Here’s some interesting news. The job market is opening up again. Unemployment claims are down from the April 2014 statistics. “Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively.” (Employment Situation Summary of June 6, 2014) Nonetheless, the critical questions are
- In what industries is there positive growth?
- Are there age limitations on these opportunities?
- What is the average salary?
- How much education is required?
Now these are some excellent things to take into consideration. The first article I found lists seven careers that are growing while offering compensation at significantly more than a minimum wage. All of them require at least an Associate’s degree. But the average pay starts at approximately $22 (computer support specialist and paralegal) and increases to just over $34 (diagnostic medical sonographer and dental hygienist). Sandwiched inbetween are occupations such as police officer, web designer, and registered nurse.
It’s important to also state that “all wage information [is] from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.”
A police officer is going to have age (35 years) and physical agility restrictions. The LAPD puts their officers through their specialized training and schooling. For some reason, it seems they are also required to learn penmanship. This would be a good occupation for someone who knows how to take orders, show restraint, know the difference between a situation that requires active intervention and when just talking the individuals into calmness is appropos. This occupation also requires good listening skills and being objective.
A dental hygienist is also going to have physical demands on their abilities. Standing for long periods of time and the ability to reach, especially at odd angles, are things that should be considered.
The jobs that require personal interaction with people will also require good listening skills, sensitivity to what’s happening with the person with whom you’re dealing, and the ability to tactfully and accurately give instructions. Where reports need to be prepared as part of the follow up, good grammar and spelling are imperative.
Take a look at the occupations that are enumerated. Some of them can be accomplished while seated, even seated at home. So don’t rule out web design just because you can’t sit in the traditional cubicle. (In fact, maybe you want to celebrate that one!)
The next five occupations are noted as having “salary information and projected job growth rates from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.” The growth rates between 2010 to 2020 are low, in some cases only 5%, in one case as low as 0%. In other words, these are jobs to be avoided if you’re looking for long-term opportunities.
But I began to scrutinize the jobs a little closer and paid closer attention to the descriptions. Perhaps it isn’t so much a matter of the jobs dying as much as the titles are changing to something else. While a teller may be a job that holds little promise of a future (and low pay), it is a starting point in the world of finance. There is some merit to considering it as a job to get you through school at night while earning your degree – and the qualifications for the next step. That occupation is compared to opportunities as a financial analyst which requires more sophisticated skill sets and more advanced education.
Likewise, it was surprising to see that fashion designer is a fading occupation. However, the article attributes a number of factors such as competitiveness and allure of the trade contribute to its low pay. On the other hand, a position as an art director is a much more lucrative situation as far as compensation, growth, and opportunity for career diversity – not to mention prestige.
What’s in a name? It seems, quite a bit. The dental lab technician is a low paying job with little growth prospects. But turn that into being a dental hygienist and the options explode. Much like the teller jobs, it appears the lab tech is an entry-level situation that can be done while gaining education in order to take the next step.
A craft and fine artist has a lot of competition going against it in addition to poor economic conditions. However, before leaping into a career as a graphic artist (much more lucrative), consider the markets that the fine arts and crafts fields offer. Rehabilitative services can be delivered to those whose motor skills are impaired or in need of development. That creates opportunities for a broad age spectrum from small children who need to learn how to hold and manipulate instruments in order to do many things all the way to seniors who need to maintain their motorskills – and all the folks on the spectrum inbetween.
Which leads me to the last category of jobs that are fading – credit authorizer compared with actuary. While the availability of online credit reports is creating pressure on the life of the credit authorizer, there will still be banks and real estate businesses (title companies, for example) that will rely on the authorizer’s collection of data. Again, it’s a starting point; it doesn’t have to be done in a cubicle; there are low physical demands although the need for care in collecting and interpreting data for the correct individual or entity is paramount.
There for the Taking
These forecasts aren’t in a crystal ball. Anyone can access them for free by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a comprehensive tool published by the federal government. Portions of the information is available by using the salary calculator tool on any job website. And there are also salary websites (whose calculator tools are usually part of the job websites) such as Salary.com or PayScale.com. Use them in combination with other tools or just use one. Do your research. Keep yourself on a positive plane.