Six Quick-Start Careers

Quick-Start Careers

See how you could get into a hot career with just 1-2 years of education.

By Jennifer Berry

Are you feeling stuck in a job you hate? Floundering in a job search that isn't going anywhere?

Don't despair: a quick education program could provide the jolt you need to find the right career.

There is no time like the present to explore your options for going back to school. With many schools offering rolling admissions and even online instruction, it's never been easier to get started.

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With the right education, you could be prepared for a new career in just one to two years. That's a small investment in time that could reap big rewards over the length of your career.

Check out these six solid careers - and learn how you can prepare for them.

Career #1 - Human Resources Assistant

For a stable, rewarding career that you can prepare for quickly, consider a career in human resources. As a human resources assistant, you'll be responsible for maintaining important information about your organization's employees - like their earnings, health and life insurance plans, and tax withholdings.

Quick education: You can earn your associate's degree in human resources in two years. If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you can earn a certificate in human resources in just one year.

Good compensation: The average annual income for human resources assistants is $37,840. The top ten percent average at $53,160 a year.*

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Career #2 - Paralegal

Intrigued by the law? Prepare for an in-demand career as a paralegal in less than a year. The U.S. Department of Labor expects paralegal jobs to grow 28 percent from 2008 to 2018. As a paralegal, you may prepare arguments, obtain affidavits, and help lawyers prepare for cases.

Quick education: Do you already have a bachelor's degree? If so, you might be able to earn a certificate in paralegal studies in just a few months. If not, consider earning your associate's degree in two years.

Good compensation: Paralegals have an average annual income of $50,080. The highest ten percent earn more than $75,000.

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Career #3 - Medical Assistant

The U.S. Department of Labor lists health care as one of the fastest-growing industries in our country. Take part in this boom by completing a medical assistant program in two years or less. As a medical assistant, you'll handle office tasks, take patient medical histories...you might even perform basic laboratory tests.

Quick education: You can earn a certificate or diploma in about one year. Another quick education option is an associate's degree in medical assisting, which you can complete in about two years. Even in quick programs, you'll build a variety of skills to help you in your new career, including transcription and insurance processing.

Good compensation: Medical assistants have an average annual income of $29,450. The top ten percent have an average annual wage of $39,970.

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Career #4 - Bookkeeper

Join the 2.1 million bookkeepers who are working today with an accounting education program. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 10 percent jump in opportunities through 2018. As a bookkeeper, you'll handle financial records like taxes, accounts payable and receivable, and payroll.

Quick education: Prepare to step into this field by earning an associate's degree in just two years. You'll study subjects like accounting and familiarize yourself with the latest computer software that the job requires.

Good compensation: Bookkeepers, who work in every industry imaginable, have an average annual income of $34,750. The top ten percent can make more than $50,450 a year.

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Career #5 - Dental Assistant

Want to get hired as a dental assistant? Well, what are you waiting for? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for dental assistants are expected to grow 36 percent through 2018. As a dental assistant, you'll make appointments, sterilize equipment, and help dentists during procedures.

Quick education: You could earn a certificate in dental assisting in just one year, or an associate's degree in two years. Many education programs focus on a dental assistant's daily duties, including how to interact with patients and how to help keep the dental office running smoothly.

Good compensation: Dental assistants have an average annual income of $34,000. The top ten percent can average at more than $47,070 a year.

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Career #6 - Registered Nurse

If you feel the calling to pursue a registered nursing career, you can prepare for this rewarding profession in two years or less. It's a smart career move too...the U.S. Department of Labor expects job opportunities to soar 22 percent through 2018. As a nurse, you would work with patients, run diagnostic tests, and administer medications.

Quick education: Earn an associate's degree or certificate in nursing in a few years. If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you could enroll in an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to earn your degree in less time.

Good compensation: Registered nurses have an average annual income of $66,530. The top ten percent average at $93,700 a year.

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*Compensation info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2009.

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