third of all visits to the BLS website are to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, making it our most popular product. Here is a list of the top 10 most viewed profiles over the past year.

Rank Profile name 2016 Employment Employment change, 2016–26 Percent employment change, 2016–26 Typical education 2016 Median Wage
1 Physicians and Surgeons 713,800 106,500 15% Doctoral or professional degree >=$208,000
2 Registered Nurses 2,955,200 437,000 15% Bachelor’s degree $68,450
3 Police and Detectives 807,000 53,400 7% High school diploma $61,600
4 Lawyers 792,500 74,800 9% Doctoral or professional degree $118,160
5 Accountants and Auditors 1,397,700 140,300 10% Bachelor’s degree $68,150
6 Software Developers 1,256,200 299,500 24% Bachelor’s degree $102,280
7 Psychologists 166,600 22,600 14% Doctoral or professional degree $75,230
8 Veterinarians 79,600 14,400 18% Doctoral or professional degree $88,770
9 Physical Therapists 239,800 60,000 25% Doctoral or professional degree $85,400
10 Military Careers 2,100,000 High school diploma
Note: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not make projections or collect wage data for military occupations. Employment is from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

These occupations have some characteristics in common.

  • Most are well known and involve contact with the public.
  • Most require college or graduate education.
  • All are high paying.
  • Most are large occupations, although not all are among the fastest growing.

Most of us have some idea what workers in these occupations do. Either we come in contact with them on a regular basis (like doctors) or we see them on TV or in the movies (like lawyers). And while there haven’t been a lot of movies made about software developers, millions of people every day use many of their products, like mobile phone apps.

Many of the most popular occupations require a lot of education. Half require a doctoral or professional degree. In contrast, fewer than one in ten occupations across the economy requires that much education. Only two occupations on the list require a high school diploma.

The top ranked occupational profile, physicians and surgeons, is among the highest paid occupations. The rest of the list includes occupations that pay well above the 2016 median wage of $37,040.

Although nearly all the top ten profiles are projected to grow faster than average (7.4 percent), only physical therapists and software developers are also among the fastest growing occupations. Other than veterinarians, all employ over 100,000 workers, and four employ more than 1 million workers each.

Not interested in becoming an accountant or a psychologist? There are over 300 more occupational profiles available for you to explore.


Read More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


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