All Business
The Best Jobs to Have in 2006

Excellent Careers for 2006

By Marty Nemko
U.S. News & World Report

Audiologist. Careers in which you help people, one-on-one, are rewarding, and the work environment is usually pleasant. Audiology is my favorite. Pay and prestige are excellent, and the job market will be strong because as baby boomers age, their hearing fades. And audiologists will be offering ever better hearing aids. The annoying conventional aids are being replaced by more pleasing computer-controlled ones. A final plus is that audiology is an under-the-radar career—few people consider it, so competition isn't as keen as it deserves to be. One downside: Universities' relentless push to keep more students longer is creating pressure to make audiology programs doctoral.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos085.htm
American Academy of Audiology: www.audiology.org
Read: Survey of Audiology by David DeBonis

Optometrist. This is another one-on-one helping career that will serve the massive numbers of boomers. I like this career slightly less than audiologist because technological breakthroughs don't seem as imminent.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos073.htm
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry: www.opted.org

Veterinarian. Veterinary medicine offers substantial advantages over being a physician. You get to perform a wider range of procedures because in a number of specialties, board certification isn't required. Plus, most veterinary medicine is fee for service, so you needn't be bogged down with labyrinthine regulations and paperwork. One downside is that veterinary offices tend to be loud: lots of barking.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos076.htm
American Veterinary Medicine Association: www.avma.org
Read: True Confessions of a Veterinarian by Gene Witiak

Professor. This career offers stimulating work, lots of autonomy, status, and the comforting confines of academe. The job market has been tight, but that should start to improve–there was a wealth of hiring in the '60s, and most of those professors are approaching retirement age. Long term, the job market should remain good because we're in an era of degree proliferation: More students go on to college, and more adults return to school.

Here are the drawbacks: Colleges, more than most organizations, like to hire people part time or on a temporary basis. Over 30 percent of faculty hold part-time positions, and that percentage is increasing. It's ironic that universities decry the way management treats labor, yet when colleges hire, they assiduously try to avoid providing healthcare benefits and job security. Office politics can also be intense–in few workplaces is there as much conniving over so few resources. And finally, it's dangerous to be politically incorrect. Harvard President Lawrence Summers nearly got fired recently when he suggested, in a private brainstorming session, that genetic predisposition might help explain why there are so few female scientists. He survived after promising to spend $50 million to increase the number of women and members of minority groups on Harvard's scientific and engineering faculty.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos066.htm
American Association of University Professors: www.aaup.org
Read: The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School Through Tenure by John Goldsmith et al.

Librarian. This is an underrated career. Most librarians enjoy helping patrons dig up information. They learn in the process and keep up to date on the latest books and online resources. The need for librarians, unfortunately, may decline because search engines make it easy for patrons to find information without a librarian's help. The job growth for librarians will be in nontraditional settings: corporations, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm
American Library Association: www.ala.org
Read: The Librarian's Career Guidebook by Priscilla Shontz

Clergy. Want the satisfaction of doing good? You'll routinely play a significant role in major life events such as birth, marriage, crisis, and death. Plus this career offers status, normally modest work hours, and often good salaries. You needn't necessarily have unquestioned faith in God. I've spoken with a number of clergy who have deep questions about the nature and even existence of a Supreme Being.

To learn more
Read: Educating Clergy by Charles Foster
Contact a respected clergyperson.

Engineer. This can be marvelous work for people who enjoy using math and science to create products. Turnover is very low, although twice as many women as men leave the profession. Training, not surprisingly, can be long and grueling and often irrelevant. One engineer I met, who works for General Dynamics, told me that 95 percent of what he learned in college–a prestigious one–was irrelevant to his work. One career hazard is the offshoring of technical work to low-cost countries like India and China, with thousands of skilled engineers willing to work for 80 percent less than their counterparts in the United States. Some of the safest jobs involve government-related work.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm
Junior Engineering Technical Society: www.jets.org
Read: Opportunities in Engineering Careers by Nicholas Basta

Speech therapist. This is another of my favorite helping careers. Patients improve at higher rates than in fields like psychotherapy or oncology, and the training is shorter and less science intensive. That's significant because many college-level science courses are—for most students–very difficult and boring, not a great combination. Speech therapists who work in schools have relatively short workdays, with ample time off. They may also work in hospitals, clinics, and in private practice. Many speech therapists choose a combination.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos099.htm
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: www.asha.org

Occupational therapist. This is another great career in which you help people one-on-one and often have the opportunity to work in multiple settings. Some occupational therapists see clients in a hospital in the morning, then in their homes in the afternoon. Success rates are high because you're often teaching a person simple ways to work around their limitations–how to button a shirt even though one arm is paralyzed, for example. Plus, with the aging boomers, the Department of Labor classifies this as one of the fastest-growing occupations–but it's also another career in which the amount of required training is rising. By 2007, a master's degree will generally be required.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos078.htm
American Occupational Therapy Association: www.aota.org

Physical therapist. Yet another one-on-one healthcare career, which, like the others, will be in growing demand. Boomers will need increasing hands-on care to recover from strokes, replaced hips, and other infirmities that come with aging.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos080.htm
American Physical Therapy Association: www.apta.org

Physician assistant. For most doctors, the fun part is doctoring–diagnosing patients, treating them, doing patient education. The dreary parts are the paperwork, managing the office, and dealing with insurance companies. Physician assistants enjoy many of the benefits of being a physician with few of its liabilities. Under a doctor's supervision, physician assistants do diagnosis, treatment, and patient education, but training takes just two to three years–not the 10 years many doctors put in. And paperwork and management responsibilities are few. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career will be among the fastest growing, as healthcare organizations cut costs by using physician assistants more and doctors less. Salaries are not doctor level but respectable–about $76,000 on average.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos081.htm
American Academy of Physician Assistants Information Center: www.aapa.org
Read: A Kernel in the Pod: The Adventures of a "Midlevel" Clinician in a Top-level World by J. Michael Jones

Pharmacist. You're not just filling prescriptions; with access to high-priced doctors getting more scarce, you're often the front-line healthcare provider. And well-paying jobs are available, not just in store pharmacies but in hospitals and on research teams as well. Unfortunately, as in many other fields, the training requirement has been ratcheted up: Now a doctor of pharmacy degree is standard, which typically requires seven years of post-high-school education.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos079.htm
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: www.aacp.org
Read: Opportunities in Pharmacy Career by Fred Gable

Personal coach. I predict that demand for the services of psychologists and other psychotherapists will fade (see the entry for psychologist, below). There will always be a need, however, for professionals willing to help clients address their practical problems. This doesn't need to entail thorough exploration of family history or traumatic childhood events but someone to help the client set goals, develop an action plan to achieve them, keep on task, and be supportive when the client feels scared or deflated. Some psychotherapists, who practice cognitive or rational-emotive therapy, do those things, but personal coaches, also known as career and life coaches, can be adequately trained in far less time. For example, see www.coachu.com.

To learn more
International Coach Federation: www.coachfederation.org
Read: Coaching Manual: The Definitive Guide to the Process, Principles & Skills of Personal Coaching by Julie Starr.

Electrician. Among the trades, this is my favorite. You're less likely to ruin your back or knees than are carpenters or plumbers. And demand for electricians is likely to grow faster than for other trades because of our increasingly electrified world. Another plus is that this career, like most trades, is highly resistant to being offshored to low-cost countries like China. Formal training usually involves a paid four-year apprenticeship combining community college training with on-the-job, supervised practice.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos206.htm
National Electrical Contractors Association: www.necanet.org
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: www.ibew.org

Firefighter. All the firefighters I've met like their jobs. Disadvantages such as irregular hours and living in a firehouse are usually outweighed by the exciting, rewarding work of responding to emergencies and helping people. Plus, typically only a high school diploma or perhaps a two-year fire science degree is required. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, firefighting ranks 14th in likelihood of dying on the job. That sounds daunting–but Nos. 1 and 2 are truck driver and farmworker, careers most people don't think of as inordinately dangerous.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos158.htm
International Association of Fire Fighters: www.iaff.org
Read: The Fire Inside: Firefighters Talk About Their Lives by Steve Delsohn

Landscape architect. There are ordinary architects (see below), and then there are neat niches like this. Because most landscape architecture projects don't have as many components as the design for a building, young landscape architects may get to design entire projects. Also, the training is shorter: You typically can get a job with just a bachelor's degree and an internship of a year or less.

To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos039.htm
American Society of Landscape Architects: www.asla.org
Read: Landscape Architect's Portable Handbook by Nicholas Dines and Kyle Brown

Back to All Business: The Best Jobs to Have in 2006.

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