Predictably, technology jobs top the list, with network systems and data communications analyst and software engineer in the top four. Technology is still a rapidly growing field, and computer specialists continue to be needed by a wide range of businesses.
Health care also continues to lead in employment opportunities. Americans are living longer than ever, and health care aides and medical assistants are in particularly strong demand.
Also in the top five are veterinary technologists and technicians. The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that Americans spent $38.4 billion on their pets in 2006--that's more than double what they spent in 1994.
Personal financial advisors are also in demand, as more people are saving for their children's college education and for their own retirement.
Positions for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are surging. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes this to increased awareness and understanding of addiction, as well as more programs that send drug offenders to treatment programs.
One of the more unusual careers in the BLS's Top 10 is makeup artist. These professionals will be in demand as TV and movie productions find new markets in cable TV, abroad, and on the Internet.
Other hot fields include aviation, as low-cost carriers drive competition; and fitness, as more Americans adopt healthier, more active lifestyles.
In the following profiles, you'll meet working professionals in some top careers. Maybe one of these jobs will turn out to be perfect for you!
Matt Morgan * Website manager, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
How did you get started in this career?
I went to college to study oceanography, but I also did after-school work and summer work in computers. I took programming courses, and my master's degree involved a computer-modeling project. I decided that oceanography was what I love to know about, but computers were what I love to do.
Hardly anyone I've worked with actually has a computer degree, although a lot of colleges now have specific programs in network and computer administration. Having a technical skill can be the ticket to having a good career in a place you like.
I've been an environmentalist since I was a little kid, so it was
great that one of my first jobs was working as a network administrator and programmer at the Environmental Defense Fund. I put together its website and became the Webmaster. I then worked at the Brooklyn Museum as the IT manager, doing network administration and programming as well as website management. The museum is a cultural center for Brooklyn, and I felt like I was serving my community. Now at the Met, it's fantastic. Every day, I walk through the Greek and Roman galleries and see thousands of years of beautiful art. It's invigorating.
What do you love about your job?
I love computers. My department is responsible for making sure the website furthers the mission of the museum. We offer practical information about museum hours and cost, details on exhibits, information on the collection database, podcasting, blogs, and a little bit of video. There is a real sense of satisfaction putting something up online and knowing a lot of people are going to see it--last year, we had over 22 million visits to our website!
What advice would you give to students?
A lot of what we do is like a crossword puzzle--when you first start, it seems really complicated and you feel like you're never going to get done. The more you work on it, though, the clearer it becomes. You need patience and persistence to get through the problems and make things work. The notion that IT jobs are all about working alone is a misunderstanding--it's collaborating to get things done. You have to keep up with the latest software, but it's more important to know what people Need to do with the software. …