These days, it’s almost impossible to open a newspaper or turn on CNN without hearing one dreaded word over and over: recession. Our economy has suffered 2.7 million job losses since December of 2007, and experts predict the situation will get worse before it gets better. It can be a scary time to enter the work force, or to be newly unemployed. However, there are some bright spots on the horizon.
Losing a job can offer you the chance to re-evaluate your professional wants and needs, pursue a long-held passion, or further your education. And while the overall economy is suffering, certain industries continue to grow, offering exciting career opportunities for a wide range of experience levels. Here are some of the fastest-growing careers for those considering a change.
Physical Therapist Assistant
What could be more rewarding than helping injured and disabled patients get back on their feet? With a mean average salary above $40,000, you can get back on yours, too.
Physical therapist assistants are expected to grow in number by 29 percent over the next eight years.
Most physical therapist assistants earn a two-year associate’s degree. Some states require an additional license to practice.
$44,340 is the average annual salary for a physical therapist assistant.
One perk of this job is a flexible schedule. Many dental hygienists work just two or three days a week. Evening and weekend schedules are also frequently available.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics calls this one of the fastest growing careers, with 30 percent job growth expected by 2016.
All fifty states require dental hygienists to be licensed. Additionally, an accredited associate’s degree in dental hygiene is often required.
A dental hygienist can expect to make about $64,910 annually.
Network Systems and Data Communications Analyst
Techies, rejoice. Computer science careers are growing faster than almost any other field, and growth is expected to continue as technology rapidly advances. After all, companies need someone to test, analyze, and design their computer systems. With the right career training, that could be you.
A two-year associate’s degree in computer science or information technology is necessary for many positions. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems may be preferable for more advanced positions in this field.
$70,760 is the mean average salary for this job.
Opportunities abound for social workers today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts “much faster than average growth” as social workers are called upon in all areas. Schools and hospitals are in need of social workers, as are public health organizations and private practices.
A bachelor’s degree in social work is usually the minimum requirement. Psychology and sociology majors might also be useful for entry-level positions. A master’s degree in social work is often preferred for clinical work and in health settings.
Depending on what type of social work you practice, annual earnings can range from $39,380 to $47,170.
Believe it or not, a recession can be the best time to start your own business. According to Forbes magazine, recessions provide a great platform for those with a solid business idea. Costs are low on everything from supplies to labor, and digital technologies make it easier than ever to work from home. “There is a rock-solid base for expansion once better times return, as they inevitably will,” reports Forbes.
Career Training: Online courses, or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business education or business administration can be great preparation for running your own business.
Average Salary: Earnings vary greatly, of course. With small business ownership, the sky’s the limit.
A crucial part of any job search is to know what your strengths are. Take the time to evaluate the talents and skills that you have to bring to a new career. And finally, don’t hesitate to go the extra mile. Make looking for a job your new full-time job. It may not be easy, but with smart planning and persistence, you can find a new career, maybe even one that makes you happier and allows you to grow to new professional heights.
by Patricia Cecil-Reed