6 Thriving Jobs That Are Here to Stay

Even in a turbulent economy there’s hope for sustained employment in careers that stand the test of time. The downturn means an opportunity for those who want to return to school to increase their skills and earning power — or for those who are training for their first job.

In any recession, the outcome often means the job market reshapes itself, with in-demand careers rising to the top. Job titles may change, but professionals with key skill sets will continue to thrive in careers with staying power.

If you’re looking for career training, a college degree, or certification courses to qualify for a profession with legs, here are six careers to consider:

Alternative Energy Engineers

Green is good. And engineers with specializations in environmental sciences will find themselves valued in today’s and tomorrow’s economy. You’ll be designing solutions for issues of global warming, waste water and air pollution, outdated fossil fuel energy systems, and excessive carbon footprints.

Join the ranks of environmental engineers with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Or, if you’re an engineer, take a master’s degree in environmental studies or advanced engineering. Job growth is predicted at 25 percent between 2006 and 2016, and the 2008 median annual wage was $74,020.

Registered Nurses

Registered nursing tops the health-care occupations with the greatest number of total jobs (2.5 million). Openings are expected to rise 23 percent from 2006 to 2016. Recent news reports say that 116,000 jobs for registered nurses are currently open in hospitals, with another 100,000 unfilled positions at nursing homes. An additional 587,000 new jobs are predicted to open, which makes nursing the single-largest occupation in terms of career growth.

Prepare to land an opening by completing an online associate or bachelor’s degree program in nursing. The median 2008 annual wage for registered nurses was $62,450, with top earnings at $92,240.


People who count money and help others prepare for taxation have been around forever. Job growth is projected at 18 percent between 2006 and 2016.

To join this nearly-bulletproof profession, complete an online bachelor’s degree in accounting. To increase your earning potential, take national exams to qualify as a certified public accountant. In 2008, the median annual wage was $59,430, with accountants in the top-earning bracket drawing $102,380.


Lawyers are bound to last the economic shakedown, but they’re having trouble handling the workload. That’s why paralegals are increasingly brought into private practice, government organizations, and corporate legal departments to shoulder the research and paperwork duties. Projections show a 22 percent increase in paralegals during the 2006-2016 decade.

There are online associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs that qualify paralegals to enter the law office and courthouse. Earnings are rising, too. The median 2008 annual wage for paralegals was $46,120, with the top 10 percent taking home $73,450.

Physician Assistants

Health-care professions are on the rise. The employment of physician assistants is projected to grow by 27 percent from 2006 to 2016. Physician assistants handle a great many medical procedures under the direct supervision of a doctor, including making diagnoses, conducting examinations, and taking medical histories.

The states and the District of Columbia require physician assistants to pass a physician assistant national certifying examination in addition to completing a two-year degree program. Employers are looking for candidates with bachelor’s degrees and health-care experience. The median annual wage for physician assistants in 2008 was $81,230.

College Professors and Post-Secondary Teachers

The current generation of qualified educators is facing retirement. The U.S. Labor Department predicts a 23 percent increase in jobs for postsecondary teachers between 2006 and 2016. That means ample openings at trade schools, vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. Requirements vary by institution and subject matter.

At the university level, you’ll often need to complete a Ph.D. in your field. At community colleges, professors and instructors may only need a master’s degree to land a faculty position. In technical institutes, an undergraduate degree and on-the-job experience in your subject matter may suffice. Wages vary greatly, between $58,662 and $98,974.

Even in today’s uncertain economic climate, there are careers with resilience and a promising upside. While others may emerge out of the tumult, these six professions deserve consideration.

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