Take a leap forward by preparing for these careers with strong hiring potential.
Are you ready to step out of your old career path and take a leap forward in your professional life? Now could be a prime time to start preparing.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hiring trends possibly will be on the upswing this year. In fact, businesses responding to NACE's "Job Outlook 2012" survey indicated they were planning to hire 9.5 percent more new college graduates in 2011-12 than they did in 2010-11.
The potential for creating new professional opportunities isn't lost on career expert Laurence Shatkin, author of the recently released book "Best Jobs for the 21st Century." Shatkin says economic indicators, such as a falling unemployment rate, potentially bode well for career seekers and changers.
"We are slowly coming out of this recession, and with the economy coming back, businesses are going to be hiring more people," Shatkin says. "You definitely want to be ready when these jobs become available, and education is a way to do that."
Check out the following in-demand careers - then see the education needed to get started.
Career # 1 - Dental Assistant
Dental assistants generally perform a mix of duties involving patient care, administrative assistance, and lab work on a daily basis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They can usually be found near the dental chair, arranging instruments and medications that a dentist needs to perform procedures.
Why it's in Demand: Shatkin says rising health care costs, advancements in dental care, and the aging population are helping create more openings for dental assistants.
"Dentists are trying to contain their costs by handing off more tasks to these workers," Shatkin says. "The trend towards group dentistry practices also means that some of these workers will be able to focus primarily on one activity, although those with a full range of skills will have more opportunities."
In fact, the Department of Labor projects the number of dental assistants will increase by 36 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Education Options: According to the Department, earning an associate's degree in dental assisting is an increasingly popular way to enter the profession. The Department also reports that with experience and additional education, dental assistants could have an opportunity to advance into careers as dental hygienists.
Average Annual Salary: $34,140*
Career #2 - Management Consultant
When businesses and corporations need trained eyes to see how to improve their operations, management consultants or analysts can get the call for help.
For example, a company might require the expertise of a management consultant to better utilize its sales force or revamp the structure of its staff. These in-demand professionals are expected to meet these challenges with solid judgment, often under deadline pressure, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why it's in Demand: The growing demand for management consultants is predicated on the increasing complexity of today's business world, according to Shatkin.
"They are the hired gun to deal with problems," Shatkin says. "It can be specific, like overhaul training, or product development, or marketing efforts. You spend a lot of time on the road, but the pay is good and very popular for people coming out of business school."
Management consultants are employed in all types of industries, such a health care, information technology, and business. The Department of Labor projects that they will see a 24 percent increase in hiring between 2008 and 2018.
Education Options: A bachelor's degree could potentially qualify you for entry-level management consultant positions, according to the Department. Some of the more common degree majors for consultants include business, management, accounting, marketing, and computer and information science. The Department also reports a good percentage of employers prefer hiring candidates with a master's degree in business administration (MBA) or a related field.
Average Annual Salary: $87,260*
Career #3 - Accountant
When it comes to tracking cash flow, preparing taxes, and maintaining public records, accountants rely heavily on their sharp math skills to keep the books in order. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, accountants can put those skills to use in four distinct fields - public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, and internal accounting.
Why it's in Demand: "This occupation will have a good outlook," Shatkin says. "Part of it is because business activity will pick up as we recover from recession. The other part is because companies have to deal with new regulations covering financial transactions and corporate governance."
The Department of Labor projects accountants will experience a hiring increase of 22 percent from 2008-2018.
Education Options: Most positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting for entry-level positions, the Department says. However, some employers require a master's degree in accounting or an MBA with an emphasis in accounting.
Average Annual Salary: $68,960*
Career #4 - Registered Nurse
Nurses help treat patients and often provide emotional support to the families of patients in their care, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They can be found working in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, private homes, and trauma centers.
Why it's in Demand: Shatkin says nurses are taking on more responsibilities in the treatment of patients as a cost-saving measure, thus creating demand for more of them. In that regard, nurses also are playing a bigger role in preventive health care.
"Nurses also do a lot of education with patients," Shatkin says. "They are the ones who will tell you to eat properly and what you need to do to stay healthy."
The demand for nurses, according to the Department of Labor, is projected to increase the hiring of RNs by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Education Options: You can earn either an associate's degree or diploma in nursing to help you enter the profession, says the Department. From there, you could enter a bachelor's program to acquire additional education, the Department says.
Average Annual Salary: $67,720*
Career #5 - Health Care Administrator
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, administrators in the growing health care field oversee the planning and delivery of services in departments and health care facilities on an around-the-clock basis. If you desire a highly rewarding career with long-term hiring potential, this might be one well worth considering.
Why it's in Demand: Shatkin says current trends in health care management are helping to create a demand for key administrators.
"The trend in health care, including dental, veterinary, and other fields of care, is towards group practices rather than solo practices," Shatkin says. "Some of these are created as partnerships among practitioners, while others are owned by HMOs (health maintenance organizations) or other large businesses. This increases the need for managers."
The Department of Labor projects the demand for health care administrators will maintain its growth pattern. The number of hires in this profession has a projected growth rate of 16 percent from 2008-2018.
Education Options: The Department notes that earning a master's degree in health services administration, health sciences, public health, public administration, or business administration is the standard requirement for most managing positions in this field.
Some entry-level positions could be pursued with a bachelor's degree. The same can be said for health information managers, the Department reports.
Average Annual Salary: $93,670*
Career # 6 - Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists, an in-demand career choice for 2012 and beyond, provide know-how and solutions to customers having problems in the area of information technology (IT). Problem solvers in this career might have a spot on the help desk and directly dish out solutions to customers, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.
Otherwise, they might repair or install computer hardware and software, which allows them to provide hands-on expertise to customers and clients, the Department of Labor says.
Why it's in Demand: Shatkin attributes the growing volume of computer-based products with the increased demand for support specialists this year.
"Although computer software and hardware are easier to use than they were in the past, the sheer number of applications and devices that people use keeps increasing," Shatkin says. "This creates more possibilities for conflicts, malware, or other solutions that consumers can't handle without support."
Between 2008 and 2018, the Department projects the number of hires for computer support specialists will grow by 14 percent.
Education Options: According to the Department, earning either a bachelor's degree or associate's degree in a computer-related major could help one qualify for most entry-level support specialist positions.
Average Annual Salary: $49,930*
*Average salary information is from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 data.
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