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The future's not ours to see, as the song goes, but that doesn't mean we can't train today for careers that should be hot as tomorrow's firecrackers. It's certain that some jobs will simply hold more promise if the planners and visionaries have their say. You'll increase your odds by enrolling in training programs or continuing education for these six forward-facing careers that seem likely to survive today's economic shake-up.
Let's look at career trends -- at least those that map to the objectives as slated by the Obama administration as top priorities as the nation moves forward into this brave new century. Here's the short list of jobs with promise, the education you'll likely need to thrive, and recent earnings.
Green Construction Manager
This career holds a familiar job title, but concentrate on the "green." Forbes Magazine predicts that the new demand for infrastructure and sustainable building will spark a vital need for managers with environmental specializations to lead teams who will build tomorrow's schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
The Obama administration has predicted that 15 million new buildings will be completed between now and 2015, and most if not all will be built for energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. Earn a bachelor's degree in construction management or add environmental specializations through an online associate's degree in environmental studies or post-graduate degree. Forbes predicts 780,000 new construction jobs. The median 2007 wage for construction managers: $55,950, with top earnings at $90,220.
Network Security Administrator
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has already predicted a powerful 37 percent increase in jobs for network systems professionals between 2006 and 2016. Projections seem even stronger when you consider the Obama administration's call for the appointment of a national cyber adviser and an initiative to develop "next-generation" networking capabilities for business, government, and the military. You'll need at least an online associate's degree to get in the field, and you should use it to apply to bachelor's degree programs and post-graduate certifications that will leverage a huge career in the next decade.
The 2007 median wage for network and computer systems administrators: $67,250 with top earnings at $105,980.
Biomedical or Genetic Scientist
Get a jumpstart on this booming field by enrolling in an associate's or bachelor's degree program in the sciences, then step up to a graduate degree in biology or genetic studies. Degree programs can help you specialize in prevention, detection, or treatment of diseases. The Obama administration has pledged investments in biomedical research as well as in helping to fund medical career training. The administration also supports a return to funding for stem cell research, creating additional genetic openings in research labs, pharmaceutical companies, and at universities.
You'll eventually need a Ph.D. in a biological science to rise to the top of the profession, but you can begin research and clinical work with a master's degree. Top 2007 earnings for biotechnical scientists: $104,000.
Urban and Regional Planners
If we're going to revitalize our cities and roads, our nation is going to rely upon urban and regional planners who have an expertise in green design. Start by earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in economics, environmental design, or political science, then consider enrolling in architecture school or a master's degree program in planning.
The Obama administration plans to create an Office of Urban Policy and restore the Community Development Block Grant Program cut by the Bush administration. Workers will develop housing for low and moderate-income Americans and help with infrastructure improvement. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for an urban planner in 2007 was $57,970, with top salaries of $88,590.
Special Education Teacher
Even before the recent election, jobs for special education teachers received top marks by the BLS as a career field with long-term promise. These education specialists are one of the top ten jobs greatly affected by the retirement of baby boomers, with a huge hiring upside. Add in the Obama administration's call to "provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed," and you're looking at solid prospects for a satisfying career.
All states require licensing of special education teachers, and you'll increase your chances by earning a bachelor's degree with a specialization in learning disabilities. The median 2007 wages for elementary special education teachers were $48,350, with secondary teachers taking home $49,640.
With advance planning, you can be at the starting gates of this exciting new career race.