If you're in the market for a new job, why not go the creative route?
There are plenty of jobs where creativity and fresh ideas can make you stand out – and many of them are still in demand despite the recession. The following list provides a mix of in-demand gigs and (hopefully) soon-to-bounce back options for you.
Here's a look at some of the best-paying jobs that require a creative mind:
1. Computer security specialist
Computer programmers who detect and resolve security breaches need to stay one step ahead of computer hackers seeking to steal information, says career-change specialist David Couper, owner of Transitions Coaching in Los Angeles. Often, they must work with older computer systems that companies have yet to replace, finding workarounds that will keep data secure.
"You've got to come up with creative ways of dealing with problems," Couper says. "It's highly paid because it's more strategic than other programming jobs."
Median annual salary: $77,561 per year
2. Project manager
This managerial job is found in many industries, and requires more than good organization skills. Beyond creating charts and graphs to track progress, Couper says, project managers need great people skills, as they will have to motivate people to work efficiently. A project manager needs to be well-rounded, with a variety of abilities that will help keep the project on track.
"Good project managers understand people and come up with creative ways of dealing with things," Couper says.
Median annual salary: $62,108
3. Product manager
The product manager helps design packaging and create the brand for new products, as well as reposition old goods to catch consumers' attention again. Skills needed include color, design and marketing savvy, and an understanding of consumer behavior and trends, says Toronto-based certified resume specialist Karen Siwak of Resume Confidential.
"Think of a perfume bottle," she says. "This person is determining the shape, the color, the name of that scent."
Median annual salary: $60,655
Mediation requires knowledge of the law, but also an ability to find creative solutions between two parties who are so polarized in their views that they're ready to sue each other in court.
"It's part acting," Couper notes. "Not letting on who you think might be right, and part listening carefully to people and being in the moment with them. You need to get to the real problem, and then come up with possible answers people haven't thought of yet."
Median annual salary: $57,273
5. Instructional designer
Career coach Couper held this job in the past, and says it's a little-known bastion of creativity. Designers need to create educational texts that draw in the student and make them want to learn the material, whether they are young or old.
"I once did one [project] about acquiring communication skills for interviewing suspects," he says, "and we did it as a murder mystery."
Median annual salary: $56,878
6. Home stager
These specialty interior designers work with realtors to spruce up cluttered or poorly decorated homes to help them sell faster, says Toronto-based certified resume strategist Karen Siwak of Resume Confidential. Home stagers either move existing furniture around and declutter or fill an empty home with furniture. They often purchase and provide some of their own décor items to enhance a home's look. Their work requires a flair for design and space planning, combined with an understanding of consumer behavior and neighborhood tastes. Every home is different, offering plenty of opportunity for creative problem-solving.
Median annual salary: $50,000-$60,000*
7. Finish carpenter
Finish carpenters are the creative woodworkers who design and install moldings, cabinetry and other final touches that give a home or public building its unique character.
"The job combines aesthetic sensibilities and design capabilities with conventional carpentry skills," says Steve Kindel, author of the upcoming book Skill Sets: Land a Better Job by Understanding and Maximizing Your Abilities.
Median annual salary: $51,202**
Business writer Carol Tice is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times and other major publications. Contact her at caroltice.com.
* Salary range for home stager with 5-8 years of experience provided by Shell Broadnax, CEO, Real Estate Staging Association.
** Salary listed is for the upper 25% of carpenters due to finish carpenter's higher skill level.
Source: All salary data, except for home stager income, is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.