You may still be in high school, but it's not too early to start thinking about your career. The fields listed here are expected to offer growth and job opportunities today and tomorrow.
Finding your career path takes time. To help you get started, here’s an overview of the top 10 career fields in the United States.
1. Computers and Technology
Thanks to advances in the Internet, microelectronics, and telecommunications, computers and technology continue to be a very hot career category. Computer systems design and information services are expanding rapidly. As cell phone companies improve their services, specialists in microelectronics will be in demand. Tech-savvy workers will be hired to build better laptops, digital cameras, MP3s, PDAs, and satellites for radio communications.
The field of technology will be further driven by innovations such as advanced artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, in which scientists learn to build futuristic gadgets atom by atom.
2. Health Care and Allied Health
As the baby-boom generation ages, the demand for health care services is expected to increase dramatically. In fact, 15 of the 30 fastest-growing careers in the country are health-related. Registered nurses currently lead the pack in terms of job opportunities, but openings for chiropractors, veterinarians, and speech-language pathologists are also expected to increase.
To help control costs, many tasks and procedures formerly performed by doctors and other high-level health care professionals are now being done by assistants. As a result, job opportunities for dental assistants, physician assistants, and therapy aides are on the rise.
Stricter regulations and expanding services in health care will require more medical records specialists and health information technicians. Many of these positions require only a two-year degree.
3. Education and Social Services
Jobs in education and social services are expected to increase quickly, especially for educators.
As the number of preschool-age children increases, so will the demand for public school teachers. Schools have been hiring more educational paraprofessionals in recent years, and these positions often do not require an advanced degree. Paraprofessionals include teacher’s aides, special education assistants, early childhood assistants, and library assistants.
Community and social services are expected to add jobs over the next few years as well because of the issues related to an aging population.
4. Arts and Communications
Although many artists still struggle to make a living, opportunities are more plentiful than ever, especially for those who combine talent with technology.
Jobs in the arts and communications include graphic design, copywriting, advertising, broadcasting, and more. Many new jobs will be related to professional, scientific, and technical services. “Corporations, hospitals, and schools all want animation, music, and interactive material for their presentations,” says Marty Hasselbach, managing director of the Vancouver Film School in Canada. Also, as cable, the Web, satellite radio, electronic games, and CD-ROM manufacturing has expanded, so has the need for actors, directors, and producers.
5. Trades and Transportation
Jobs in the construction industry are expected to be abundant for the next several years. Jobs in automotive repair, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration are also expected to increase.
The manufacturing industry needs skilled tradespeople with technical know-how. Opportunities range from tool and die work to advanced robotics.
Finally, demand for truck drivers is expected to increase as industries rely on transportation services to deliver goods.
6. Management, Business, and Finance
In 2005, there was a strong upward shift in the hiring of MBAs, according to TopMBA.com. This trend is expected to continue over the next several years. Many of the positions will be related to scientific and technical consulting.
Accounting currently tops the list of careers with the most job offers for college grads, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Insurance is also expected to be a hot field, and more administrative assistants will be needed as corporations expand.
Families funding college educations and retirement savings are expected to rely more on personal financial advisors. And specialists in sales, marketing, and advertising will continue to be in demand to keep services and products moving around the world. Two growth areas to keep an eye on are e-commerce (selling over the Web) and forensic accounting (using accounting, auditing, and investigative skills in legal matters).
7. Architecture and Civil Engineering
While opportunities for architects are expected to grow more slowly than those in other categories in the next several years, specialists in computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting technology will have an edge when it comes to finding jobs. Homeland security demands, natural disasters, and other challenges fuel the need for more civil engineers, who design and supervise the construction of roads, levees, tunnels, water supply, and sewage systems.
Career opportunities in scientific fields are expected to expand in many areas, from chemistry to oceanography.
Not all jobs in scientific fields require an advanced degree. Technicians and assistants with two-year degrees are also needed to support research.
9. Hospitality, Tourism, and the Service Industry
The service industry needs fresh faces in hotel and restaurant management, retail and service work, travel planning, personal health and fitness consulting, and culinary arts. Good chefs are also in great demand. As consumers become more body conscious, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors will find steady employment. Finally, as business and personal travel increases, so will the need for hotel managers and event planning specialists.
10. Law and Law Enforcement
The legal services industry is more popular than ever, thanks in part to television shows like CSI and Boston Legal. While more positions are expected for attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants are enjoying the biggest job boom.
As for law enforcement, increased homeland security has driven up the need for FBI workers, customs agents, and border patrol officers. Openings are projected in local and special police departments as well.