THE FIFTY HOTTEST JOBS IN AMERICA MONEY'S FOURTH ANNUAL CAREER SURVEY RANKS THE FASTEST-GROWING, MOST DESIRABLE JOBS TO HAVE THROUGH THE YEAR 2005. PLUS: FIVE SMART WAYS TO GET AHEAD IN TODAY'S JOB MARKET. PAGE 118
(MONEY Magazine) – There's a good reason this man looks happy: Computer engineer Mark Haas, 35, senior software quality manager for Bell-Northern Research, the development arm of Northern Telecom, has the best career in America. Officially, a computer engineer develops and designs hardware and software, so the career's horizons figure to expand at something close to the speed of light. Over the next 10 years, computer engineers' handiwork will be felt in every corner of the economy, from business software to video and computer games, from the microchips that trigger your car's air bags to the switching programs that will route old movies and fresh news down the information highway. Talk about marketable skills: U.S. corporations will need about 447,000 computer engineers by the year 2005, more than twice the number in the country today. The pay is not bad, either: Engineers with 10 years' experience typically pull down $70,000 a year, placing them in the top 6% of all U.S. full-time wage earners. Prestige? According to a 1992 national study by the Chicago-based National Opinion Research Center, computer engineers rank on a par with airline pilots, management consultants and psychologists.
But Money's fourth annual jobs report is about more than just computer engineering skills. Our nine-page package starts here with a ranking of the 50 skilled professions that are projected to grow fastest by the year 2005. To find the top contenders, we consulted Malcolm Cohen of the University of Minnesota, labor economist and author of the just-published Labor Shortages: As America Approaches the Twenty-First Century (University of Michigan, $37.50). Cohen started with the 13,000 jobs recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and then chopped that mammoth figure down by weeding out low-skill occupations and screening for fast growth and stability. We follow the rankings with a feature story on the five career strategies that will keep you competitive in the years ahead.
Compared with our previous rankings, this year we put greater weight on a job's sheer growth prospects. That emphasis cast some career trends into sharp relief. Among them:
CAREERS HITCHED TO COMPUTERS ARE SIZZLING HOT. Considering that microchips are now found everywhere, it's not surprising that four of our 50 fastest-growing positions were computer-related. Indeed, the only job to give computer engineer a run for first place was computer systems analyst: Its 10-year growth projection came to 110%, just shy of computer engineer's 112%. Systems analysts, who customize and maintain corporate computer operations, have hogged the winning position in Money's past two surveys. But being No. 2 this year hasn't hurt: The average analyst pulls down $53,000, finishing in the top 10% of wage earners.
Computer repairer also made the top 50 (No. 18) as it did in 1992 and 1994, while computer programmer (No. 44) appears for the third consecutive year.
HEALTH CARE GETS COMPETITIVE. Medicine has provided opportunity for skilled workers from physical therapists (No. 3) to pharmacists (No. 50) since we began ranking careers in 1992. But while the field is still hot--accounting for an amazing 16 professions on our list of 50--the shift toward managed care is creating a new set of winners. Boom occupations will be tied to advances in medical technology or to the aging population. Radiologic technologists, for example, who administer radiation therapy to cancer patients, copped No. 6, with an expected job growth of 63%. Respiratory therapists, who treat the elderly and other patients with lung disease, ranked No. 13, with a growth of 49%.
TEACHERS AND GUMSHOES ARE MAKING A COMEBACK. This is the first year we ranked special-education teacher and private investigator. To our surprise, they placed fourth and fifth, with growth of 75% and 69%, respectively. Traditionally in short supply, special-ed teachers will also benefit from legislation encouraging the training of the disabled. Future Sam Spades will draw new business from companies battling insurance fraud, white-collar crime and information-highway robbery.
SOME OF THE FASTEST-GROWING JOBS WILL BE THE LEAST SECURE. Jobs with reputations for high risk, shaky security and irregular work--but big possible payoffs--moved up the list this year. Among them are producer, director, actor and other entertainers (No. 9), bread and pastry bakers (No. 15) and restaurant cooks (No. 17).
Look over the table at right to make your own discoveries about your career. If your hot button is fast advancement, job security, high salary or independence, we single out those five top-rankers in the sidebars. For details on our top 50 occupations, see the main table, particularly the final column, where you'll learn the hottest opportunities within each career as well as smart lateral moves to make from each job. After all, these days, you can't assume any career--even computer engineer--is for life.