By Joyce Lain Kennedy

Ten years ago I changed careers from public relations to teaching because I though it would be more secure. I very much like working with children but was laid off in June. Fortunately, my husband's job has been solid -- but who knows? I'm expecting to be recalled for the next school year, but I'm not sure if I want go back to more job insecurity. I'm considering enrolling in an occupational therapy program. Advice? -- B.B.

You've experienced the myth of recession-proof teaching and what can happen when school funding is down. Is anyone seriously forecasting a turnaround anytime soon in state budget cuts and layoffs across the country? I don't think so.

Your intended destination, occupational therapy, is a good job-security choice and, at root, it's education in a different setting with different pupils.

But will you like working with individuals who have health issues as well as you like working with students? A self-employed construction contractor once gave me a good example of why anyone needs answers to unknowns before committing resources.

In explaining why he preferred to bid on tenant improvements in new building shells rather than estimate the cost of renovations in older buildings, the contractor explained that it's because "You never know what to expect behind the walls." Find out what's behind the walls in occupational therapy.

DEAR JOYCE: I hear about the many job opportunities in the healthcare industry, but I don't know exactly what they are. The information I've seen is fuzzy. I would like to check out what types of healthcare jobs might be available to me, with or without additional education or training. Where can I find out the real deal? -- T.R.T.

For free (your tax dollars at work), you can uncover what you need to know by reading the just-published 2010-2011 edition of the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook (the fountainhead of all career facts and figures collected in this nation) by jumping online to

The new OOH edition includes a number of industry career guides that will save you hours of online searching to locate career possibilities that intrigue you. No marketing. No hype. Just the data you need that's been assembled by DOL's meticulous staff. You'll especially want to see the Healthcare Career Guide, visible at

-- The Guide notes that 10 of the nation's 20 fastest-growing occupations are healthcare-related.

-- Healthcare employment will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs by 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population.

-- Pay in the healthcare sector is expected to increase 22 percent through 2018, compared with 11 percent for all industries combined.

-- Forty healthcare occupations are identified, each of which is more fully described in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Useful resources follow, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs at

DEAR JOYCE: How would I get a job captioning TV programs? Does it pay well? -- G.V.

Broadcast captioners are trained in court-reporting schools, often for as long as four years, with tuition costs of $12,000 or more per year, not including equipment. You can study online. Captioning is a niche in the profession of court reporter. Certification and licensure may be required.

Pay depends on the type of reporting job, the reporter's experience and level of certification, and region of the country. Although a captioner in California can earn six figures annually, court reporters in general have median annual wages of about $50,000.

Get lots more info from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, search for court reporter. Also check out: National Court Reporters Association,, and National Verbatim Reporters Association,

A friend, Sharon Lemke, is a captioner -- she loves the job!


Teaching Jobs Not Necessarily Recession-proof | Jobs & Careers

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