Seven Careers That Are Sweeping The Nation

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If you're looking to switch gears professionally, these seven hot careers are thriving.

By Lia Sestric

Let's face it: No one wants to be stuck in a lifeless, dead-end job. But if the outlook is grim in your chosen field, it might be time to move on. The good news? You aren't alone.

In fact, more than one-third of the U.S. labor force changes jobs every year, according to a study by the Georgetown University's Center for Workforce and Education titled "Help Wanted: Postsecondary Education and Training Required."

But before you shift your career focus, you might want to have a sense of which fields are thriving and adding jobs. So keep reading to learn about seven hot careers that are more than just a passing fad.

Career #1: Registered Nurse

If you want to help others and you're looking for a smoking hot career, nursing might just give you the best of both worlds.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care. They also educate patients about various health conditions while providing them emotional support.

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor says employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020. Doesn't sound like much? In this massive career field, 26 percent translates to over 700,000 jobs.

But where are all the jobs coming from? "With ACA (Affordable Care Act) we seem to have figured out a way to extend health-care coverage to a larger number of citizens," says Laurence Shatkin, career expert and author of "200 Best Jobs for Renewing America." "The reason this bodes well for nurses and not just doctors is that the effort to contain health care costs is shifting more health care duties to people with lower-level degrees."

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Education Requirements: The Department says there are a few different paths to pursue the career of registered nurse: Earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Nurses must also pass a national licensing examination.

Career #2: Market Research Analyst

Do people always comment that you're over-analyzing or reading into things too deeply? The red hot career of market research analyst might be a great place for you to exercise those traits.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, market research analysts study market conditions and examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products consumers want, who will buy these products, and predict what they'll pay for them. Sounds like it also involves a lot of chin rubbing, doesn't it?

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor projects careers in market research analysis to grow an impressive 41 percent from 2010 to 2020 - a total of 116,600 new positions.

What's driving all this growth? Data. "The sheer quantity of available data on consumers keeps exploding, thanks to Web surfing, customer loyalty programs, and in-store tracking of shoppers, among other data sources," says Shatkin.

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Education Requirements: Market research analysts need strong analytical and math skills and at least a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field, notes the Department. Quite a few have degrees in math, computer science, or statistics, while others have backgrounds in business administration, communications, or one of the social sciences. Top research positions often require a master's degree, adds the Department.

Career #3: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Wouldn't it be nice to throw a party at someone else's expense? Look into the hot career of event planner, and you might like what you see.

Meeting, convention, and event planners arrange all aspects of professional meetings and events, says the U.S. Department of Labor. This means planning every detail, from the location of the event, to the transportation for guests.

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor projects careers for meeting, convention, and event planners to grow by 44 percent from 2010 to 2020. That means the field could add 31,300 jobs - up from just 71,600 in 2010.

Shatkin says the growth could be caused by higher expectations for conferences and events. "Some of this happened because technology needs at meetings have become more complex. But also the increases in travel and in adventurous dining have caused conference-goers to be more interested in exotic locales and food choices that go beyond everyday fare," says Shatkin.

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Event Planning Program.

Education Requirements: Does this career sound like a party? If you want to qualify for a job as a meeting, convention, or event planner, the Department says you should at least have a bachelor's degree and some related work experience in planning or hotels. Those who have a degree in hospitality management could start a career as a planner with more responsibility. The Department says that other related undergraduate majors may include marketing, communications, business, and public relations.

Career #4: Home Health and Personal Care Aides

Do you enjoy helping people or caring for elderly family members? You may want to steer your natural compassion toward a career as a home health or personal care aide, a field that is heating up across the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, home health and personal care aides help older adults or people who are chronically ill, disabled, or cognitively impaired execute day-to-day activities like bathing or light housekeeping.

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor says employment of home health and personal care aides is projected to grow by a staggering 70 percent from 2010 to 2020, resulting in a total increase of 1.3 million professionals.

Why such impressive growth? There is a huge cohort of baby boomers reaching the age of care, says Shatkin. Plus, he says, the preceding generation is already well into that age.

Shatkin also identifies a shift in how elderly care is performed today. "The practice has been to move toward caring for people at home as much as possible, partly to contain health care costs and partly because the outcomes are better when people are in their familiar environment," he says.

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Patient Care and Therapy Program.

Education Requirements: If you're interested in pursuing a career as a home health or personal care aide, here's some great news: According to the Department, there are no formal education requirements for this profession. However, most aides have a high school diploma and those working in home health or hospice agencies must have "formal training and pass a standardized test."

Career #5: Veterinarian Technologist and Technician

Would you find your career rewarding if it gave you the opportunity to save an animal's life? If so, you'll be happy to hear that your animal loving ways could find a home in the booming career of veterinary technologists and technicians.

Veterinary technologists and technicians work under the supervision of a veterinarian, performing medical tests in a private clinic, testing laboratory, or animal hospital, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But be warned that this career could test the limits of your compassion. The Department of Labor notes that it can be physically and emotionally demanding.

Hot Factors: Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians are projected to grow 52 percent from 2010 to 2020, says the Department, with excellent job opportunities in rural areas. This means 41,700 jobs could be added, which isn't bad considering the field started with only 80,000 in 2010.

Why such a surge? Shatkin says it's simple: "People increasingly view their pets as part of the family and therefore are willing to pay for more extensive medical testing than used to be the norm."

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Veterinary Technician Program.

Education Requirements: The Department says veterinary technologists and technicians must have postsecondary education in veterinary technology, take a credentialing exam, and, depending on state requirements, be licensed, registered, or certified. Technologists typically enter the field after a four-year program, while technicians can enter after a two-year program.

Career #6: Biomedical Engineer

Are you ready for a cutting-edge career where the research you do one day could lead to a breakthrough medical invention the next day? Pursue the hot career of biomedical engineer, and you could be the creative mind driving important innovation in the health care field.

Biomedical engineers design systems and products, from artificial organs to rehabilitative exercise equipment, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They might work at hospitals, universities, or even manufacturing facilities.

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor says employment of biomedical engineers will grow by 62 percent from 2010 to 2020, for a total of 9,700 jobs. That may not sound like much - until you consider that the field started with only 15,700 jobs in 2010.

Jiro Nagatomi, a faculty member in Clemson University's bioengineering department, sees a relatively simple cause for demand in the field: "There is always the need for better technology for health care and medicine," he says. "The aging population has increased the demand for better medical devices and equipment, [which] requires people to make it."

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Education Requirements: Typically, biomedical engineers need a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from a program accredited by the ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), notes the Department. If you have a bachelor's degree in a different field of engineering, the Department says you could get a graduate degree or on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.

Career #7: Software Developer

Take a minute to consider the number of electronics you use on a daily basis. Guess what? All those gadgets you have at arm's length use software to run, which, in turn, requires software developers to create it. Hot enough for you?

More specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor says software developers create the applications on a computer or other device. They also "develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks."

Hot Factors: The Department of Labor projects that software developers should see 30 percent growth across the field from 2010 to 2020. That's a total of 270,900 new jobs.

Again, what's driving this growth is pretty straightforward. "You can't escape the 24/7/365 fact that we live in a world dominated by hardware that needs software to work," says Charley Polachi, founder and partner of Polachi Access Executive Search, a technology and venture capital recruiting firm. And Polachi points out that this demand could pay off in other ways for software developers. "Huge demand with limited supply means pricing/wages go up - it's basic economics 101!"

Next step: Click Here to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Education Requirements: If you're interested in preparing to pursue a career as a software developer, listen up. The Department says software developers usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. They also have strong computer-programming skills.

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