Whether you're employed, unemployed or a graduate preparing to enter the workforce, you've probably worried about the job market. There's some good news, however: the unemployment rate has dropped to single digits, and economists are predicting the numbers to drop as low as 8.5% by 2012. This "rosy" outlook is based on an expected decline in the participation rate - that's economists' way of saying that fewer people will hunt for jobs. It's the baby boomer generation, those people born between 1946 and 1964, and their approaching retirement that are causing this shift in the job market, which is good news if you're looking for a job. Check out these five industries that are ready to retire. (High-dividend stocks make excellent bear market investments, but the payouts aren't a sure thing. To learn more, refer to Dividend Yield For The Downturn.)

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  1. Utilities
    We all understand how important utilities are in our day-to-day lives, and it's also an industry with a growing number of retiring workers. Although the industry as a whole will see a decline in available jobs due to modernization and higher efficiency, a whopping 53% of utility workers are over the age of 45. The utilities industry covers a wide range of jobs; a power plant operator can expect a $62,000 starting pay, with those at the top of their career earning $96,000. On-the-job training is a vital component in the utility industry, so those who step up now have the prospect of a secure career.

  2. Production
    Even with all the outsourcing overseas, we still make things right here at home, and need production workers to do the job. Machinists in particular will be in demand as the experienced baby boomers retire. Although job numbers are expected to decline for machinists, retirees are leaving a employment opening for experienced workers. You'll have to work your way up in this career with a starting pay of $32,000, but once you're an experienced machinist at the top of your game, you can earn $68,000 - without a college degree.

  3. Education
    Education is a job sector that has weathered the recession well, and jobs for teachers are expected to grow a healthy 13% by 2018. For a large boomer employment gap, you'll want to look outside the classroom, and into the office: prospects for education administrators are better than average. You'll need a master's or doctorate to get ahead in this field, but once you do, earnings for elementary or secondary school education administrators start at around $44,000, and top out at over $100,000. (Don't learn these lessons the hard way. Read on to make sure you can weather an unstable market. See 7 Lessons To Learn From A Market Downturn.)

  4. Transportation
    Have you always wanted to be a pilot? Now may be a good time to live your dream, because this job sector is expected to see a larger-than-average retirement exodus. Pilots face a mandatory retirement age of 65, leaving an employment gap as the boomer generation leaves the profession. Competition is fierce in this field, and you'll need lots of flying hours to make the grade - but earnings start at $37,100, and can go to a hefty $159,000 for those able to stomach the turbulence.

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    Are you someone who can fix just about anything? You may want to look for a career in maintenance and repair, a large job sector expected to feel the pinch as experience baby boomers retire. Experience and licensing drive careers in this industry, so expect to work your way up - and learn from those experienced workers before they leave the workforce. Starting pay for electricians, for example, is $33,000, with top electricians earning $82,000. The highest earnings in the installation industry go to those who specialize and acquire licensing.

    The Bottom Line
    For the best chance at sliding into a boomer retiree's seat, look for jobs in sectors that require trade skills that are learned on the job, like manufacturing and utilities, and those with secure pension plans, like education. If you're entering a new career, look to these soon-retiring baby boomers for guidance and training, so you'll be ready to promote once they're ready to enjoy their golden years. The retiring boomer generation makes up more than 25% of the population - prepare for this shift in the labor market, and you could be in a secure career for decades to come. (Find out where to turn when looking to invest in a tumultuous market. Check out Industries That Thrive On Recession.)

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