Dream Jobs: Six-Figure Salaries and a Bright Future

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Seemingly every week, another publication or website comes out with its list of the "Best Jobs of the Year" or the "Hottest Careers," purporting to show the best fields to get into for job stability and earnings potential. The problem with many of these lists is that the jobs and careers on them often require years and years of training (see: biomedical engineer), offer an extremely small overall pool of jobs (see: meteorologist), or really don't pay all that well (see: home health aide).

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So we've put together a list of jobs that suffer from none of these disadvantages. Using statistics from the Bureau of Labor, salary sites, professional trade groups, and recruiters, we identified jobs that don't require more than two years of additional training to secure a position, have a reasonably large and growing number of overall jobs, and offer six-figure salaries to top earners in the field (generally, the top 10 percent of those employed). These, to our mind, are the true dream jobs.

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Online Marketing Director

Salary for top earners: $100,000+

Projected job growth: 60 percent this year

Additional training required: Familiarity with web analytics and search engine optimization and marketing can be acquired over several months via webinars, workshops, and online courses. A combination of marketing experience and online tech savvy, however, can help get your foot in the door.

As an online marketing director, you'd be developing and managing a company's social media strategy, website, online and email campaigns, and ecommerce and merchandising. "The field is exploding and you don't need an M.B.A.," says Ellen Pack, vice president of marketing for Elance.com, which places online talent. According to Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer for job search engine SimplyHired.com, the number of listings for online marketing directors has increased more than 250 percent since June 2009.

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Mobile Applications Developer

Salary for top earners: $115,000

Projected job growth: 131 percent this year alone

Additional training required: Programming experience in mobile platforms is necessary, but depending on your background, you can fine-tune your knowledge with a DIY approach or perhaps an online certificate program that typically takes one year to complete.

Developing and building applications for smartphones, iPads, and other tablets and notebook PCs is one of the most in-demand jobs in the world right now. So enticing is the revenue from mobile apps -- Gartner estimates that worldwide revenue could top $15 billion this year -- that Google recently announced it's hiring dozens of mobile developers in an attempt to counter Apple. Reality check: This isn't a field for dilettantes: it requires serious programming and IT skills, but the growth potential is huge.

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Global Supply Chain Manager

Salary for top earners: $135,100

Projected job growth: 10 percent by 2012

Additional training required: Transitioning into this field could take between six months for courses and up to two years to get a master's degree. Those with operations, purchasing, or logistics education and/or experience have the best chance of getting into this field.

Global supply chain managers are the unsung heroes of companies who have to get products from A to B, on time, and on budget -- and now across continents and time zones as well. The job calls for calm problem-solving ability, high-tech handiness, and diplomatic skill -- a triple threat that's hard to find. According to industry analysts, there is a growing shortage of these specialists as companies streamline and speed up every link in the chain to stay competitive.

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Financial Advisor

Salary for top earners: $139,350

Projected job growth: 30 percent by 2018

Additional training required: While not required, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate is a useful credential to get into this profession. The coursework and exam can usually be completed in 18 to 24 months, and over 250 institutions across the country, including some that are online, offer CFP-approved programs.

Once solely the purview of the wealthy, getting financial planning is now viewed as a prudent move for much of the population, particularly as traditional pensions fade. Consider that never before in history have regular people been required to take on this much responsibility for investing their nest eggs. You'll be helping clients build portfolios, save for college or a house, and do estate planning, either at a firm or for yourself.

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©Austin Fausto

Financial Analyst, Gaming Industry

Salary for top earners: $100,000

Projected job growth: 20 percent by 2018

Additional training required: Seminars, webinars, and online classes offered through the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas will bring you up to speed. The five core courses could be completed within two years, less time if you double up.

There are currently 943 casinos in 38 states across the country, and more are being built every day. And with their focus on efficiency and profitability, gaming companies need qualified financial analysts. In particular, new racetrack casinos, or 'racinos,' are starting to flourish and hire, says Beth Deighan, CEO of Casino Careers LLC, an executive search firm. Skills from arenas such as government and finance are often transferable, Deighan says.

Click here to see the full list of Dream Jobs: Six-Figure Salaries and a Bright Future

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