15 Best Jobs for the Future

Even in a tough economy, some professions have a bright outlook for 2010 and beyond. According to O*Net, an online tool for career exploration and job search, we may see strong hiring in a number of professions. O*Net groups professions into one of five job "zones" based on levels of education, experience, and training necessary to perform the occupation. Here's a sampling of professions trending upward in each of the five categories.

Zone 1: Little or no preparation

1. Food Preparation Workers

Job description: Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.

Sample job titles: dietary aide, prep cook, food service worker, food service aide, dietary assistant, nutrition aide, food preparer, pantry cook, slicer

Find a Job in Food Preparation >>

2. Landscaping and Grounds-keeping Workers

Job description: Landscape or maintain grounds of property using hand or power tools or equipment. Workers typically perform a variety of tasks, which may include any combination of the following: sod laying, mowing, trimming, planting, watering, fertilizing, digging, raking, sprinkler installation, and installation of mortarless segmental concrete masonry wall units.

Sample of job titles: groundskeeper, outside maintenance worker, gardener, greens keeper, grounds worker, grounds/maintenance specialist, utility worker, grounds supervisor

Find a Job in Landscaping >>

3. Construction Laborers

Job description: Perform tasks involving physical labor at building, highway, and heavy construction projects, tunnel and shaft excavations, and demolition sites. May operate hand and power tools of all types: air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and a variety of other equipment and instruments. May clean and prepare sites, dig trenches, set braces to support the sides of excavations, erect scaffolding, clean up rubble and debris, and remove asbestos, lead, and other hazardous waste materials. May assist other craft workers.

Sample of job titles: laborer, construction laborer, cement finisher, construction worker, helper, post framer, curb and gutter laborer, drain layer, drop crew laborer, punch out crew member

Find a Job in Construction >>

Zone 2: Some preparation needed

4. Animal Trainers

Job description: Train animals for riding, harness, security, performance, or obedience, or assisting persons with disabilities. Accustom animals to human voice and contact; and condition animals to respond to commands. Train animals according to prescribed standards for show or competition. May train animals to carry pack loads or work as part of pack team.

Sample of job titles: trainer, dog trainer, horse trainer, guide dog instructor, agility instructor, dog and cat behavior specialist, guide dog mobility instructor, licensed guide dog instructor

Find a Job in Animal Training >>

5. Bill and Account Collectors

Job description: Locate and notify customers of delinquent accounts by mail, telephone, or personal visit to solicit payment. Duties include receiving payment and posting amount to customer's account; preparing statements to credit department if customer fails to respond; initiating repossession proceedings or service disconnection; keeping records of collection and status of accounts.

Sample of job titles: collector, patient account representative, debt collector, account representative, collections manager, credit clerk, patient access specialist, telephone collector, accounts receivable specialist, biller

Find a Job as a Bill Collector >>

6. Customer Service Representatives

Job description: Interact with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints.

Sample of job titles: customer service representative, account manager, client services representative, account representative, customer service specialist, member services representative, hub associate, account service representative, call center representative

Find a Job in Customer Service >>

Zone 3: Medium preparation needed

7. Acute Care Nurses

Job description: Provide advanced nursing care for patients with acute conditions such as heart attacks, respiratory distress syndrome, or shock. May care for pre- and post-operative patients or perform advanced, invasive diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.

Sample of job titles: nurse manager, nursing director, progressive care unit registered nurse

Find a Job as an Acute Care Nurse >>

8. Correctional Officers and Jailers

Job description: Guard inmates in penal or rehabilitative institution in accordance with established regulations and procedures. May guard prisoners in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Includes deputy sheriffs and police who spend the majority of their time guarding prisoners in correctional institutions.

Sample of job titles: correctional officer, corrections officer, jailer, detention deputy, detention officer, correctional sergeant, deputy jailer, booking officer, public safety officer

Find a Job as a Correctional Officer >>

9. Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Job description: Provide high-level administrative support by conducting research, preparing statistical reports, handling information requests, and performing clerical functions such as preparing correspondence, receiving visitors, arranging conference calls, and scheduling meetings. May also train and supervise lower-level clerical staff.

Sample of job titles: administrative assistant, executive assistant, executive secretary, administrative secretary, office manager, administrative coordinator, administrative aide, administrative associate, secretary

Find a Job as an Executive Secretary >>

Zone 4: Considerable preparation needed

10. Accountants

Job description: Analyze financial information and prepare financial reports to determine or maintain record of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities within an organization.

Sample of job titles: accountant, certified public accountant, staff accountant, accounting manager, cost accountant, business analyst, financial reporting accountant

Find a Job in Accounting >>

11. Supply Chain Managers

Job description: Direct, or coordinate production, purchasing, warehousing, distribution, or financial forecasting services and activities to limit costs and improve accuracy, customer service and safety. Examine existing procedures and opportunities for streamlining activities to meet product distribution needs. Direct the movement, storage, and processing of inventory.

Sample of job titles: supply chain manager, supply chain director, supply chain vice president

Find a Job in Supply Chain Management >>

12. Software Quality Engineers and Testers

Job description: Develop and execute software test plans in order to identify software problems and their causes.

Sample of job titles: quality assurance analyst, quality assurance director, software quality assurance engineer, software quality engineer, product assurance engineer, software test engineer

Find a Job in Software Quality >>

Zone 5: Extensive Preparation Needed

13. Mental Health Counselors

Job description: Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. May help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; suicide; stress management; problems with self-esteem; and issues associated with aging and mental and emotional health.

Sample of job titles: therapist, counselor, correctional counselor, mental health therapist, case manager, mental health specialist, behavior support specialist, mental health program specialist, child care counselor

Find a Job in Mental Health Counseling >>

14. Physical Therapists

Job description: Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength, and decrease or prevent deformity of patients suffering from disease or injury.

Sample of job titles: physical therapist, home care physical therapist, pediatric physical therapist, registered physical therapist, rehabilitation services director

Find a Job in Physical Therapy >>

15. Treasurers and Controllers

Job description: Direct financial activities, such as planning, procurement, and investments for all or part of an organization.

Sample of job titles: controller, treasurer, business manager, finance director, chief financial officer, school treasurer, comptroller, business administrator

Find a Job as a Treasurer >>

You can view more job descriptions and sample job titles at O*Net.

Next: City Jobs: Top 50 Cities for Jobs This Fall >>

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