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Thursday, November 10, 2005 

Hot jobs today

The determination to find a new job for the new year is a resolution surpassed perhaps only by the resolve to lose weight. If you're thinking about making a change in 2001, you might like to know which job fields are seeing the most exciting growth and promise. The experts all have their opinions, which we've listed in a table below. Perhaps even more instructive is a look at some of the trends and conditions that will affect job growth and regression in the coming year.

Among the factors that will influence job growth in 2001 are a new administration in Washington, the aging population, the Internet, the trend toward cocooning and increased leisure time, energy shortages and high energy prices, an increasingly diverse population, mergers and acquisitions, stock-market fluctuations, and rapidly advancing technology.

Some trends exert obvious influences. Thousands of Clinton administration appointees will be looking for new jobs as thousands of Bush administration wannabes clamor to replace them. The aging population means greater demands on the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and leisure industries. It also means openings for college graduates in most sectors because of retiring Baby Boomers.

Of the 20 fastest-growing occupations for those who hold at least a bachelor's degree, more than half are health-related or in the computer industry, reports Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

Despite the media-headlined crash of the dot-coms, the Internet remains a major player in job growth because it has changed the way people do things. More online shopping, for example, means more jobs in package-delivery services. With more and more young people online, the Internet also is seen as a key venue for reaching the coveted youth market. And dot-coms are far from dead; job-seekers just need to be more discriminating. The would-be dot-commer must ask tough questions about the solvency of prospective e-commerce employers and be wary of compensation in the form of stock options that could plummet in value.

Those who seek work in e-commerce would be wise to seek out hot sectors, such as the wireless and fiber-optics industries, writes Dori Jones Yang in U.S. News & World Report. Wireless services, in fact, is one of the world's hottest sectors, according to Employment Review Online. Yang also notes that the business-to-business sector is hotter than the business-to-consumer area.

Dot-coms aside, the overall high-tech segment is still growing with great demand for jobs, including software programmers, database managers, quality assurance managers, graphic artists, Web designers, and related non-technical positions, such as copy editors and market researchers, reports Employment Review Online. Job opportunities with Internet service providers also will remain strong, the publication predicts, with positions such as network engineers, systems engineers, and applications engineers leading the way.

Another hot technology area is nanotechnology, also known as miniaturization. The bottom line in technology, say Kara Kitts and Sherri Pfeil in Employment Review Online, is that “the individuals who stay current on what's new and can update their skills accordingly will have the best shot at landing jobs.”

The tech world also has spawned a trend toward free-agency and consulting, note Anne Kates Smith et al in U.S. News. Free-agent techies often are able to name their own terms.

And, the tech world aside, labor shortages plague such areas as retail, nursing, and teaching, report Kitts and Pfeil. Occupations that have a large number of openings and are also expected to grow rapidly include systems analysts, social workers, secondary-school teachers, college and university faculty, physicians, and registered nurses, according to Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

Rapidly growing jobs in the management field include management analysts, medical and health-services managers, advertising and public relations managers, computer and information systems managers, and loan counselors/officers, reports Occupational Outlook Quarterly, which also predicts demand in marketing and sales.

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The 25 Top Jobs for 2005

What are the best jobs to pursue for the next five years? Fast Company draws on the work of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and an innovation expert to tap the top jobs.

What makes a job a great job? Obviously, different people will give different answers. It's impossible to account for everyone's personal taste and personality traits -- including foibles -- and how they might fit into a particular job. What makes a great job opportunity is much easier to gauge. How much do you get paid? What kind of professional development opportunities are available? How much room for innovation does a role offer?

Fast Company based this year's index of the top jobs on four categories: job growth, salary potential, education level, and room for innovation. Relying heavily on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the work of Dr. Kevin Stolarick, a lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on the creative class, Fast Company has assembled a list of the 25 Top Jobs for 2005.

What We Considered

Clearly, you want to pick a career that's in high demand. Because job growth is so important, we weighted our index 35% toward the Bureau of Labor Statistic's projected job growth data through 2012.

Money also matters. We based our salary range -- an indication of the opportunity for salary growth -- on the difference between the 10th percentile earnings and the 90th percentile earnings for a given job, also based on BLS data. This gives a picture of where you might end up in relation to where you started. The greater the divide, the better the score. Salary range was also given a 35% share of the total index score.

A great job, in our opinion, also requires a good deal of investment in education. Our education score is based on what percentage of those working in the field hold a college degree according to BLS data. We weighted this 20%.

Finally, a great job needs to give you room to run. How innovative and creative can you be? How open to new ideas are people in your profession? We turned to Dr. Kevin Stolarick to help determine how creative workers can be in a given field. We weighted this 10%.

Doing the Job

In addition to the rankings and some brief job descriptions, we've profiled 10 leaders actually working in some of these exciting positions. Among them, we've got a Harvard stem cell researcher, a Wal-Mart systems analyst, a personal financial advisor to the nouveau riche, and an actuary who doesn't think his job is boring. Though they come from a wide range of fields and backgrounds, there are some common threads running through them -- besides the fact that they love their jobs. Most find themselves working at the intersection of business and technology, which keeps things fresh. They all give the same advice about being successful at work, too: Stay flexible. These jobs aren't for the rigid of mind, and you need to accept that they might take you places you don't expect to go. That's part of the fun -- and what makes these jobs the best

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