Career Mission: Find a Better Job

With every new year, changing jobs often tops the list of personal resolutions.

But with so many career paths to choose from, which offer the greatest opportunities?

From civil engineers to regulatory affairs associates, tomorrowís hot jobs are within your reach.

According to the U.S. Department of Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional and related occupations are projected to grow faster and add more jobs than any other major occupational group, with 6 million new jobs by 2014.

Among the up-and-coming occupations, professional and technical industries such as engineering, healthcare and science are expected to produce the majority of jobs in the year to come.

For those in engineering, companies in the Southwest region of the United States, particularly the Gulf Coast are gearing up for projects scheduled to commence in early 2008.

Civil engineers and designers with chemical and petrochemical expertise remain highly sought after. These professionals can expect a salary range of $80,000 to $130,000, depending on experience.

The healthcare industry has been experiencing a nationwide shortage of professionals for many years.

Aside from the obvious nursing shortage, another area where recruiters canít keep up with the demand is for physical therapists. Therapists typically have a four-year degree and can make upward of $90,000 per year.

Prior clinical experience is often preferred in potential candidates, but because of the demand, companies are accepting graduates right out of college.

But itís not just the jobs that are hot.

If youíve got the right skill sets, your chances of landing that dream job practically double.

When it comes to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device markets, those who can pair technical know-how with soft skills like negotiation and effective communication are viewed as an invaluable asset in the workplace.

For example, there has been an increased demand for validation and regulatory affairs professionals, who can make between $60,000 and $125,000. These individuals often serve as the liaison between the manufacturer and regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.

Not only have these professionals mastered the scientific skills needed for the job, they also encompass the characteristics of a strong, well-rounded leader.

"Technical skills, paired with interpersonal skills make for a powerful combination. Candidates with in-demand skill sets will continue to experience a robust job market and can expect to set their own pay scales," says Steve Armstrong, senior vice president, Technical Services, Kelly Services.

Often, getting your foot in the door with a prospective employer is the hardest part of landing a job.

But some find that working with a staffing company helps them connect with the companies where many of these jobs exist.

"Sometimes, networking on your own will only take you so far. Working with a staffing company helped extend my reach and allowed me to leverage my professional knowledge and experience to a whole new audience," says Jim Jones, a contract planner and team leader with a major medical device manufacturer.