By Elizabeth T. Schoch
Will going back to school help your career? One way to find out is to research it.
In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the number of U.S. jobs would grow by 10.1 percent (or 15.3 million jobs) by 2018 - encouraging news for those who have focused on the lack of jobs in recent years.
Here are five jobs they've slated for growth:
1. Computer Software Engineer
If you want to design and develop software, computer software engineer jobs are among the fastest growing.
Requirements: At least a Bachelor's degree and relevant work experience, plus many employers require a Master's degree. To be prepared for this field, job seekers will need to know how to analyze users' needs, and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs.
2. Physician Assistant
The healthcare industry is the fastest-growing sector in the U.S., largely due to our aging population, with more than three million new healthcare jobs projected to open up. Many healthcare jobs are expected to grow by 30 to 50 percent.
The need for Physician Assistants (PAs) will grow by more than 40 percent. A PA practices medicine while under the guidance of a physician or surgeon, and opportunities should be plentiful, especially among inner-city and rural facilities.
Requirements: To obtain a license, a PA must complete an accredited program and pass a national examination. In order to be admitted to a training program, you will likely need a college degree, plus experience working in a health-related field.
Many librarians are expected to retire in the near future, creating job openings. The librarian's role has changed greatly with advancements in technology. They continue to assist students and patrons find the information they need, but often they perform online research and use digital resources. They also classify and order materials for the library.
Requirements: In order to become employed in most librarian positions, a Master's degree in library science is required. To work in a school library, you also need to obtain a state teaching license. The requirements for school librarians vary from state to state.
Read Liz's Story
Changing careers was the best thing I could have done - professionally and personally. For the first time in my life, I had focus and motivation. I feel blessed to have landed in this niche for which I am uniquely suited. Who knew that I would delight in spending my days with middle school students, sharing my love of reading and language? In the same way, I have grown by being a mother, being a teacher has taught me more about humanity, increased my day-to-day happiness and has become a foundation for how I see life. I feel fortunate to have found this profession in time to enjoy it for years."
Liz L. made a career change in her early 40s and went back to school to get certified to teach. Upon receiving a Bachelor's degree from Colgate University, Liz spent the early part of her career in business and later as a stay-at-home mother.
With the growth of the U.S. population, school systems will require more teachers in the coming years. The need for primary, secondary and special education teachers is slated for the most growth, with an estimated 647,300 job openings in these areas. Retiring teachers will also need to be replaced.
Requirements: At least a Bachelor's degree to teach is required in most public schools, typically with a major in education, while some states require a Master's degree. In addition, you will need a teaching certificate and a license to teach. The requirements to be a teacher vary from state to state, so you will need to investigate what your particular state requires.
5. Loan Officer
The prospects for mortgage and consumer loan officer jobs good, but for commercial loan officers, they are excellent. Most loan officers (more than 90 percent) are employed by commercial banks, credit unions, savings institutions and related financial institutions.
Requirements: To become a loan officer, you are likely to need a high school diploma. Most loan officers are trained on the job, both through corporate training programs and less formally. To become a commercial loan officer, you may need a bachelor's degree (most typically major in economics, finance or a related area). Many loan officers begin as a teller or customer service rep and advance through the ranks of a financial institution. A mortgage loan officer job requires a license (requiring 20+ hours of coursework, followed by passing a written exam and a background check). You cannot have been convicted of a felony to be a mortgage loan officer.
Time, money and effort spent on additional schooling or training can pay off, both in dollars and in personal satisfaction. Meanwhile, job growth in these fields and others can fuel your enthusiasm along the way.