Business Careers in a Down Economy

Hot Business Careers

Careers in this Article

Learn why these business careers are considered the best of the best - even in a down economy.

By Chris Kyle   

Looking to start on a new career path? Look to the business industry.

Despite the recent financial turmoil, business careers appear well-positioned for continued growth.

In fact, nine business occupations were recently spotlighted in U.S. News & World Report's list of best careers for 2011.

"Business jobs, including those in finance, continue to offer solid opportunities," writes U.S. News & World Report in its "50 Best Careers for 2011."

Think a career in the business world might be for you? Keep reading to see why these nine business careers are considered the best of the best.

In-Demand Career #1 - Accountant

U.S. News & World Report cited a strong employment outlook and "significant room for advancement" when naming accountant as one of its best careers for 2011.

Looking forward, new employment opportunities for accountants, who generally provide tax services and financial analysis, are expected to grow 22 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring accountants:*

  • To pursue an accounting career, you'll likely need a bachelor's degree in accounting, although an associate's degree could be enough for related entry-level positions (like bookkeeper).
  • In order to qualify for the national certified public accountant exam, you'll need a bachelor's degree, although some states may substitute work experience in place of a degree.
  • For senior accounting positions, some employers may prefer candidates with an MBA which specializes in accounting or finance.

Average earnings: $68,960**

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In-Demand Career #2 - Financial Advisor

Financial advising is projected to be one of "faster-growing occupations over the next decade," according to U.S. News & World Report, which included this job as one of its best careers for 2011. In today's rough economy, many people really need financial advice... and that's exactly what these advisors do, providing recommendations on taxes, investments, and other topics.

The expected retirement of those born during the Post-World War II baby boom is driving much of the demand for personal financial advisors, who are expected to see a 30 percent increase in career opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring personal financial advisors:*

  • A bachelor's degree in an area like finance, accounting, business administration, economics, or mathematics is usually required.
  • Earning your MBA with a specialization in finance is a strong option as well, particularly for financial advisors who hope to move into management.
  • Studying finance in school can also help those who eventually want to earn a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential, since you'll need a bachelor's degree, plus work experience, to qualify.

Average earnings: $91,220**

Click to Find the Right Finance Degree Program Now

In-Demand Career #3 - Public Relations Specialist

Public relations (PR) specialists, who are sometimes called communications or media specialists, were named to U.S. News & World Report's best careers for 2011. U.S. News cites "a lot of upside" for this career that only requires a bachelor's degree.

The future is a bright one for PR specialists, who are expected to see a 24 percent increase in employment opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring PR specialists:*

  • Many PR specialists have a bachelor's degree in PR, marketing, communications, or journalism.
  • If you know what field you are targeting for a career in PR, it could help to take classes in that area, whether it's information technology, health care, or finance, to use just a few examples.
  • Related graduate degree program options include journalism and communications.

Click to Find the Right Communications Degree Program Now

Average earnings: $57,830**

In-Demand Career #4 - Financial Analyst

Financial analyst, also named to U.S. News & World Report's best careers for 2011, is described by the magazine as a fast-growing job with a "good" paycheck. BusinessWeek also signaled out financial analysts by including it in its "Top 10 Careers for 2011".

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for financial analysts, who help companies and individuals make smart investment decisions, are growing at a 20 percent clip through 2018.

Education information for aspiring financial analysts:*

  • Most employers require a bachelor's degree in an area like finance, business administration, accounting, statistics, or economics.
  • "If you're in school now, add a course or two in financial analysis to your program," writes BusinessWeek.
  • Earning an MBA with a specialization in finance could help increase your career options.

Average earnings: $86,040**

Click to Find the Right Finance Degree Program Now

In-Demand Career #5 - Human Resources Training Specialist

Training specialists, who help with employee orientation and continuing education, were also named to U.S. News & World Report's list of best careers for 2011.

Technological advances and increasingly complex job responsibilities are spurring demand for training specialists, who should see a 23 percent jump in opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring training specialists:*

  • Those with a bachelor's degree, usually in a business-related area, should enjoy the best chances of joining this career track.
  • Getting a bachelor's degree in a subject like human relations could help you attract employers.
  • Certification in areas like HR or employee benefits can also help signal that you are competent and prepared for this career.

Average earnings: $57,830**

Click to Find the Right Human Resources Degree Program Now

In-Demand Career #6 - Actuary

Actuaries were named to U.S. News & World Report's best careers for 2011, in part because of a strong job outlook. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts a 21 percent increase in job opportunities through 2018.

Working in risk assessment, often on behalf of the insurance industry, actuaries use math and statistics to help predict the likelihood of all kinds of events, from life expectancy to property damage potential.

Education information for aspiring actuaries:*

  • Most actuaries have a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, or actuarial science.
  • Another option is to study a business-related field such as finance or business administration.
  • There are a series of actuarial exams you can take to get certified and it is common to begin taking these tests while still in school.

Click to Find the Right Accounting/Finance Degree Program Now

Average earnings: $98,620**

In-Demand Career #7 - Meeting Planner

Meeting planners were named to U.S. News & World Report's list for best careers for 2011 due to projected job growth, among other things. This career also made Money Magazine and Salary.com's "Best Jobs in America" list for 2010.

The international reach of the business world is leading to a new need for meeting planners, who are seeing a 16 percent jump in job opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring meeting planners:*

  • Meeting planners with a bachelor's degree are becoming the norm. Common majors include marketing, business administration, communications, and public relations.
  • Continuing education courses are also popular, particularly those in meeting planning and hospitality management.
  • The ability to speak multiple languages could be a benefit since business meetings and conventions often include international visitors.

Average earnings: $48,780**

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Degree Program Now

In-Demand Career #8 - Sales Manager

The potential for strong employment growth over the next decade was cited by U.S. News & World Report when including sales manager as one of its best careers for 2011.

Due to their importance in an organization of any size, sales managers are less likely than most to get downsized, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is forecasting a 15 percent bump in new employment opportunities through 2018.

Education information for aspiring sales managers:*

  • To pursue a sales manager position, you will very likely need a bachelor's degree in an area like marketing or business administration.
  • Courses in management, accounting, and finance can also be useful for sales managers.
  • To eventually move into management usually requires extensive work experience and/or an MBA.

Average earnings: $114,110**

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Degree Program Now

In-Demand Career #9 - Logistician

Supply chain management is the name of the game for logisticians, who often work in manufacturing. An increasingly complex supply and distribution chain, according to U.S. News & World Report's best careers for 2011, is causing a boost in demand for this profession.

Employment opportunities for logisticians are growing 20 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education information for aspiring logisticians:*

  • A bachelor's degree is common preparation for logisticians, who often study subjects like management and business administration.
  • Work experience is a big plus in this career track, though sometimes an MBA can help.
  • According to U.S. News & World Report, a military background can also be beneficial since the U.S. Armed Forces often stress a rational flow and order to any and all processes.

Average earnings: $73,510**

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Degree Program Now

*All education information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor (www.bls.gov).

**Unless otherwise noted, all average earnings info comes from the Dept. of Labor using May 2010 info.

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