Best Careers for Ambitious People


If you've got the drive to succeed, you might thrive in one of these go-getter careers.

By Jennifer Berry

Are you an ambitious person? Do you want a career that could allow you to reach your potential?

Good news: there are careers out there that could be a good fit for your go-getter personality.

"Some careers tend to be more high pressure, and therefore more go-getter," says certified career coach Hallie Crawford. "Consulting, financial analyst, stock broker, and entrepreneurs are just a few of the kinds of jobs that ambitious people gravitate toward," she adds.

If these types of careers sound interesting - or appeal to your ambitious side - keep reading to learn about seven more careers that might be right for you.

Career #1 - Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

If ambition has you gunning for the top dog position, consider setting your sights on the title of chief executive officer (CEO).

As a CEO, you might devise strategies and policies to ensure your company's goals are met, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. You may also have ample opportunity to use your creativity and leadership skills as you meet with other top executives to make sure the overall operation of your company is on track.

According to Crawford, "as CEO, you're in the spotlight. You have to manage and be responsible for many people, be a self-starter, and be disciplined. This career is appealing for the income, visibility, high profile, and sense of achievement you can get by affecting the direction of a company."

Click to Find the Right Business Program.

How do I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, CEOs come to the job with a lot of experience and a variety of educational backgrounds, though most have at least a bachelor's degree - which could vary from business administration to liberal arts to a more specialized discipline. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a CEO, consider tailoring your education around the type of company you hope to run, and do whatever you can to gain experience and get to the top.

Average annual salary: $176,550*

Career #2 - Public Relations Specialist

Are you a go-getter with a knack for finding exactly the right thing to say in all kinds of situations? Consider pursuing a career as a PR specialist, where you might be able to put that talent to work for companies or public figures.

As a PR specialist, you might help your clients - who could be celebrities, nonprofit organizations, schools, or businesses - build and maintain positive relationships with the public, says the U.S. Department of Labor. In doing so, you might draft press releases, prepare speeches for the president of your company, or plan conventions.

"PR specialists are the face of their organization," Crawford says. "You have to know and craft what to say in order to deliver the right message. It's a very public position. This career is appealing because it may give you the opportunity to promote a cause or organization you feel strongly about."

Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

How do I prepare for this career? Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, or communications, according to the Department of Labor.

Average annual salary: $60,400*

Career #3 - Health Care Administrator

If you're a natural leader with the confidence and drive to lead a hospital, consider putting your ambition to work as you prepare to pursue a career as a health care administrator.

As a health care administrator, you might coordinate and supervise the delivery of health care at your facility, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Depending on the size of the facility you manage, you might handle personnel, finances, operations, and admissions.

"Becoming a health care administrator might be a good fit for an ambitious person if you're high up in the organization," Crawford says. "There's a PR element to this, and you may be dealing with the government, red tape, and regulations. This career can be appealing because it allows you to help people with their health."

Click to find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

How do I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, a master's degree in health services administration, business administration, or a related field is required for most positions. However, a bachelor's degree might be enough to get you started in an entry-level position in a smaller facility.

Average annual salary: $96,030*

Career #4 - Accountant

Are you interested in pursuing a career that could put your gift for numbers and your "go-getter" personality to use? You might have the makings of a great accountant.

Accountants are found everywhere - in government, businesses, and working for individuals, says the U.S. Department of Labor. As an accountant, your responsibilities could cover payroll, taxes, or even budget analysis and investment planning. If you have a thirst for justice, you might even specialize in forensic accounting - investigating white-collar crimes like embezzlement or money laundering.

"Accountants deal with important issues," Crawford says. "It's very detailed and complicated work, so you have to be focused and meticulous." With so much riding on the accuracy and transparency of corporate and government financial records, accountants with a drive to do excellent work is important.

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How do I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, most accountants need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Got your sights set on something even more ambitious? Consider getting licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Average annual salary: $70,130*

Career #5 - Computer Programmer

Are you a computer-whiz who likes to push yourself to your limits? Take that drive to challenge yourself and consider pursuing a career as a computer programmer.

As a computer programmer, you might spend your days designing software, says the U.S. Department of Labor. You may also write programs by coding the software design into a language that a computer can follow. In order to do that, you could work in a number of programming languages, including C++ and Python.

"For computer programming, you have to be able to solve complex problems, be methodical and good with details," Crawford says. "This could be a good job for you if you're able to work under tight deadlines and prioritize your time. This career can be appealing because you get to see tangible results from your work."

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

How do I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, or information systems may be required for some computer programming jobs, although an associate's degree in computer programming may be enough for others.

Average annual salary: $76,010*

Career #6 - Registered Nurse (RN)

Are you driven to help people? If so, consider pursuing a career as a registered nurse (RN).

As a RN, you may work closely with patients, administering medication, performing diagnostic tests, or helping with rehabilitation. You might also teach patients how to manage their illnesses or injuries, as well as provide emotional support to patients and their families.

"This is a good career for a go-getter because you need to be good with details, have broad knowledge of a wide range of health issues, be good at research, and have solid people skills," Crawford says. "The career can be appealing because of the opportunity to earn a good income, the job stability, and the chance to help people."

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

How do I prepare for this career? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, earning an associate's degree in nursing is a common route to pursuing a career as an RN. You'll also need to pass a national licensing examination after you finish nursing school in order to obtain your nursing license.

Average annual salary: $69,110*

Career #7 - Lawyer

Ambition - the drive to succeed - can be a great asset for lawyers as they strive to win case after case. This isn't a career path for the faint-of-heart, but if this prestigious profession intrigues you, there could be many rewards.

As a lawyer, you might act as both an advocate and an advisor to people or corporations, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. You might counsel your clients about legal issues like patents, government regulations, or contracts with other companies. Depending on the type of law you practice, you might prosecute or defend criminals in court, assist with wills or trusts, or defend intellectual property rights.

"Lawyers must be detail oriented," Crawford says. "They deal with complex issues, confrontational material, and have to be very intelligent. This career can be appealing because lawyers are somewhat in the spotlight, they often earn high income, and they can help people or corporations solve problems."

How do I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, most lawyers attend three years of law school after completing their bachelor's degree. There is no official "prelaw" degree, but the Department of Labor recommends students take courses to help develop excellent writing, speaking, researching, and analyzing skills - courses like English, public speaking, government, and computer science, among others. After law school, most lawyers must pass a written bar examination, though some requirements vary by state.

Average annual salary: $130,490*

* All average annual salary information is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011.

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