Jobs with jump

Take a look at the fastest-growing careers for 2007

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2006

If you plan on looking for a new job in the new year, you may want to consult this list before making your move. After all, if you want a really good shot at gaining guaranteed employment, you'll need to go to where the jobs are.

1. Home health aides

An essential part of any home or facility-bound patient, these professionals are responsible for a variety of tasks, such as providing routine health care to elderly, disabled or recuperating patients in the patient's home or residential care facility.

"It's one of those evergreen industries," explains John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an international outplacement consulting firm in Chicago. "The leading edge of Baby Boomers are turning 60 in 2006, they are in the years where they are going to require more health care services."

2. Network systems and data communications analysts

Some might consider these workers the brains that keep the workplace ticking. Job duties include analyzing, designing, testing and evaluating network systems; performing network modeling, analyzing and planning; and researching and recommending network and data communications hardware and software.

The widespread expansion of technology in virtually all aspects of companies consequently puts a demand on employees with those skills. Jobs in this area will increase by 55 percent in coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The proliferation of in-house IT systems from large companies to small companies is driving this kind of job," explains Challenger. "Big companies need hundreds of people to do this sort of work."

3. Medical assistants

Yet another vital organ to the body of medical facilities, medical assistants perform administrative duties, including scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, coding for insurance purposes and billing. Also performs clinical duties, such as recording medical history, taking vital signs, and preparing patients for examination.

With an expected growth of 52 percent in the next eight years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants have the appeal of an in-demand occupation coupled with the convenience of moderate-term on-the-job training.

4. Physician assistants

Providing health care services, such as physicals, counseling, treatment, and, in some cases, prescribing medication under a physician's supervision are just a few of the tasks physician assistants are required to fit into their busy schedules.

Of the approximately 62,000 jobs there currently are of this type, that number is expected to increase by 50 percent in coming years, for a total of 92,700.

"Not only is there growth in the demand for services, also there's a lot of pressure to drive health care costs down," Challenger says. "Physician assistants are going to take on more of the mundane work. Rather than a highly paid doctor, a P.A. will manage a lot of those tasks. There's a lot of pressure on doctors to keep costs down."

5. Computer software application engineer

A typical day consists of developing, creating or modifying general computer applications software or specialized utility programs. Other duties include designing or customizing software for client use, analyzing and designing databases, and designing software solutions based on clients' needs.

With increasingly high-tech work environments, it's no wonder that these professionals are so in demand. Jobs in this area are expected to increase to 682,200 by 2014 - that's an increase of 48 percent.

"More and more take operation to build applications to automate what used to be done by hand," Challenger adds. "Companies are taking advantage of all the software programs they can do today to automate their systems."

6. Physical therapist assistants

If you've ever been in need of physical therapy, you probably realize what an impact these workers have on recovery after an injury. Assisting physical therapists in treatment and procedures, assisting in the development of treatment plans, and recording progress and modifying treatments are all in a day's work for these professionals.

Employees of this profession can have the best of both worlds: They can have their hand at treating patients without years of schooling. Physical therapist assistants will see a job increase of 44 percent in years to come.

7. Dental hygienists

It's been said that jobs in health care will never become extinct because people will always get sick. And the same goes for workers in the field of dentistry. Every six months-if you follow doctor's orders-patients need a cleaning, and that's where hygienists come in. Duties include cleaning teeth and examining oral areas and the head and neck for signs of oral disease.

Workers in this field can expect to enjoy a 43 percent increase in jobs by 2014.

8. Systems software engineers

The exciting world of systems software engineering consists of researching, designing, developing and testing operating systems-level software, compilers and network distribution software for various fields.

This occupation is predicted to increase by over 100,000 jobs in the coming years. Employees with a strong knowledge of systems software who have the ability to apply the principles and techniques of computer science, engineering and mathematical analysis are in high demand in this field.

9. Dental assistants

Dental assistants play a vital role in any dentist's office. These professionals work as an assistant to the dentist by setting up the patient and necessary equipment, aiding in the management of medical and dental emergencies, and applying fluoride to teeth and keeping dental records. Possible required licenses include, registered dental assistant, dental auxiliaries, and/or registered dental hygienist in alternative practice.

10. Personal and home care aides

Assisting elderly or disabled adults with daily living activities at the patient's home or in a daytime non-residential facility are among the many tasks these aides complete in a given day. Other duties include preparing meals and keeping house in a patient's residence, and supervising activities at non-residential care facilities.

Workers in this field can look forward to an increase of 287,300 jobs, or 41 percent, by 2014.

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