The 10 Best Jobs in Louisiana

The growing healthcare and technology fields are universal winners in Louisiana's diverse statewide job market.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) finds that the healthcare and tech industries offer opportunities across the state despite significant geographical differences from one area to another. Such trends of favorable climates in healthcare and technology reflect the national landscape, as demonstrated in the Top 200 Jobs of 2012 Jobs Rated report.

Healthcare opportunities are expected to swell dramatically next year and beyond in the Pelican State. In fact, there are career fields that pay a higher salary in Louisiana than the national average. Physical therapist is a career the LWC projects to grow rapidly in the next decade, which also pays an average statewide salary $3,000 higher than the nation.
These factors and physical therapist's high ranking in the overall Jobs Rated 2012 list makes it No. 1 for best jobs in Louisiana. Jobs Rated weighs work environment, stress level and physical demands in gauging careers. Read the complete methodology here (link).

Market research analyst ranked No. 2 and is among the most underrated jobs in the nation. Exponential projected growth and favorable work conditions make this one of the most promising career options in Louisiana.

Tech jobs, including computer system analyst and computer programmer, are projected to grow throughout Louisiana and provide employees competitive wages. CenturyLink, a Fortune 500 company and the nation's third largest telecommunications provider, is headquartered in Monroe and continues to add jobs at a strong pace per its 2011 incentive agreement with the state.

By 2016, CenturyLink estimates it will add nearly 2,000 jobs - 800 directly and 1,170 indirectly - as a result of its new headquarters, which breaks ground in early 2013.

"This expansion project will be a catalyst for advancing our strategic growth initiatives and will promote the research of new technologies," says CenturyLink CEO and President Glen F. Post, III. "We are pleased to bring high-quality jobs to Monroe and believe our new facility will be a focal point for our technology-driven company."

A critical part of the company's expanse of tech jobs is its work with Louisiana Tech University via the Clarke M. Williams Professorship in Telecommunications. The program prepares students for careers in the state's growing tech sector.
"[T]he university will collaborate with CenturyLink to deliver courses that serve the advanced education needs of the company's workforce," reports the Louisiana Economic Development office. "A certificate program will build upon the prior education and training of the employees and provide them with skills needed for success in further professional and technical development."

Other companies in the state are expanding opportunities through other programs like Louisiana FastStart, a "workforce solutions provider that works with businesses to anticipate and address the company's workforce needs early in the startup or expansion process." This translates to training for and creation of many vital office positions.

In Houma, New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles - all of which border the Gulf Coast -- the energy industry is expected to continue to create many job opportunities. And in Monroe, the former headquarters of Delta Airlines and a city where the airport is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, transportation-related careers are expected to expand.

Actors in New Orleans also have opportunities far surpassing state and national levels, thanks to tax credits and a burgeoning production presence in the Crescent City. The city was the No. 3 domestic filming location nationally last year behind Los Angeles and New York.

Here is our ranking of the 10 best jobs in Louisiana for 2012:

1. Physical Therapist

Growing demand for physical therapy nationwide is reflected in Louisiana. Wages during 2011 for Louisiana physical therapists surpassed the national average by over $3,000.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $79,801 (national average: $76,100)

2. Market Research Analyst
Projected growth for market research analyst is positive throughout all regions of Louisiana, where the outlook for growth by 2020 is no lower than 31.4% in any of the eight, according to the LWC.
2011 Average Statewide Wage: $47,965 (national average: $61,236)

3. Civil Engineer
A series of recent disasters - Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Isaac, and the BP oil spill - have punctuated the need for improved infrastructure in Louisiana. The state will continue to invest billions in rebuilding damaged areas, as well as preparing levees, roadways and other public works for future impact.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $105,102 (national average: $78,133)

4. Computer Systems Analyst
A top 10 Jobs Rated career in 2012, computer systems analyst offers a very favorable career outlook. It is also a position with high growth potential as the state's tech sector expands.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $63,227 (national average: $69,160)

5. Personal Financial Advisor

Finance experts who can help Baby Boomers prepare for retirement cracked the Jobs Rated top 5 in 2012, and is of growing importance to Louisiana consumers.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $60,334 (national average: $104,161)

6. Physician Assistant

Physician assistant is a highly paid position in the state based on Louisiana Workforce Commission data, and is expected to grow rapidly across most regions of the state in the coming years.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $74,449 (national average: $86,107)

7. Veterinarian

One of the most underrated jobs of 2012 is also one of the best compensated for those plying the trade in Louisiana. The state's veterinarians are paid an average of $8,000 more than others around the nation.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $90,433 (national average: $82,190)

8. Computer Programmer

A growing tech presence both in and out of the workplace is increasing the demand for programmers, specifically those with application processing experience.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $63,018 (national average: $71,178)

9. Medical Technologist

The state's projections for medical technologists suggest a bevy of opportunities across all regions in the coming years. Average pay is also well above the national average for those with specialized training, including sonographers.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $56,448 (national average: $56,097)

10. Medical Records and Information Technician
Ranked highly in the Jobs Rated 2012 report, medical records and information technician is a rapidly growing field reflecting the overall landscape of the healthcare industry.

2011 Average Statewide Wage: $30,515 (national average: $32,152)
Each year the Jobs Rated researchers survey 200 jobs - from Accountant to Zoologist - scoring them according to five key criteria: Physical Demands, Work Environment, Income, Hiring Outlook and Stress. Some factors remain relatively constant from year to year, but others fluctuate greatly due to changes in the job market, technological innovations or current events. Using data from government sources, trade groups and private organizations, every job receives a score and rank in each category, and these ratings are then combined to form a complete ranking of 200 jobs for 2012, from best to worst.

Jobs Rated Methodology: