In today's labor market, a well-paid, lucrative job may sound like wishful thinking. We have all heard grim stories of unsuccessful job hunting, but the news is not all dire. According to career site PayScale.com, the good news is that certain industries are still offering fast growing jobs in this otherwise slow-growth economy. (There are many ways to fund a child's education including loans, scholarships, grants and protecting your investments. Check out Paying For College In An Economic Downturn.)
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Not all jobs are 'hot,' but those looking to start a new career might be helped by looking specifically at certain jobs that pay well in growing industries. These jobs are largely specialized roles that require dedication and are traditionally available to those with a bachelor's degree.
The following list uses data from PayScale to rank the top 10 jobs in terms of the pay you will receive after you have gained some years of experience, the necessary education (traditionally a bachelor's degree), the job's commonness and the years of experience that it will take to reach your plateau.
Mechanical Engineer - $73,200 After Three Years Experience
For people just starting their careers, mechanical engineering is a good place to begin because it is one of the broadest and most in demand of the engineering disciplines. In short, mechanical engineers use science and mathematics to plan and design tools, engines and machines. Many of these engineers work in manufacturing - chiefly for companies that make primary and fabricated materials, machinery and electrical and transportation equipment. Others work for government agencies, colleges and universities, and consulting firms.
Software Developer - $82,400 After Four Years Experience
Software developers build the modules or layers of code that create software programs to run on computers or electronic devices. They are currently in high demand because tech startups and giants like Facebook and Google can't recruit enough top in-house engineering talent fast enough to keep pace with rivals. Developers needs to have strong communication, creative problem solving and analytical skills.
Financial Analyst - $62,600 After Three Years Experience
Financial analysts help businesses, individuals and organizations to make the best possible investment decisions. The industry is currently hot because of increased complexity and global diversification of investments and growth in overall amount of assets under management. Hiring is being conducted by private firms, hospitals, non-profits, local state and federal governments, and colleges. According to Mindflash, there's a 20% projected hiring growth and 49,600 projected openings in 2011. Interested applicants should show a mind for research, strong communication, analytical skills and proficiency with borrowing structures.
Electrical Engineer - $84,700 After Four Years Experience
A job in electrical engineering involves designing, developing and maintaining electrical systems and/or components to required specifications, focusing on economy, safety, reliability, quality and sustainability. They may specialize in areas such as power systems, equipment manufacturing or building design. Although jobs in electrical engineering are competitive, statistics show that there is an exponential increase in electrical engineering salaries after just a few years of experience.
Web Developer - $60,900 After Three Years Experience
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, the overall job outlook in the field of web development is expected to grow "much faster" than other occupations. Web developers and web designers can choose to freelance (the job pool is vast and varied) or they can work for corporations, schools, non-profits, government organizations or for design firms. Not only do they need to understand technology, they need to be creative problems solvers with strong communication skills.
Financial Advisor - $93,900 After Four Years Experience
Financial advisors provide clients with advice on financial matters, making recommendations on ways to best utilize their money. They provide a broad range of budgeting, tax, investment, and estate advice and there are many career pathways such as working for large financial services firms, boutique advisory practices or as solo practitioners. Financial advisors can enjoy a very high ceiling on income potential as their expertise grows.
Employment Recruiter - $55,400 After Three Years Experience
Certain industries are benefiting from the challenging job market, and it should be no surprise that employment recruiters are in high demand for their services to assist the unemployed in finding a suitable job. Employment recruiters' daily duties consist of searching out candidates for specific job openings, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, administering employment tests, keeping up on rules regarding employment and possibly marketing services to independent companies. For this role an outgoing personality and an understanding of the nuances of the market is a necessity.
Construction Estimator - $67,400 After Four Years Experience
Construction estimators create cost estimates for construction companies based on materials, labor, location and projected timelines. They may work on residential, commercial or municipal building projects. Those interested in this field need to demonstrate strong math and analytical skills, an eye for detail and interpersonal skills for coordinating team members.
Project Engineer, Construction - $69,200 After Three Years Experience
Project engineers plan, design and oversee the construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities. The ideal candidate is a strong leader who is organized and has some practical experience in the construction business. The project engineer has the responsibility for making sure that the project is finished on time and they have to coordinate everything from workers to heavy equipment rental and materials delivery.
Manufacturing Engineer - $73,900 After Five Years Experience
As the final engineering category in our grouping, manufacturing engineers design and improve manufacturing systems. They may work with commercial and industrial designers to increase production, decrease costs and refine a product's design and may also look into solutions on how manufacturers can edge out the competition. As well as understanding the technical engineering aspects of the role, an ideal candidate must have an interest in understanding the international marketplace and logistics.
The Bottom Line
All of these jobs only require a bachelor's degree, but there is always room for increased income with more expertise and possibly a graduate degree. If you're trained for a career in engineering you stand to be well compensated right out of the gate. Engineering dominates the list of top-paid majors, according to results of a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). All top 10 require the practical application of math at some level. Most importantly, they all require dedication to learn a craft, so interest and enjoyment in your chosen career is essential. (Test your money management skills as you work your way through university. Refer to Budgeting While You're In College.)