Technology underpins everything from ATMs to fighter jets. The computer and data-processing fields alone are likely to produce nearly 1 million jobs by 2010, says Hudson Institute researcher Haley Glover.
Computer troubleshooter (HSG) Boost your odds of being hired to maintain and fix computers — as a salaried worker or as a consultant — by getting the appropriate certification. Average salary: $30,000. Push your annual wages to $100,000 by working in a hot growth area (security, for example), says Neill Hopkins of CompTIA, the country’s largest information technology trade association group. (For more, see CompTIA.org.)
Equipment product manager (WCM) The telecommunications equipment industry is expected to grow eight percent this year alone. At Plantronics, which makes communications headsets, the hottest job is product manager — guiding new equipment through the manufacturing process. You’ll need prior experience, and completing a two-year certification process helps (sample study area: finance for the nonfinancial manager). Average salary: $90,000. (For more, see AIPMM.com, the Association of International Product Marketing and Management’s website.)
Video-game developer (RCG) Demand is high for programmers, animators and those who create music and sound effects. Studying computer science and graphics in college helped Michael Agustin, 23, a programmer at game maker Edge of Reality in Austin, Texas, enter the field. “I also started a game organization on campus and invited professionals to speak, which was great for networking after graduation,” he says. Salary range: $40,000 to $200,000, based on experience. (For more, see IGDA.org/breakingin, the website of the International Game Developers Association.)
Security Terrorists, computer hackers, identity thieves and others are a continuing threat. This means that demand for a wide range of protective measures — from security personnel to fingerprint identification devices at airports — is rising rapidly.
Security-equipment installer (HSG) As the complexity of security systems increases, more people will be needed to install, monitor and maintain them. Certification by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies is a plus but not essential, says Ann Lindstrom of ADT Security Services, the country’s largest installer of electronic security devices. Salary range: $23,000 to $52,000, based on experience. (For more, see NICET.org.)
Quality-assurance manager (WCM) At Drexler Technology, which makes counterfeit-resistant cards that store personal information about their owner and display the data at border crossings, Seok Ng, 46, is the company’s quality director. She joined Drexler three years ago after a decade in the auto industry developing automated rearview mirrors. “This job takes enormous organizational skills and a deep passion for the end-user,” says Ng, who manages 21 people. Average salary: $70,000. (For more, see www.ASQ.org, the website of the American Society for Quality.)
Researcher for private investigator (RCG) Increasingly, companies and law firms are looking into fraud, phony insurance claims, acts of sabotage and other illegal activities. Many private investigation agencies hire researcher apprentices, who, after three to five years, are eligible in some states for an investigator’s license. “You have to have a passion for uncovering the truth and getting to the bottom of things in this job,” says Rick Norris, 29, a private investigator intern at Brown and Associates in Orlando, Florida. Salary range: $25,000 to $50,000, based on experience. (For more, see www.PImagazine.com, the website of PI Magazine, a trade publication serving the industry.)