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Best job? Software engineer - Worst? Lumberjack

"It's easy work for great pay and I like computers."

The lumber industry — rich in history but poor in pay and working conditions — along with the ever-evolving software industry play crucial roles in the Pacific Northwest’s economy, however, these two essential industries couldn’t be further apart in virtually every aspect.

They also couldn’t be further apart on’s best and worst job ranking for 2012. Software Engineers top the charts as this year’s best job while lumberjacks, ranked at 200, is called the worst job in the U.S.

Career Caster analyzed five key categories to rank 200 jobs. The categories include: physical demand, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.

The tops

Software Engineers earn a top rank by working in low-stress environments with little physical demand, a welcoming annual income of $88,142 (median) with plenty of perks and the industry’s abundance of hiring opportunities.

"The world is going digital, and Software Engineers who can help with that transformation are reaping the benefits. Their pay is great, hiring demand for their skills is through the roof, and working conditions have never been better," says Victoria Brienza of Career Cast.

Junior Chazz Cordova, a Computer Science major at Western Washington University chose this major in order to pursue a future in Software Engineering.

"I can't wait to graduate. There are many hiring opportunities available; it's easy work for great pay and I like computers," says Cordova.

Cordova has already landed work improving the functionality of search engines. He agrees that software engineering is the future of the workforce.

The bottom

Lumberjacks on the other hand work in stressful, life-threatening conditions demanding much physical exertion for little pay — $32,114 median annual income. Unemployment for lumberjacks is very high and the hiring demand is expected to fall through 2016.

Junior Communication major at Pacific Lutheran University.