Thriving (and Dying) Careers


Don't get stuck in a dead career. Check out our list of thriving, high-growth careers.

By Tony Moton

From the mid-19th into the early 20th century, there were plenty of careers for skilled breaker boys.

What is a breaker boy? A dead career, that's what.

Breaker boys separated impurities from coal by hand in coal-breaking facilities. The occupation became extinct, mostly due to technological advancements.

The fact is some careers are dead. While some are barely breathing...

Recent lists published by and reveal a few well-known dead or dying careers:

  • Telegraph Operator - They were in heavy demand during World War I and World War II ... stop. People no longer use Morse code ... stop.
  • Lamplighter - Back in the dark ages (ahem!), there was steady work for people who lit gas lamps. Then along came electric streetlights, thus dimming lamplighters' career hopes for good.
  • Photo Processor - One-hour photo operations might have already enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame with the growth of digital technology.
  • Watch Salesperson - Does anyone still buy a Rolex or Timex from a sales specialist who only sells watches?
  • Data Entry Clerk - This one may surprise you. Even though there is much more data floating around, the clerks who copy and enter it are going the way of the slide rule.

Want to make sure your career doesn't end up in the obit column like these careers?

Consider one of these eight thriving careers that are expected to last a good, long time.

Thriving Career #1 - Medical Assistant

Looking for a steady and stable career? Medical assistants were listed as one of the fastest growing careers by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Job Growth: The U.S. Department of Labor projects 163,900 new positions to be added between 2008-2018.*

Preparation: Formal preparation is not always required; some employers provide on-the-job preparation. Completing a one or two-year medical assisting program can be helpful.

Average Salary: Medical assistants have an annual average salary of $28,300. Top earners in this career average at $39,570.**

Search for Medical Assisting schools near you now!

Thriving Career #2 - Budget Analyst

The growing need for sound financial advice and analysis could provide long-term stability should you pursue a career as a budget analyst.

Job Growth: The Department of Labor projects a 15 percent increase in budget analyst positions over 2008-2018.*

Preparation: Getting a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business, or a related field could help you get off to a great start in this field. To stay competitive, earning a master's degree can help.

Average Salary: Budget analysts have an average annual salary of $65,320.**

Look for schools with Finance degree programs in your area or online.

Thriving Career #3 - Marketing Managers

The ongoing need to develop new and creative ways to market products and services makes these managers a valuable commodity on the job market.

Job Growth: The Department of Labor projects a 12 percent increase in positions added between 2008-2018.*

Preparation: With a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing, you could find your way to entry-level work. From there, you can potentially gain experience and work your way up. An MBA in marketing could potentially help your chances for promotion.

Average Salary: Marketing managers have an average annual salary of $108,580.**

Find online Business and Marketing schools now!

Thriving Career #4 - Dental Assistant

Looking for a thriving occupation? Dental assisting is one of the fastest growing occupations for 2008-2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Job Growth: About 105,600 new dental assistant positions are projected to be added between 2008 and 2018.*

Preparation: Earning an associate's degree in dental assisting, could help prepare you to pursue a dental assistant position.

Average Salary: Dental assistants have an average annual salary of $32,380, according to the Department of Labor. Top earners in this profession average at much higher: $46,150 per year.**

Find Dental Assistant degree programs near you now.

Thriving Career #5 - Medical and Health Services Manager

The expansion and diversification of the health care industry could make administrative managers a sought-after position for years down the road. Search for Health Care schools now!

Job Growth: About 45,400 medical and health services manager jobs are projected to be added from 2008-2018.*

Preparation: A bachelor's degree in health services administration could prepare you to pursue career opportunities at smaller health care facilities as well as on the departmental level of health care organizations.

Average Salary: Medical and health service managers have an average annual salary of $80,240.**

Find Health Services Administration degree programs now.

Career #6 - Registered Nurse

There's no way around it, nursing is an in-demand career. And there are plenty of reasons too: advances in medical technology, a growing elderly population... it all equates to a growing career that's here to stay.

Job Growth: More than a half million new positions are expected to open up from 2008 through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.*

Preparation: There are plenty of options to break into this desirable field. You could earn a bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or a diploma.

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

Search for Nursing schools near you now!

Thriving Career #7 - Special Education Teacher

Teachers specializing in special education are considered in very high demand, especially in inner city and rural areas.

Job Growth: Nearly 82,000 special education teaching positions are expected to be added between 2008-2018, according to the Department of Labor.*

Preparation: Earning your bachelor's degree and completing an approved special education teaching program is a great start to pursuing this career. This could also help as you pursue entry-level positions in most states; note that some state may require a master's degree. You must also have a special education license.

Average Salary: Average salaries for teachers in special education vary, depending on the academic level. At the high school level, special education teachers have an average annual salary of $51,340.**

Search for Education degrees now.

Thriving Career #8 - Computer Network Administrator

Careers in the field of Information Technology (IT) are steadily on the rise. And with the evolution of new technology sure to continue, that should make computer network administrators a growing career.

Job Growth: Some 78,900 new jobs for computer network administrators will be created from 2008 through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.*

Preparation: A bachelor's degree in a major such as computer science or information science is a great first step in pursuing this career.

Average Salary: Computer systems administrators average at about $66,310 a year.**

Search for Technology and Computer Science degree programs now!

*Employment projections compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 edition.

**Average annual salaries as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2008.

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