Find out which careers are currently experiencing strong hiring rates. Then see how you can prepare to get in on the action.
Want to change careers? Perhaps you're looking to return to the work force after a break. Either way, we have good news: There are a variety of hot careers that are hiring now.
"I'm seeing many people getting more opportunities and even multiple job offers," says Cynthia Shapiro, a career expert and author of "What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here!"
In fact, employers expect to hire over 10 percent more new graduates from the graduating class of 2012 than they did from the class of 2011, according to the National Association of College and Employers' (NACE) "Job Outlook 2012 Spring Update."
And the increase in jobs isn't just isolated to a single location or industry. "It's happening all across America, in a wide variety of industries," adds Shapiro.
Here's a sampling of five hot careers that are hiring now. Keep reading to learn more about why - and how you can get prepped to pursue one.
Career #1 - Medical AssistantGot organizational skills, an attention to detail, and an interest in the medical field? If so, a career in medical assisting could be a good fit.
Medical assistants often help a doctor's office run smoothly, and could do everything from filing patients' paperwork and scheduling appointments to measuring vital signs and sterilizing medical instruments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Hot Factors: From 2010 to 2020, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow by 31 percent, faster than the average for all occupations, says the Department of Labor. Job demand could stem from physicians wanting to hire more medical assistants to complete routine administrative and clinical duties, adds the Department.
"Medical assistants can do some of the work a doctor can do at a lower cost - and that saves companies and medical offices money," says Hallie Crawford, an Atlanta-based career coach and founder of Create Your Career Path, a career coaching firm.
Education Options: Although medical assistants can learn on the job, some employers may prefer candidates with formal education, says the Department. Such programs could include a certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting.
Career # 2 - ParalegalDon't want to go through law school but still fascinated by the legal system? Good news, you don't have to spend the time and money on law school to get into the legal field.
Paralegals lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They might even get to research case law and write legal documents and arguments.
Hot Factors: The paralegal field could see its employment grow by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, says the Department of Labor. Following cutbacks during the recent recession, some law firms are rebuilding their support staff by hiring paralegals, adds the Department.
"Paralegals can do things a lawyer can do for a lower cost, so it's necessary to have them readily available," says Crawford.
Education Options: An associate's degree in paralegal studies is one common route to preparing for a paralegal career, according to the Department. If you already have a bachelor's degree, look into earning a certificate in paralegal studies.
Career #3 - AccountantAre you good with numbers and don't mind balancing your checkbook? As an accountant, you could put your math skills to good use by helping others with their finances.
Working with companies, individual clients, or even the government, an accountant could help clients prepare, analyze, and verify the accuracy of their financial documents, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some accountants might even offer budget analysis and financial and investment planning.
Hot Factors: "Accountants are always in need, because the public will always need help with finances - not to mention, someone has to handle our taxes," says Shapiro.
The Department of Labor projects that job growth for accountants will hit 16 percent from 2010 to 2020. In addition, there appears to be an increased focus on accounting in response to corporate scandals and current financial crises, says the Department.
Education Options: Look into earning a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. According to the Department, most accountants have this credential.
Career # 4 - Public Relations SpecialistIf you enjoy reaching out to others and communication is one of your stronger skills, consider pursuing an in-demand career in public relations.
Working with clients - that could range from businesses, nonprofits associations, universities, or hospitals - public relations specialists can help their clients build and maintain positive relationships with the public, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Responsibilities might include writing press releases, speaking to media contacts, and planning PR programs.
Hot Factors: Employment for public relations specialists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, says the Department of Labor. Growth could be driven by the need for organizations to maintain their public image in this Internet age and with the growth of social media, adds the Department.
"Companies need well-qualified people that understand social media," says Shapiro. "Some companies are hiring in-house positions, while others are hiring outside companies to manage their communications."
Education Options: A bachelor's degree in a communications-related field like public relations, journalism, or communications is generally required to prepare to pursue a career as a public relations specialist, according to the Department.
Career # 5 - Computer Software DeveloperIf you have a knack for understanding the "ins and outs" of computers - and the programs that run on them - a career in software development could be a good fit for you.
With the opportunity to create different types of software, from video games to word processors, software developers could be in charge of a software program's whole development process, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They're also the ones to fix or improve the computer program if an error occurs.
Hot Factors: The Department of Labor projects 30 percent job growth for software developers from 2010 to 2020.
"Job demand for computer software engineers is on the rise because our economy relies so much on the software these engineers develop and maintain," says Crawford.
Education Options: Look into earning a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering. According to the Department, this is the typical credential of software developers.