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A study released April 12 ranked software engineers as having the best jobs in the United States, citing their use in "virtually every part of the economy."

With an average pay of $80,500 and strong potential for creativity, 46 percent annual growth rate, and 44,800 annual job openings, the position received extra marks for the ability to telecommute. Its stress and flexibility levels were considered almost ideal, while its lowest marks were in ease of entry.

Number seven in the top 10 was another technology sector job: computer IT analyst. The position had an average salary of $83,500, a 10-year growth rate of 36 percent and 67,300 annual job openings on average.

Even entry-level computer IT analysts make $60,000 and above, the study noted, while senior database specialists and IT managers command six-figure salaries and decent bonuses. Though stress and flexibility received average marks, the field was rated well on ease of entry. Its lowest marks were for creativity.

The study, conducted by Money magazine and, took into consideration factors of growth; pay; stress levels; flexibility in hours and working environment; creativity; and how easy it is to enter into and advance within the field. Double weight was given to compensation and percentage growth.

Jobs with salaries averaging less than $50,000 were not considered for the study.

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