Cube-Busting Careers

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Cure those cubicle blues with these 7 fast-moving careers.

By Chris Kyle

Does your forecast at work call for bright fluorescent lighting with a strong chance of boredom?

You could have a case of the cubicle blues.

For a quick fix, you could make a trip to the vending machine or add a well-positioned potted plant or two. With any luck, that might get you through that next dreary conference call.

But if symptoms persist and your cube continues to feel more like a prison than an office, you may need to bust out and pursue one of these exciting cube-free career options.

Cube Buster #1 – Meeting and Event Planner

Convention halls and hotels are thankfully a cubicle-free zone. Organized and responsible professionals who work well with others could be the right fit since event planners interact with people (like clients, vendors, and potential customers) in all phases of this career.

Education Options: If you're coming from an office career, you likely have some organizational skills that could help translate well into this field. Consider a bachelor's in an area like marketing, public relations or business.

Average Salary: Meeting and convention planners have an average salary of $44,260.*

Find local and online Marketing and Business schools.

Cube Buster #2 – Private Investigator (PI)

If hunting down clues instead of fax confirmations appeals to you, consider a career as a private detective. Yes, there is likely some desk work, but you could also be able to get up and out the door to track down leads. Not only can the work be intriguing, it's a big growth industry. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts a 22 percent growth in job opportunities between 2008 and 2018.

Education Options: An associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice could potentially help prepare for this career.

Average Salary: PIs have an average annual salary of $41,760, though it varies a great deal by location. For example, according to Department of Labor May 2009 wage estimates, private investigators in Virginia have an annual mean wage of $68,420, while New Jersey PIs average at $61,750.*

Search for Criminal Justice degree programs now.

Cube Buster #3 – Registered Nurse

Moving around all day is a great way to cure a case of the cubicle blues. Registered nurses often do that - and so much more - by helping others in this incredibly rewarding and noble profession. To top it off, the career outlook is excellent, according to the Department of Labor, with nearly 600,000 new registered nursing positions expected between 2008 and 2018.

Education Options: Enrolling in a nursing program is the first step to a career as a registered nurse.

Average Salary: Registered nurses have an average salary of $62,450.*

Find top Nursing schools near you today!

Cube Buster #4 - Chef

If you're feeling stressed out at work - and want to save big on dry cleaning - consider trading in your suit for a chef's hat and apron. But seriously, if you have a real passion for food and flavors, this could be the gig for you.

Education Options: Chefs and head cooks usually work their way up the ladder. To begin that climb to the top, enrolling in a culinary school could be a great first step. Programs usually include on-the-job preparation in a restaurant.

Average Salary: Chefs and head cooks have an average salary of $38,770. This varies greatly according to location and restaurant quality.*

Pursue your passion by enrolling in a Culinary school near you.

Cube Buster #5 – Teacher

We all can recall a favorite teacher who inspired us, but it's unlikely that you'll ever think back fondly on your corner cubicle. By becoming a teacher, you'll likely be at the front of the class, rather than in a cube. Plus you could be making a difference in students' lives.

Education Options: You'll need a bachelor's degree in the subject you plan to teach, or an education or teaching degree, accoring to the Department of Labor. You also need a teacher's certificate. You can earn this online or through a campus-based teacher's certification program. Getting a master's in your field could also help prepare you for this career. Even better, it could increase your average earning potential.

Average Salary: The average salary for public school teachers was $53,910 in 2008–09, according to the U.S. Department of Education.*

Search for Education & Teaching schools now.

Cube Buster #6 – Police Officer

There's a reason that little kids often dream of becoming police officers. It's exciting! By trading in that office ID card for a badge, you may find yourself handcuffing a suspect, digging around for clues, or protecting and serving your community in a myriad of other ways that likely won't involve a cube. Just keep in mind that you could still have to do some desk work.

Education Options: Consider studying criminal justice in school.

Average Salary: Police have an average annual salary of $51,410, though overtime work can push this figure up.*

Search for an associate's or bachelor's degree program in Criminal Justice.

Cube Buster #7 – Restaurant Manager

If you have a head for business but can't stand another day in an office, you might be well-suited to pursue a career as a restaurant manager. The career often calls for running the day-to-day operations of a restaurant. Yes, there's a desk involved, but you likely won't find many cubicles in the restaurant industry.

Education Options: Look into restaurant hospitality programs. An associate's degree in accounting or business could also serve as great preparation for running a restaurant.

Average Salary: Food service managers usually earn $46,320.*

Search for Accounting and Business Administration degree programs.

*All average salary data and job growth information is from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment Statistics and Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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