Excellent careers for 2006
Clergy. Want the satisfaction of doing good? You'll routinely play a significant role in major life events such as birth, marriage, crisis, and death. Plus this career offers status, normally modest work hours, and often good salaries. You needn't necessarily have unquestioned faith in God. I've spoken with a number of clergy who have deep questions about the nature and even existence of a Supreme Being.
To learn more
Read: Educating Clergy by Charles Foster
Contact a respected clergyperson.
Engineer. This can be marvelous work for people who enjoy using math and science to create products. Turnover is very low, although twice as many women as men leave the profession. Training, not surprisingly, can be long and grueling and often irrelevant. One engineer I met, who works for General Dynamics, told me that 95 percent of what he learned in collegea prestigious onewas irrelevant to his work. One career hazard is the offshoring of technical work to low-cost countries like India and China, with thousands of skilled engineers willing to work for 80 percent less than their counterparts in the United States. Some of the safest jobs involve government-related work.
Speech therapist. This is another of my favorite helping careers. Patients improve at higher rates than in fields like psychotherapy or oncology, and the training is shorter and less science intensive. That's significant because many college-level science courses arefor most studentsvery difficult and boring, not a great combination. Speech therapists who work in schools have relatively short workdays, with ample time off. They may also work in hospitals, clinics, and in private practice. Many speech therapists choose a combination.
Occupational therapist. This is another great career in which you help people one-on-one and often have the opportunity to work in multiple settings. Some occupational therapists see clients in a hospital in the morning, then in their homes in the afternoon. Success rates are high because you're often teaching a person simple ways to work around their limitationshow to button a shirt even though one arm is paralyzed, for example. Plus, with the aging boomers, the Department of Labor classifies this as one of the fastest-growing occupationsbut it's also another career in which the amount of required training is rising. By 2007, a master's degree will generally be required.
Physical therapist. Yet another one-on-one healthcare career, which, like the others, will be in growing demand. Boomers will need increasing hands-on care to recover from strokes, replaced hips, and other infirmities that come with aging.
Physician assistant. For most doctors, the fun part is doctoringdiagnosing patients, treating them, doing patient education. The dreary parts are the paperwork, managing the office, and dealing with insurance companies. Physician assistants enjoy many of the benefits of being a physician with few of its liabilities. Under a doctor's supervision, physician assistants do diagnosis, treatment, and patient education, but training takes just two to three yearsnot the 10 years many doctors put in. And paperwork and management responsibilities are few. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career will be among the fastest growing, as healthcare organizations cut costs by using physician assistants more and doctors less. Salaries are not doctor level but respectableabout $76,000 on average.