Though the National Bureau of Economic Research has declared the recession officially over, plenty of people are still struggling to make ends meet. Median family income is hovering around $50,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Consumer Price Index keeps rising.
What's a working stiff to do? A salary boost just north of that median income can help, and may not be out of reach – even in this economy. Here are 10 jobs that earn $60,000 or more, according to online salary database PayScale.com, in industries that are expected to grow through 2018.
1. Senior staff accountant
Elizabeth Lions, a former recruiter and author of Recession Proof Yourself says that senior level staff accountants in most industries earn over $60,000 with or without the CPA. Most accountants have a college degree in accounting. Passing a special exam is necessary to gain certification. Lions says the potential for growth is great. "From senior level staff they would promote to accounting manager, then controller, and eventually CFO."
2. Project manager, Construction
Climbing the ladder (literally) can land a better paying construction job. With years of experience under their tool belt, laborers can work their way up to management. However, many employers are hiring construction managers with a bachelor's degree in a construction-related field. The growing need for energy-efficient buildings is expected to boost demand for project managers who can handle contracts, plans, and regulations as well as keep building projects running on time and on budget.
3. Electronic discovery professional
Sally Kane, editor-in-chief of Paralegal Today magazine says, "E-discovery is a $3 billion industry and growing rapidly." Using technology to manage electronic data and facilitate the exchange of information in litigation makes professionals invaluable to tech-challenged attorneys and clients. "Since the industry is new, no formal educational programs exist and most training is on the job," says Kane. To break in, obtain a bachelor's degree in legal studies, computer science, or information technology and obtain certification on specific software platforms.
4. Court reporter
A nationwide shortage of court reporters and the growing need for closed-captioning services for television programs has fueled the demand for court reporters, says Kane. Likewise, the Bureau of Labor statistics predicts need for court reporters to grow 18 percent through 2018. Kane notes, "The amount of training required to become a court reporter ranges from less than a year for a novice voice writer to an average of 33 months for a real-time stenotypist."
Kane points out that this is one of the fastest-growing positions in the United States as clients demand lower legal fees and lawyers delegate an ever-widening scope of tasks. Getting started can be as simple as earning a paralegal certificate and/or a two-year associate's degree. Those with a bachelor's degree will find the most employment opportunities.
6. Physical therapist
Health care is one of the fastest growing industries, and physical therapists (PT) are in serious demand. The BLS estimates the PT field to increase by 30 percent in the next decade thanks to greater patient access to services, as well as rising numbers of aging baby boomers. These jobs are not for the weak; therapists may have to squat, lift patients, and stand for long periods. Additionally, PTs need to earn an advanced degree from an accredited physical therapy program and must pass a state licensing exam.
7. Physician assistant
The cost of health care is rising right alongside the need for specialized professionals. Efforts by hospitals and patient-care facilities to control costs mean rapid job growth for physician assistants (PA). The BLS estimates the demand for PAs to increase nearly 40 percent through 2018. Nurses, EMS workers, and paramedics can accumulate on-the-job training to become a PA. Other requirements include a college degree, completion of an accredited education program and passing a national exam for a license.
8. Certified safety professional
Safety is a broad category, and a professional's responsibilities run the gamut from designing safe work spaces or inspecting machines, to testing air quality. Most jobs require a bachelor's degree in occupational health, safety, or a related field -- but it's worth it to tap into an industry that's expected to post double-digit growth in less than 10 years. With health insurance and worker's compensation adding to the bottom line, many businesses are looking for professionals specializing in construction safety and ergonomics.
9. Elementary/Secondary School administrator
Given the sheer number of Millennials (born between 1981-1999) who are still in school, and the rate of retirement among boomer educators, it's no wonder the BLS predicts robust growth for school administrators over the next 10 years. Teachers are most likely to fast track into an assistant principal or principal job in a public school, especially if they hold a master's or doctoral degree. States do require principals to be licensed as school administrators.
10. Automotive service manager
Automotive technicians and mechanics won't start out at $60,000. But, with several years of experience and some additional training, they can work their way up to a well-paid management position -- especially if they are already certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Managers must be able to handle paperwork using available system tools, including computer technology. There's room for growth as retiring technicians need to be replaced and more advanced auto technology gets implemented.