The latest labor statistics showed little change in the unemployment rate, which remained unchanged at 9.7% in February from January, but in many areas jobs remain difficult - if not nearly impossible - to find. However, there are certain fields where the number of available jobs has grown, despite the recession. Here are a few professions where jobs are relatively plentiful.
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Simply Hired, a large job search engine, recently released a report on job trends in the top 15 metropolitan areas in the United States. In nearly half of them, bus/truck mechanics (along with diesel engine specialists) were among the least competitive jobs. This means there were high-demand openings with few applicants. If you applied for one of these jobs, the odds would be heavily in your favor, as you'd have little competition.
Physical and Massage Therapists
These jobs were also among the least competitive on Simply Hired's report. That doesn't surprise Jeff Cohen, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recession Proof Careers. "While doctors may save your life, it is physical therapists who will make it more livable by reducing pain and improving quality of function," Cohen says, noting that this job category is expected to grow 27% by 2016 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He also suspects physical therapists will be in particular demand as the baby boomers age.
Special Education Teachers
"Developmental disorder diagnoses are on the rise for conditions like autism which means more special education teachers will be called upon to guide youth suffering from physical and emotional challenges," Cohen says. (While many sectors are shedding jobs and fueling unemployment, these six have been hiring new workers. Learn more in 6 Sectors That Are Creating Jobs.)
"Waste disposal, air pollution, water contamination and global warming all present massive environmental challenges in the new millennium," says Cohen. "Environmental engineers, a field expected to grow 25% by 2016 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, will be on the forefront of designing solutions to our most pressing global challenges."
Job search site Monster.com recently released their Monster Employment Index, which showed positive 2% growth from the same period last year and rising ten points from January. Both Healthcare Practitioners/Technical and Healthcare Support occupations saw sequential increases from the previous month.
"Healthcare jobs remain strong and probably competitive for those who are qualified and interested," says Matthew Henson, vice president of public relations at Monster.com, adding that IT and technology positions are also showing positive signs of growth.
To address this growing need, Illinois-based Chamberlain College of Nursing even started offering several online nursing degree programs with only the clinical requirements done on site.
"There has been an increased interest in nursing as an opportunity with many options for the future," says Gail Baumlein, Chamberlain's director of online programs. "We have also seen an increase in the number of individuals who have chosen nursing as a second career." (The entire nation is suffering from unemployment headaches, but some industries are hurting worse than others. Don't miss Careers in Crisis: Three Industries Hit Hardest By Job Losses.)
Baumlein doesn't see the demand for nurses slowing down anytime soon. "With the growing number of baby-boomers entering a time of increased need for health care, with the increased longevity of our population, and with the variety of options available within the nursing profession, the opportunities are significant."
It may seem surprising, but a bad economy doesn't seem to hurt finance-related professions. Dennis Nason, a veteran banker and current CEO of Nason & Nason, an executive search firms for banking and finance, says specific job titles in high demand in this business environment include risk managers, compliance officers, audit manager and business development officers.
"All industries are very focused on controlling risk and working within legal regulations and guidelines," Nason says. "Positions which oversee and supervise risk are and will continue to be in demand, particularly if one has appropriate licenses such as a CPA." (Remember, hunting for a job is like selling a product, except that YOU are the product. Learn more in Top 2010 Job-Hunting Tips.)
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
"These jobs are projected to experience 36% growth between now and 2018, with an average of 4,850 job openings per year," says Laurence Shatkin, PhD, author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs. "Rapid growth does not always translate into job openings right now, but in this case it does. The number of veterinary lab tests continues to grow very rapidly, and colleges where students prepare for this career report good opportunities for their graduates."
Wind Energy Technicians
"People who install and service wind turbines are finding lots of job opportunities if they have good credentials," says Shatkin. "When a community college in New Mexico started an associate degree program for wind energy technicians in 2008, an official of General Electric promised to hire all graduates of the program for the next three years."
The Bottom Line
While the job market overall may not be so great, opportunities in certain sectors are plentiful. By targeting your job search to these in-demand fields - even if you need to get some quick training or revamp your resume to highlight skills that might be attractive to hiring managers in these areas - you can greatly increase your odds of landing a great job.
Still feeling uninformed? Check out last week's Water Cooler Finance to see what's been happening in financial news.