11 Smart Career Moves

DailyWorth

Mulling a Move?

View gallery

.
Businesswoman-sitting-with-briefcase_web

You may not be looking for a new job right now, but it’s likely you will at some point in the next few years. The average job tenure is now just 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (A BLS survey last year found baby boomers had changed jobs, on average, more than 11 times between the ages of 18 and 46!)   

And your next job may not even be in the same field. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have disappeared in the last few years alone and, in sectors from media to manufacturing, are often not being replaced. Whether your sector is shrinking, your position has been cut, or you’re just considering a change, the challenge is similar: finding a financially rewarding career path that has stability and growth potential, and that ideally doesn’t require years of study and a lifetime of debt. And, of course, it also helps to like what you do.

So where are the best jobs for the future? We’ve pulled together a list of 11 top careers based on a combination of earning potential, flexibility, skill requirements (and related tuition costs), and projected growth. Keep reading to find out which ones made the cut.

Software Developer

View gallery

.
Businesswoman-typing-on-mac-laptop_web

If you are good with computers and want to earn a six-figure salary for your skills, then consider a career as a software developer. Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. While most work full time and long hours are fairly standard, many software developers telecommute and have flexible schedules. The demand for computer software is exploding, especially as mobile and product technology continues to evolve and the health care industry is greatly increasing its use of computer systems and applications. Additionally, growing concerns over hacking should result in more investment in security software to protect computer networks and electronic infrastructure. 

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $102,550

-Highest Paying States: California, Virginia and New Jersey

-Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or mathematics

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Four years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $26,340 

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +30% 

Dental Hygienist

View gallery

.
Dental-hygienist-with-patient_web

You don’t have to be a dentist to have a rewarding career in dentistry. Dental hygienists in some states can earn well over $100,000 a year and more than half of hygienists have flexible, part-time schedules. Plus, dentists typically don’t work on weekends or holidays, so their staff don’t have to either. Hygienists basically do all the grunt work dentists don’t want to do, but as a result, they tend to have closer relationships with the patients and can feel good about their leading role in helping them maintain good health through good oral hygiene. Demand for hygienists is expected to grow as ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to fuel interest in preventative dental services.

The Breakdown:

-Mean Annual Wage: $70,210

-Highest Paying States: California, Nevada and Washington

-Minimum Education Required: Associate’s Degree or diploma from an approved dental hygiene program

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Two years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $35,454

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +38%

Registered Nurse

View gallery

.
Nurse-examining-a-female-patient-with-stethoscope_web

If medicine is your calling, but you don’t want to invest the time and money required to become a doctor, consider nursing instead. Registered nurses can earn six figures in certain areas of the country and are in big demand. The demand will likely only increase as the number of seniors over the age of 65 is projected to double to 70 million by 2030. RNs can feel good about having a primary role in patient care and are often the ones that patients remember and appreciate most. Licensing or registration is required and specialized positions -- some of which require additional certification -- can include clinical nurses, home caregivers, nurse midwives and anesthetists. Generally, licensed graduates of any program can qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse and many employers offer tuition reimbursement benefits to help nurses work towards an advanced degree. A Bachelor's degree (BSN) or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting or teaching. 

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $69,110

-Highest Paying States: California, Massachusetts and Hawaii

-Minimum Education Required: Associate’s degree in nursing or diploma from an approved nursing program

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Two years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $32,726

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +26% 

Market Research Analyst/Specialist

View gallery

.
Business-report-paperwork_web

Market research analysts work in nearly every industry and study market conditions in local, regional or national areas to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them and at what price. Analysts may work with the public to gather information and data, but they generally work at a computer collecting and analyzing marketing data and preparing reports. Although most work full time during regular business hours, some may have variable schedules and work from home, though long hours to meet deadlines are common. Companies are increasingly hiring market analysts to research consumer behavior in order to develop improved marketing strategies, cut costs and outdo the competition. Job prospects are best for those with a master’s degree.

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $67,380

-Highest Paying States: Delaware, Washington and California

-Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s degree 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Four years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $26,340 

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +41%

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

View gallery

.
B-super-medical-equipment_web

If you like the idea of playing doctor without the hassle of med school, then you might want to consider medical imaging. Diagnostic medical sonographers work in hospitals, physician’s offices and imaging centers and use special equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body (in a procedure commonly known as an ultrasound, sonogram or echocardiogram) to assess and diagnose various medical conditions. Licensing for sonographers is required in some states and employers may prefer hiring those who have professional certification. The demand for qualified sonographers is expected to continue to grow as the technology evolves and becomes a more favored method to assist in diagnosing medical conditions over more invasive procedures.

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $66,360

-Highest Paying States: California, Oregon and Washington

-Minimum Education Required: Associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Two years (one year for certificate with a health care-related degree)

-Average Cost of Tuition:  $36,012

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +41%

Interpreter/Translator

View gallery

.
Translate-computer-key-in-blue_web

Speak another language fluently? If so, you can made good money using your skills by becoming an interpreter or translator. They can work in schools, hospitals, courtrooms, conference centers and even internationally in some cases. Many translators work from home and those who are self-employed frequently have variable schedules (mom alert!). Although interpreters and translators typically need a bachelor’s degree and professional certification is preferred, the most important requirement is that they be fluent in English and at least one other language. Those who are hired often complete job-specific training programs.

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $53,410

-Highest Paying States: Virginia, Maine and Maryland

-Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s degree 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Four years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $26,340

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +42% 

Health Educator

View gallery

.
Businesswoman-talking-to-medical-professionals_web

If you have a passion for health and teaching others, then a career as a health educator may be for you. In general, health educators teach people about behaviors that promote well-being. The specific duties of health educators vary based on where they work, but can include developing programs and events on a particular health topic, creating related marketing materials, evaluating the effectiveness of programs and materials, assessing needs of those served and collecting and analyzing data. Most work in health care centers, colleges, public health departments, nonprofits, and private businesses. Growth in the health education field is expected to continue as more insurance companies, employers and governments try to find ways to curb increasing healthcare costs, including hiring health educators who teach people about preventative care. Some employers may require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential.

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $53,100

-Highest Paying States: Maryland, District of Columbia and Georgia

-Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s degree in education or a health-related field 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Four years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $26,340 

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +37%

Physical Therapist Assistant

View gallery

.
Side-profile-of-a-female-nurse-examining-patient_web

If you like the idea of helping people who are recovering from traumatic experiences like injury, illness or surgery, consider becoming a physical therapist assistant. Under the direction of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants work directly with patients to help them regain movement and manage pain. Most physical therapist assistants work full time, and about a quarter work part time. The schedule can be demanding as many physical therapy offices and clinics have evening and weekend hours to accommodate their patients’ availability. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the health needs of an aging population, particularly the large baby-boom generation. While this group is staying more active later in life than previous generations, baby boomers are also entering the prime age for debilitating conditions, which often require physical rehabilitation.

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $52,320

-Highest Paying States: Texas, Nevada and New Jersey

-Minimum Education Required: Associate’s degree 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Two years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $36,463

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +45%

Event Planner

View gallery

.
Clipboard-with-documents_web

Whether it is a wedding, educational conference or business convention, meetings and events bring people together for a common and typically happy purpose. Event planners work to ensure that this purpose is achieved seamlessly. While this type of work can be fun and fulfilling, the hours and demands can be grueling. During meetings and events, event planners work on-site at hotels or convention centers, and often travel to attend events and to visit prospective meeting sites. Many work more than 40 hours per week, especially during major events. 

The upside is that they typically have breaks from work in between events and when they’re not on-site, many event planners work from home. While a degree in hospitality management is preferred by most employers looking to hire an event planner, any kind of Bachelor’s degree and some related experience will usually suffice. 

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $49,830

-Highest Paying States: District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey

-Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s degree 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Four years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $26,340 

-Related Work Experience Required: Less than one year

-Projected Growth: +44%

Veterinary Technician

View gallery

.
Vet-performing-a-blood-test_web

If you love puppies and kittens more than people, consider becoming a veterinary technician. Veterinary technicians perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to treat or help diagnose the illnesses and injuries of animals. They typically work in private clinics, laboratories and animal hospitals, and some work in boarding kennels, animal shelters, rescue leagues and zoos. Many of these facilities are open 24 hours, so technicians often have to work evenings, weekends and holidays. Their jobs can be physically and emotionally demanding, but the reward of caring for helpless animals, and the decent pay might make up for it. The field is expected to grow as the pet population and owner commitment to pet care continues to increase, and advancing veterinary services require more technicians. Besides completing a two-year program, vet techs also have to become registered, licensed or certified, depending on the state. 

The Breakdown: 

-Mean Annual Wage: $31,470

-Highest Paying States: Alaska, Virginia, Connecticut

-Minimum Education Required: Associate’s degree 

-Minimum Length of Study Required: Two years

-Average Cost of Tuition: $37,702

-Related Work Experience Required: None

-Projected Growth: +52%

Child care Worker/Director

View gallery

.
Teacher-sitting-at-table-watching-schoolgirl-writing_web

If you love kids, have a strong immune system and are nurturing and patient, you might want to consider a career in child care. No formal education is required, although some related experience is preferred and you need a bachelor’s degree to be a child care center director. Depending on where you live, you can earn a decent wage, especially if you have a degree in education, though most child care jobs unfortunately do not pay nearly as much as they should. However, directors can earn north of $50,000 and full-time nannies in certain cities can make at least that much per year. Plus, you can take pride in being a primary influence in the lives of future generations and spend most days doing arts and crafts, playing outside and rolling around on the floor. Can’t get more fun than that. Child care workers care for children of all ages in licensed facilities, their own home or the homes of the children in their care. Many work full time, but part-time work and irregular hours are common. Growth in this field is expected to continue as more and more parents need assistance during working hours to care for their children. 

The Breakdown:

-Mean Annual Wage: $21,310 ($51,060 for directors)

-Highest Paying States: District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New York

-Minimum Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent

-Minimum Length of Study Required: None (four years for directors)

-Average Cost of Tuition: N/A ($26,340 for bachelor’s degree)

-Related Work Experience Required: None (one to five years for director)

-Projected Growth: +20% (+25% for directors)

You might also like:
7 Ways to Rebrand Yourself for Success
Do You Work for a Jerk?
Are You Acting Your Wage?
The Best Way to Save for College

View Comments (1)