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Study Ranks Best Jobs in America

(FOX 24)-- A new study by CNN and PayScale takes a look at which jobs that are most fulfilling and well-compensated.
(FOX 24)-- A new study by CNN and PayScale takes a look at which jobs that are most fulfilling and well-compensated.

Gathering information about job compensation, growth, satisfaction, and pay they ranked the top 10 careers for those who want the most bang for their buck.

1. Biomedical Engineer

Median pay: $87,000
Top pay: $134,000
10-year job growth: 61.7%
Total jobs*: 15,700

What they do all day? The MRI, the pacemaker, artificial joints – biomedical engineers have helped make them the wonders they are today. BMEs, as they're called, work to design, create and improve medical devices such as prosthetics, artificial organs, and bioengineered skin.

How to get the job? BMEs typically have a bachelor's or master's in biomedical engineering, and may have an MBA, law degree, or M.D. as well. Employers value team players who can communicate complex ideas well; being research-oriented is another plus.

2. Clinical Nurse Specialist

Median pay: $86,500
Top pay: $126,000
10-year job growth: 26%
Total jobs*: 3,449,300

What they do all day? With Obamacare raising the pressure to control health costs, it's no surprise this is a hot healthcare career. These change agents use their clinical expertise and organizational influence to develop policies designed to improve patient outcomes and deliver health care more efficiently.

How to get the job? The best specialists are a combination of nurse, leader, educator and researcher. A big part of the role involves teaching and motivating others to adopt new practices and innovations. Graduate-level training in a nursing specialty is a must.

3. Software Architect

Median pay: $121,000
Top pay: $161,000
10-year job growth: 27.6%
Total jobs*: 520,800

What they do all day? Software architects play a pivotal role as bridge-builders between technical teams and management. More than just great software engineers, they understand how to solve business problems with technology and are responsible for designing a system that fulfills those needs.

How to get the job? Good architects are big-picture thinkers who understand how an organization's software system works as a whole, so it helps to be familiar with help desk, data center or other IT operations beyond software development.

4. General Surgeon

Median pay: $288,000
Top pay: $396,000
10-year job growth: 24.4%
Total jobs*: 859,300

What they do all day? No two days are alike for these in-demand surgeons who often staff trauma units. They can perform a wide range of procedures, from gallbladder removals to esophageal surgery to skin tumor excision. Often the backbone of community hospitals, they see patients and offer surgical recommendations when they're not in the operating room.

How to get the job? General surgeons must undergo rigorous training to be able to perform a vast range of surgeries, so interest in a wide range of surgical and medical disciplines is key. Adaptability also is critical, since advanced techniques and tools for minimally invasive surgeries are always changing.

5. Management Consultant

Median pay: $110,000
Top pay: $199,000
10-year job growth: 21.9%
Total jobs*: 718,800

What they do all day? When organizations run into problems they can't fix on their own, they turn to these crack problem-solvers. Consultants use their analytical skills and deep industry knowledge to devise strategies on all types of issues -- from managing risk to cutting costs and creating value.

How to get the job? Razor-sharp analytical skills, an ability to see problems from multiple perspectives and fluid communication skills are essential. An MBA isn't required, but it's helpful for professionals who don't already have broad business experience.

6. Petroleum Geologist

Median pay: $183,000
Top pay: $289,000
10-year job growth: 21.2%
Total jobs*: 33,800

What they do all day? Discovering the next great oil play is the goal of these geoscientists. You might envision them in the field breaking rocks with hammers, but they actually spend the day in front of high-powered computers, running simulations and manipulating geologic data to test their hypotheses of where petroleum reservoirs can be extracted.

How to get the job? Business acumen is as important as the ability to decipher geophysical clues. The job isn't just finding where to drill and turn up oil -- it's finding the location where a company can drill and make a great profit.

7. Software Developer

Median pay: $88,700
Top pay: $129,000
10-year job growth: 27.6%
Total jobs*: 520,800

What they do all day? Computers, applications, videogames, smartphones, and tablets all run on code written by software developers, who also spend time fixing bugs, writing training manuals, and testing, reviewing and maintaining systems.

How to get the job? Programming skills are even more important than a degree in computer science. Developers who are self-motivated often do best, since they may spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer screen. Being well-organized and a great problem-solver also is critical.

8. IT Configuration Manager

Median pay: $95,800
Top pay: $126,000
10-year job growth: 28.5%
Total jobs*: 588,500

What they do all day? If a company's software (and hardware and architecture) have a caretaker, it's the configuration manager, who keeps track of changes and controls development from the first stages of code to the final product. The CM handles the pre-authorization and approval of all changes to documentation, code, and everything else.

How to get the job? A bachelor's in computer science, information science, or computer engineering can get you there, but you might also be able to land a job with a math or science degree and a few programming courses if your computer skills are sharp. You can also get certification from an organization such as the Institute of Configuration Management. Employers look for analytical problem solvers who know software.

9. Clinical Research Associate

Median pay: $95,100
Top pay: $127,000
10-year job growth: 36.4%
Total jobs*: 100,000

What they do all day? To see if a new drug really works, researchers need to test if they perform better than placebos or existing treatments. Clinical research associates, or CRAs, monitor these trials to make sure they're conducted according to regulatory standards. They may develop research protocols, verify data, and write reports on the results.

How to get the job? Having a bachelor's in life science or nursing helps, as does experience with clinical trials -- like one might get as a nurse or other health-care professional. Many universities also now offer master's programs in clinical research management.

10. Reservoir Engineer

Median pay: $179,000
Top pay: $254,000
10-year job growth: 17%
Total jobs*: 30,200

What they do all day? It's all about getting oil and gas out of the ground -- and the more, the faster, the better. Reservoir engineers run computer models and perform specialized calculations to try to figure out how much oil or gas is below the surface, how much of it can be retrieved, and the best way to get it.

How to get the job? A degree or background in petroleum or chemical engineering is typical, although there's also room for geologists to adapt their skills to the field. Most big companies require a few years of field experience in drilling or production, and may provide additional industry training.

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