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Financial gurus have it the best

Book ranks country’s jobs, from financial planner to fisherman

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SANTA ANA, Calif. — You want a good job? Manage money instead of modems.

Being your own boss, making lots of money and getting plenty of time off puts financial planners at the top of the list in the latest edition of "Jobs Rated Almanac," a book ranking the best and worst jobs in the country that will be released this weekend.

DNews graphicChart: Jobs ratedRequires Adobe Acrobat.

That doesn't mean managing modems doesn't pay. Web site managers, at the top of the list just a year ago, dropped only a notch, to No. 2. Financial planners were No. 17 last year. And the top 10 ranked jobs both years were all in math or computer-related fields.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, trade groups and telephone surveys, the book ranks 250 jobs according to six criteria: income, stress, physical demands, potential growth, job security and work environment.

"So many people have become Web site managers, there's a glut in the market," author Les Krantz said. "When jobs get hot, they eventually get too hot and have to cool."

Some high-profile jobs, such as race-car drivers (No. 188) and president of the United States (No. 167), were deemed less desirable because of limited job growth and high stress.

"What will surprise most people is that the jobs they always aspired to — movie stars and athletic stars — aren't the best jobs. They have little job security and a high level of stress," Krantz said.

For those thinking of becoming teachers (No. 119) and police officers (No. 200), the book offers this message: Low pay, high stress and less-than-desirable working conditions.

The worst-ranked were manual-labor jobs in traditionally troubled fields, with lumberjacks, oil field roustabouts and fishermen ranking at the bottom, thanks to economic conditions and long work hours.

But don't tell that to Mickey Rose of Eugene, Ore., who spent nearly 50 years as a lumberjack (No. 248).

"I was born and raised in a logging camp, and I had to go to work at 13," he said. "We used to say if you wasn't a logger, you weren't nothing."

Rose, 89, credits the desire for "those desk-type jobs" with a change in the country's work ethic.

"People used to go out and work hard to support their families. Now they look for the (least amount) of work they can," he said.

Fisherman David Greenly of Portland, Maine, agrees his job could be the least desirable in the country.

"You have to have a lot of stamina to do the job. It's hard work and it's dangerous," he said. "You don't fish unless you love it."

Financial planners "seem to get a right fair amount of money for what they do, sitting behind a desk and all. I guess you've got to get paid well for a sort of boring job," said Greenly, who did repair work on one of the boats used in the movie "The Perfect Storm." "Of course, I've never seen that kind of money. But I've never been bored either."

Job satisfaction seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Financial planner Peggy Tracy of Wheaton, Ill., says part of the reason her job is in demand is because of the impending retirement of baby boomers. "They need expert advice," she said. "If we can help our clients earn, for example, an extra 1 or 2 percent a year, their nest eggs can grow substantially faster."

David Miser, a financial planner in Janesville, Wis., said it's an industry that appeals to all kinds of clients.

"The market makes no distinction as to how an investor earns his paycheck," he said.

The book is intended as a guide for people considering career changes or wanting to know more about specific jobs, Krantz said.

"The moral of the story," Krantz said, "is that not every job is what it seems."