Stable Career Options

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See how the right education and preparation could help secure a steady, stable career.

By Chris Kyle

Worried about the state of the economy?

Consider getting a college degree.

"It's an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who've never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college," President Obama said in a July 2010 speech at the National Urban League's Centennial Conference in Washington, DC.

[Click here to find a college degree program]

A college education is expected to remain the key to financial security, according to a 2010 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which found that most future careers will require an associate's or bachelor's degree.

"I want us to produce eight million more college graduates by 2020," said President Obama, who is urging Americans to fast-track their career preparation and education plans.

Check out these six stable, careers that are defying these tough economic times.

Career #1 - Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors help clients manage their money and build investment strategies. Lately, business has been booming. "The last 12 months have been good to financial advisors," Forbes magazine wrote in 2010.

Stable factors: The U.S. Department of Labor cites the surge of retiring baby boomers as the main reason why personal financial advisors are in demand. With many Americans now living longer, healthier lives, financial advisors are needed to advise them on how to finance their retirements. Through 2018, career opportunities are expected to grow a robust 30 percent, according to the Department of Labor.

Average salary: $69,050*

Education options: A bachelor's degree in an area like accounting, finance or business administration can help provide a strong foundation for success.

Find Accounting and Business programs near you now.

Career #2 - Paralegal

Paralegals and legal assistants are often an attorney's best friend. They perform many of the same tasks as lawyers, though by law they are not allowed to present cases in court.

Stable factors: Average earning potential is up 5.9 percent in 2010 for Paralegals, according to a survey by ALM Legal Intelligence, a New York consulting firm. Even better, paralegal employment opportunities are expected to climb 28 percent through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

Average salary: $46,120*

Education options: Consider a paralegal certificate or associate's degree.

Search for local Paralegal programs.

Career #3 - Medical Assistant

Medical assistants help keep a doctor's office operating smoothly. They often do everything from scheduling appointments to taking a patient's vital signs.

Stable factors: Laurence Shatkin, author of Best Jobs for the 21st Century, says health care is the most recession-proof industry of all. Shatkin forecasts a 40 percent increase in career opportunities for medical assistants through 2018.

Average salary: $28,300*

Education options: Enrolling in a Medical assistant program is a great step.

Search for Medical Assistant programs today.

Career #4 - Marketing Research Analyst

Marketing research analysts study what people think about different products and ideas, including everything from Hollywood movies to bottled water to politics.

Stable factors: Profiled in U.S. News & World Report's 50 Best Careers of 2010, marketing research analysts are expected to see a nice increase in career opportunities between 2008 and 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

Average salary: $61,070*

Education options: A bachelor's degree is required for most marketing positions, according to the Department of Labor, who also says studying areas like math and computer science, in addition to business, can be extremely helpful.

Find local and online bachelor's degree programs.

Career #5 - Medical Biller and Coder

Medical billing and coding professionals update patient files, analyze data, and work with insurance companies.

Stable factors: The health care system is big and getting bigger every day, causing career opportunities for medical records technicians to swell 20 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

Average salary: $30,610*

Education options: An associate's degree in medical billing and coding can help prepare you to transition to this career and teach you the latest software and medical terminology.

Search for Medical Billing and Coding programs.

Career #6 - Video Game Designer

Video game designers are keeping their creative eyes busy by updating and tweaking games like Madden and many more games in this massive industry.

Stable factors: The video game industry employs more than 32,000 workers, a number that has jumped nearly nine percent annually since 2005, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Average salary: $42,363-$69,885*

Education options: Video game and graphic design programs could give you the specialized, highly-technical skills.

Find Video Game Design and Graphic Design programs near you.

*All average salary data is from The U.S. Department of Labor, and represents the annual average salary in May 2008, except for Video Game Designer salary, which comes from PayScale.com.

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