Looking for a new job or your very first one? Here's where the hiring is the hottest
How to land the job: Norfolk Southern says it weeds through about 10 applicants before finding one person with a background in and enthusiasm for hard physical work and night and weekend shifts. (Newbies get the worst shifts and often have to spend a couple of days away from home each week.) College isn't necessary. Military experience is a plus. Workers must be able to make it to the terminal within 90 minutes of a call, so they usually have to live within 45 miles of the workplace.
How much: After about six months of (paid) training, rookie freight train conductors on the Norfolk Southern line can make about $40,000. After two years, conductors can train to be engineers (those who operate the locomotive) and bump up to about $60,000. -Kim Clark
Casino "cage" worker : Entertainment
Casino "cage" worker
How hot: Americans are gambling more than ever, and casino construction is booming both in Las Vegas and at American Indian casinos. A handful of casinos under construction in Mississippi have posted hundreds of help-wanted ads on Casinocareers.com . But Michael Borden, marketing manager of the website, says there are plenty of applicants for glamorous jobs like poker dealer and big-tip jobs like waitress. Better odds can be had in the "cage," where cashiers turn gamblers' bills into chips and supervisors keep watch on the cash.
How to land the job: Cashiers need little more than a high school degree, a clean record (to pass a background check), and an ability to make change accurately and quickly. Anyone with college training in accounting and finance can try to work up to a supervisor's job. Cage managers usually need a college degree in business, finance, or accounting and at least five years' cage experience.
How much: Cashiers start out at $7 to $9 an hour. But managers can pull down $75,000 a year. -Kim Clark
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning mechanic : Construction
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning mechanic
How hot: All construction fields are booming. The Department of Labor predicts employment will grow from 6.7 million to 7.7 million workers between 2002 and 2012. Mike Mayberry, president and founder of hvacagent.com, says his job board currently has more than 2,000 openings posted for installers, repairers, and salespeople. The industry is growing at about 7 percent a year, he says.
How to land the job: Full-time study of as little as nine months at a community college or a private training institute can get you certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to replace refrigerants and thus qualify for entry-level jobs.
How much: Contractors start out as trainees for as little as $10 an hour. But hard workers with a couple of years' experience and additional certifications can quickly bring that up to $40,000 to $50,000 a year. -Kim Clark
Wireless network administrator : Technology
Wireless network administrator
How hot: The great technology job bust appears to be over. Demand for techies has finally started to rebound. Dice.com says its tech job postings have risen 71 percent in the past year and now average over 64,000 on any given day. A survey of chief information officers by placement company Robert Half Technology found robust demand for anyone who can help with the latest corporate must-have: a wireless network.