Career Growth Projections
In a series of recent reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its projections on the growth of the American economy through 2014. Its summary predicts "moderately strong" economic expansion with "a labor force growing at a steady rate with a favorable outlook for a wide array of job opportunities." Still, all career paths will not be created equal in the coming decade, and a handful of superstar professional, health care, and technical jobs will outstrip all others.
Overall, manufacturing will continue its decline, but the flatlining of goods will be more than offset by growth in salaried employment and a spike in services. The most in-demand sectors should be education, health care, and business/professional. The following five employment sectors are predicted to grow faster--some much faster--than the economy as a whole. The in-demand jobs within these sectors offer you a spectrum of opportunity, since they have vastly different educational requirements and salary potentials.
Health Care and Medical Job Opportunities
In 2004, the health care sector provided 13.5 million jobs; through 2014, more new jobs will be in the medical sector than in any other field. In fact, nearly one in five jobs created over this decade will be in health care. Many of these positions will require technological skills, although the majority call for less than a bachelor's degree and some require only on-the-job training. Since health care is a 24/7 industry, many jobs demand night or weekend work. Hospitals employ 40 percent of the health care workforce. One in five workers is part-time, and the industry doesn't hesitate to hire older workers, students, parents, and workers with second jobs.
Home Health Aides
Though you probably think of doctors and nurses when you think of medicine, home health aides better typify the average medical worker. The 83.3 million people who'll be over 55 will make the home health aide the fastest growing job in the U.S. by 2014. Home health aides provide hands on care for the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. If you're a healthy, compassionate person, your prospects for employment are excellent in this field. You won't need formal education, though the National Association for Home Care offers voluntary certification and some state require licensing. Most positions will be offered by nursing homes (where you'd average $8.81 an hour), hospitals ($9.69 hourly), and home health care providers ($8.58 hourly). This job path has very high turnover due to physical and emotional burnout.
Technology Job Opportunities
The information sector has the second highest projected job growth rate. Publishing, the Internet, and telecommunications should see real output climb to $1.6 trillion by 2014. A fifth of this will be Internet-related. With real growth in the information services sector targeted to be "an aggressive 8.5 average annual percent," this part of the economy can anticipate a jobs boom. If you're technologically-inclined, your career prospects are bright.
Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
If designing, configuring, testing, and evaluating computer networks sounds interesting, you should work in communications, one of the fastest growing U.S. employment sectors. You can get into the field with a two-year degree, although a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science or a similar field will take you farther. You can expect a graduate degree to be necessary for the top positions. Certifications offer an additional way for systems and data communications analysts to demonstrate their skills. Median earnings in systems and data analysis run at $60,000 per year, but the industry is more and more frequently offering temporary or contract employment. Many workers also choose self-employment.
Finance Job Opportunities
Employment in the financial sector of the economy is project to fall just short of 21 million jobs by 2014. The biggest growth is predicted to be at the top of the professional ladder and at the bottom, where temporary jobs will continue to mushroom. Thus, the educational demands for careers in this sector range from on-the-job-training to graduate professional education. Forty-three percent of financial jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. If you want a job in finance, you can surely get one, but you'll have to make sure to educate yourself if you want to cash in on the business money boom.
One of the highest demands in the job market--not just in the financial sector--is for accountants. You can become an accountant with a bachelor's degree or even get a solid para-professional accounting position with an associate's, but you'll have the strongest career potential if you go that fifth year and qualify as a CPA. Median earnings for accountants and auditors currently stand at $50,770. The seller's market means that once you graduate, you can negotiate both a high starting salary and a signing bonus. The shortfall in accountants caused by recent changes in federal regulations is projected to continue through 2014, so you can sign on for five years of education knowing you'll have a solid payoff once you have your sheepskin.
Sales and Marketing Job Opportunities
Though a significant number of positions in sales will be hourly wage retail jobs, excellent high end sales and marketing positions will be available in the growing technical and business sectors. To get one, you'll need to be highly competitive and creative. You should also have great computer and communication skills, be willing to work long hours, evenings, and weekends, and be open to travel.
Marketing managers oversee a firm's marketing strategy. As managers, they command teams of subordinates, overseeing the whole marketing cycle--from product development, to pricing, to branding and promotion. To become a manager, you'll need a bachelor's degree with marketing emphasis. In the tech industry, you'll need a technology bachelor's and an MBA. As of 2004, the top four industries employing marketing managers and the median salaries they pay are:
- $107,030 in computer systems and services
- $98,700 in companies and businesses
- $86,810 in insurance carriers
- $83,610 in architectural, engineering, and related services
Engineering Job Opportunities
BLS occupational listings recognize seventeen distinct engineering specialties. In general, engineers use computers to design, simulate, and test in their field--everything from nanotechnology to skyscrapers. They're responsible for technical maintenance as well. What engineers have in common, other than the need for a bachelor's degree plus continuing education, is strong employment prospects. Nearly 200,000 jobs are on the horizon, and most of them are in professional, scientific, and technical services. An eighth of these engineering jobs will mean working for the government.
If you're one of those rare people with both technological and business skills, you can parlay a degree in engineering and technological experience into a high-paying management position. Though average job growth is expected in engineering management positions, many more jobs will be created by managers who retire or change jobs. Engineering managers help their employers create a manufacturing plan or research and product development plan, which includes budgeting and staffing. You'll need a bachelor's degree in engineering and industry experience before you hone your business skills in an MBA program, which your employer may finance. You're looking at a median salary range between $79,000 and $121,000. Salaries in the semiconductor and electronic component sector will outstrip all others.
Notes of Caution
Depending on your outlook, God or the devil dwells in the details. So it is with the projections above. Here are some factors that can impact your individual employment opportunities:
- If you are a mid-life career changer, do check out the openness of your prospective profession to mature employees. Browse the professional publications in your potential career to see whether ageism is a topic of concern.
- The career projections above do not take into consideration race or gender. Organizations like the National Black Business Council or the Association for Women in Computing can offer more relevant outlooks on the career potential of minority and female job-seekers.
- Occupational salaries sound good, but they reflect the incomes of full-time workers. Make sure that the career you hope to enter offers full time employment in your area. Numerous local ads for part-time or seasonal employment are red flags.
- If you're committed to living in a specific location, ask your local job bank about the demand for careers in your area, check out your state's Department of Employment Web site, and explore the BLS Career Guide to Industries for your state.
Given these caveats and suggestions, you should be able to determine whether the projected job opportunities will be job opportunities for you. If the prospects look good, the time to educate yourself into the new employment picture is now.
- Berman, Jay M. "Industry output and employment projections to 2014."
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
- ---. Career Guide to Industries.
- Hecker, Daniel E. "Occupational employment projections to 2014."
- Saunders, Norman C. "A summary of BLS projections to 2014."
- Su, Betty W. " The U.S. economy to 2014."
- Toossi, Mitra. "Labor force projections to 2014: retiring boomers."