One Year To A New Career


Get the preparation you need to help you pursue a new career in one year.

By Jennifer Berry

If you've been impacted by the recession, you know exactly how frustrating a fruitless career search can be.

But that doesn't mean you're powerless to change your situation.

In fact, if you have the time, there are quite a few careers that you could prepare for in one year - with the right certificate program.

Check out this list of hot careers that could completed in one year or less:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Paralegal
  • Dental Assistant
  • Graphic Designer
  • Chef
  • Administrative Assistant

[Click here to find the right certificate program for you]

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UCLA Extension, Karim Cherif, understands the value of certificate programs.

"A career in a year is possible with most programs if you take advantage of full time enrollment," Cherif says.

See seven in-demand careers you could prepare for with the right certificate program. Most can be completed in one year or less.

#1 - Medical Assistant

Medical assisting could be a great option for people looking to pursue a new career quickly. As a medical assistant, your responsibilities might include scheduling appointments, filling out insurance forms, and taking down patient medical histories.

One-year career plan: The U.S. Department of Labor expects employment of medical assistants to grow by 34 percent through 2018. Preparing for this in-demand career with a certificate or diploma program is a great start.

Average earnings: Medical assistants have an average annual salary of $29,450. Top earners in this career have an average annual salary of $39,970.*

[Search for Medical Assistant programs now]

#2 - Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists prepare prescription medications. They also provide customer service, answer phones, and take prescription orders.

One-year career plan: Want to start applying for pharmacy technician positions in 2012? Enrolling in a pharmacy technician certificate program, which generally takes less than one year to complete, is a great step towards this career goal.

Average earnings: Pharmacy technicians have an average annual salary of $28,940. The top ten percent can make more than $40,160 a year.*

[Search for Pharmacy Technician programs]

#3 - Paralegal

The paralegal profession is a smart choice for people looking to start something new this year. As a paralegal, your workday might include researching cases, obtaining affidavits, and even assisting attorneys during trials.

One-year career plan: If you already have a bachelor's degree, earning a paralegal certificate can be helpful. Most programs could be completed in one year or less. Don't have a degree? A two-year associate's degree in paralegal studies could help you get into this field.

Average earnings: The average annual salary of paralegals is $50,080. The top ten percent of earners in the paralegal profession have an average salary of $75,700 per year.*

[Search for Paralegal programs]

#4 - Dental Assistant

Dental assistants generally handle office duties, lab duties, and patient care. As a dental assistant, your responsibilities might involve scheduling appointments, sterilizing equipment, and providing assistance to the dentist during dental procedures.

One-year career plan: Enrolling in a dental assisting certificate or diploma program is a great step towards this career. Most take about one year to complete. If your state regulates dental assistants, make sure your accredited dental assisting program will prepare you for the licensing exam.

Average earnings: Dental assistants have an average annual salary of $34,000, with the top ten percent earning about $47,000.*

[Search for Dental Assistant programs]

#5 - Chef

As a chef, it would be your responsibility to direct cooks, prepare recipes, and keep your kitchen running efficiently and profitably. Setting work schedules, ordering supplies, and obeying local regulations might also be a part of this career.

One-year career plan: Learning professional techniques and honing your cooking skills through a culinary certificate program can help you prepare to pursue this career.

Average earnings: Chefs have an average annual salary of $44,240. The top ten percent average at more than $69,560 a year.*

[Search for Culinary programs]

#6 - Graphic Designer

Graphic designers channel their creativity to develop visually communicative materials for brochures, flyers, posters, product catalogs, advertisements, and web sites.

One-year career plan: Completing a short certificate program could help you get the technical skills needed to get your foot in the door as an assistant graphic designer.

Average earnings: Entry-level graphic designers made $35,000 on average in 2008, according to the American Institute of Graphic Arts.*

[Search for Graphic Designer programs]

#7 - Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants are a key member of the office team. Day to day, responsibilities include storing, retrieving, and passing along information to staff and clients. Administrative assistants might also schedule and plan meetings, make travel arrangements, and create reports.

One-year career plan: Completing a certificate program in office administration should prepare you with the computer and office skills often needed to start this career in about three months to one year.

Average earnings: Administrative assistants have an annual salary of $44,010, with the top ten percent averaging at more than $64,330.*

[Search for Office Administration programs]

*Unless otherwise noted, all salary information is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2009.

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