Find Work-Life Balance in the New Year


See how you can get a career that lets you choose how you work.

By Staff

Around this time of year, it's natural to think about ways you can improve your life. For a lot of people, that means transitioning to a better job.

If this sounds like you, take a moment to figure out what kind of relationship you want to have with your work.

[Click here to find career-training programs]

Some careers give telecommuting or freelancing options, allowing you to gain more control over your schedule.

Other careers offer time off around holidays and summers.

Still others have set hours and work that you can "leave at the office."

If you want to achieve work-life balance, check out these careers that let you choose when, where, or how you work.

Telecommuting Career: Graphic Designer

Feeling creatively stifled in your life? Your New Year's resolution to be more creative can extend to a graphic design job that you can do from anywhere. [Train for a career in Graphic Design. Find schools near you.]

As a graphic designer, a big part of your job will involve finding visual solutions to communications problems, developing design layouts, creating promotional displays or packaging, or designing logos for products and businesses. Sounds fun, right? Well, it gets better because with the right computer software (and the right employer), you can do this job from almost anywhere.

What it takes: Many jobs require a bachelor's degree to start as an entry-level designer. If you want to start your career faster, earning a two-year associate's degree in graphic design can open some doors. More opportunities are springing up for designers with experience in interactive design, so be sure to take classes in web design while in school.

What it pays: The average annual salary for graphic designers is $42,400. According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts, solo designers who freelanced report average earnings of $57,000.

[Click here to find Graphic Design schools near you]

Work At Home Career: Writer/Editor

Do your hopes for the New Year include a career free from dreary cubicles and harsh fluorescent lights? If you're good with words, you might be able to turn your talent into a flexible work-at-home career. [Start training for this work-from-home career. Search for the right school now.]

As a writer or editor, you could find yourself working as a freelancer for magazines or blogs; developing original material for books, trade journals, or advertisements; or even producing content for radio, TV, or film.

What it takes: Writers can benefit from earning a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, or English. If you're interested in copywriting or advertising, you might also look into marketing classes.

What it pays: The average annual salary for salaried writers is $53,070. The average annual salary for salaried editors is $49,990. Note that freelance writers and editors earn income from a variety of sources and their average annual earnings can vary significantly.

[Find schools that offer Marketing courses now]

Flexible Schedule Career: Nurse

If your New Year's resolution includes helping others, a job as a nurse could fit the bill - and provide you with a more flexible schedule in the bargain. [Find Nursing schools near you]

As a nurse, you'll treat and educate patients about various medical conditions. Depending on where you work, you might be able to set up a schedule to meet your work-life balance needs. For example, you might work four days a week, work during the evenings, or work part-time. Some nurses work long shifts, but then have longer periods of time off.

What it takes: You can earn your bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN) in four years, or your associate's degree in nursing (ADN) in two to three years.

What it pays: The average annual salary for nurses is $62,450. The highest 10 percent earned more than $92,240 in May 2008.

[Click here to find Nursing training programs]

Never Take Your Work Home With You Career: Administrative Assistant

If you're looking for a job that ends when the work day is over, don't despair. It's not too late to start fresh in the New Year with a job that stays at the office. [Start training for this career. Search for the right school now.]

Administrative assistants play a crucial role in offices, performing administrative and clerical duties that keep the office running efficiently. As an administrative assistant, you may plan and schedule meetings, organize files, conduct research, and handle travel arrangements. Depending on your employer, it's a good bet that you'll rarely - if ever - have to take your work home.

What it takes: Consider earning your associate's degree in office administration to prepare you for this career. If you want to become an executive secretary, you may also want to look into business classes.

What it pays: Administrative assistants have an average annual salary of $29,050. The highest 10 percent can average more than $43,240 a year.

[Search for Business schools and degree programs now]

Set Your Own Hours Career: Massage Therapist

If you need more flexibility in your job than the average person, take charge of your life by training for a career that lets you set your own hours. [Start training for this set your own hours career. Find Massage Therapy schools now.]

Massage therapists help people by treating painful ailments, easing overworked muscles, reducing stress, and even rehabilitating sports injuries. This is a good career if you prefer to dictate your schedule. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, massage therapists typically work less than 40 hours per week.

What it takes: Depending on the program you choose, you should be able to earn a certificate in massage therapy in six months to a year. Even the training can be flexible - both full-time and part-time programs are available.

What it pays: Massage therapists have an average hourly wage of $16.78. The highest 10 percent can average at more than $33.47 per hour.

[Click here to find Massage Therapy training programs]

Regularly Scheduled Breaks Career: K-12 Teacher

New Year's is a time for looking into the future, but that doesn't mean you should forget the past. Remember summer vacation between school years? If you long for the good old days of generous holiday and summer breaks, consider becoming a teacher. [Start training for this career with regularly scheduled breaks. Find Education schools and degree programs now.]

As a K-12 teacher, you'll also play an important role in shaping the next generation of citizens. The added bonus: you'll get to take advantage of almost all the same holidays as your students.

What it takes: To become a teacher in a public school, you'll need to be licensed. This usually requires a bachelor's degree and the completion of an approved teacher education program. If you want to teach in a private school you may not have to be licensed, but you may still need a bachelor's degree.

What it pays: The average annual salary of kindergarten through high school teachers ranges from $47,100 to $51,180.

[Click here to find Teacher training programs]

All salary information is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2008.

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