18 Fast-Growing Careers: How to Get Started

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18 Fast-Growing Careers: How to Get Started
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Recent headlines about the struggling job market are enough to make even the most seasoned employee nervous. But behind that doom and gloom is a bright spot in the job market: A number of industries are growing quickly – and plan to hire thousands of workers in the coming years. So, whether you’re just starting your career, seeking more job security, or looking to try something new, consider these 18 promising career paths.

Home Health Aides
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Home Health Aides

Home health aides provide in-home personal – and sometimes medical – care to the elderly, disabled or chronically ill, doing everything from performing household tasks to helping with physical therapy exercises. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that 1.3 million home health jobs would be added by 2020.

To become certified as a home health aide, you’ll need 75 to 180 hours of training, depending on the state. Rather than pay for a certification program, seek out jobs at home health agencies that provide training (most do), saving you time and money.

Related: Want to become a home health aide? Learn how in the eBook: Home Health Aides: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Biomedical Engineers
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Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers develop or “engineer” cutting-edge medical technology and care like prostheses, imaging and diagnostic equipment, new drug therapies and surgical procedures. From 2010 to 2020, the number of biomedical engineering jobs is expected to grow 62 percent to 25,400 jobs.

While there is no official education requirement, the majority of biomedical engineers hold a doctorate. So start by applying to grad school. The payoff? Median pay for biomedical engineers was $81,540 in 2010, two and half times higher than the national average.

Related: Want to become a biomedical engineer? Learn how in the eBook: Biomedical Engineers: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Masons
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Masons

Simply put, masons use mortar or natural weight to join bricks, blocks, tiles or stones together, creating everything from walls and floors to roads and pathways. Specific disciplines include cement, stone, plaster or brick masonry. Hit hard in the 2008 recession, the masonry workforce is expected to grow by 60 percent this decade.

You won’t need any formal education to become a mason, but you should get an apprenticeship. The surest way to earn an apprenticeship is through proven, on-site experience. Apprenticeship programs, which include classroom training and on-the-job experience, typically take three years to complete.

Related: Want to become a mason? Learn how in the eBook: Masons: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Veterinary Technicians
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Veterinary Technicians

Vet techs work alongside veterinarians as laboratory technicians, radiography technicians, anesthetists, surgical nurses and client educators. Responsibilities include providing emergency first aid, collecting lab samples and capturing X-rays, among other tasks. Job forecasts show 52 percent growth by 2020, with California seeing the most employment opportunities.

To become a vet tech, obtain, at a minimum, a two-year associate degree from a veterinary technician program at an accredited school, and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam. Consider working for a kennel or clinic, or shadowing a vet tech at an animal hospital to get experience.

Related: Want to become a vet tech? Learn how in the eBook: Vet Techs: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Dental Hygienists
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Dental Hygienists

Sure, dental hygienists assist dentists with teeth cleaning. But today, a host of career opportunities exists outside the dentist’s office – from helming research studies and teaching to working for manufacturers of cutting-edge dental equipment. And it’s not just the job description that’s expanding: The number of jobs for dental hygienists is expected to grow 38 percent to more than 250,000 jobs from 2010 to 2020.

The job requires a two-year associate degree, but a four-year bachelor’s degree will open more doors professionally. Students must then sit for a national licensing exam and several state-level licensing and certification exams (varies).

Related: Want to become a dental hygienist? Learn how in the eBook: Dental Hygienists: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Accountants
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Accountants

Accountants specialize in maintaining financial records, dissecting financial statements for accuracy and compliance with the law, assessing financial systems for efficiency, and yes, preparing tax returns – and that’s just part of it. The field will grow about 16 percent by 2020.

Accountants need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and have to pass the Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Related: Want to become an accountant? Learn how in the eBook: Accountants: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Carpenters
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Carpenters

Carpenters are generally divided into two classes. Rough carpenters assemble the frameworks of buildings and install windows and doorways, among other framing projects. Finish carpenters specialize in interior work like laying floors or installing cabinets. Many do both. Carpentry jobs are expected to grow 20 percent by 2020.

An apprenticeship helps you get your foot in the door though many pick up the carpentry trade on the job. For entry into unions or construction associations, apprentices need 144 hours of technical training, including training in basic carpentry, blueprints, mathematics, building codes, safety and first aid.

Related: Want to become a carpenter? Learn how in the eBook: Carpenters: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Communications Managers
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Communications Managers

A communications manager organizes and disseminates company information to customers, employees, vendors, the media or others. It could mean managing social media, media relations, public relations or crisis communications, among other responsibilities. Positions within the public relations industry are expected to increase 21 percent by 2020.

Entry-level competition in this field is stiff, but that’s where to start – at the assistant or coordinator level (manager jobs usually call for six years of experience). To land this job, get a bachelor’s degree in a related field (journalism, public relations, marketing, etc.).

Related: Want to become a communications manager? Learn how in the eBook: Communications Managers: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
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Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Diagnostic sonography, also referred to as “medical ultrasound,” uses noninvasive sound-wave technologies for medical imaging. Sonographers work in hospitals, clinics or labs, and have specializations in heart, digestive system or prenatal care, to name a few. The government projects 44 percent job growth by 2020.

You’ll need a two-year associate degree before you can complete the diagnostic sonography clinical training requirements and ultimately qualify for top-level certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. With an average salary of $65,800, this is one of the highest-paying careers a two-year degree will afford.

Related: Want to become a diagnostic medical sonographer? Learn how in the eBook: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Event Planners
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Event Planners

Event planners help conceptualize and carry out weddings, parties and corporate and government events. Event planners could be responsible for organizing company retreats, conventions, meetings of government officials or agencies, or events for hotels or other venues. The government predicts a 44 percent increase in event planning jobs by 2020.

There’s no official education requirement, but most event planners have a bachelor’s degree. Various trade organizations, like the Event Planners Association, also offer certification. Typically, event planners begin their careers at the assistant level, working up to project lead and, ultimately, event management.

Related: Want to become an event planner? Learn how in the eBook: Event Planners: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Marketing Research Analysts
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Marketing Research Analysts

Market research analysts help companies identify and establish a potential consumer base that will purchase their products, and at what price. To do so, they analyze market conditions from the local to international levels. The job can span advertising, sales, research and public relations. Market research analyst positions will grow 41 percent by 2020.

A degree in marketing is obviously advantageous, but it's possible to enter the field with any type of bachelor’s degree. Getting an internship -- pre- or post-grad -- helps, even if it’s unpaid.

Related: Want to get a job in marketing? Learn how in the eBook: Marketing Specialists: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Financial Analysts
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Financial Analysts

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, markets, companies and other types of investments. The government expects 23 percent growth in the field by 2020.

How to get started? A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level positions, but advancing your career often means obtaining a master’s in business administration or finance. Once you’ve landed a job, your company will likely sponsor you to take – and pass – the required licensing or certification exams.

Related: Want to become a financial analyst? Learn how in the eBook: Financial Analysts: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Glaziers
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Glaziers

Glaziers cut, install or repair glass – usually windows – in both residential and commercial s. Specialty glaziers might work with stained glass or create art glass installations for private and public spaces. Glazing careers are expected to grow more than 42 percent by 2020.

To get started, get an apprenticeship. You’ll need to be at least 18 years old, have a high school degree or equivalent, and have the physical ability to handle the rigors of the job. California has the most glazier jobs, but glazier jobs in Illinois pay best.

Related: Want to become a glazier? Learn how in the eBook: Glaziers: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Interpreters & Translators
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Interpreters & Translators

Interpreters and translators decode language and cultural context for people of a different language and culture. But the jobs are actually different. Translators work solely with the written word; interpreters solely with the spoken word. The field is expected to grow 42 percent by 2020.

These jobs require fluency in at least two languages and their cultures. Enroll in college training programs, conferences or other courses to refine your skills. Certification is important, though no universal certification is required.

Related: Want to become an interpreter or translator? Learn how in the eBook: Interpreters & Translators: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Marriage & Family Therapists
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Marriage & Family Therapists

Licensed marriage and family therapists work with families and couples to help them deal with troubling issues like depression, substance abuse or personal crises. With a median wage of $45,720, job is considered underpaid considering educational requirements and job responsibility, but the number of positions is expected to grow 41 percent by 2020.

Marriage and family therapists need at least a master’s degree, postgraduate clinical training and a supervised internship to get licensed. To get the internship, you must secure an MFT internship number from the state regulating board.

Related: Want to become an LMFT? Learn how in the eBook: Marriage & Family Therapists: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Occupational Therapy Assistants
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Occupational Therapy Assistants

Working under the supervision of registered occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants help patients of all ages – from children with learning disorders to recovering stroke victims – overcome physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities to develop, recover or maintain daily life and work skills. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, medical offices and, sometimes, the patient’s home. The number of jobs should increase 43 percent by 2020.

To get started in this field, enroll in one of more than 200 accredited two-year occupational therapy assistant degree programs at community colleges across the country. After graduating with an Applied Associate of Science degree, you’ll need to pass a national board exam to become licensed.

Related: Want to become an occupational therapy assistant? Learn how in the eBook: Occupational Therapy Assistants: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Physical Therapists
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Physical Therapists

After a physician treats an illness or injury -- a broken leg, for example -- the physical therapist steps in to provide follow-up rehabilitative care. PTs map out rehabilitation plans to decrease pain, increase mobility, build strength and prevent future injury. Career opportunities are estimated to grow 39 percent by 2020.

Physical therapists need a master’s or doctorate degree. To make yourself more a more competitive candidate when applying to schools, volunteer in a medical or rehabilitation center.

Related: Want to become a physical therapist? Learn how in the eBook: Physical Therapists: Stories from People Who've Done It.

Physical Therapy Assistants
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Physical Therapy Assistants

Like the title suggests, physical therapy assistants work alongside PTs, helping to carry out rehabilitative treatments that PTs prescribe. As such, PTAs tend to be more hands-on than PTs. This means administering a variety of therapies – exercise, massage, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy, to name a few. Projections show 46 percent job growth by 2020.

To get started, obtain a two-year degree from an Associate of Applied Science program at one of about 300 accredited schools. The competitive admissions process will become a bit less daunting if you gain initial experience at a related lower-level position, like a physical therapist aide or technician.

Related: Want to become a physical therapy assistant? Learn how in the eBook: Physical Therapy Assistants: Stories from People Who've Done It.

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