Top 16 careers for the future

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who knows from an early age what you want to do as a profession, then finding the perfect career path is often not an easy decision to make.

Always keep in mind that finding your dream job often comes after having a variety of experiences in different industries. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was a child, per se, but I’m fortunate to have stumbled into becoming a financial planner. It has by far been the job of my dreams and, thus far, the only real career job I’ve had.

The economy, social trends and technology have a great deal to do with jobs that are available. Keeping on top of career trends and areas that offer the most growth is one way to choose the path that will provide the most opportunity and stability. The following is a list of the 16 best career opportunities in industries that are expected to see growth in the next few years. This list may motivate you to spruce up your résumé:

Human services: Careers can range anywhere from direct-care positions to social work, behavioral services or case management. The social service arena is anticipated to be one of the fastest-growing industries in years to come. Many entry-level human services jobs may not require a degree, whereas more specialized areas such as case management or behavioral services will require some formal education.

It is no secret that most human services jobs are not get-rich-quick careers, but they may offer other perks and benefits that can offset salary, making the industry an excellent long-term career choice.

Personal care aid: An essential position in many organizations that provide social or medical services. Looking into opportunities at local agencies will often yield many job opportunities. While entry-level positions may not pay a lot to start, there are often promotional opportunities, training programs, tuition reimbursement and low-cost health insurance that offer great benefits to employees. If helping people is up your alley, taking a closer look into this type of job may open the door to a perfect career fit. The need for personal care aids is one field that offers job security, regardless of the changing economy.

Information technology (IT): Technology changes so quickly that most businesses, large and small, need someone who knows their stuff to keep up with the inner workings of computer systems, networks and troubleshooting. All businesses use some form of technology to function on a daily basis. IT workers are behind the scenes in almost every arena, from human services to schools, banks and libraries. The skills necessary to work in this field do not always require a degree. Some organizations may not advertise for IT positions, so you may need to do a little digging or cold calling to find out where these best-kept secret positions may be available.

Keeping your web site updated and building that new computer system for your brother may come in handy on your résumé when it’s time to find your perfect IT position.

Medical professionals: The term "medical professional" encompasses a wide spectrum of careers, from a certified nurse’s aide to a lab technician, or medical transcriptionist to physician’s assistant or doctor. Much like the human services arena, getting your foot in the door for an entry-level position may lead to other more lucrative opportunities in the medical arena. The medical field is one of the fastest-growing fields today and is anticipated to remain one of the highest-paying and most in need of qualified workers.

Registered nurse (RN): The need for medical services is expected to grow as life expectancy has increased, and the trend toward healthy living continues. RN’s are among those jobs expected to be in high demand over the next 10 years, and the need for them never seems to subside. RN’s, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse’s aides and home-health aide positions will continue to offer job opportunities in home care, at doctors’ offices, hospitals and human services agencies.

Work-at-home opportunities: It seems there is no end to advertisements for work-at-home opportunities. In fact, the option to work from home or telecommute either full time or part time is becoming more popular, even in traditional business models. The idea of working in your pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand and no boss seems quite desirable to many people. While there are many viable work-at-home opportunities, it is essential to do your homework before entering into any such arrangement. Medical transcription, freelance writing and photography, travel agent, typing and editing are a few of the common work-at-home opportunities that exist.

Management positions: These exist in every career arena. Where there are people to manage, there must be a manager. If organizing a team and supervising the day-to-day operations of a business, store or project appeals to you, a management position may be a good choice. There are endless possibilities for skilled managers in every facet of the workforce. The service industry, fast food chains and local supermarkets often advertise for managers on a regular basis. This is a great stepping stone to gain management experience at a decent rate of pay. Many fast food restaurants also offer management training programs or on-the-job training.

While a job at a fast food chain may not be your ultimate goal, many people over the years have used this as a stepping stone to build skills and make money; others have turned it into a lifelong career.

Landscaping and design: If you dream of working outside in the fresh air or helping people make the perfect flower selection for their perennial garden, the landscape industry offers many opportunities to grow your "green thumb." From the corner farm stand to nurseries and area greenhouses to owning your own company, opportunities to work in the industry are endless.

Landscape design and lawn-care careers can range from mowing lawns to designing flower beds at a golf course. As more work and family demands are placed upon people, homeowners will often hire out when it comes time to designing the front yard landscape, or putting tulips around the pool for a family picnic. Depending on where you live, this position may be seasonal.

Travel and tourism: Regardless of the economy, everyone loves to travel and most people enjoy it even more when someone else does the planning. Working in the travel and tourism industry may mean being a travel agent, organizing group tours at a local museum or being a hotel manager. Certain areas of the industry may require some level of specialized training that can be obtained through a degree program or by gaining entry-level experience. This type of career is often overlooked but has potential in terms of salary, flexibility and advancement opportunities.

Health and fitness: A career in this field can encompass a variety of job opportunities. Working at a health club or gym, teaching a class, or becoming a personal trainer are among a few possibilities that provide experiences for future career moves. Becoming certified to teach a fitness class such as cardio-kickboxing, zumba or karate can often be lucrative as well as fun.

Health and fitness services are in high demand as society strives to be healthier. Corporations, insurance companies and even small businesses, often offer incentives for their workers to get fit and be healthy. A healthy lifestyle leads to fewer medical expenses for employers and also opens up the door for many employment possibilities.

Website design: Businesses without websites are at a disadvantage in today’s society. Being able to design, build and maintain websites is a service that is and will continue to be in high demand. While it may not be advertised as readily as other positions, it is a necessity for most businesses to have a resource for website management. This is often a position that can be done on a contractual basis, or in a full-time capacity.

Transportation careers: We should not forget all of the job opportunities that lie within the area of transportation. From flight attendant to taxi driver, to manager of the local bus station, the transportation arena offers many career choices. Many of these opportunities are often behind the scenes. The need for alternative transportation will increase as gas prices increase and people travel farther from home for work and pleasure. Many positions in transportation offer non-traditional hours and flexibility, as well as an opportunity for growth.

Retail positions: The retail and service industry is expected to see growth in the years to come, offering a wide range of retail jobs from front-counter work to production manager to floor sales. It is expected that, as the economy recovers, retail careers may be at the top of the list of fastest-growing jobs. While this may not seem like a lucrative career out of the gate, many retail positions offer growth opportunities, job security, the ability to travel and the chance make a good commission.

Construction and trade jobs: The construction industry is expected to see growth over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, it is not expected to bounce back to where it was before the recession. But the need for construction and specialized trade workers is certainly making a comeback, which opens up a wide range of job opportunities.

As the economy recovers, businesses and individuals look to do expansions, home improvements and renovations, so this industry is expected to see a steady rate of increase. A career in construction or a specialized trade such as carpentry, masonry, plumbing, heating and building can offer many opportunities for those with varying levels of education, experience and training.

Administrative support positions: All offices need omeone to support the day-to-day operations such as taking calls, filing, organizing meetings, preparing reports and managing routine tasks. It is expected that this type of career will see a growth spurt, offering an array of promising job opportunities in the upcoming years. As technology advances and businesses have to trim expenses, having someone to organize operations is essential for business success.

Financial services: It’s a pretty well-known fact that in the financial services industry, many advisors are getting older with a shortfall of younger advisors to take their place. Families will always be in need of financial planning and insurance services and, most importantly, a trusted individual to help them out. While competition will be fierce, there will be plenty of opportunities with independent firms and life insurance companies for aspiring advisors to get their feet in the door.