Will 2013 be a good year for careers? Two experts weigh in...Thinking it might be time to go back to school to pursue a new career? That's great, but if you're someone who needs to continue to pay a mortgage or rent - not to mention eat - you probably want to make sure you pick a field that has good job growth potential.
"Gone are the days when you didn't have to make sure that you studied something that will lead to a job. School is a big financial commitment, so you need to be relatively sure you'll get a return on investment," says Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum, a global recruitment and branding strategy company.
With that in mind, we asked both Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and writer of About.com's Guide to Human Resources, and Lynn to weigh in with their expert opinions about which careers will be hot in 2013, and beyond. Read on to learn where they say the jobs will be in the future.
Hot Job #1: AccountantOkay, when you think of a hot career, you probably don't picture an accountant. But you should, say Heathfield and Lynn. Both see this career as being in demand for years to come. In fact, Lynn, who regularly works for Fortune 500 companies, says accountants are always being heavily recruited by them, and small companies alike.
Why It's Hot: "The IRS just published a 156-page instruction book which provides new instructions for taxes," says Heathfield. "I don't have time to read 156 pages of IRS regulations, but I expect my accountant to. The point is, people like accountants are going to be critical for the next four or five years because of all the changes in tax code."
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Data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicates growth for this career, as well. Because of corporate scandals and the recent financial crisis, there has been a renewed emphasis on accounting practices, reports the Department of Labor. That, along with stricter laws and regulations, will increase the demand for accounting services. In fact, the Department projects employment of accountants and auditors to grow by 16 percent, or 190,700 jobs, from 2010 to 2020.
Education Options: If you're interested in pursuing a career in accounting, you will probably need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, according to the Department of Labor. Some employers might even prefer that you hold a master's in accounting or business administration, with a concentration in accounting.
Hot Job #2: Software DeveloperYour computer, your phone, your new car - possibly even your vacuum. These are just a few of today's gadgets that rely on computer software to run, and software developers are the people who design it. Because software is such an indispensable part of our daily existence, both Lynn and Heathfield say software developers will have job opportunities for a long time.
Why It's Hot: "The demand for people with software developer skills is everywhere," says Lynn. "The big markets are, of course, the high-tech areas like San Francisco, New York, and Boston, but I would say just about everywhere is looking for these people."
Why? Because any company that wants to go online and interface or connect with new customers, build e-commerce sites, or just run their businesses more smoothly will need these workers, she says. And in today's web-centric world, that's pretty much every company.
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The U.S. Department of Labor has identified a trend, too, projecting a 30 percent growth rate for software developers from 2010 to 2020. The Department of Labor attributes this growth to the need to create new applications for mobile technology, the increased use of computer systems in health care, and a general concern for cybersecurity.
Education Options: Ready to get inside the cyber world? You'll need a bachelor's degree in computer science, the most common credential held by computer software developers, says the Department of Labor. It is also considered acceptable to earn a bachelor's degree in software engineering, mathematics, or another related field, while for some positions, employers might prefer you have a master's degree.
Hot Job #3: Personal Financial AdvisorAre you a responsible person who people seem to trust and come to for advice? You might choose to monetize that trait by pursuing the career of personal financial advisor. It's an occupation our experts believe will be in demand this year - and for many years into the future.
Why It's Hot: "The retirement money and plans of baby boomers are becoming available and they are doing retirement planning and estate planning for any assets to go to their children. So I think helping them manage and plan for these things will be a big focus for the next 10 to 20 years," says Heathfield.
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Maybe that's why employment for this profession is expected to grow much faster than average at 32 percent, from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just as Heathfield points out, the Department of Labor sees the primary driver of that growth as the baby boomer population, who will be seeking advice from personal financial planners before and during retirement.
Education Options: You typically need a bachelor's degree to pursue a career as a personal financial advisor. And while the Department notes that employers don't usually demand a specific area of study, it also reports that a degree in business, finance, accounting, economics, mathematics, or law would each be good preparation.
Hot Job #4: Public Relations SpecialistTwitter is not just for your hip younger cousin anymore. In fact, companies as old school as Cadillac, Pepsi, and Amway all have Twitter feeds. Heck, even the AARP tweets. And it's all in the name of public relations, which is one reason public relations specialist, as long as it's with a focus on social media, is a winner in the eyes of Lynn and Heathfield.
Why It's Hot: "Social media PR is a phenomenon that's red hot right now," says Lynn. "It seems like every company is getting on the bandwagon of creating a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. But those require an incredible amount of maintenance; they need to be kept active and monitored constantly. There's a whole new type of organization within companies for this. I even see companies creating positions for social media strategists."
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The U.S. Department of Labor has also reported an increased use of social media, which they believe is driving the demand for public relations specialists. In fact, they see the profession growing by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020. So maybe you should ask your younger cousin about that tweeting thing after all.
Education Options: If you want to prepare to pursue a career as a public relations specialist, the Department of Labor says that a bachelor's degree is usually required - though a particular field of study is not specified. The Department does say, however, that employers will typically want you to have a bachelor's in public relations, communications, English, journalism, or business.
Hot Job #5: NursingYou want a hot area of study? Both experts agree that because of the hands-on nature of nursing - meaning it can't be off-shored - this career will be red hot for years to come.
Why It's Hot: "With an aging population due to the baby boomer generation retiring, nurses will take on more medical tasks as doctors get busier," says Heathfield.
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In addition to the increasing health needs of baby boomers, the U.S. Department of Labor also attributes the career's growing popularity to technological advances and a greater emphasis on preventive care. Just how popular will this career be? From 2010 to 2020, the profession of registered nursing is projected to increase by 26 percent, the Department of Labor says.
Education Options: According to the Department, you can pursue various paths toward the career of registered nurse. These include an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. You'll also need to be licensed, notes the Department.