Jada A. Graves

Here are six careers that should provide plenty of job openings.

For many people, the new year sparks fresh interest in finding a new job. Some are just looking to switch workplaces, but others are hoping to start or change careers. So where are the jobs?

According to Tig Gilliam, CEO of staffing and recruiting firm Adecco Group North America, they aren't within the government, nor are they in construction. Key indicators of those sectors' slackened openings include post office closures and a long-suffering housing market, says Gilliam. However, highly specialized professions, particularly in the healthcare, information technology, and finance industries, should provide a wide-range of employment opportunities. "These sectors have fared well throughout the recession and are poised for growth in the year ahead," Gilliam says. "Finance, mortgage-related, and accounting jobs will show growth based on low interest rates and homeowners opting to refinance."

The Labor Department's projections on the fastest-growing occupations corroborate Gilliam's predictions. According to the Labor Department's findings, here are six careers that should provide plenty of job openings.

1. Accountant

Accountants are in especially high demand in April. But throughout the year, large firms require the assistance of public accountants to prepare, analyze, and verify financial documents. The Labor Department projects that more than 279,000 accounting positions are available.

One pleasant perk:

Many accountants are their own bosses. The Labor Department estimates that 8 percent of those in the profession are self-employed.

How to nab an accounting job:

You'll need a bachelor's degree. For the best job prospects, you should also take and pass the exam to become a certified public accountant, or CPA, which has its own educational requirements. You might also gain a competitive edge if you have a master's degree in accounting or business administration.

2. Registered Nurse

Caring for others could be considered more of a calling than a career. Still, the Labor Department includes registered nurses on its list of professions that will continue to hire plenty of workers in the coming years -- an estimated 582,000 nursing jobs will need to be filled. One reason demand remains high is because of the profession's exhaustive number of specializations, which include variances in work setting, medical treatment type, particular diseases, and particular organs.

One pleasant perk:

Most RNs work in hospitals, but the Labor Department estimates that 40 percent of employed nurses provide care in homes, schools, and community centers. Those healthcare professionals are likely to keep normal business hours.

How to nab a nursing job:

There are three ways to become a nurse. The least common method involves enrollment in a hospital-administered diploma program that lasts for three years. Another route is to pursue an associate degree in nursing at a community or junior college. For more in-depth training and potentially better job prospects and pay, you might consider the third option: pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing at a four-year college. If you already hold a bachelor's degree, you could opt for an accelerated Bachelor's of Science in Nursing program that takes about 18 months to complete.

3. Computer Systems Analyst

The need for well-trained, information technology professionals is apparent, given our digitized society. People who choose a career in this field are problem solvers whose responsibilities entail building, matching, or fixing a computer system to meet the needs of their clients. Those clients could range from corporations to laid-back Internet start-ups. There should be as many as 108,000 computer systems analyst openings.

One pleasant perk:

Computer systems analysts and other IT professionals with advanced specialized knowledge or experience can parlay their skills into independent consulting or may start their own business.

How to nab an analyst job:

Most computer systems analysts have at least a bachelor's degree in a technical field like computer science, mathematics, or even engineering. And a complementary graduate degree is preferred for many companies looking to hire in the profession. For example, analysts who work in a corporate setting often pursue a master's degree in business administration.

4. Social Worker

Social workers help people to cope with significant transitions in their lives, like the adoption of a child, the loss of a parent, or the adjustment to sobriety from substance abuse. For the next few years, these types of professionals will be in demand throughout the country, particularly those who specialize in medical and public health (also known as clinical social work). According to the Labor Department, there should be more than 103,000 new positions for social workers and nearly 58,000 of those are healthcare positions.

One pleasant perk:

You could increase your marketability by focusing on a specific niche. Examples include family, child, and school social workers who specialize in deaf children, or clinical social workers who administer to cancer patients.

How to nab a social worker job:

The minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field like psychology and sociology. An increasing number of social workers also hold a master's degree, particularly those who do clinical work. After basic courses are completed, social workers must obtain licensure, granted from sitting exams and practicing a certain number of supervised hours of fieldwork.

5. Dental Hygienist

Of course dental hygienists clean teeth. But they have a handful of additional duties that vary by state. Some hygienists can place fillings, others can administer local anesthetics, and still others remove sutures. All hygienists strive to help educate patients about the best practices for brushing and flossing their teeth and gums, however. And according to the Labor Department, there should be more than 62,000 positions to fill in this profession.

One pleasant perk:

This could be an ideal occupation for someone who requires a flexible schedule. The Labor Department reports that approximately half of all dental hygienists work part time.

How to nab a hygienist job:

Aspiring hygienists must study at an accredited dental hygiene program. Those who work in a private office have at least earned an associate degree within their program. Bachelor's and master's degrees are also offered, with which a hygienist could choose to do research or teach. And similar to dentists, hygienists must be licensed by the state in which they practice.

6. Sales Manager / Sales Representative

This profession requires a cool head and a competitive spirit. Sales representatives and their managers are customer service representatives in the most basic sense, seeing as they make sure to keep their paying clients happy and loyal. But they also are charged with bringing in new customers to meet and improve their bottom line. Those in the managerial role are often still salespeople, but they also have the charge to hire, fire, and motivate their team to exceed expectations.

One pleasant perk:

While it could be difficult to obtain a sales job and rise in the ranks without a bachelor's degree, it's not impossible. Experience, plus strong communication and sales skills, could serve you just as well in your career.

How to nab a sales job:

As mentioned, many sales representatives and managers have a bachelor's degree. Good word-of-mouth also helps, as many people working in this industry completed an internship at the firm where they were eventually hired. Those who are managers most likely ascended through the ranks.

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