Job Outlook and Prospects: The Usual Suspects and Some Surprises

There is little more on the minds of college students or those considering getting a higher education degree than what occupation will offer decent career opportunities after graduation. Some look at income, and others look toward landing that first job and paycheck. Others look longer term to find a job with a defined career path that affords job security or a route to the corner office. Fortunately there are many choices, the key is picking the right professions.

Job Projections and Figures

The recent Job Outlook Survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Education (NACE) shows that recession-proof jobs closely mirror those for prior years: nursing, engineering, finance, and accounting.

All occupations listed in the survey noted higher starting salaries for personnel with internships in their work history than for those without that experience. That difference alone accounts for starting salaries of an average of $41,000 compared to $34,000.

Students answering the survey noted an average of five months before receiving job offers, up from a three-month average two years ago. The increased time frame may be related to high unemployment figures though December. Federal authorities state that unemployment will fall, but it will do so slowly. The national average figure may be 8 percent in two years.

Additional Job Projections

Outside the NACE survey, independent studies indicate other career fields to be as or more promising. Some list entrants encompass familiar fields, such as healthcare, but in addition to nurses, massage therapists and athletic trainers break into the upper opportunities stratosphere. Not only are the number of openings promising, but starting salaries in these fields are well within reasonable cost of living projections for most areas.

When considering occupations, not only starting salaries and growth indicators were noted but also job satisfaction and length of employment. In addition to healthcare, industries promising some new occupations include:

  1. Technology Fields: Computer support technicians. Programmers, security specialists, network operators, and IT support all show increased interest in the industry’s employers. Salary depends on education level and proficiency, but a general starting range for an IT specialist with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree may earn from $45,000 to $60,000 depending on location. A computer software engineer with a master’s degree can earn close to $80,000, however.
  2. Social Service Jobs: Though a familiar field for many years, specific new occupation listings within this career field include Education Administration with a median salary in the $85,000 range, along with sales managers, and meteorologists near the $80,000 salary range. Additional occupations showing promise include clergy, court reporter, firefighter, and emergency management specialist.
  3. Creative and Service Jobs: Some new entrants in this category require a vocational diploma, though an applicable associate’s or bachelor’s degree can boost advancement tremendously.

 Specific occupations noted as promising are HVAC technicians and interpreters/translators (higher education degrees required) are enjoying increasing demand. Starting salaries for technicians with accredited vocational diplomas may reach the $35,000 range and higher with associate’s degrees. Foreign language degrees are required for interpreter or translator jobs if not native speakers. Starting salaries in the public service sector can average $40,000 at start. Private sector salaries can span higher ranges.

Also listed within this field are medical and public health workers, special education teachers, mediators, and urban planners.

Additional careers include commercial pilot, curator, film and video editor, gaming manager, multimedia artist, and technical writer. All require a higher education degree of at least a bachelor’s level to qualify for the staring salary ranges of $38,000 to $45,000 or more, depending on prior experience, geography, or precise job description.
  4. Business Careers: Meeting planners, public relations specialists, training specialists, logisticians, financial advisors and analysts, and accountants lead business career outlook for 2011.

  5. Additional Healthcare Occupations: Allowing for nursing, above, the healthcare field is among the most varied in specific occupations that have excellent prospects for 2011. They require different minimum education standards, but the majority have excellent outlooks with a bachelor’s degree within the specialty, including: dental hygienist, optometrist, radiologic technician, lab technician, physician assistant, and physical or massage therapist. Starting salaries vary widely, depending on local economies, but most average between $28,000 and $34,000. Optometrists, however, might enjoy a salary close to $60,000 or more.

  6. Technology (Non-Computer): Outside the computer field, additional technical careers included for growth expectations in 2011 include environmental engineering technician and hydrologist.


With a wide array of growing career opportunities that span the spectrum of work activities, the single common factor among them is education. Getting a a traditional or online education has never been easier with financing availability to bolster getting an online degree at any level: vocational diploma or certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s, master’s, or higher degrees from accredited online colleges and universities. Get an online degree and step through the greater number of job opportunities doorways.

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