Who's Getting Hired Now?

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The unemployment rate hides the fact that there are millions of job openings that need to be filled by qualified workers.

By Tony Moton

It's no secret that the unemployment rate hovers near double figures. In August 2010, it was at 9.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But what tends to be hidden from view is another number worth knowing - the number of job openings that are out there.

Did you know there were 3 million job openings on the last business day of July this year?

Yes, there are jobs out there. The trick is landing one.

Just ask Ada Tomasyan and Ayoub Sunna, who both started jobs in recent months.

The secrets to their success: education and training.

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After working eight years in the real estate business, Tomasyan went back to school and earned an associate's degree in nursing. She now works as a nurse at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California.

Sunna's accounting career saw him land a management position at Stonefield Josephson, a public accounting firm in San Diego. Among his credentials is a bachelor's degree in accounting.

"I read a lot about the economy and how the unemployment rate is around ten percent," Sunna says. "But when it comes to our field, the unemployment rate is not anything close to that."

The chances of landing a job that has an opening are improved if you have the proper credentials, Tomasyan says. "I have several classmates who have gotten jobs. It's not impossible."

Let's take a closer look at eight jobs with potential openings and strong hiring numbers.

ACCOUNTANT

"The demand for jobs is always there," says Sunna, who manages the audit practice at his firm. Accountants can work in a diverse group of specialized areas, which makes this a highly desirable career option. In fact, the number of new jobs for accountants is expected to grow by 22 percent (that's 279,400 new jobs!) through the 2008-2018 period.

Education and Training: Graduating with an associate's degree in accounting can help you get your start as a junior accountant. Earn a bachelor's degree in accounting for more opportunities.

Salary: Accountants earn an average annual salary of $67,430.

[Find Accounting and Business schools near you or online]

REGISTERED NURSE

The nursing profession offers a wide variety of job responsibilities. "I like bedside care, but there's also home health, surgery, rehab nursing, and counseling for alcohol and drug abuse," says Tomasyan. The Department of Labor projects a total of 581,500 new nursing jobs will become available between 2008 and 2018.

Education and Training: You can enter the field with an associate's degree in nursing like Tomasyan, or you can obtain a diploma or bachelor's degree. Licensed graduates of any of the three program levels qualify for entry-level work as a staff nurse.

Salary: The average annual salary for a registered nurse is $66,530.*

[Read about degrees that get you hired]

MEDICAL ASSISTANT

Medical assisting is among the fastest growing professions in the health care industry. The field also is bolstered by the wide range of jobs that are available, such as administrative and clinical medical assistants. The Department of Labor even projects a 34 percent jump in medical assisting jobs from 2008-2018.

Education and Training: An associate's degree, which takes about two years to earn, can give you the necessary amount of formal training you need to enter the field. If you want a faster route to this hot career, a diploma or certificate program can get the job done in about a year.

Salary: Medical assistants have an average yearly salary of $29,450. Pay varies by many factors, including location and company. Medical assistants in Hawaii, for example, average at $32,180, whereas those in Michigan average at $28,460.

[Search for a Medical Assisting school near you]

PARALEGAL

The demand for paralegal services is expected to grow as the need for legal services increases, particularly in areas such as health care, intellectual property, and international law. In terms of numbers, it's estimated that openings for 74,100 paralegals will become available from 2008-2018.

Education and Training: The most common way to enter the paralegal field is an associate's degree. Consider getting a certificate in paralegal studies if you already have a bachelor's degree in another field.

Salary: On the average, paralegals earn an annual salary of $50,080. The top paying region for paralegals in May 2009 was the District of Columbia at $64,760. In a close second and third were New York ($60,140) and California ($59,270).

[Find a Paralegal training program in your area]

PHARMACY TECHNICIAN

The increasing number of middle-aged and older adults using prescription drugs will help spur growth in this profession through the coming decade. The number of pharmacy technicians will grow by 31 percent into 2018.

Education and Training: Employers prefer technicians with formal training and education, so you are best served by entering a program that grants an associate's degree, diploma, or certificate.

Salary: Pharmacy technicians earn an average salary of $28,940 a year.

[Get started on the path to a Pharmacy Technician career]

DENTAL ASSISTANT

The number of dental assistants in the workforce is projected to grow by more than 100,000 over the decade ending in 2018. More good news: job prospects for entry-level applicants are excellent.

Education and Training: One-year certificate or diploma programs are worth checking out. A number of states require continuing education to maintain your license or registration.

Salary: Dental assistants earn an average yearly salary of $34,000. Top paying regions, according to the Department of Labor, are the District of Columbia ($45,630), Alaska ($43,670), and Minnesota ($41,510).

[Find a Dental Assisting certificate program near you now]

MEDICAL RECORDS TECHNICIAN

Jobs for medical records and health information technicians are on the rise, due to the increased number medical tests, treatments, and procedures performed on an aging population. The number of jobs in this field is projected to grow by 20 percent through 2018.

Education and Training: An associate's degree is what you will need as a starting point in the field, but most employers also prefer that you pass a credentialing test offered by the American Health Information Management Association.

Salary: The average salary for a medical records technician is $33,880.

[Search for Medical career training programs now]

*Average annual salaries as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009.

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