By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs
Amid the worst recession in decades, there are a variety of hot prospects -- well paying, satisfying professional jobs -- going begging for qualified applicants.
For those with the aptitude and the skill set, these jobs offer good potential for advancement, and many don't require a four-year degree or years of training, according to Laurence Shatkin, career information expert and author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs.
Doctors and nurses get most of the attention, but healthcare is a huge and multifaceted field with a wide range of opportunities. If you want a good idea of how wide, consider the number of specialists who provide your doctor with all of the records, lab tests, and other information before and after your (often short) consultation.
Physician assistants are generally allowed to do everything an MD does, except for writing a prescription (in some cases) and opening their own practices. Although they don't have the earning potential or superstar status of most doctors, their average salary is well above the median. Nurse practitioners also have a strong earning potential. Both can set up their own practices and specialize in certain areas.
Diagnostic sonographers are also in high demand. These professionals collect reflected echoes, Doppler signals, images and tracings of a person's internal anatomy, using ultrasound equipment to assess health and detect various conditions.
According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, half of all laboratories in the US struggle to hire qualified laboratory technicians. Lack of awareness of the laboratory profession is a key factor in the shortage of applicants for these "under the radar" jobs. But salaries and prospects are expected to continue rising, Shatkin says. "The ever-expanding and changing technologies means there will be more and more for a lab worker to do, which should also boost employability."
- Physician assistant
Two-year training program, and at least two years of college; license exam
- Nurse practitioner
Master's degree in nursing
- Cardiac sonographer
Two-year associate's degree, or one-year certificate in diagnostic sonography
- Laboratory technician
Bachelor's degree with coursework in chemistry, biology and statistics; state certification and license
The US manufacturing industry is contracting, but amid the manufacturing bust are some booming job prospects for those with a specialized technical background.
"It's true that older and lower-skilled workers are losing their jobs in manufacturing," Shatkin says. "But there are newer, highly skilled jobs in manufacturing that are in great demand now, and require only vocational training and an apprenticeship."
Computer control operators use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to cut and shape precision products for cars, planes, and a variety of machinery. CNC programmers develop the programs that run the machine tools. They review three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) blueprints of the part and determine the sequence of events that will be needed to make the part.
Although the number of jobs in these fields is projected to decline slightly over the next seven years, skilled professionals will have excellent opportunities, according to the BLS. That's due to the limited number of people entering training programs and employers' difficulty in finding workers with the necessary skills and knowledge.
- Computer control programmer and CNC programmer
Two-year degree or vocational degree and apprenticeship
Salary: $33,000 (computer control operator) $44,000 (CNC programmer)
Although the financial services industry has taken big hits over the past year, one overlooked area of finance -- actuarial services -- is doing fine. Demand for actuaries, who develop, price and evaluate financial insurance products such as life, auto, health or homeowners insurance, is expected to grow moderately through 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even amid the industry shakeout, financial analysts and financial planners still have plenty of opportunities. Financial analysts evaluate the economic outlook of different sectors and industries for organizations that wish to invest. Personal financial planners and advisors help individuals with their personal investment needs. Financial analysts are employed by a variety of industries, from nonprofits to school districts to hospitals. However, analysts might consider going the self-employment route, as they can earn far more than salaried employees ($63,000 versus $48,000 for those with at least five years' experience).
Bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics or finance; professional certification
- Financial analyst 1
Bachelor's degree in finance preferred
- Financial planner
Bachelor's degree in finance preferred; examination for Certified Financial Planners
Note: Salaries are medians for each profession and are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.com for professionals with five years or more experience.