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5 careers: Big demand, big pay
If you're in one of the jobs listed here, you may be able to negotiate a sweet pay hike for yourself when changing employers.
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) Recent surveys show that a lot of people are itching to find new jobs and human resource managers are expecting a lot of movement - both signs that employers may need to sweeten the pot.

There also have been predictions that the labor market may start to tilt in favor of job seekers due to a shortage of skilled workers.

CNNMoney.com talked with specialists at national staffing and recruiting firm Spherion to find out which job-hunting workers today are sitting in the catbird seat when it comes to negotiating better pay.

Below is a list of in-demand workers in five arenas.


Thanks to Enron and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, those who have a few years of corporate auditing experience working for a large public accounting firm can negotiate a sweet package for themselves when they change jobs.

That applies whether they're leaving the accounting firm to go work for a corporation or if they're seeking to return to the public accounting firm from an auditing job at an individual company.

College graduates with an accounting degree but not yet a CPA designation might make between $35,000 and $45,000 a year, or up to $50,000 in large cities like New York. After a couple of years they can command a substantial pay hike if they move to large company as an internal staff auditor or to a smaller company as controller. At that point, their salary can jump to anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000.

The expectation is that they will obtain their CPA designation.

If they choose to return to a public accounting firm as an audit manager after a couple of years at a corporation they can earn a salary of $70,000 to $85,000.

Sales and marketing

The healthcare and biomedical fields offer some handsome earnings opportunities for those on the business side.

Business development directors, product managers and associate product managers working for medical device makers, for instance, can do quite well for themselves if they develop a successful track record managing the concept, execution and sales strategy for a medical device before jumping ship.

Typically, they have an MBA in marketing plus at least two to three years' experience on the junior end to between five and eight years' experience at the more senior levels. That experience ideally will be in the industry where they're seeking work.

An associate product manager might make a base salary of $55,000 to $75,000. A product manager can make a base of $75,000 to $95,000, while a business development director may make $120,000 to $160,000. Those salaries don't include bonuses.

The business development director seeking a vice president position could boost his base to between $150,000 to $200,000 -- depending on whether the new company is a risky start-up or established device maker.


Intellectual property attorneys specializing in patent law and the legal secretaries who have experience helping to prepare patent applications are highly desirable these days.

The most in demand are those lawyers with not only a J.D. but also an advanced degree in electrical and mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, biotechnology, pharmacology or computer science.

Even those patent lawyers who just have an undergraduate degree in those fields have a leg up.

Patent lawyers working for a law firm might make $125,000 to $135,000 to start or about $90,000 if they work for a corporation that's trying to get a patent or to protect one they already have. With a couple of years' experience, they can expect a 10 percent jump or better when they get another job.

Legal secretaries, meanwhile, might make $65,000 at a law firm or $55,000 at a corporation. Should they choose to move to a new employer, they can command close to a 10 percent bump in pay.


Two tech jobs in high demand these days are .NET (dot net) developers and quality assurance analysts.

Developers who are expert users of Microsoft's software programming language .NET can make between $75,000 and $85,000 a year in major cities. (See correction.) If they pursue a job at a company that seeks someone with a background in a given field (say, a firm looking for a .NET developer experienced in using software related to derivatives) they might snag a salary hike of 15 percent or more when they switch jobs.

Those who work in software quality management, meanwhile, might make $65,000 to $75,000 a year and be able to negotiate a 10 percent to 15 percent jump in pay if they switch jobs.

Manufacturing and engineering

Despite all the announced job cuts in the automotive industry, quality and process engineers, as well as plant managers certified in what's known as "Lean Manufacturing" techniques, are hot commodities.

The same applies to professionals in similar positions at other types of manufacturers.

One Lean Manufacturing technique is to use video cameras to capture the manufacturing process. A quality engineer will analyze the tapes to identify areas in the process that create inefficiencies or excess waste, both in terms of materials and workers' time.

Process and manufacturing engineers might make between $65,000 and $75,000. With a certification in lean manufacturing and a few years' experience, they can command pay hikes of between 15 percent and 20 percent if they choose to switch jobs.

A plant manager making between $90,000 and $120,000 may expect to get a 10 percent raise or more.correction

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that .NET developers can make between $75,000 and $85,000 in major cities "when they're starting out." In fact, that's the salary range they can command after a few years on the job during which they become expert in using .NET. (Return to story.)


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