Looking for a career with good job opportunities but no crazy education requirements? Check out these seven in-demand careers.
Are you thinking of going back to school but want to make sure you pick a degree that could lead to an in-demand career? Doctor or lawyer is probably a safe bet - if you have the better part of a decade to throw at your education.
But if you want to pursue or switch careers sooner rather than later, then you're in luck. We came up with a list of seven careers that the U.S. Department of Labor says can be pursued with a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree. Depending on the student and program type, these degrees could be attainable in as little as one, two, and four years, respectively.
And we didn't forget about the in-demand part. In fact, we chose only careers that are projected to have a job growth rate above 14 percent - the total employment job growth average, according to the Department of Labor's 2010-2020 projections.
So read on to learn more about seven in-demand careers with education options that hopefully won't take a dog year to complete.
In-Demand Career #1: Human Resources Specialist
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 21 percent*
Are you good at determining people's abilities and personalities? You could be meant to specialize in human resources (HR). It's an area that the U.S. Department of Labor sees as expanding thanks to "companies increasingly emphasizing the importance of finding and keeping quality employees."
Also adding to the boom is the fact that the employment services industry is expected to grow by 55 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the Department of Labor. This is the industry in which 17 percent of human resources specialists work.
As a human resources specialist, the Department says you could spend your days doing tasks like consulting with employers about their hiring needs, interviewing job applicants, contacting references, and performing background checks.
Why it's Within Reach: According to the Department, most human resources specialist positions require a bachelor's degree, with a good chunk of employers preferring applicants who have this degree in fields related to human resources and business. What makes it within reach? Perhaps the fact that a bachelor's degree could be completed in as little as four years.
Median Average Annual Wage: $54,310*
In-Demand Career #2: Medical Assistant
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 31 percent*
Medical assistant made the U.S. Department of Labor's February 2012 list of the top 30 "Occupations with the largest job growth" - with an expected 162,900 new job opportunities from 2010 to 2020.
What gives for this demand for medical assistants? According to the Department of Labor, it's thanks to the baby boomer generation who will require preventative care services by physicians. And in order to see more patients, physicians will rely heavily on medical assistants for administrative and clinical tasks.
These administrative and clinical duties, says the Department, include taking patient histories and measuring vital signs, assisting doctors with patient exams, giving injections under a physician's direction, scheduling appointments, and filling out insurance forms.
Why it's Within Reach: While there is no strict educational requirement, the Department says that employers could prefer candidates who complete an accredited program and earn a certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting - which could take as little as one or two years to complete, respectively.
Median Average Annual Wage: $29,100*
In-Demand Career #3: Public Relations Specialist
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 23 percent*
Have you always been good with words, knowing what to say and when to say it? You could be a natural in the public relations game, which the U.S. Department of Labor projects to have a faster-than-normal job growth rate of 23 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Because of the explosion of social media and its power as a communication tool between businesses and customers, the Department of Labor says that public relations specialists will be needed to help clients learn how to use social media successfully.
Businesses turn to public relations specialists when they want to identify client groups and audiences, according to the Department. Public relations specialists could do everything from writing press releases to developing logos and evaluating advertising campaigns.
Why it's Within Reach: According to the Department, a bachelor's degree - which could take as little as four years to complete - is generally needed to prepare to pursue a career as a public relations specialist. And employers typically look for candidates who studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.
Median Average Annual Wage: $53,190*
In-Demand Career #4: Event Planner
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 44 percent*
Do you love planning meetings and gatherings more than actually going to them? Consider pursuing a career as an event planner.
And apparently, the U.S. Department of Labor foresees a lot of meetings and events in the coming years. Why? Because despite the advances in social media and virtual meetings, businesses still value face-to-face interaction, says the Department of Labor.
And these businesses could hire planners to plan an event's time, location, and cost, according to the Department. Other duties could include fun responsibilities like working with florists, photographers, and entertainers. Because, hey, whether it's a meeting or a party, people just want to have fun, even at work.
Why it's Within Reach: Because responsibilities are getting more complex, the Department says that employers are increasingly wanting candidates with a bachelor's degree, which could take as little as four years to complete. Related majors include business, marketing, public relations, communications, and hospitality management.
Median Average Annual Wage: $46,020*
In-Demand Career #5: Dental Assistant
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 31 percent*
Have you always dreamed of helping people improve their smiles but frowned at the thought of years of dental school? A career as a dental assistant could turn your frown upside down. And the good news is that the U.S. Department of Labor projects 91,600 new dental assistant positions to be created from 2010 to 2020.
According to the Department of Labor, this high demand could be due to the need for more preventive dentistry and the aging baby-boom population keeping more of their original teeth than former generations, thus requiring more dental care.
Dentists will need more dental assistants who could do everything from preparing patients for dental procedures to sterilizing dental instruments and processing X-rays, says the Department.
Why it's Within Reach: The educational requirements for dental assistants vary by state, with the Department noting that some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program, such as a certificate or associate's degree in dental assisting - which could be earned in as little as one and two years, respectively.
Median Average Annual Wage: $34,140*
In-Demand Career #6: Registered Nurse
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 26 percent*
Do you like helping people who are in pain? You could fit nicely in the nursing field, which the U.S. Department of Labor put at No. 1 on its "Occupations with the largest job growth" list.
In fact, the Department of Labor projects over 700,000 registered nurse jobs to be created from 2010 to 2020 - thanks to an increased importance on preventative health care, technological advances resulting in more treatments, and the baby boomer generation needing more health care services as they live longer lives.
As a registered nurse, your duties could include giving medicines and treatments to patients, consulting with doctors, educating patients about their health, and completing diagnostic tests, according to the Department.
Why it's Within Reach: According to the Department, there are a few options to preparing to pursue a career as a registered nurse. This includes earning an associate's degree or diploma in nursing (ADN), which could take as little as two to three years to complete, notes the Department. You'll also need to pass the national nursing exam (NCLEX-RN) to gain your nursing license.
Median Average Annual Wage: $65,950*
In-Demand Career #7: Pharmacy Technician
2010 to 2020 Job Growth: 32 percent*
Do you have an eye for detail and hate the idea of a desk job? A career as a pharmacy technician could be your style. And it's a booming career, too, with the U.S. Department of Labor projecting pharmacy technicians to have a job growth of 32 percent from 2010 to 2020.
This faster-than-average job growth could be due to advances in pharmaceutical research, which leads to more prescription drugs being used to fight diseases, says the Department of Labor.
And those prescription drugs need to be counted and put in bottles - one of the main duties performed by a pharmacy technician. The Department says that these technicians also compound or mix medications, get the information needed to fill prescriptions, and schedule meetings with the pharmacist when customers have questions.
Why it's Within Reach: Education requirements vary by state, but the Department says that some states may require completion of a formal training program in pharmacy technology, where you could earn a certificate in as little as one year.
Median Average Annual Wage: $28,940*
*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 May 31, 2012). And all average annual pay statistics are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011 (visited May 31, 2012).
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