Despite laments nationwide over the sluggish economy and high unemployment rates, some fields are literally booming for community college graduates today. With decent starting salaries and higher than average growth predictions, many of these fields are the perfect professions for students of higher education to focus their studies. Many of the fastest growing jobs on the latest list can be entered with an associate degree
, giving graduates the best possible value for their education dollar
Home Health Aides
Home health aides
come into homes to help those who are disabled, ill or elderly. These professionals provide a wide range of services, from personal hygiene to light housekeeping. In some states, aides are allowed to administer medication or take vital signs as well. The role of the home health aide is imperative to those who want to be at home, but are unable to care for themselves completely. Although most visit patient homes, some work in group homes or care centers as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
, the average annual salary for a home health aide was $20,560 in 2010. The job opportunities are expected to grow by 69.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is well ahead of the national average for job growth. This profession typically does not require postsecondary education, although a two-year degree at a community college may increase employment prospects.
Those with a passion for four-legged patients may find their niche as a veterinary technician or technologists. These professionals work alongside veterinarians, performing diagnostic testing and assisting with the treatment of animals of all kinds. Veterinary technicians may work in private offices, clinics or animal hospitals, often serving as the link between doctors and pet owners.
cites statistics that show the profession of the veterinary technician is predicted to grow by 52 percent between 2010 and 2020, with more than 41,000 jobs adding during that time frame. The average annual salary for a veterinary technician in 2010 was nearly $30,000 per year, and an associate degree is the usual requirement for professionals to get their foot in the door of this profession.
Physical Therapist Assistants
The job of a physical therapist assistant
is a crucial one for helping patients get back on their feet after an injury or surgery. These professionals work directly with physical therapists to oversee exercises and other rehabilitative activities that help patients regain mobility and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants might work in nursing homes, hospitals or outpatient facilities, interacting directly with patients on a daily basis.
The Huffington Post
cites job growth for physical therapist assistants to be between 44 and 45 percent. The publication also recommends an associate degree as the proper preparation for this career. Physical therapist assistants had a median annual wage of $49,690 in 2010.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
Another profession that involves helping patients become independent once again is the occupational therapist assistant. This health care pro works with patients dealing with injuries, disability or recovery from surgery to regain the ability to do basic daily tasks like bathing and cooking. The work is typically done in a hospital, nursing center or outpatient care facility, although some may travel to patients’ homes as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth in this field will increase by more than 43 percent between 2010 and 20120. The annual average income for an occupational therapist assistant in 2010 was $27,430.
is another career option that can begin with a two-year degree from the local community college. This field offers professionals the chance to interact with dental patients through education, examinations and other preventative dental care. In some states, dental hygienists are also able to help dentists with surgical procedures like extractions and root canals.
Job growth for dental hygienists is expected to increase at a rate of more than 37 percent between 2010 and 2020. The annual average salary for this field as of 2010 was $68,250. Most states require dental hygienists to have an associate degree and state licensure to practice in their field.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
The job of a diagnostic medical sonographer
is an interesting one that involves the use of special equipment to diagnose illnesses and conditions. Medical sonographers may work in hospitals, outpatient facilities or doctors’ offices. The job typically requires a two-year degree and possible certification to work in some offices.
The BLS predicts job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers to increase around 44 percent through the year 2020. The average annual wage for this position in 2010 was $64,380.
Skin Care Specialists
As the baby boomer generation continues to look for ways to fight the effects of aging, fields like skin care are in greater demand than ever before. The role of a skin care specialist
is to provide face and body treatments like Botox, skin peels and microdermabrasion procedures. Skin care specialists may work in day spas, medical spas or physician offices, and most begin their careers after earning an associate degree or certification in the cosmetology field
The New York Times
predicts that growth in the field of skin care will increase by 38 percent by the year 2018. According to the publication, the average annual salary for a skin care specialist may be $60,000 or more, depending on location and clientele.
Job growth is an important factor when choosing a career, and these fields are ahead of the pack in terms of predicted position increases. Check out your local community college to see which programs they offer from this list and start a whole new career today.