Ready to make a career change, but not sure where to start? Here's a breakdown of some growing fields and their hot careers that you may want to pursue.
If you're thinking about going back to school to prepare for a new career or change careers, it makes sense to do a bit of research first. After all, why invest time in preparing for a career that has poor prospects?
It also helps to have a basic understanding of what is happening on a larger scale, across fields.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2010-2020 Projections Overview, health care leads the list in employment growth by occupational group, with employment in computer and information technology, and business and financial also showing significant increases. And just as entire fields see expansion, certain careers within those fields will also be affected positively.
To help you sift through your options, we selected a couple jobs from each field that are experiencing strong growth and will continue to rise.
Keep reading to learn more about some worthwhile careers you could pursue in three growing fields.
Hot Occupational Field #1: Business and Financial Operations
Business and financial operations occupations as a whole will grow by as many as 1.2 million jobs from 2010-2020, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. While some of these gains are expected to come from jobs lost during the recession, others could come from the regulatory microscope that is now placed over financial transactions, says the Department of Labor.
"Companies are more concerned with their internal processes, and outside agencies are increasingly called upon to check up on those processes to spot any potential problem areas," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. More checks and balances means, however, that the job prospects in this field are seeing positive returns.
Business and Financial Career #1: Accountant or Auditor
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 16%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 190,700*
Given the dramatic shifts across the financial sector in the aftermath of the recession, one red hot career you might want to pursue is accountant or auditor. Changes in laws and new financial standards mean that more companies are looking to hire accountants and auditors to make sure they're complying to the new regulations, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
And as international trade grows, so does the need for accountants and auditors who understand global business, adds the Department of Labor.
Education: A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required to get started, says the Department. Certifications (such as the Certified Public Accountant) are not obligatory, but they might improve job prospects.
Business and Financial Career #2: Management Analyst
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 22%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 157,200*
You know what companies like when recovering from a global recession? Reducing costs. Which, in addition to improving efficiency, is exactly what you might do for companies as a management analyst, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Keep in mind: Management analysts who can provide specialized services - such as helping companies who are expanding their business abroad or need help "greening" their business - might be especially in demand, says the Department of Labor.
Education: According to the Department, this career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Because management consulting programs are not common, other fields like accounting, business, marketing, management, engineering, economics, computer and information science, or statistics are usually suitable for study.
Some employers prefer to hire people who also hold a master's degree in business administration. Additionally, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation - offered by the Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. - might provide a competitive advantage on the job market.
Hot Occupational Field #2: Computer and Information Technology
Computers and information technology are everywhere today - from your laptop to your smartphone, to your favorite applications, software, and games. What's behind all of those gadgets we love? Computer and information technology professionals.
"The world of career and job possibilities for technology-savvy individuals is endless," says Farnoosh Brock, a career and business coach, and the author of "The 8 Pillars of Motivation."
While we can't put a hard figure on "endless", the future does look strong for these workers, as the U.S. Department of Labor projects 758,800 more jobs to be added from 2010 to 2020, an increase of 22 percent.
Computer and Information Technology Career #1: Database Administrator
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 31%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 33,900*
If you're ready to pursue a thriving career in this expanding field, look into database administration. Database administrators are the ones who keep information, such as financial data, organized and secure - something that companies are doing more and more of these days, says U.S. Department of Labor.
The Department of Labor also points out that as the use of electronic medical records increases, more database administrators will be needed to store information about patients.
Education: A bachelor's degree in a subject connected to computers or information is needed for this career, says the Department. However, large firms may prefer candidates with a master's degree in business administration.
Computer and Information Technology Career #2: Software Developer
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 30%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 270,900*
Want to design the next Angry Birds or Twitter? Pursue a career as a software developer and you might realize that dream. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the rapid increase in the demand for software, new applications, and systems means that software developers will be in great demand.
Additionally, the development of computerized appliances, smartphone apps, and the expansion of cybersecurity systems will drive more opportunities for employment in this career, says the Department of Labor.
Education: Software developers typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field, says the Department. Experience in computer programming is a must. For certain positions, employers might prefer candidates with a master's degree.
Hot Occupational Field #3: Health Care
The U.S. Department of Labor sees the aging population and new developments in medical treatments as reasons why the field of health care will add as many as 3.5 million jobs from 2010 to 2020, an astounding increase of 29 percent.
Nimish Thakkar, a certified career management coach, believes that along with the greater health needs of the baby boomer population, an increased awareness about health issues and recent historic health care reform will help grow the health care industry at an impressive pace.
"Consider The Affordable Care Act, for instance," Thakkar says. "As legislative reforms improve affordability and availability, the health care industry will experience a cannonball-like effect, propelling overall growth and employment numbers."
Health Care Career #1: Medical Assistant
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 31%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 162,900*
If you're looking for a promising career that will allow you to become an integral part of a medical facility, medical assisting is it. These health professionals complete both administrative and clinical tasks in physicians' offices, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
And because the demand for preventative care will increase, medical practices will expand, making medical assistants a hot commodity. And as EHRs (electronic health records) become more widespread, medical practices will require more support from medical assistants, whose responsibilities will continue to shift and grow, says the Department of Labor.
Education: Although the Department says that most medical assistants have a high school diploma or equivalent, some do graduate from formal education programs, which employers prefer. These programs may lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree.
Health Care Career #2: Registered Nurse
Projected Job Growth From 2010 to 2020: 26%*
Jobs Added From 2010 to 2020: 711,900*
If you want a medical career that will allow you to provide direct care to injured or ailing patients, you might consider registered nursing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the needs of the aging baby-boomer population and technological advances will force this career to grow.
The career is also hot because more and more non-hospital settings - such as home health care services, doctors' offices, and outpatient care centers - are employing nurses, says the Department of Labor. Registered nurses are also expected to be in-demand in facilities for long-term rehabilitation and facilities for people with Alzheimer's disease.
Education: According to the Department, registered nurses have three education options: a diploma from an approved nursing program, an associate's degree in nursing, or a bachelor's degree in nursing. Nurses must also be licensed, which involves passing a national licensing examination.
*All employment projections are from the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition.
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