Eight Bright-Outlook Careers

Eight Bright-Outlook Careers

Every year, the Occupational Information Network, or O*Net, lists dozens of emerging careers. Developed for the US Department of Labor, O*Net recognizes these “bright outlook occupations” because they offer some of the strongest job opportunities and best career prospects in the near future. 

Here are eight bright-outlook careers from July 2011 O*Net update.

Sustainability Specialist

As companies assess and reassess their impact on the environment, they must rely on professionals like sustainability specialists to help them devise more energy- and resource-efficient ways to perform tasks. A bachelor's degree in environmental sciences, environmental engineering or a related field is required; a master’s degree is desirable. Median annual salary was $62,450 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Search Marketing Strategist

Online marketing has rapidly transformed how businesses reach customers, and shows no signs of slowing down. Search marketing strategists develop search-engine optimization (SEO) campaigns to increase visibility of and drive qualified traffic to a company’s Web site, among other tasks. A BA or BS in marketing or IT is required. Experience in developing Web pages and organic SEO is helpful. The median annual search marketing strategist salary was $79,240 in 2010, according to the BLS.

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Document Management Specialist

The downsizing trend has created job opportunities for document management specialists. Understaffed IT and administrative staff rely on document management specialists to alleviate bottlenecks caused by inefficient document systems. A bachelor’s degree in business administration is required, along with experience in information systems and several years of experience working in record keeping or other administrative roles. The 2010 median documentation management specialist salary was $79,240, according to the BLS.

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Nanotechnology Engineering Technologist

Nanotechnology, which involves creating new structures roughly on the same scale as individual atoms, is fueling a revolution in manufacturing and production by creating new materials and novel processes in a range of fields, according to the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network. The National Science Foundation forecasts the need for more than 2 million nanotechnology professionals worldwide and 800,000 in the US by 2015. A bachelor’s degree in nanotechnology is preferred, and an increasing number of two- and four-year colleges are offering this major. The median annual salary for a nanotechnology engineering technologist was just over $58,000 in 2010, according to the BLS.

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Validation Engineer

A validation engineer tests systems used in manufacturing to make sure that complicated machinery and processes work as accurately as possible. Much of the job growth will coincide with the growing green sector, as validation engineers will be needed to design and test new green technology. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in manufacturing engineering plus several years as an entry-level validation technician are usually required. Validation engineers earned a median salary of $90,270 in 2010, according to the BLS.
Find validation engineer jobs.


 In 2003, the Human Genome Project inaugurated a new field of recording, reading and interpreting genetic information that can lead to illness and disease. As the field grows, so do opportunities and new jobs for geneticists -- from laboratory geneticists who specialize in DNA testing, to clinical geneticists who hold medical degrees. Median annual salary was $68,220 in 2010, according to the BLS. Salary, which can vary widely, is most often determined by academic degree: MS, PhD or MD, according to the American Society of Human Genetics.

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Patient Representative

The growing complexity and fragmentation of healthcare has created many new jobs advocating on behalf of patients. Patient representatives, also called patient advocates, help patients and their families understand healthcare options and assist them in navigating the overwhelming insurance maze. The newly created National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants states that most patient representatives make the jump from nursing or social work. However, an increasing number of two- and four-year colleges are offering programs in patient advocacy. The BLS reported median annual pay at $30,460 in 2010.

Find patient advocate jobs.

Ophthalmic Medical Technologist

These technologists work under an ophthalmologist to obtain vision measurements for glasses and administer eye exercises. They also take medical histories from patients, conduct diagnostic tests and provide contact-lens instruction. A two-year degree in ophthalmic medical technology or two years as an ophthalmic assistant is required. Salary depends on experience and the clinical setting. Medial annual salary was $38,460 in 2010, according to the BLS.

This career, like many new healthcare jobs, results from siphoning off tasks from higher-paid professionals, says Laurence Shatkin, career information expert and author of The Sequel: How to Change Your Career Without Starting Over. “The trend of offloading tasks onto lower-paid workers and then professionalizing those jobs into careers is likely to continue as a cost-saving measure in healthcare,” he tells

Find jobs in ophthalmics.

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