The 20 best jobs for people who love to solve problems

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Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Some people are natural-born problem solvers. Others develop the skill over time. Either way, there are several jobs that are perfect for this group of people, where day-to-day tasks involve tackling information and problems head-on to devise solutions.

We filtered through data from theOccupational Information Network (O*NET), a US Department of Labor database that compiles detailed information on hundreds of jobs, to find 20 that place high importance on “making decisions and solving problems.” We also checked out the average annual salary and projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024 for each job on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website.

O*NET judges how important “analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems” is in any job, assigning each a score between one and 100. Positions that involve more problem solving, like physician assistants and chief executives, rank higher – while jobs that don’t require much problem solving, like tour guide and waiter, rank lower.

Check out the 20 best jobs for problem solvers below:


No. 20. Hospitalist

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College of DuPage/Flickr

Average annual salary (2015): $197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Provide inpatient care, including medications and treatments in intensive-care units, medical wards, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD

Projected growth through 2024: 14%

*BLS includes this occupation under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.”


No. 19. Administrative law judge, adjudicator, or hearing officer

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Flickr/California Courts

Average annual salary (2015): $93,140

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Conduct hearings to review claims and determine liability for government-related matters and programs.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, usually followed by a JD.

Projected growth through 2024: -1%


No. 18. Obstetrician or gynecologist

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Daniel Lobo/flickr

Average annual salary (2015): $222,400

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Provide medical care to women during pregnancy and childbirth.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%


No. 17. Education administrator, elementary and secondary school

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Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/flickr

Average annual salary (2015): $92,940

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Typically referred to as elementary- or secondary-school principals whose job is to enforce discipline and attendance policies for students and teachers.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, sometimes followed by a PhD.

Projected growth through 2024: 6%


No. 16. Midwife

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ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

Average annual salary (2015): $93,610

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Provide prenatal care to mothers and assist with childbirth and infant care.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree as an advanced-practice registered nurse (APRN).

Projected growth through 2024: 31%


No. 15. Actuary

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Andrey Popov/shutterstock

Average annual salary (2015): $110,560

Problem-solving importance level: 93

What they do: Analyze statistical data regarding mortality, accident, sickness, and disability to predict the probability of future risk and liability.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree and must pass a series of certified exams.

Projected growth through 2024: 18%


No. 14. Respiratory therapy technician

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Medill DC/flickr

Average annual salary (2015): $49,720

Problem-solving importance level: 94

What they do: Work with patients in need of respiratory care in emergency rooms, neonatal or pediatric intensive care, or surgical-intensive care.

Education requirements: Most jobs in this area require vocational-school training.

Projected growth through 2024: 12%


No. 13. Social and community-service manager

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David Ramos/Getty Images

Average annual salary (2015): $69,430

Problem-solving importance level: 94

What they do: Plan, direct, coordinate, and oversee social-service or community-outreach programs and organizations. Includes job titles like social worker and adoption-services manager.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, sometimes a master’s degree.

Projected growth through 2024: 10%


No. 12. Preventive-medicine physician

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REUTERS/ Jean-Paul Pelissier

Average annual salary (2015): $197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 94

What they do: Assist and aid nurses, physicians, or statisticians in the prevention of disease, injury, or death.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%

*BLS includes this occupation under Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.


No. 11. Physician assistant

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Mario Villafuerte / Getty Images

Average annual salary (2015): $99,270

Problem-solving importance level: 94

What they do: Assist physicians by conducting patient physicals, treatment, and counseling.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Projected growth through 2024: 30%


No. 10. Chief executive

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Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.
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Reuters/Stephen Lam

Average annual salary (2015): $185,850

Problem solving importance level: 94

What they do: Provide overall direction and implement policies of a company. Typical job titles include chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and executive vice president.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Projected growth through 2024:6%


No. 9. Judge, magistrate judge, or magistrate

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REUTERS/Richard Drew/Pool

Average annual salary (2015): $116,100

Problem-solving importance level: 94

What they do: Preside over a court of law with the ability to sentence defendants in criminal cases and determine defendant liability in civil cases. May also perform wedding ceremonies.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a JD.

Projected growth through 2024: -1%


No. 8. Ophthalmologist

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Flickr/Army Medicine

Average annual salary (2015): $197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 95

What they do: Conduct eye exams and vision correction, like optometrists, but are also trained to perform eye surgery, including cataracts and glaucoma.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%

*BLS includes this occupation under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.”


No. 7. Anesthesiologist

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ChaNaWiT/Shutterstock

Average annual salary (2015): $250,100

Problem-solving importance level: 95

What they do: Physicians who administer a sedative drug called anesthesia before surgery, and monitor patients during and after surgery.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%*

*BLS includes this figure under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.”


No. 6. Air-traffic controller

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Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

Average annual salary (2015): $118,740

Problem-solving importance level: 96

What they do: Control, authorize, and regulate airplane traffic at and in between airports.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree or work experience totaling three years, in addition to exams and a Federal Aviation Administration academy course.

Projected growth through 2024:-9%


No. 5. Nurse anesthetist

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isafmedia/flickr

Average annual salary (2015): $160,250

Problem-solving importance level: 97

What they do: Administer anesthesia, monitor patient vital signs, and oversee patient recovery after surgery.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Projected growth through 2024:31%


No. 4. Radiologist

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Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Average annual salary (2015): $197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 98

What they do: Examine and interpret the results of a patient x-ray and communicate diagnostic information regarding diseases or disorders to patients and physicians.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%

*BLS includes this occupation under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.


No. 3. Neurologist

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Wikimedia Commons

Average annual salary (2015): $197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 98

What they do: Physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and disorders of the brain and central-nervous system.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, followed by a PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%

*BLS includes this occupation under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.”


No. 2. Sports-medicine physician

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Wikimedia Commons

Average annual salary (2015):$197,700*

Problem-solving importance level: 98

What they do: Diagnose, treat, and help prevent sport-related injuries in athletes.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, follow by PhD or an MD.

Projected growth through 2024: 14%*

*BLS includes this occupation under “Physicians and Surgeons, All Other.”


No. 1. Government-property inspector or investigator

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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Average annual salary (2015): $55,100*

Problem-solving importance level: 100

What they do: Inspect government property to ensure that things are in order with contract agreements and government regulations.

Education requirements: Most jobs in this area require vocational-school training.

Projected growth through 2024: 8%

*BLS includes this occupation under “Construction and Building Inspectors (state government).”