“You Get Paid to...What?” The 10 Most Misunderstood Jobs, According to Data

Everyone has that friend. You know, the one whose job no one can put their finger on. You might try to learn more about their job title, day-to-day schedule, or even what they eat during lunch breaks, but it’s as if some jobs are shrouded in mystery.

Well, we got tired of wondering. The team at Business.CenturyLink.com scoured the internet, deep-dived forum posts, and crunched the data to discover the 10 most misunderstood jobs in the United States.

We collected enough information to illustrate some of America’s most misunderstood jobs. The info we collected includes job descriptions, average salary, position openings, and a few examples of these professionals in action.

So, what does that mysterious friend actually do to make money? Let’s find out.

Methodology

The team at Business.CenturyLink.com reviewed information on job market sites such as LinkedIn, Business Insider, Digital Marketing Institute, Glassdoor, and Reddit to find jobs that either did not exist or were less common between 5 and 15 years ago.

From there, the team separated the data for trends and overlaps, searching for the most frequently mentioned job titles. Finally, the team studied the search volume of each job using the SEO tool Ahrefs, specifically inputting “What does [job] do?” to discover which of the frequently mentioned jobs were questioned the most.

most misunderstood jobs

Noteworthy Data Trends

  • The position with the most job openings—at a total of 425,106 on Indeed—was Virtual Assistant. This position also had the lowest annual salary.
  • The highest paying job was as a Data Scientist with a median salary of $113,309.
  • An Actuary had the fewest job openings with only 1,013 in the country, according to Indeed.
  • A Freelancer was the only job that Indeed offered the option to input “remote” as their location. If you’re wondering, the answer is yes—not even “Virtual Assistant” had that option!

Breaking Down the Top 10 Misunderstood Jobs: Definitions and Examples

#1 - Actuary

Description: An Actuary is a professional risk assessor for an organization or individual. Actuaries research locations, people, and projects to estimate the potential risk associated with these variables. The overall goal is to give their client a better understanding of the chance of financial loss involved with an investment or action.

Example: If an investor wants to fund the construction of a new mall in the middle of the desert, the investor might be wise to hire an Actuary to estimate the risk of the mall’s unique location.

Average Monthly Searches - 11,000

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 1,103

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $97,776

#2 - Influencer

Description: An Influencer is a person or organization who uses a platform—usually social media—to market a product or service on the basis of their name or reputation alone.

Example: Think of the “celebrity endorsement.” If you’ve ever seen a commercial or billboard featuring a celebrity, that celebrity is functioning as an Influencer.

Average Monthly Searches - 6,300

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 11,288

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $83,683

#3 - Data Scientist

Description: A Data Scientist studies ways that data can be gathered efficiently and effectively. Data Scientists often share their work with other statistical analysts.

Example: A Data Scientist may work with a psychologist to develop more representative sampling methods. If a psychologist is studying bearded individuals, but all of the sampled volunteers are clean-shaven, the psychologist might need a Data Scientist’s help.

Average Monthly Searches - 4,200

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 14,903

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $113,309

#4 - Freelancer

Description: A Freelancer is a generic term for someone who is self-employed.

Example: A journalist may be a Freelancer, meaning they do not work for a news outlet but instead sell their work to news buyers on their own accord.

Average Monthly Searches - 3,900

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 86,126

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - NA

#5 - Virtual Assistant

Description: A Virtual Assistant is a remote worker—usually someone who is a freelancer or self-employed—who helps others perform various professional tasks. A Virtual Assistant may help run administrative tasks, manage a business’s housekeeping, or provide creative input.

Example: A novelist might employ a Virtual Assistant to help manage their emails, calls, and documents so they can better focus on their next hit romance novel.

Average Monthly Searches - 3,700

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 425,106

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $26,350

#6 - Software Engineer

Description: A Software Engineer, sometimes called a Software Developer or a Coder, uses computer technology to create virtual programs and systems called “software.”

Example: From popular games like Fortnite to virtual editions of chess, Software Engineers are the gurus who breathe life into video games.

Average Monthly Searches - 3,600

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 115,388

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $92,046

#7 - Engineer

Description: Engineers design, test, and create materials, tools, gadgets, and structures to fulfill various functions in society. There are many disciplines and areas of study within engineering, so one type of engineer can be incredibly different from another.

Example: Road-safe bridges are designed, tested, and overseen by engineers (whew, thankfully).

Average Monthly Searches - 3,400

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 93,182

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $72,323

#8 - Data Analyst

Description: A Data Analyst “crunches” data. A Data Analyst looks at large groups of numbers, uses statistical methods to make sense of those numbers, and recommends ways the data can be used to form conclusions and opinions for a variety of industries.

Example: Any time you read or hear a stat, maybe on a billboard or in a politician’s campaign speech, that statistic came from the hard work of a Data Analyst.

Average Monthly Searches - 3,300

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 21,892

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $62,453

#9 - Project Manager

Description: From start to finish, a Project Manager is in charge of exactly what you’d expect: seeing a project through to completion. Project Managers often work with teams, overseeing the planning, execution, and follow-up of the team’s work on a given project. Project Managers work in a variety of fields and industries.

Example: Ever been inside a building? You may have witnessed the efforts of a Project Manager. It’s common for architecture firms to hire Project Managers to oversee the creation of a new building or structure.

Average Monthly Searches - 2,900

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 61,766

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $66,137

#10 - Social Media Manager

Description: A Social Media Manager is in charge of a company’s social media accounts and online platforms. While personal social media accounts are often used for connecting with friends and family, a Social Media Manager’s goal is to market their company’s service or product using those social platforms.

Example: If you ever see a Facebook post or Instagram photo advertising a product, that post was most likely the brainchild of a Social Media Manager.

Average Monthly Searches - 1,700

# of Job Openings (Indeed) - 29,567

Median Salary (Glassdoor) - $50,473

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