The end of the year is upon us — just in time to look forward to what the job market holds in store for 2012. What will be the hottest occupations in the New Year? Careerbuilder.com has put together a list of “Best Bets for Jobs in 2012“: nine jobs that are expected to see growth. Below are profiles of these nine jobs from the Department of Labor Statistics, plus the average salary for each.
1. Biomedical engineer (Average salary: $82,421)
Develops devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems by combining their knowledge of biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices. Many do research, along with medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. Biomedical engineers also may design devices used in various medical procedures, imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions.
Most engineers in this specialty need a sound background in another engineering specialty, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training. Some specialties within biomedical engineering are biomaterials, biomechanics, medical imaging, rehabilitation engineering, and orthopedic engineering.
2. Computer software engineer (Average salary: $97,581)
Computer software engineers design and develop software. They apply the theories and principles of computer science and mathematical analysis to create, test, and evaluate the software applications and systems that make computers work. The tasks performed by these workers evolve quickly, reflecting changes in technology and new areas of specialization, as well as the changing practices of employers.
Computer software engineers are among the occupations projected to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the 2008-18 decade, resulting in excellent job prospects.
3. Customer service representative (Average salary: $29,314)
Customer service representatives provide a valuable link between customers and the companies who produce the products they buy and the services they use. They are responsible for responding to customer inquiries and making sure that any problems they are experiencing are resolved. Although most customer service representatives do their work by telephone in call centers, some interact with customers by e-mail, fax, post, or face-to-face.
Many customer service inquiries involve simple questions or requests. For instance, a customer may want to know the status of an order or wish to change his or her address in the company’s file. However, some questions may be somewhat more difficult, and may require additional research or help from an expert. In some cases, a representative’s main function may be to determine who in the organization is best suited to answer a customer’s questions.
4. Home health aide (Average salary: $28,173)
Home health aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired and older adults, who may need assistance, live in their own homes or in residential facilities instead of in health facilities or institutions. They also assist people in hospices and day programs and help individuals with disabilities go to work and remain engaged in their communities. Most aides work with elderly or physically or mentally disabled clients who need more care than family or friends can provide. Others help discharge hospital patients who have relatively short-term needs.
Aides provide light housekeeping and homemaking tasks such as laundry, change bed linens, shop for food, plan and prepare meals. Aides also may help clients get out of bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Some accompany clients to doctors’ appointments or on other errands.
5. Management analyst (Average salary: $72,197)
Management analysts and consultants collect, review, and analyze information in order to make recommendations to managers. They might be single practitioners or part of large international organizations employing thousands of other consultants. Some analysts and consultants specialize in a specific industry, such as healthcare or telecommunications, while others specialize by type of business function, such as human resources, marketing, logistics, or information systems.
After obtaining an assignment or contract, management analysts first define the nature and extent of the problem that they have been asked to solve. During this phase, they analyze relevant data—which may include annual revenues, employment, or expenditures—and interview managers and employees while observing their operations. The analysts or consultants then develop solutions to the problem.
6. Medical assistant (Average salary: $37,571)
Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. In small practices, medical assistants usually do many different kinds of tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.
About 62 percent of medical assistants work in offices of physicians. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, but many complete 1-year or 2-year programs.
7. Network systems and data communications analyst (Average salary: $48,316)
Analysts design, test, and evaluate network systems, such as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), Internet, intranet, and other data communications systems. They also perform network modeling, analysis, and planning, and research and recommend network and data communications hardware and software. This category includes telecommunications specialists who deal with the interfacing of computer and communications equipment. Analysts supervise computer programmers.
8. Registered nurse (Average salary: $71,692)
Registered Nurses (RNs) treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.
RNs teach patients and their families how to manage their illnesses or injuries, explaining post-treatment home care needs; diet, nutrition, and exercise programs; and self-administration of medication and physical therapy. Some RNs may work to promote general health by educating the public on warning signs and symptoms of disease. RNs also might run general health screening or immunization clinics, blood drives, and public seminars on various conditions.
9. Retail salesperson (Average salary: $25,557)
Salespersons assist customers in finding what they are looking for. They also try to increase sales by describing a product’s features, demonstrating its uses, and promoting its value.
In addition to selling, many retail salespersons—especially those who work in department and apparel stores—conduct financial transactions with their customers. This usually involves receiving payments by cash, check, debit card, or credit card; operating cash registers; and bagging or packaging purchases. Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This work may include counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. Retail salespersons also may have to make deposits at a cash office. In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.