Thinking about making a career move and starting fresh? Consider targeting these fast-growing fields.Going back to school takes time, money, and energy. So, it's in your best interest to choose wisely when deciding what to study. But what exactly does "wise" look like? Well, for starters, how about considering an occupation where job opportunities are expected to grow rather than shrink?
According to the Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, certain occupational groups will be instrumental in leading the economic recovery. Their report, "Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020," lists health care, community service and the arts, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as the top three fastest-growing occupational groups. And while it's probably a good idea to start your search with these in-demand fields, finding your proper career path will take a little self-discovery, too.
"Just because a career or category of jobs is hot or anticipated to grow doesn't mean you have the skills to be successful in that field or will feel satisfied performing that work," says Roy Cohen, a New York-based career counselor and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide: Secrets of a Career Coach." But you can still look broadly at an industry that's growing and ask yourself, "Where do I have the potential to be successful in this space?" Cohen says.
No small task, but we're here to help. Read on to find out which hot jobs in the three fastest-growing fields might be a good fit for you.
The Fastest-Growing Occupational Group: Health Care*Growth Rate: 31 percent (professional and technical) and 26 percent (support)**
Number of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 8,490,000 (professional and technical) and 4,610,000 (support)***
Totally engrossed in "Grey's Anatomy" or any of the other health-related dramas on TV today? Then you may want to consider pursuing a career in health care. Whether you're gentle and compassionate or hyper-precise and able to act quickly under pressure, there's a job in the medical world that might be a fit for you.
Why It's On Fire: "People are living a lot longer, and therefore the demand for health care is increasing," says Cohen. "The longer we live, the more health-related challenges and athletic injuries we'll face. We need practitioners to help us maintain our muscles, organs, and even our physical appearances, if that's desired," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Program.
According to Cohen, the need won't just be for doctors to diagnose and surgeons to perform operations. "Home health care is becoming the norm rather than the exception," he says. That means that nurses, orderlies, and attendants will be needed in greater numbers, too, to help out with baby boomers who prefer to age in the comfort of their homes.
Career #1: Registered NurseNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 2,721,470***
Think of these caregivers as doctor's helpers, as according to the U.S. Department of Labor, RNs might be responsible for dispensing medicines, taking patient histories, and explaining the proper way patients can care for and prevent illness and injury.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.
Education Requirements: What's great about nursing is that there are three different ways of preparing to pursue this career. According to the Department of Labor, some nurses earn a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), while others get an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or diploma from an approved nursing program. The Department also notes that registered nurses must also be licensed to practice.
Career #2: Nursing Aides, Orderlies and AttendantNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 1,575,780
Often, a nurse is to a doctor what a nursing aide, orderly, or attendant is to a nurse. How? The U.S. Department of Labor says these caregiving pros assist nurses by feeding, clothing, bathing, and helping patients perform daily functions.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Assistant Program.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor says orderlies typically have a high school diploma and may get on-the-job training if they're not involved in patient care. However, it notes that nursing aides and attendants usually need a postsecondary certificate or award and must pass their state's competency exam.
Career #3: Home Health AideNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 1,395,020
As Grandma gets older she'll need more help around the house. And a home health aide could be the one to help, as according the U.S. Department of Labor, they assist older adults by doing light housekeeping, such as laundry and preparing meals. But they're not just there to help with the dishes; they might also help them keep track of their prescriptions and doctor's appointments.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Patient Care Program.
Education Requirements: While in some states the only requirement may be on-the-job training, the Department of Labor says that "other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies." The Department adds that if you'd like to work for an agency that receives reimbursement from Medicaid or Medicare, you must first get "a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation or receive state certification."
2nd Fastest-Growing Occupational Group: Community Service and the ArtsGrowth Rate: 26 percent
Number of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 7,920,000
We've all heard the expression "starving artist," right? Well, as it turns out, if you creative types play your cards right, opportunity for growth and employment does exist for certain paths in the arts, particularly for people interested in radio operation, choreography, or editing.
Why It's On Fire: For Cohen, consumer demand and a few key social factors are driving job growth in community service and the arts. "Given all the political issues globally and the enormous potential for physical violence, emergencies, and war at any given time, people will continue turning to the Internet for news - and the radio where there is no Internet - which leads to a need for editors and radio operators," says Cohen.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Creative Arts and Design Program.
As for the jobs in theater and choreography, Cohen sees the power of pop culture at work. "Entertainment is a lot more local these days," says Cohen. And with the advent of shows like "Glee," it's now permissible to pursue the arts, and every community has outlets for kids to explore theater, dance, and music." And that means jobs for people teaching these art forms.
Career #1: Radio OperatorNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 862,290
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, radio operators are responsible for receiving and transmitting communication equipment - essentially operating radios. Radio operators must also ensure that operation is within compliance of government regulations, it adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Technology Support Program.
Education Requirements: The typical entry-level education is a high school diploma or the equivalent, says the Department of Labor, and no work experience is required.
Career #2: ChoreographerNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 474,880
Have a passion for dance? Pursuing a career as a choreographer might be right up your alley, as according to the U.S. Department of Labor, you'll likely spend the bulk of your workday making up and teaching dance routines.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor notes that most choreographers begin their careers as dancers with years of formal training. To teach dance in elementary school, high school, or college, these professionals are required to have a college degree. If they want to work in a dance studio they should also consider getting a degree, as according to the Department, some dance studios prefer instructors who have one.
Career #3: EditorNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 405,930
If you have a way with words, editing offers the opportunity to make a career out of planning, reviewing, and revising content for publication, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.
Education Requirements: A bachelor's degree is typically required to pursue a career as an editor, says the Department of Labor. It also notes that employers prefer those with a degree in communications, journalism, or English.
3rd Fastest-Growing Occupational Group: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)Growth Rate: 26 Percent
Number of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 7,600,000
Love to troubleshoot problems on your friends' smartphones, tablets, and laptops? Well, what if you could get paid for the troubleshooting skills you have? Look no further than the STEM occupations, which the Georgetown report projects will continue to grow substantially by 2020.
Why It's On Fire: According to Cohen, technology is absolutely essential to sustaining all organizations, and that demand is what's driving job growth in all aspects of this field.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Technology Program.
"Technology defines progress, and it's evolving at the speed of light," says Cohen. "Without the right technology, organizations can't exist. And people are demanding more of their computers and want them to engage with other platforms, too. So we need people to create new programs, analyze whether they're working, and fix them when they break."
Career #1: Computer Systems AnalystsNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 597,800
Equal parts business and tech-savvy? Then a job as a computer systems analyst might be for you, as the U.S. Department of Labor says these professionals might study a business's current computer situation and recommend ways of operating more efficiently and effectively.
Next step: Click to Find the Right MBA Program.
Education Requirements: According to the Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in a computer or information science subject isn't always required but is common for this career. Some employers might prefer those who have an MBA with a specialization in information systems, says the Department. It also notes that a master's degree in computer science is more appropriate for more complex positions.
Career #2: Computer Software Developer (Applications)Number of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 593,000
Think of a computer software developer as the creative mind behind the apps and programs you use on your tablet and smartphone. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these are the pros often responsible for developing, testing, and fixing the software we use.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Education Requirements: Computer software developers usually have earned a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field, says the Department of Labor. Math degrees are also accepted, it notes.
Career #3: Computer Support SpecialistsNumber of Total Jobs Projected by 2020: 538,310
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, working as a computer support specialist could include providing computer advice to a company's users directly via the phone or in person, as well as helping IT staff troubleshoot network problems.
Next step: Click to Find the Right IT and Information Systems Program.
Education Requirements: Some computer support specialist positions require a bachelor's, but the Department of Labor says an associate's degree, postsecondary classes, and a great working knowledge of computers can often suffice for others. According to the Department, more technical positions might require a degree in subjects such as computer science, information science, or engineering.
* Two health care groups - "Healthcare Professional and Technical" and "Healthcare Support" - occupy the top two positions in the Georgetown study, so they are combined here for the purposes of providing a more diverse selection of occupational fields.