Four years ago, Laura Dobney of Avon, Ohio, was an office manager for a local doctor. Today, she’s a surgical technologist at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the top-ranked heart-surgery hospitals in the United States.
Dobney sets up instrument tables, hands tools to surgeons during operations and observes patients’ vital signs. Her new job pays 25 percent more than her old one did — and she loves it. “Most people aren’t even aware this job exists,” she says.
Anyone looking for a job today ought to follow Dobney’s lead. By switching into a high-skills career, the 41-year-old mother of two vaulted into one of the fastest-growing occupations in one of the country’s fastest-growing fields — health care — which, along with a handful of other industries, is expected to add over 1 million jobs by 2010. Most of these jobs will value brains above all else.
“The economy is in the middle of a shift away from manufacturing toward services — a trend that will continue for years,” says Alice Rivlin, an economist and former vice chair of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.
Many of these new service jobs demand complex skills — and pay well for them. And because many can’t be shipped abroad, they offer long-term prospects. Luckily, almost anyone who’s motivated and flexible can take part in the shift — whatever their educational or professional background.
Ready to switch industries and get the training you need? One of these jobs is within your reach. For some, now’s the time to make the leap. In the so-called knowledge sector, for example, the demand for teachers is urgent.
Working with the Hudson Institute, a think tank that analyzes work force trends, we’ve identified five fields among those likely to offer the most growth in the near future. Within each, we’ve picked one job apiece for high school graduates of any age (HSG), experienced white-collar managers (WCM) and recent college grads (RCG). Here they are:
As waves of baby boomers hit 60, their medical needs are sure to increase. The result: The industry expects to need at least 1.7 million workers by 2010. And the supply of qualified workers is unlikely to meet that demand, says Graham Toft, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Surgical technologist (HSG)
Interested in doing what Laura Dobney does? It helps if you get an associate’s degree in applied science (study while you work). It’s also wise to pursue professional certification from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist by completing an accredited program and passing a national exam.
Average salary: $35,000* — higher for those at major hospitals and in specialty surgeries. (For more, see AST.org, the website of the Association of Surgical Technologists.)
Health care administrator (WCM)
Management skills are key in this job, in which you coordinate health and medical services at hospitals and group practices, and supervise personnel. “This job typically requires a business background or clinical experience,” says Nancy Tichy, a Cleveland Clinic human-resources director.
Average salary: $70,000. (For more, see www.MGMA.com, the website of the Medical Group Management Association.)
Registered nurse (RCG)
About 13 percent of the country’s nursing positions are vacant, a rate that’s likely to grow. “Many older nurses are retiring, creating opportunities for women and men,” says Barbara Blakeney, president of the American Nurses Association. Advances in health care are also a factor. To become an RN, you must complete a two-, three-, or four-year accredited program and pass a state board exam.
Average salary: $49,000. Nurse-anesthetists can earn more than $125,000. (For more, see the American Nurses Association website, NursingWorld.org.)
*To determine the salary range for jobs in specific geographic locations, check the caluculator, at swz.salary.com