With unemployment nearing double digits, it's hard to imagine there are jobs, ready for the taking but it's true. Many companies are hiring, and can't fill their slots fast enough. Here are seven jobs companies are desperate to fill, and how you can qualify.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  1. Accountant

Education: Bachelor's degree, CPA certification

Average Annual Earnings: $61,480

Accountants are the people that make sure a business runs smoothly, that records are kept, taxes are paid and the books are balanced. If you think accounting is boring, think again: many accountants work as forensic accountants, detecting fraud in criminal cases, or work as independent contractors, able to set their own hours. (Learn more in Uncovering A Career In Forensic Accounting.)

If you're one of the many (business) degreed professionals displaced by the recession, look at adding an accounting track to your degree; many online and evening colleges offer accounting programs, preparing you for CPA certification. The Department of Labor expects the need for accountants to rise by 22% by 2018. Top CPAs earn over six figures, making accounting a very exciting field indeed.

  1. Software Engineer

Education: Certification or higher

Average Annual Earnings: $85,430

What doesn't run on a computer these days? These computer applications in our daily lives all need software and engineers to develop and program them. Software engineering jobs are expected to grow 21% by 2018, much faster than other sectors. A bachelor's degree will get you the best opportunities and pay, although certification or an associate's degree will be enough if you can prove you have the skills to do the job - making software engineering a great field for those changing careers or starting out. (This career is hot, but these careers are not. Don't miss 9 Careers On The Way Out.)

  1. Machinist

Education: On-the-job training

Average Annual Earnings: $38,940 and up

Few people grow up wanting to be a machinist, but it's a great field for those looking to enter the job market with little education. Many employers looking for experienced fabricators are having such a hard time finding qualified applicants that on-the-job training and training programs have grown for machinists. Pay is modest for those entering field, but grows with experience, making it a good place to grow a career.

  1. Healthcare Workers (L7, L8)

Education: High school diploma and higher

Average Annual Earnings: From $19,178

You've likely heard it before: healthcare is where the work is. From home care aides, a sector expected to grow 50% by 2018, to nurses and pharmacy technicians, healthcare jobs are on the rise. If you only have a high school diploma, look at starting as a home care aid at an average rate of $9.22 an hour - tough on the wallet, but a place you can get your foot in the door with little or no experience. Many colleges have vocational programs for radiologic technicians and other healthcare specializations that will greatly increase your earning power. (Check out High-Paying Healthcare Jobs for more information.)

  1. Biomedical Engineer

Education: Bachelor's degree or higher

Average Annual Earnings: $77,400

America's population is aging, and with it, our need for better healthcare equipment is rising. Biomedical engineers are needed to research, develop and test new devices - this job sector is expected to grow a whopping 72% by 2018. If you don't mind investing in the education required, biomedical engineering is a career with a very bright future.

  1. Industrial Hygienist

Education: A bachelor's degree in a biological or physical field. Professional certification may also be required.

Average Annual Earnings: $45,360

Lead, mold and asbestos are all bad for our health, so removal of these toxic substances is vital. Industrial hygienists are the experienced professionals tasked with the dirty job of removing environmental hazards, and employers are on the hunt for qualified applicants.

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the requirements for becoming a professional industrial hygienist generally include a bachelor's or baccalaureate degree in a related biological or physical science field (at minimum) and three years of experience in the field. Some other combinations of higher-level degrees and less related job experience may also be accepted. According to PayScale, industrial hygienists earn between $50,000 and $82,000 per year, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth in the sector to be faster than average.

  1. Geoscientist

Education: Bachelor's degree or higher

Average Annual Earnings: $79,160

Geoscientists study the earth: its composition, including energy sources that can be derived from it - which is where the jobs employers are having a difficult time filling are. Finding qualified geoscientists, preferably those with a master's degree, isn't easy. This sector of the job market is expected to rise by 18% by 2018, with energy research spurring the growth. Geoscientists working in oil and gas extraction earn well into the six figures. (For more sectors looking to hire, check out 12 Hot Careers And How Much They Pay.)

The Bottom Line
If you're unemployed, or looking for a career change, there are employers waiting for you to work in these hard-to-fill positions. The harsh reality is that you may have to go back to school, or work your way up to get the best salary in these fields - which is why employers are having such a hard time finding the right applicants. Patience and persistence are crucial for a future in these seven jobs.

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Ups And Downs Of A Double-Dip Recession.

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