Technology First Look

Where are the best jobs of 2017? Look to technology.

Jobs for US workers with tech skills took 14 out of 50 spots in a 'best jobs' survey. 

A man works amid orange robot arms at Rapoo Technology factory in southern Chinese industrial boomtown of Shenzhen.
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Glassdoor released its annual ranking Monday of this year's 50 "best jobs" in the United States. Once again, perhaps unsurprisingly, tech-related positions rose to the top.

Four of the top five jobs, in fact, were for tech workers, with "data scientist" defending its spot at the top of the list. The ranking – which is based on median base salary, job satisfaction rating, and the number of positions available on Glassdoor – reflects a broader trend in a changing US labor market. As an increasing number of industries, even outside the traditional tech sector, seek to grapple with rapid technological innovation, demand for tech professionals has skyrocketed.

"This report reinforces that the best jobs are highly-skilled and are staying ahead of the growing trend toward workplace automation," Glassdoor's chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, told Business Insider. Keeping one step ahead of the machines, as workplaces grow increasingly automated, requires a few notably human qualifications: a sense of creativity, discernment, and adaptability.

"Those are aspects of work that are extremely difficult to automate, and having them allows workers to team up with technology to become more productive, rather than simply being replaced by it," Dr. Chamberlain added.

Data scientists earn a median base salary of $110,000 per year and report a job satisfaction rating of 4.4 out of 5, according to Glassdoor's report. The job rose to No. 1 last year, up from No. 9 in 2015.

DevOps Engineer – a job that entails both software development ("Dev") and informational technology operations ("Ops") – came in second, followed by data engineer in third.

Fourteen of the 50 jobs that made the list require some sort of STEM-related skills (in science, technology, engineering, and/or math), as USA Today reported.

Glassdoor's ranking comes as newly inaugurated President Trump launches his administration with an emphasis on job creation, with a special emphasis on manufacturing – having inherited a US economy showing signs of progress along a long road to recovery.

The unemployment rate rose from 4.6 percent in November to 4.7 percent in December. But it remained well below its 10-percent peak during the recession, and the labor force grew by 184,000 last month (a factor that can increase the unemployment rate), as The Christian Science Monitor's Lonnie Shekhtman reported earlier in January.

"At this pace of growth, we can expect to continue to see improvements in the labor market over the next couple of years as we approach full employment," Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, wrote in a newsletter.

Looking forward, the Glassdoor report suggests that these tech-related fields, not manufacturing, will grow even more prominent for the American labor force.

"Politicians love to talk about manufacturing jobs because appeal to nostalgia, but most economists say those jobs will never return," Dr. Chamberlain told USA Today. "The future is in skilled services, not in making physical things.”