Hot Careers with Solid Earning Potential

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Want to pursue an in-demand career? Check out these six fast-growing careers with solid earning potential.

By Terence Loose

If you're planning to go back to school to earn your degree, chances are you're not doing it to prep for a low pay, no growth job. Rather, you probably want those years of book diving to help you pursue a career with high projected growth and solid average pay.

"In this day of high unemployment, I think it's more important than ever before to choose a career path that has a good future," says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and About.com's Guide to Human Resources. "Also, since school should be seen as an investment, a good paying field is equally important."

With that advice close to heart, we looked to the U.S. Department of Labor to find six careers with good growth pay prospects.

To make the grade, a career had to have a projected growth rate of over 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is the average for all occupations, says the Department of Labor. What's more, the mid-career average income had to top $33,840, the average salary for all occupations, according to the Department.

Want to learn more? Check out these six careers that are above average...

Career #1 - Medical and Health Services Manager

With all of the changes in the health care system in recent years, it's no wonder that the U.S. Department of Labor projects medical and health services managers to be in great demand.

In fact, the Department of Labor projects job growth in this sector to be faster than the average, at 22 percent, from 2010 to 2020. One main reason for their projected growth? An increased number of physicians, patients, and procedures, the Department says. In effect, managers will be needed to organize and oversee the medical information and staffs.

To get into specifics, medical and health services managers work to improve the efficiency and delivery of health care services, says the Department. How? By keeping up on new laws and regulations for facilities, managing hospital finances, communicating with the members of medical staff, and more.

Click to Find the Right Health Administration Program.

Education Options:* Most medical and health service managers have at least a bachelor's degree in health administration. However, a master's degree in health services, public health, or business administration (MBA) is also common.

Median Annual Wage:* $86,400
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $147,890
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $52,730


Career #2 - Accountant

Do you get fired up at the thought of balancing your checkbook? Do you absolutely love tax season - or at least not hate it? You could be accountant material, and that's a good thing if you're looking for a high-growth career.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that nearly 200,000 accountant jobs will be created (a 16 percent increase) from 2010 to 2020.

The Department of Labor says this stellar job forecast is due to the recent corporate financial crises and stricter laws and regulations in the financial sector - all of which require an increased focus on accounting.

As for their daily responsibilities, accountants do everything from help businesses reduce costs, prepare tax returns, examine financial statements, comply with financial regulations, and communicate with management about a business's financial operations, says the Department.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Education Options:* The majority of accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers may prefer a master's degree in accounting or business administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting.

Median Annual Wage:* $62,850
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $109,870
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $39,640


Career #3 - Elementary School Teacher

Do you want to pursue a growing career that involves mentoring the next generation? A gig as an elementary school teacher could be in your lesson plan.

Why? Because this career is hot - at least according to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2012 list of "Occupations with the largest job growth." Elementary teacher ranked number 15, with a projected 248,800 jobs created from 2010 to 2020. However, keep in mind that faster growth is expected in the South and West of the country, thanks to more student enrollment. Growth will be slower in the Midwest and Northeast.

Elementary school teachers teach grades first through fifth and sometimes sixth, seventh, and eighth, according to the Department of Labor. It goes on to say that these teachers often teach many subjects, like math, English, reading, and science.

Click to Find the Right Teaching Program.

Education Options:* Every state requires public elementary teachers to earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education and have a state-issued certification or license. Some states also require elementary school teachers to major in a specific content area, such as math or science.

Median Annual Wage:* $52,840
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $81,230
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $34,910


Career #4 - Network and Computer Administrators

Can you name one medium-sized to big business that isn't totally or partially dependant on computers? We're guessing you're drawing a blank right now. So it's no surprise that the U.S. Department of Labor projects jobs for network and computer administrators to grow by a whopping 28 percent, or nearly 100,000 positions, by 2010 to 2020.

The Department of Labor says this is because businesses will invest in newer, faster technology and require better security. As a result, "More administrators with proper training will be needed to reinforce network and system security," says the Department.

In terms of their day-to-day tasks, network and computer administrators organize, install, and support a business's computer systems. If you're a computer lover, you'll likely also love this gig, since your work life will be dealing with such things as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets, adds the Department.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Education Options:* A bachelor's degree in a computer or information science related field is most common for this career. Some positions, however, require only an associate's degree or a certificate in a computer field, along with some related work experience.

Median Annual Wage:* $70,970
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $112,210
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $43,400


Career #5 - Human Resources Specialist

Are you a good judge of people? Maybe you have a knack for ascertaining their strengths and weaknesses? If so, a career as a human resources specialist might be worth considering - especially since it is projected to have stellar job opportunities.

How stellar? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the occupation of human resources specialist is projected to grow by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020. That's due to a number of factors, including the increased emphasis on finding and keeping quality employees.

As a human resources specialist, you would help recruit, screen, and place workers into appropriate positions. You also might do things like assess company needs, interview job applicants, process their paperwork, and perform employee orientations, says the Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Business Program.

Education Options:* "Most positions require a bachelor's degree," says the Department. "When hiring a human resources generalist, for example, most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, or a related field."

Median Annual Wage:* $54,310
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $94,700
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $29,850


Career #6 - Registered Nurse

Are you looking for a career that helps people improve their health? Look no further than registered nursing. These are the caregivers who perform diagnostic tests and explain patient treatments, among other things, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You'll also be happy to hear that these vital health care workers will be in great demand.

In fact, the Department of Labor put registered nurses at the top of its 2012 list of "Occupations with the largest job growth." It projects more than 700,000 nursing jobs to be created from 2010 to 2020 (that's a 26 percent growth rate, by the way).

What gives for this high growth? The Department says "Growth will occur primarily because of technological advancements; an increased emphasis on preventive care; and the large, aging baby boomer population who will demand more health care services as they live longer and more active lives."

Click to Find the Right Registered Nurse Program.

Education Options:* An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program are two education paths commonly taken by registered nurses. They must also be licensed.

Median Annual Wage:* $65,950
Wage for Top 10 Percent of Workers: $96,630
Wage for Bottom 10 Percent of Workers: $44,970


*All education options and median annual wage information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition and Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2011.


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