Oodles and oodles of greenbacks

America’s top jobs

By Laura Morsch
CareerBuilder.com

Editor’s Note: CNN.com has a
business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the
exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.

Finding a job can be tough — especially when you’re not looking in the right place.

Tight
as the job market may seem, some jobs are so hot, and growing so
quickly, that employers are itching to find qualified candidates to
fill them.

As the American population grows older and more
dependent on technology, the number of medical and computer-related
jobs is escalating rapidly to keep pace with demand.

According to
the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 of
the 30 fastest-growing jobs in the United States are in health care,
and another seven are computer-related.

Here is a list of some of
the fastest-growing jobs in the United States, where qualified
applicants, not the employers, have the edge — and the vital facts
about each — from the bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook:


Medical assistants

What they do:
Perform routine administrative and clinical tasks — from answering
phones to explaining medications to patients — to help keep medical
practitioners’ offices running smoothly.

What you need:
Most employers prefer graduates of a formal, one- to two-year medical
assistant training program. A high school diploma is required, and some
employers provide on-the-job training.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $24,610 in 2004.


Network systems and data communications analysts

What they do:
Help keep your electronic communications — Internet, voice mail,
e-mail and so on — up and running. They test and evaluate systems such
as local area networks, wide area networks, intranets and other data
communications systems.

What you need: Some employers
require an associate’s degree. Other, more advanced jobs, require a
bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $60,600 in 2004.


Environmental engineers

What they do:
In response to concerns about environmental damage, they conduct
research and develop solutions to environmental problems, including
pollution control, ozone depletion and wildlife protection.

What you need: Usually at least a bachelor’s degree.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $66,480 in 2004.


Physician assistants

What they do:
Provide diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive health care services —
including examining and treating patients, making diagnoses and
ordering prescriptions — under a doctor’s supervision.

What you need:
Graduation from a formal physician assistant education program. Most
programs require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $68,410 in 2004.


Social and human service assistants

What they do:
Assess clients’ needs and eligibility for services such as food stamps,
arrange for transportation and provide emotional support. They also
monitor case records and report progress.

What you need: Usually an associate’s degree or certificate, plus relevant work experience.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $24,270 in 2004.


Home health aides

What they do:
Help elderly, disabled and convalescent people live at home instead of
in a hospital or nursing home by assisting with housekeeping, bathing
and other tasks.

What you need: Usually short-term,
on-the-job training. Workers whose employers are covered by Medicare
must complete 75 hours of training and pass a competency test.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $18,330 in 2004.


Postsecondary teachers

What they do:
Instruct students in a variety of academic and vocational subjects
beyond the high school level to help them earn a degree or improve
their knowledge or skills. They may prepare lessons or lectures, grade
assignments and conduct extensive research in their fields. Most of
these teachers work on college and university faculties, but others
work as postsecondary vocational education teachers and graduate
teaching assistants.

What you need: Depends on the
employer and subject taught. At four-year research institutions,
faculty usually hold a doctorate degree and some conduct postdoctoral
research. At two-year colleges, a master’s degree is standard.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $49,040 in 2002, but it varies widely depending on rank, subject taught and employer.


Medical records and health information technicians

What they do:
Assemble and assess patients’ medical charts, determine a facility’s
Medicare and other insurance reimbursements, and use computer software
to help improve patient care and cut costs.

What you need: An associate’s degree and a written examination.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $25,590 in 2004.


Computer software engineers

What they do: Design, develop, test and evaluate the software and systems computers’ need to perform their applications.

What you need: A bachelor’s degree, relevant work experience and strong computer skills.

What it pays: Median annual pay was about $75,000 in 2004.


Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

What they do:
Amid growing concerns about obesity, fitness instructors help their
clients slim down and shape up by instructing them in physical and
exercise activities such as yoga, aerobics and weightlifting.

What you need:
There are no specific educational requirements, but most jobs require
certification, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid
training.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $25,470 in 2004.


Physical therapist assistants

What they do:
Help provide treatment including exercises and ultrasounds, record the
patient’s responses to treatment and report the outcome of each
treatment to the physical therapist.

What you need: Usually an associate’s degree and on-the-job training, and some states require a license.

What it pays: Median annual pay was $37,890 in 2004.

Laura
Morsch is a writer for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes
about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and
workplace issues.

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