Sunday, April 5, 2009

Forward email: 5 Careers that Pay Well Even in a Recession

It seems no matter where you turn these days there's bad news: entire neighborhoods in foreclosure, a volatile stock market, and unemployment rates at their highest in decades. While the recession is affecting us all, professionals in certain fields can feel confident that their skills will be needed no matter how gloomy the financial outlook.

What's the secret to staying employed and well-paid during an economic downturn? Choose your profession wisely. With the right career choice and training, you could be employed and earn well, recession or not. Consider the following five careers.

1. Engineer

The Profession: The economic stimulus plan includes funds to rebuild roads, bridges, and schools, requiring civil engineers who can create plans and oversee these projects. A growing focus on increasing productivity is expected to lead to the creation of over 40,000 new jobs for industrial engineers, who specialize in finding the most effective ways to use the people, machines, materials, and energy to create products.

The Secret: Due to the highly technical nature of this occupation, a bachelor's degree in engineering is the standard requirement for most positions. Some colleges and universities offer five-year programs, granting graduates a master's degree in engineering, which can often increase earning potential.

The Payoff: Starting salaries for civil and industrial engineers in 2007 were nearly $50,000, and average earnings in both occupations were close to $75,000.

2. Accountant

The Profession: Given the recent financial scandals, it's no wonder that 226,000 new accountants are expected to join the workforce between 2006 and 2016. The large infrastructure projects proposed by the stimulus plan should also provide employment for accountants.

The Secret: The most common educational requirement of accountants is a four-year degree in business or accounting, often available online. Earn a license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to add more employment options to your accounting career.

The Payoff: While median earnings for accountants hover around $57,000, the top quarter earned $75,000 or more in 2007.

3. Marketing and Sales Manager

The Profession: With the rapidly changing face of technological innovations, opportunities for well-trained, technically-savvy marketing and sales managers are bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 57,000 new jobs for marketing and sales managers through 2016.

The Secret: Applicants for marketing and sales management positions face stiff competition, but a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration or marketing can give you a leg up in your job search. Honing your computer skills can also add to your employability.

The Payoff: Median salaries for sales managers are just under $95,000, and most marketing managers pull in over $100,000 each year.

4. Registered Nurse

The Profession: Our nation's aging population has created an unprecedented demand for registered nurses (RNs), in hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities. While the recession has reduced employment of nurses in some states, a national nursing shortage means that RNs who are flexible should have no trouble finding a job.

The Secret: A bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN) offers graduates the greatest potential for advancement, earnings, and choice in employment options. If you don't want to invest four years in your career training, consider an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), which can be completed in as little as two years. Many RNs with associate's degrees take advantage of RN-to-BSN programs to earn their bachelor's, often enjoying tuition reimbursement programs offered by some employers.

The Payoff: Median earnings for registered nurses are just over $60,000, but the top 25 percent of RNs make nearly $75,000.

5. Computer Systems Analyst

The Profession: As experts in the latest applications of technological advances, computer systems analysts help organizations choose the best technology for their needs and then incorporate it effectively into existing infrastructure. While many work in the computer systems design industry, computer systems analysts are also employed by the government, hospitals, and financial institutions. Nearly 150,000 new jobs for computer systems analysts are expected from 2006 through 2016.

The Secret: An online bachelor's degree in computer science or information science can help you get a job as a computer systems analyst. Training in information security can make you even more attractive to employers.

The Payoff: Median salaries for computer systems analysts were just over $73,000 in 2007, but the highest-paid professionals in this field raked in well over $100,000.

It's not likely we'll see the end of this recession in the near future. As you readjust your budget and lifestyle with the changing economy, be sure to map out a long-range career plan for yourself. An investment in your professional skills, especially in a strategically-chosen field, could mean the difference between a comfortable paycheck and financial uncertainty.

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