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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Care for your future? Here are 15 top jobs you should consider

As much as you may love college life, it comes to an end eventually. You may be enthralled by medieval literature, the life cycle of the banana slug or your hot neighbor in the dorms, but it’s important to keep your eventual career in your sights. Here are a few of the fastest growing job markets and the undergraduate majors that lead into them.

1. Computer programmer - Maybe you find yourself tweaking your blog all night. Or, perhaps you care how games like Guitar Hero and WoW actually work. If this sounds like you, consider a career in computer science. To become a software engineer, network administrator or computer programmer, you’ll need a computer science degree. Expect a lot of lower-division math work—and an eventual base salary around $50,000.

2. Physical or occupational therapist - Sports minded? If you’re strong in biology and physiology, consider majoring in physical therapy, kinesiology or exercise science. The aging Baby Boomer population ensures a growing healthcare market, and a licensed physical therapy assistant starts at about $45,000 a year. Becoming a licensed physical therapist can bring you about $75,000 a year, but you’ll typically need a master’s degree in physical therapy for that.

3. Nurse or physician’s assistant - If you’re interested in medicine but are turned off by med school, consider these jobs, which require less training. A registered nurse needs only a two-year degree in a nursing program to earn about $65,000 a year. A physician’s assistant job requires a little more training: a pre-med bachelor’s degree or a B.S. in Nursing, followed by a specialized three-year degree. If that seems like as much trouble as med school, consider this: Business 2.0 magazine projects that the need for physician’s assistants will grow by 50% in the next seven years.

4. Librarian - If you combine a love of books with tech savvy, library science may be the major for you. The internet boom and a large number of retiring librarians has increased the need for librarians to aid in navigating the information maze. Along with your four-year degree, most librarian jobs ask for a three-year Master’s in Library Science. It’s not the fastest growing job market on this list, but consider the peaceful work environment and great hours.

5. Pharmacist and pharmacy assistant - The role of pharmacists is evolving. They now spend less time filling prescriptions and more time interacting with patients, teaching them to inject insulin and administering flu shots, and pill counting is often delegated to assistants. The Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which will put you in line for a $95,000 salary, only requires a two-year degree in order to enter, but most pharmacists enter the program with at least three years of school. To prepare, study pre-med, biology or chemistry as an undergrad.

6. School psychologist - Touchy-feely and tough love types are equally needed as increases in ADHD and autism diagnoses have lead to a boom in school psychologist jobs. Major in psychology, pre-med or physiology, and expect to enter a graduate program. Once hired, you’ll work just nine months of the year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. School psychologists make about $65,000.

7. Engineer - Engineers come in flavors like civil, electrical, aerospace and electrical. You’ll need strong math, science and computer skills. Be warned—your four year degree could turn into a five or six year process. But you can earn between $50,000 and $70,000 with a B.S. degree in any of the above.

8. Fundraiser/development director - If you’ve got the gift of gab, consider a fundraising job. Non-profit and political organizations need people to communicate with donors, host charity events and coordinate PR campaigns to bring in the cash. Management and business majors are the best candidates, with political science and communications majors close behind. The median salary for experienced fundraisers is $78,000.

9. College professor - A growing number of 18 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. population means a need for college professors in the coming years. The good news? Pick your favorite major. The bad news? You’ll need to pursue it all the way to a doctorate. If you land a tenure-track position, the average pay is about $73,000 a year.

10. Medical scientist - You’re as logical as Spock or Sherlock Holmes, and you love the laboratory. You should be a medical scientist. This job market will grow about 34% in the next few years due to an aging U.S. population and increases in federal medical research funding, according to Business 2.0 magazine. Major in biology, chemistry, or physiology, and you can enter the field with just a bachelor’s. But you’ll make more money—about $100,000 a year—if you get a PhD.

11. Clergy - Surprisingly, some clergy members aren’t poor as church mice. The average salary is around $78,000 according to U.S. News and World Report. If you feel a higher calling, a theology degree isn’t your only option—a study of psychology can be highly useful in ministering to your flock. But the hours are rough. Expect to work nights and weekends helping those in need.

12. Database administrator - Knowledge is power, and as increasing numbers of businesses digitize their record keeping, databases are power, too. Study computer science, information systems or information technology for your four-year degree. You’ll work with sensitive data, so you’ll need to be methodical and reliable. The payoff is about $60,000 a year, or $90,000 plus with a master’s degree.

13. Accountant - If Excel and Quicken are your best friends and your checkbook’s always in balance, study economics or math as an undergraduate. Accountants can balance books for a corporation, or prepare tax returns for individuals, and salaries range accordingly. At the top end, accountants can pull in six digit salaries.

14. Management consultant - Put on your power suit and head to the corner office—you’re a management consultant. A wide variety of degrees are useful here, as long as they’re compatible with the businesses you’re consulting with. Business and—surprise!—management degrees are also helpful here. The median pay is about $58,000 a year, and you can expect to make more with an MBA.

15. Editor - Wordsmiths and literary types can earn about $52,000 a year in full-time editorial positions. You’ll need a degree in journalism, English or communications. Expect to start small with local publications and move your way up the ladder. Don’t forget to polish up your HTML skills—blogs are a growing segment of this market.

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