Top Jobs, Top Career Fields – Hot Trends For the Next Decade

Unless you’ve been living in a nuclear fallout shelter for the past year and a half, you know that we’re all living in a brave new world. What was once up (a.k.a. the stock market) is now down, what was down (a.k.a. mortgage rates) is now up. So what does this mean for you and your future? Don’t worry. Change means, among other things, new growth and new job opportunities. There are plenty of great jobs out there, and we’ll be the ones to help you find them.

After doing some homework, we’ve put together the following criteria (concerning jobs, industries, and training) to help you decide what career will be best for you not just tomorrow, but for the next decade.

Top Jobs

Want to know which jobs are growing so fast you practically need to pull out your fire extinguisher to cool them off? Take a look at the following list of top 30 jobs put together by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

• Biomedical engineers
• Network systems and data communications analysts
• Home health aides
• Personal and home care aides
• Financial examiners
• Medical scientists (excluding epidemiologists)
• Physician assistants
• Skin care specialists
• Biochemists and biophysicists
• Athletic trainers
• Physical therapist aides
• Dental hygienists
• Veterinary technologists and technicians
• Dental assistants
• Computer software engineers, applications
• Medical assistants
• Physical therapist assistants
• Veterinarians
• Self-enrichment education teachers
• Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation
• Occupational therapist aides
• Environmental engineers
• Pharmacy technicians
• Computer software engineers, systems software
• Survey researchers
• Physical therapists
• Personal financial advisors
• Environmental engineering technicians
• Occupational therapist assistants
• Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

So how does the BLS figure out which jobs will be growing the fastest not just next year, but all the way through 2018? In the November 2009 issue of the Monthly Labor Review where the study results were originally published, author Kristina Bartsch explains they look at a number of factors, including which sectors of the economy will grow (such as the service-providing industries), which sectors will shrink (such as goods-producing sectors), and what kind of vacancies will be created as the workforce ages, retires or changes careers. Best of all? Bartsch says that, of the 30 jobs listed above, many have fewer educational or training requirements. (Being a personal trainer, for example, does require certification, but not necessarily a bachelor’s in kinesiology.) This means you don’t have to get take out more student loans and get another degree to work in one the future’s top jobs.

Top Fields

Ok, so now we know which jobs are growing the fastest. But if you’re not into one of the 30 jobs listed above, there’s still hope. You can look at the industries that are booming and watch for your dream job to pop up in that sector. For example, if you’re a communications director and you know that health care is an industry that’s leading the pack, you can look for communications positions at hospitals, medical research facilities, health care groups-anything related to the healthcare industry.

Some of the tried-and-true favorites include (you guessed it) health care, technology, and education. These industries always seem to be growing, to the point that some call them recession-proof. But with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) January 6 announcement regarding $100 million in Energy Training Partnership Grants, you can factor green jobs in that equation too. (By the way, that $100 million is in addition to $55 million given in November 2009, all as part of the Recovery Act. The Department of Labor expects to release funding for two remaining green grant award categories over the beginning of 2010.)

The DOL also listed the following among the fastest-growing industries through 2018:

• Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
• Individual and family services
• Home health care services
• Specialized design services
• Personal care services
• Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services
• Facilities support services
• Software publishers
• Independent artists, writers and performers
• Local government passenger transit (CTA, anyone?)
• Scientific research and development services
• Waste management and remediation
• Community and vocational rehabilitation services

Top Trends in Training

If you’re in school, going back to school, or thinking about going back to school, now’s a great time to fine-tune your training. According to Dianna Middleton’s Wall Street Journal article “Landing a Job of the Future takes a Two-Track Mind,” companies will soon be looking for candidates with not just a vertical skill set, but a horizontal one. Traditional degrees, like computer engineering, will need to be paired with study or experience in emerging fields, such as online marketing or social media. In other words, those top-dog systems analysts may also need to know how manage their company’s Twitter accounts, and veterinary technicians may need to be crossed trained in data entry and system management. So if you’re pursuing a degree, consider taking a few classes in a new and emerging field that will help boost your resume and your skill set.

The point is that there are lots of opportunities out there, and not just to make a few bucks, but to find a career that you love and that will fit your lifestyle.