Could quality assurance be the happiest job in IT? If you believe the folks at online jobs site CareerBliss, it is that and more — with senior QA engineer ranking as the second happiest job in existence.

CareerBliss loves to crunch the data that’s supplied by the folks who submit information to it. It’s a self-selecting group, of course, and a relatively small sample, to boot. Its rankings of the happiest jobs in America, for example, are based on some 65,000 job reviews it received over the course of 2012. That might seem like a good-size number, but it covers hundreds of jobs. In determining the happiest jobs, CareerBliss set a minimum of 50 reviews for a job to be included. And your CIO just might be a lot happier than the folks over in QA for all we know; no executive-level jobs were included at all.

In other words, the CareerBliss data is solid enough to be interesting, but not solid enough to stake one’s life — or career — on. That said, what can explain the happiness of QA professionals?

They’re well paid, with the average QA worker who submitted a review to CareerBliss making $82,000. But pay is only one factor and not enough to explain the relative happiness of those folks. In fact, the absolutely least happy job in America, according to CareerBliss, is associate attorney, which also happens to have the highest average salary of all the jobs included in the rankings ($111,000). But the site considers other key factors that affect work happiness, including work/life balance, relationships with bosses and co-workers, work environment, growth opportunities, and company culture and reputation. CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge told Forbes that while the QA job involves long hours and intense demands, senior QA engineers are gratified to feel that “they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

In contrast, tech support specialists don’t seem to feel quite so gratified. They ranked as having the ninth least happy job in America. But IT overall is a happy place to work, with three positions landing in the top 10.

Here’s a look at the list Career Bliss put together:

The Happiest Jobs in America

1. Real estate agent

2. Senior QA engineer

3. Senior sales representative

4. Construction superintendent

5. Senior application developer

6. Logistics manager

7. Construction manager

8. Executive administrative assistant

9. Network engineer

10. Assistant controller


The CIO at GE Intelligent Platforms answers questions about age and IT careers.

I am a registered nurse transitioning to IT security. I am in my 50s, so I can’t afford any missteps. What education and certifications would be the best and quickest route to a top IT security position?

Information security professionals have a wide variety of backgrounds, and many do not have technical degrees. I have worked with great people with backgrounds in fields such as psychology and history, for example. But we are now seeing graduates with college degrees in fields such as cybersecurity and risk analysis. Many employers are looking for this type of degree and/or a certification. My advice is to get involved in information security organizations and participate in industry conferences. This will help you establish contacts and become more familiar with IT security in general. Additionally, community colleges that offer courses in IT security are an alternative to pursuing a dedicated degree. Lastly, be sure to target the right type of positions for your first job; for example, access management is less technical in nature and can help you segue into a career in IT security.

After serving in Iraq, I went to school for a computer science degree. I will be 29 when I graduate. Will my age hurt my chances in the job market, and if so, how can I offset that?

First, thank you for your service! I am confident that the leadership, integrity and commitment to excellence instilled through participation in military service will be important career differentiators for you. Those qualities, coupled with your computer science degree, should serve you well in your job search. In fact, you will find that most companies (including mine) have targeted efforts to recruit veterans, and they do this precisely because of those differentiating skills learned through military service.

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