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With the unemployment rate just below 8 percent and job growth still modest at an average 157,000 jobs per month through 2012, the successful job hunt focuses not on which companies are hiring but which industries are desperately seeking qualified workers. But the good news is that jobs are plentiful if you know where to look.
Five fields in particular: health care, information technology (IT), retail/sales, education and criminal justice are expected to help improve the hiring climate, which the University of Michigan Center for Labor Market Research says should average 180,000 new jobs a month in 2013, a 15 percent increase over 2012 monthly hiring.
Experts agree that health care will lead this hiring increase. One out of every six jobs created in 2012 was in the health care field, a trend that will continue thanks to the aging of the population and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which will provide health insurance coverage to an additional 14 million Americans by 2014.
“These job openings aren’t just for medical doctors,” says Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., career expert and author of Best Jobs for the 21st Century. “There’s a whole range of jobs from fairly low-skilled home health care aides to highly skilled nurses and everywhere in between.”
The retail/sales sector is expected to grow, too, creating nearly 4 million jobs through the decade, according to University of Phoenix research. Criminal justice is expected to see an increase as more parole and probation officers are needed to help former inmates transition to civilian life. Education is booming, thanks to interest at the federal level, an influx of immigrants and the desire for mid-career professionals to keep their skills sharp.
But don’t just pick an industry because it’s hiring, says Career Expert Shelly Field, author of 45 books on professional success. “Having a great career in IT is horrible if that’s not your passion,” she says. “The best career is something you want to do.” So take a look at these industries and figure out if your passion has some application in these job-rich environments.
Trends in Business/Retail
Business/retail is expected to create 3.8 million new jobs through 2020. But aside from the demand, this sector also provides a great opportunity for advancement. “In retail, people often hop from one job to another,” says Field. “But if you start out as a retail clerk and think, ‘Where do I want to be?’ and keep doing more than what is expected of you, and ask ‘How can I move up?’, you can become a store manager and then a category manager or retail buyer. You can [work your way up to] some really high positions.”
Like health care, business/retail is a category that offers a diversity of job opportunities and attracts a wide array of skills and interests. Maybe you’re a born sales person. Or maybe you hate the front store stuff and instead have a knack for purchasing and figuring out what will sell to your clientele. Or perhaps you can write the advertisements that bring in shoppers. In business/ retail, the possibilities are endless.
Trends in Information Technology
Yes, it’s true: Many IT jobs, especially computer programmers, are being outsourced to places such as India, but not all of them. The highest-demand jobs in this sector require employees who are on site and can work with teams to create, develop and solve problems, says Shatkin. Database managers and smartphone app developers are one example, says Shatkin.
“The app programmer has to work with the graphic designers, with the marketers, with the writers and visit with management,” says Shatkin. “It’s a very collaborative effort, and that’s one of the reasons why we have a Silicon Valley. Those kind of collaborative jobs don’t get sent overseas.”
These jobs are often situated near major research universities, such as Stanford in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, says Shatkin.
Trends in Health care
When it comes to careers in health care, “the future looks great,” says David Brensilber, senior vice president of business development for beyond.com.
“Today, there’s a shortage of health care workers ranging from the nurses, pharmacists and others and over time, that shortage isn’t expected to decrease,” Brensilber says. “It’s expected to increase.”
To meet the demand, Brensilber expects to see the creation of new job positions and titles that will make it easier for people to enter the health care field. “Years ago, nurse practitioners never existed,” says Brensilber. “But then they came in to help doctors and save money for health care providers. We believe this will evolve in other areas. For example, there will probably be a sub-pharmacist type of position that will be easier to get into and provide an opportunity for future growth.”
Demand for health care workers will be especially high in remote and underserved areas, says Brensilber. For example, Helena, Montana, is looking for physicians and nurses. But people relocating for those jobs have to be willing to endure some pretty fierce winters. And the journal Health Affairs reports that the Affordable Care Act is likely to lead to an increased demand for primary care doctors as more people become insured than ever before.
Trends in Education
Think being a teacher means you have to teach ABCs and 123s? Not necessarily. In fact, some of the most interesting growth in this field is in adult education. “If immigration reform happens—and there seems to be a bipartisan push toward that—one of the provisions might be a requirement that people trying to become citizens need to learn English,” says Shatkin. “So, there could be a need for people to teach English as a second language.”
Community colleges are also booming as post-secondary education costs skyrocket and people return to school to improve skills so they can get a new job. And those schools aren’t always looking for Ph.D.s to teach but rather people who have a wealth of experience in a field, says Shatkin.
As online courses continue to grow in popularity, the need for IT specialists in education will increase, says Brensilber, as colleges put more and more of their course materials and lectures online.
Trends in Criminal Justice
If you’re looking for a long, stable career in criminal justice, becoming a lawyer doesn’t have the cache it used to.
“There has been a desire by some law firms to outsource to India some of the repetitive legal services that they used to have first and second-year associates do,” says Brensilber. “So there are going to be challenges in terms of the demand for lawyers at law firms.” Instead, suggests Field, consider becoming a court reporter, which is in high demand in rural areas, or a paralegal. “Lawyers all need paralegals,” says Field. “And a paralegal is someone you need in your office. They go down to the court and file your cases. If you’re a lawyer with a big practice you can’t do everything on your own.”