The folks at Careercast.com have released their annual survey of the best and worst jobs to have. Shockingly, sitting at a desk crunching numbers came up a lot rosier than risking death working on an oil rig. The survey looks at several factors — including salary, potential for growth, job stress and physical demands — and ranked 200 jobs.

The folks at Careercast.com have released their annual survey of the best and worst jobs to have. Shockingly, sitting at a desk crunching numbers came up a lot rosier than risking death working on an oil rig.

The survey looks at several factors — including salary, potential for growth, job stress and physical demands — and ranked 200 jobs. The ones on top not only had good pay, but they have high growth potential and relatively low stress levels. The bottom tier tended to be low-pay, high-stress situations.

Doesn’t sound like rocket science, but the Careercast.com folks put a great deal of math into their equations, which you can see in detail at their Web site. And, like most lists, it does the most important thing: spark discussion about why you like your job or what else you might want to try.

Top 5

1. Actuary
Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, death and loss of property from theft and natural disasters. Sound boring? Maybe the $85,229 salary will change your mind. Low physical demands and stress levels also bring this job to the top of the list.

2. Software engineer
Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific and industrial purposes. These are the people who make sure you can’t cheat at solitaire on your computer — not to mention the guy who developed that annoying Microsoft Office paper clip. Salary: $85,139.

3. Computer systems analyst
Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions. Also known as the guy who always gets kidnapped in spy thrillers to help the bad guys break into ultrasecret government compounds. Usually ends up being the hero, but occasionally gets shot. Salary: $76,162.

4. Biologist
Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment. The stress factor here probably depends if you’re the “playing with puppies” biologist or the “swimming with sharks” biologist. Salary: $71,279.

5. Historian
Analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise. Along with academia, historians are in demand in the defense industry and State Department — so hopefully they’ll be able to tell us what’s been going on this whole time. Salary: $62,226.

Bottom 5

196. Welder
Joins or repairs metal surfaces through the application of heat. Potential for serious accidents here, like accidentally welding some sheet metal to your foot. Ouch. Salary: $34,122.

197. Dairy farmer
Directs and takes part in activities involved in the raising of cattle for milk production. Milk and cheese are yummy, but getting kicked by a cow isn’t as much fun. Neither are predawn milkings. Salary: $32,114.

198. Ironworker
Raises the steel framework of buildings, bridges and other structures. Although safety equipment is state-of-the-art, dangling a few hundred feet off the ground while guiding girders around is no piece of cake. Salary: $32,123.

199. Lumberjack
Fells, cuts and transports timber to be processed into lumber, paper and other wood products. Having a tree fall on you is not a fun prospect, but on the plus side you might end up on a History Channel reality show. Salary: $32,114.

200. Roustabout
Performs routine physical labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines, both on and off shore. Dangerous, stressful, bad pay and a declining market. The only upside is the name: Would you pick a fight with a guy who said he was a roustabout? Me neither. Average salary: $31,133.

Sean F. Driscoll can be reached at sdriscoll@rrstar.com.