In-Demand Careers with a Bright Future

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Wondering which careers will be around next year and beyond? Check out five careers projected to experience fast growth from 2010 to 2020.

By Terence Loose

If you're thinking of going back to school to prepare for a new career, we're betting you'd prefer if that career was still around in three to five years.

After all, with school being an investment of both time and money, it's probably a good idea to pick a field with a bright future.

To help, we looked at the U.S. Department of Labor's job growth projections from 2010 to 2020. Since total U.S. employment is projected to increase by 14 percent, we only picked occupations with a projected growth rate double that - at 28 percent - or more.

From there, we sought the advice of Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and About.com's Guide to Human Resources.

Keep reading to learn more about five careers with a favorable employment forecast.

Growing Career #1: Market Research Analyst
Expected Job Growth 2010 to 2020: 41 percent*

Are you good at crunching data and doing research, but also love the creative world of marketing? Life as a market research analyst may be a perfect blend of both worlds.

Market research analysts could do everything from forecasting sales trends to measuring the usefulness of marketing strategies, examining data with statistical software, and putting together reports for clients or management, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Growth Factors: Heathfield says the growth in this career is due to the added importance that businesses are putting on data collection.

"They have to analyze their customer data, the marketing data, the financial data, and customer feedback, and root the results into the organization," says Heathfield. "This is a huge trend that's going on right now. People who can do that analysis are going to have jobs."

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Education Options: Ready to pursue this hot career? "Market research analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field," according to the Department of Labor. But other analysts have experience in business administration or communications.


Growing Career #2: Personal Financial Advisor
Expected Job Growth 2010 to 2020: 32 percent*

Do people often come to you for advice, especially when it has to do with money? If you've always had a knack for smart investing and planning, consider pursuing a growing career as a personal financial advisor.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, personal financial advisors generally meet with their clients to help with investments, taxes, and insurance. They might also explain financial services, suggest investments, or sometimes even sell insurance.

Growth Factors: Both Heathfield and the Department of Labor agree that the aging baby boomer population is a major factor for this field's growth. With many businesses and state and local governments falling short in their pension plans, says the Department, more baby boomers will seek financial planning advice for retirement from these advisors.

"As long as personal financial advisors stay up on business trends and technology, I think this is a great field," adds Heathfield.

Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

Education Options: Intrigued by this growing field? Personal financial advisors generally need a bachelor's degree, says the Department. While employers typically don't specify a certain field of study, the Department notes that a degree in an area such as finance, economics, accounting, or business is good preparation.

Growing Career #3: Medical Assistant
Expected Job Growth 2010 to 2020: 31 percent*

Think a gig in the booming health care field is right for you? Consider pursuing a career as a medical assistant.

Medical assistants are a bit like the glue of a doctor's office. Why? Because they do a little bit of everything. In fact, they might perform a combination of administrative and clinical duties that include giving injections under doctor supervision, taking vital signs, answering phones, and managing medical records, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Growth Factors: One reason for growth in this area? The aging baby boomers who will need more preventive care. In turn, busier physicians will require more medical assistants to take care of routine administrative and clinical duties, says the Department of Labor.

Heathfield agrees, putting medical assistant in her group of health care professions that can't be outsourced. In fact, she believes this career will remain in demand for a long time to come.

"They can't be done on the phone; they're person-to-person services in the medical arena, so they'll be in high demand," she says.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program.

Education Options: Interested in pursuing this in-demand field? Although most states have no formal education requirements for medical assistants, says the Department, employers might prefer applicants with formal education. Consider earning a certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting.


Growing Career #4: Network Administrator
Expected Job Growth 2010 to 2020: 28 percent*

If every human needs health care, virtually every business needs computers. And if you are interested in managing a company's computer network, an in-demand career as a network administrator could be a good fit for you.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, network administrators "organize, install, and support an organization's computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems." This includes maintaining network and computer system security.

Growth Factors: With the increased use of computer systems, network administrators will continue to be in great demand.

"Every single company has a network of computers... data centers, data backups, data storage," says Heathfield. "There's so many network systems that are fundamental to the business world these days that you can't go wrong with this career choice."

And the Department of Labor adds that network administrators will be needed to strengthen network and system security in order to combat growing threats to information security.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Education Options: Interested in this techie career? The Department says network administrators often need a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer or information science. But keep in mind that some positions require an associate's degree in a computer field with related work experience, according to the Department.


Growing Career #5: Dental Assistant
Expected Job Growth 2010 to 2020: 31 percent*

Want to play a role in improving dental care? Consider pursuing a career in the growing field of dental assisting.

Dental assistants could be responsible for everything from sterilizing dental equipment and helping dentists during procedures to managing patient records and making appointments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Growing Factors: What has lead to this growth? Heathfield points to the fact that people are associating dental health more closely to general health. In turn, "as dental practices grow, dentists are relying on dental assistants more and more," she says.

And as current generations keep more of their original teeth, more dental treatment and dental assistance will be needed, adds the Department of Labor.

 Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program Now.

Education Options: Want to prep to pursue this hot career? According to the Department, some states have no formal education requirements, while other states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. Dental assisting programs can lead to a certificate or associate's degree, adds the Department.

*Potential job growth information is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm (visited July 12, 2012).

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