The 10 Best Jobs of 2020, According to Glassdoor (Surprise, Most Are In Tech)

Photographed by Franey Miller.
It’s January, and we know what that means. It’s a time-honored tradition as old as dancing around a maypole or looking for a groundhog’s shadow: Glassdoor’s annual best jobs list is here.
We’re living in the midst of a shift in attitude towards work. Company culture and values are a bigger factor for young people when considering which job is best. And we’re switching jobs more often, too. The median time U.S. women spend at a job is 4 years, and for women 25 to 34 years old, it’s just 2.7 years.
So what makes a job the best in 2020? Glassdoor’s list calculates its superlatives based on median base salary, job satisfaction, and the number of positions available right now. Bad news for luddites: 2020 is the first year since Glassdoor started its best jobs lists that the top seven are all tech jobs. In fact, 20 of the 50 best jobs on the list are in tech. Ahead are the ten shiniest jobs to kick off this shiny new decade.

1. Front End Engineer — $105,240

Without front end engineers, the rabbithole of the internet would be unnavigable. They build the look and performance of websites, software, and apps. Called “front end” because they design the features that users see and interact with, these engineers usually know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Even though it’s a tech job, technical know-how isn’t the only crucial skill. You also need good taste and the ability to keep up with trends in web design. Some jobs may require a BS in computer science, but others may ask for certifications.

2. Java Developer — $83,589

Yes, the median base salary is almost 20K lower than a front end engineer’s, but there are more job openings for Java developer than for front end engineers right now. Java is a popular programming language used to develop software, apps, and websites. Android apps are also written in Java. Even though it’s not a new language at all, it remains in high demand. Most jobs will require a bachelor’s degree. If you’re a creative problem solver maybe Java development is for you.

3. Data Scientist — $107,801

We’re drowning in data, so it’s not exactly shocking that data scientists are so sought after today. Like soothsayers of the past (except using data and reasoning), data scientists read patterns and signs to forecast what companies could do for growth or to solve problems. As an extremely important player in developing strategy, you’ll also have to be able to communicate your ideas to those who aren’t data scientists. That’s a tall order, but the pay is high and the possibilities for engaging work are endless. Unfortunately, there are roughly 60% fewer data scientist jobs than Java developer jobs, which is maybe why it’s #3 on the list.

4. Product Manager — $117,713

What does a product manager do? It’s probably easier to say what they don’t do. Basically, product managers take a bird’s-eye view to determine what a company — whether that’s a software company, a media platform, a fashion brand, etc. — should do and how they should do it. They’re master strategists who leverage data to execute a vision and set priorities. You don't have to know how to code, though it can be helpful. The majority of product manager positions listed on Glassdoor are in the tech sector, which is why it’s counted as a tech job. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required.

5. DevOps Engineer — $107,310

A DevOps engineer contains multitudes; they’re both a developer and a manager who monitors the code being released, making sure the workflow of software development is well implemented. It’s a role that can make a crucial difference in how efficient a company is. Again, being able to communicate clearly is one of the must-have skills for this job. A DevOps engineer should have a computer science or computer engineering background.

6. Data Engineer — $102,472

We weren’t kidding when we said that 2020 is heralding an era of tech job domination. Not to be confused with data scientist (or data analyst), a data engineer prepares, stores, and distributes data so it’s ready to be used by analysts and scientists. They often create tools to optimize the handling of data and its organization. To join their ranks, you’ll probably need a degree in computer science, engineering, or applied mathematics.

7. Software Engineer — $105,563

A software engineer plans and builds the software that we use every day. They usually have either a computer science or software engineering degree. They can use a variety of programming languages, but some of the most popular right now are Java (as seen above), Python, C, C++, and Ruby. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, these jobs are projected to grow by over 20 percent between 2018 and 2028. And with over 50,000 open jobs on Glassdoor right now, the future looks pretty bright for software engineering.

8. Speech Language Pathologist — $71,867

Finally, a top job that isn’t about programming languages. This one’s about the kind of language you speak, as speech language pathologists diagnose and treat communication and swallowing issues. They often work in schools — so if you know you enjoy helping children, this could be a great career to work toward, though the highest salaries in the field belong to those working in nursing and residential facilities. This job requires a master’s degree, but there’s an overwhelming demand for it currently. The states that pay the most are New Jersey, where the median base salary is $95,000, Washington, D.C. ($93,570), and California ($93,510). Connecticut comes in at a close fourth at $92,280.

9. Strategy Manager — $133,067

Are you good at taking in an avalanche of information, analyzing the trends, and coming up with a plan? You might just be the perfect strategy manager. Within any company, a good strategy manager is needed to make informed decisions on what its goals should be. Depending on what kind of company you’re strategically managing, of course, your day to day and background will be different. A Corporate Strategy Senior Manager at a financial firm might use market research and a background in finance, marketing or econ to come up with a corporate strategy. You might even need an MBA. The incredible power you wield to mold the direction and success of a company may be why strategy manager has the highest satisfaction rating in the top 10.

10. Business Development Manager — $78,480

Similar to a strategy manager, a business development manager has a big impact on the direction of a company. But a business development manager focuses more heavily on generating leads, setting up meetings with potential clients, and cultivating fruitful relationships with them. It’s all about sniffing out where the best opportunities are for the business. A bachelor’s degree will help, but you don’t always need one, especially if you’re a great people person.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series