Most lists of "best" careers are based mainly on U.S. Department of Labor information. That is inadequate for determining the growing careers of 2013 for a number of reasons:
- Often the information was collected years ago.
- Some of the information is supplied by each field's professional association, which has an interest in making the career appear desirable.
- Department of Labor reports offer only objective statements. Not everything important can be reduced to an objective fact.
I developed this list of the best growing careers in 2013 -- by combining both facts and my educated hunches. Of course, none of these careers might be right for you, so consider this best-careers list as merely one stop on your search for a well-suited career.
Physician Assistant. ObamaCare will put 40 million more Americans plus 11 million illegals (after "comprehensive immigration reform") on the covered health care rolls. There aren't enough physicians to go around, so more care will be provided by physician assistants. PA training is much shorter and less expensive, pay approaches six figures, and PAs get to do most of what physicians do, indeed, the things likely to yield happy endings: wellness exams, preliminary diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.
Genetic Counselor. Over the course of a genetic counselor's career, the genetic bases for ever more diseases will be discovered. As a result, genetic counselors will be in ever greater demand, for example, to help couples make decisions such as, "You have a 25 percent chance of passing on the genes for alcoholism. Do you want to get pregnant?"
Optometrist. Optometrists are halfway between the ophthalmologist who does most eye surgery and the optician who helps you pick out frames and makes your glasses. Optometrists are the ones who keeps asking you, "Better with lens 1 or 2?" and before long, you can't tell, making you feel like an idiot. But optometrists are far from idiots. Four years post-bachelors and you have status, six-figure income, and get to be called doctor but are unlikely to get an emergency call in the middle of the night, "Dr Eyeball, I need new contact lenses, now!" But you are likely to have a high percentage of satisfied customers: Optometrists "cure" a high percentage of their patients.
Audiologist. Audiologists are the ear equivalent of optometrists except that it's only three-years post-bachelor's until they can call you "doctor." And today's new smaller, computerized hearing aids, which not only improve hearing but relieve tinnitus, are more likely to make your patients happy. And, indeed, you are likely to have patients, thanks to the aging boomer bubble.
Orthodontist. Those braces and rubber bands may cost the orthodontist a pittance, but the labor rate is substantial. Average reported pay is over $200,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another plus: orthodontist is one of the few professions in which your patients see you frequently over months, even years, so you can develop a relationship. A minus? Lots of school: three years of dental school followed by two to three of orthodontic training. You have to install a lot of braces and rubber bands to pay for all that.
Tutor. K-12 standards are ratcheting up. For example, see the Common Core Standards, which are guiding many states; I no doubt couldn't pass them all. So tutors will likely grow in demand. And tutoring is a particularly rewarding form of teaching because, one-on-one, you can easily individualize and develop relationships impossible to make if you're teaching 25 students at a time, let alone five periods of 25 per period. That's not to say that tutoring is a piece of cake. It's actually quite an art.
College Counselor. Colleges hire college counselor-types to woo students to their college. Parents and some schools hire counselors to help kids find and get into a well-suited college. Self-employed college counselors provide more comprehensive guidance. NACAC, a strong professional organization, helps prepare you. Neat niche: With the incomprehensibly high cost of college: financial aid counseling.
Health Informatician. Doctors and nurses are turning to computers to aid in diagnosis and treatment. Computers are also being used to share information among the health care team about individual patients and, more broadly, about what's working and not in curing the panoply of diseases. Computers also increasingly improve information flow between clinician and patient. The health informatician, part IT specialist, part medical person, part human factors/interface specialist, is a wizard behind it all.
Program Analyst. In this government job, you or your team designs, plans, and/or evaluates innovative programs--from the latest effort to close the achievement gap to a project to reduce energy usage in government buildings. Often, only a bachelor's degree is required. And like most government jobs, even post-fiscal cliff spending deals are unlikely to cut into the enticing combination of good salary and generous benefits, plus ample days off: holidays, vacation days, and sick days. Thank you, taxpayer!
Data Analyst. Ever more business decisions are based on analyzing who buys what, when, and how. Database analysts mine the often unimaginably large datasets to provide that information. Neat Niche: social media data analyst. Your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blog posts hold abundant information about your buying habits. Personally, I don't mind companies knowing mine -- I'd much rather see ads personalized to me than, for example, commercials for Tampax.
Auditor. Another of President Obama's priorities is to increase hiring of auditors as overseers of corporations and to increase IRS tax collections. That will make the job market robust for this subset of accounting.
Counterterrorism Specialist. Alas, it's difficult to foresee a situation in which demand for counterterrorism experts will decline. The military, FBI, CIA and other federal agencies will likely continue to hire, especially people with Middle Eastern language and cultural competence.
Firefighter. In most major cities, firefighters receive solid, well-benefited pay. Some of that is to compensate for the periodic heroics, but firefighters do spend a lot of time just hanging out at the firehouse. And job security is maximum. Whenever government pushes for a tax hike, it trots out, "If you don't vote for the tax increase, we'll have to cut police and fire services." And voila, the tax is approved and the police and firefighters maintain their jobs.
Handyperson. The everyone-to-college push and the growing implication that that blue-collar workers are second-class citizens is leaving America short of handypersons. When I tell my friends I have a good handyman, their eyes widen: "Would you give me their name and phone number?"
Landscape Architect. Whether it's building an amusement park or a corporate park, restoring a wetland or a disaster-destroyed suburb, or even matching the exterior of a mini-mansion to its upscale interior, landscape architects combine artistry with science and is one of the few professions in which you spend significant time both indoors and outdoors.
Home Stager. The real estate market may be beginning to rebound and that means more homes on the market. In recent years, home stagers have become a de rigueur part of preparing a home for sale: Move out the moose head; move in the inoffensive but attractive decor.
Energy Engineer. Whether figuring out how to make solar more than a bit-player in the energy solution, wringing more mileage from a gallon of gas, or creating or operating safer nuclear plants, this is a particularly viable and critical technical profession.
Crane Operator. If you were one of those kids who loved to play with farm machinery or even just were fascinated by Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, you might consider this career, one of blue collars' best-paying: Union crane operators make well into six figures.
Harbor Pilot. (sometimes called maritime pilot.) If you were impressed by crane operators' pay, wait 'til you hear what the typical harbor pilot makes: $200,000 to $400,000 a year. And it's not exactly hazard pay: Your job is, on a boat, to shepherd large ships into port. No surprise, it's even more difficult to land a job as a harbor pilot than as a crane operator.
International Business Developer. A number of economies are growing faster than that of the U.S., notably in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Corporations capitalize on that by using business developers to expand operations and to create joint ventures and licensing agreements.
Mobile Retailer. Bricks-and-mortar stores are expensive. Online stores face worldwide competition. Those aren't a problem with cart- and truck-based businesses, for example, an espresso cart or flower stand in a high-foot-traffic location. If one outlet doesn't generate enough income, clone it until it does. Worried about lack of status? You can tell your friends you're the president and CEO of Bloomies, a chain of florists with branches throughout Chicagoland.