Breaking Down Your Career Options

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Not sure which career path to pick? Check out these stable, exciting, rewarding, and creative options.

By Chris Kyle   

Having trouble deciding which career path to take?

Creating a wish list can help, says Jeff Sanders, author of "Graduated and Clueless."

"You should sit down and physically write out a list of everything in the world you want," says Sanders. "This list will give you a starting block to see what excites you and what ideal lifestyle you want to live."

Ask yourself what you really want out of your career. For example:

  • Is career stability your main priority?
  • Want a career where the work is exciting every day?
  • Prefer a fulfilling career with rewarding work?
  • Think a creative career is the best fit for you?

Whether it's a stable, exciting, rewarding, or creative career path you seek, we can help you find some options. Keep reading to see if any are right for you.

If career stability is your main priority

Job stability is likely top-of-mind for many Americans due to these uncertain times. While there are signs that our economic outlook is brightening, some careers are growing faster than others. Check out these promising professions:

Paralegal

Paralegals often do the heavy-lifting for the lawyers they assist and are enjoying a 28 percent increase in employment opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you want to get into this line of work, consider earning a bachelor's or associate's degree in paralegal studies. Already have a bachelor's degree? Earning a paralegal certificate is another option.

Average Salary for Paralegals: $49,640*

Search for Paralegal Studies Programs

Health Care Manager

Ten of the 20 fastest growing careers are in health care, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care managers in particular are seeing a 16 percent jump in employment opportunities from 2008-2018. The most standard education for those in this position is a master's degree; however, a bachelor's may be enough to pursue entry-level positions, according to the Department of Labor. Smart subject options: business administration or health care administration.

Average Salary of Health Care Managers: $93,670*

Find Health Care Schools and Degree Programs

If you're looking for excitement

Comic strip "Dilbert" and movies like "Office Space" have turned boring office jobs into a comedic art form. But there's nothing funny about being stuck in a boring career. Check out these exciting career options:

Forensic Science Technician

It should come as no surprise that many law and order types have legal and criminal justice backgrounds. But did you know that law enforcement agencies also need crime scene technicians? If testing evidence gathered at crime scenes sounds exciting, this could be the career for you. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, forensics techs generally need a bachelor's degree. Smart degree choices: forensic science or natural science.

Average Salary for Forensic Science Technicians: $55,040*

Find Criminal Justice and Forensics Programs

Management Analyst

Want to be a hired gun who companies turn to when looking for management expertise? Management analysts, sometimes called management consultants, advise big and small companies faced with strategic decisions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree is usually required to work as an analyst for the government, while many private companies prefer candidates with a master's of business administration (MBA).

Average Salary for Management Analysts: $87,260*

Start Now - Search for Business Schools Online or Near You

If you want to help people

Want to pursue a fulfilling career track that could pay you back financially, as well as emotionally? Check out these rewarding career options:

Personal Financial Advisor

A great career path for financially savvy individuals, typical responsibilities for personal financial advisors include helping people prepare for the future and organize their finances. To get prepped, consider earning a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business administration, or economics. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many personal financial advisors also earn their MBA or master's in finance as well, though it's not always required.

Average Salary for Personal Financial Advisors: $91,220*

Find Accounting and Finance Programs Now

Registered Nurse

Any career directly involved in helping others has its personal rewards. Nursing is one of these noble professions and it has the potential to pay off financially as well. To prepare for this career, look into associate's and bachelor's degree programs in nursing, as those are the most common points of entry into this profession. Graduates with a bachelor's in nursing have an average starting salary of $52,700, according to PayScale, and a mid-career salary of $68,200.

Average Salary for Registered Nurses: $67,720*

Search for Nursing Schools and Degree Programs

If you want to be creative

Creative career tracks aren't limited to the arts. In fact, there are quite a few options that could let you express your artistic side. Check out these other creative career options:

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers oversee the brainstorming of big ideas and help plot their execution. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers frequently prefer a bachelor's degree in business administration or an MBA with a marketing focus. Note: Competition is strong for these creative careers, so keep in mind that you'll likely need to build up your experience before advancing to this position.

Average Salary of Marketing Managers: $122,720*

Find Marketing Degree Programs

Video Game Designer

We believe that video game designers are artists and the U.S. government agrees. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced in 2011 that video games, mobile technologies, and other Internet-related content are now considered art forms and therefore eligible for NEA grants. If this type of work sounds interesting, consider earning a degree in animation or video game design.

Average Salary of Video Game Designers: $57,000*

Search for Creative Arts & Design Schools

*All average salary info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, using May 2010 data, except for video game designer salary, which comes from SimplyHired.com in May 2011.

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