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The 10 Fastest Growing Careers for the Next Decade

Having a job in a strong industry can be important for long-term success, especially during tough economic times. Workers in the health services industry, for example, continue to benefit from baby boomer retirement despite the threat of nationwide recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this trend will continue, placing a number of health service professions on its list of hot occupations. Fortunately, the health services industry is not alone. From patching-up pooches to figuring out finances, the following jobs represent ten of the fastest-growing career opportunities for the coming decade:

1. Network systems and data communications analyst. Projected Growth: 53.4%
Getting all the servers and computers to converse electronically is the job of network systems and data communications analysts. They plan, design, and troubleshoot wide area and local area networks. This requires competence installing hardware and software. A bachelor’s degree in information systems or computer science is often preferred by employers. Depending on the job, certification from the Computer Technology Industry Association may help in earning a position.

2. Personal and home care aide. Projected Growth: 50.6%
As the baby boomer generation ages, more individuals will need help managing their homes and performing routine activities. Personal care aides may clean, do laundry, and cook meals. They may also help clients get out of bed, bathe, and get dressed. Short-term on-the-job training is generally the recommended education for a home care aide, although some individuals may want to be certified by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.

3. Home health aide. Projected Growth: 48.7%
Another entry-level health care job, home health aides work in clients’ homes to provide health assistance. They can administer medication, monitor health signs, massage the individual, and perform a variety of other duties. Usually, a home health aide reports to a nurse or medical staff member. Short-term on-the-job training is all that’s required, but many individuals may use this job as a stepping stone into a broader health care career. Consequently, attaining a degree in health administration, nursing, or another health-related field can improve future career prospects.

4. Computer software engineer, applications. Projected Growth: 44.6%
Computer applications software engineers formulate and test programs. They can work with end users to determine their needs and make sure that applications fit their demands. They may know several different computer languages, and generally need to continue learning and stay up-to-date on the newest developments. A bachelor’s degree in computer science is generally recommended to get started.

5. Veterinary technologist and technician. Projected Growth: 41%
Veterinary technologists or technicians take and analyze blood samples, diagnose and treat animal illnesses, and sanitize animal cages. Typically a veterinary technician needs a two-year degree, while a veterinary technologist needs a four-year degree. State licensure or certification is often required as well.

6. Personal financial advisor. Projected Growth: 41%
Personal financial advisors work with clients to develop investment plans and retirement goals. They take into account the clients’ willingness for risk and recommend investments accordingly. They can work for large companies, small firms, or independently. A bachelor’s degree in a finance discipline is recommended for entering this career, and Series 7 and Series 63 or 66 licenses may be required to perform specialized functions.

7. Theater and performing arts makeup artist. Projected Growth: 39.8%
Love theater and the performing arts? Love make-up? Then a job as a makeup artist for a theatre group or another entertainment troupe may be a perfect fit. Make-up artists apply make-up to actors for television, movies, and performing arts shows. A postsecondary vocational qualification, often in cosmetology, can improve chances for employment. A degree in theater arts could help as well.

8. Medical assistant. Projected Growth: 35.4%
Medical assistants ensure that an office runs smoothly, allowing doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to focus on their patients. Medical assistants administer insurance paperwork, take phone calls, schedule appointments, greet patients, and more. Medical assistants can also perform preliminary tests and prep work for minor procedures. Moderate-term on-the-job training and/or a one or two year degree are generally required. Additional education or certification may be necessary for specialized fields, such as podiatry or ophthalmology.

9. Veterinarians. Projected Growth: 35%
Over 70 million households in the U.S. have a pet, which requires an increasing number of skilled workers to take care of all the Fidos and Fluffies. Veterinarians diagnose a variety of animal illnesses, vaccinate against diseases, and perform routine medical checkups. Some veterinarians focus on research in animal and medical science. A college education is a must in this profession, and generally culminates with the completion of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Most veterinarians need to be licensed within the state of their practice, which usually involves passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

10. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. Projected Growth: 34.3%
Across the country, people struggle with addictions to alcohol, drugs, and a number of other illegal substances. Substance abuse counselors work with these individuals to help them develop strategies for coping with their dependencies. Care and compassion for people are important personality traits to have in this profession, as is the patience to work with clients through their most difficult times. A bachelor’s degree is generally needed to begin a career, although a master’s degree can enhance job prospects. Many counselors also need to meet licensing requirements set by their state of residence.

Other Things to Consider
These fast growing jobs should give you an idea of the education programs that best fit your career aspirations. Of course, you should consider a few things besides opportunity when choosing a career. For example, are you passionate about this topic? Computer networking can be a great career, but if working with hardware and software programs isn’t your cup of tea, you could be in for forty hours of Monday through Friday misery.

Spend time thinking about this decision. Talk to friends or contacts in these fields, and discuss education programs with a school advisor. Once you’ve made your decision, find the right training to take advantage of one of these blossoming careers.

Publish date: June 22, 2008