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 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.)
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.)
As baby boomers near retirement and switch from building assets to managing them, they will help drive this sector’s growth. The result: 350,000 jobs by 2010.
Claims adjuster (HSG)
Of course, not all finance-sector jobs involve investments. Property-casualty insurers, for example, need people to work with policyholders in evaluating losses and settling claims. “Many companies will train you from scratch,” says Karen Burger of the Insurance Institute of America, which offers training toward an Associate in Claims (AIC) designation.
Average salary: $43,000. (For more, see AICPCU.org, the website of the Insurance Institute of America.)
Financial advisor (WCM)
White-collar workers with finance, economics or business backgrounds can make the switch to financial advisor, says the Hudson Institute’s Graham Toft. Just be aware that the public now demands high standards. Many consumers expect at least Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification.
Average salary: $78,000. (For more, see FPAnet.org, the Financial Planning Association website, and www.CFPboard.org, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website.)
Financial analyst (RCG)
Financial analysts review investment opportunities for large institutions by evaluating corporate balance sheets and gauging a company’s potential. A business administration degree with a concentration in accounting or finance is desirable, as is a Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Average salary: $67,000. (For more, see AIMR.org, the website of the Association for Investment Management and Research.)
People who can gather data, organize it and deliver it clearly to others are much in demand, says the Hudson Institute’s Haley Glover. What’s called the “knowledge” sector of the new economy includes schoolteachers, seminar leaders, data managers and product designers. The sector also overlaps into other industries.
Medical records technician (HSG)
Increases in boomer-related medical needs will require more people to handle health care data. The demand for knowledge workers to assign codes to hospital procedures is already creating 10,000 jobs a year, says Linda Kloss, CEO of the American Health Information Management Association.
Average salary: about $40,000. A manager of these employees can earn up to $100,000. Certification from AHIMA is preferred. (For more, see AHIMA.org.)
Seminar leader (WCM)
Some of the hot new jobs will be entrepreneurial in nature. One example: starting your own seminar business or creating instructional materials for your employer to help colleagues and new hires. Have a professional expertise? Create and run a seminar series on your own.
Average salary: $50,000 or more, says June Davidson of the American Seminar Leaders Association. (For more, see ASLA.com.)
Technical writer (RCG)
Confused by the owner’s manual that came with your camera, car or computer? Think you can come up with something better? The challenge is to create clear, well-organized instructions to help corporate users and consumers manage technology and operate equipment. “To enter this field, you need to be a good writer, well organized, and comfortable with technical subjects,” says Maurice Martin of the Society for Technical Communication.
Average salary: $43,000. (For more, see STC.org.)