Five Promising Career Paths


Exploring your career options? Consider these promising paths.

By Chelsea Lin   

If you've picked up a newspaper, turned on a TV, or booted up your computer in the last couple of years, you've probably been bombarded with news about the country's economic downturn and high unemployment rates. Not great to hear when you're thinking of going back to school or starting on a new career path.

But do you want to know a secret? Not all industries have been hit equally hard. Many industries are showing signs of job growth and opportunity - something you may want to consider when plotting your next career move.

To help, we looked at U.S. News & World Report's "Best Careers 2011" and the U.S. Department of Labor to find careers with promising growth opportunity.

Keep reading to learn more about these career options.

Promising Career #1 - Accountants

Accountants help businesses run smoothly from a financial standpoint, often handling taxes, audits, budgets, and bookkeeping, among other things.

Why it's promising: Accounting is a hot field right now because the economy is improving, according to U.S. News. The Department of Labor projects a 22 percent employment growth for accountants and auditors from 2008-2018.

Education: Consider earning a bachelor's degree in accounting. According to the Department of Labor, this is a common requirement for many positions.

Average earnings: $68,960*

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Promising Career #2 - Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists help businesses run efficiently from a technological standpoint. They can do this by providing assistance, advice, and support on what kind of gadgets to use and what kind of software to run.

Why it's promising: Technology careers make up a decent chunk of U.S. News' "Best Careers for 2011" list, but this is the first time that computer support specialists made the cut. The Department of Labor projects good opportunities for college graduates with related skills.

Education: Consider earning a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in a technology-related field.

Average earnings: $49,930*

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Promising Career #3 - Sales Managers

Setting sales goals and assigning sales reps to certain territories or industries is the job of the sales manager, who is also usually responsible for assisting his or her staff and offering suggestions on how to improve their technique.

Why it's promising: As the economy improves, so do sales, putting sales managers on U.S. News & World Report's list of best careers for 2011. The U.S. Department of Labor projects faster than average job growth for this position.

Education: Consider earning a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration with a marketing focus - according to the Department of Labor, employers tend to prefer this credential.

Average earnings: $114,110*

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Promising Career #4 - Lab Technicians

Laboratory technicians, sometimes called medical technicians, are responsible for performing and analyzing the sort of tests often administered at a doctor's office.

Why it's promising: In general, health care opportunities will increase due to the needs of a large aging population, according to U.S. News & World Report's "Best Careers 2011: Healthcare Jobs." The U.S. Department of Labor also foresees "excellent opportunities" and "rapid job growth" for lab technicians.

Education: Lab technicians usually have an associate's degree or certificate. These types of programs can be found at vocational schools, community colleges - and even at some hospitals.

Average earnings: $38,190*

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Promising Career #5 - Dental Hygienists

If you're passionate about dental care, consider a career path in dental hygiene, where you would likely be cleaning and examining patients' teeth and gums, and teaching them proper oral hygiene techniques.

Why it's promising: The U.S. Department of Labor put dental hygienists among the fastest growing occupations, projecting 36 percent growth through 2018. Dental hygienists also made U.S. News' Best Careers 2011 list.

Education: To earn an associate's degree or certificate in dental hygiene, consider one of the programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. After school, graduates must get licensed in their state.

Average earnings: $68,680*

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*All salary statistics current as of May 2010, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor

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