Doctor. Lawyer. Business executive. Most people planning a career aim for professions they know the most about. But those aren't always the best jobs. Sifting through trends in the economy and the workplace, U.S. News has identified 10 professions that will be in growing demand as baby boomers age, the Internet becomes ubiquitous, and Americans seek richer, simpler lives. (Expanded coverage of 25 rewarding careers listed in the table on Page 40 is at usnews.com/careers.) All of the jobs offer a good blend of status, meaning, quality of life, and pay. And some may be surprising. Even though anybody can do a Google search, librarians will still be needed to help us navigate all that digital information. A lot of software and programming jobs are going overseas, but there's a strong need for systems analysts, working on site, to tie it all together. And while they probably won't star in any TV dramas, medical scientists enjoy fulfilling work and occasional "eureka" moments. "Many times I have felt kind of an elation," says Robert Gallo, codiscoverer of HIV and a blood test to identify it.
Many of the most appealing jobs are in healthcare-but not necessarily the traditional favorites. Lengthy training and a thicket of constraints governing medicine are dimming the allure of becoming a physician. But other healthcare jobs require far less training, have better hours, and offer the same satisfaction that comes from caregiving. Optometrists, for instance, typically work predictable hours, and they regularly watch patients walk out the door in better shape than when they came in. Physician assistants are rapidly replacing doctors as primary-care providers, and they earn healthy salaries with far less schooling.
What about offshoring? With a lot of high-tech work going to low-cost countries like India and China, once hot jobs like website developer no longer make the cut. But other jobs are resistant to offshoring. Management consultants, for example, work directly with clients, which requires personal presence and a human touch. Landscape architects must walk the ground they help beautify. And job security is strong in the nonprofit and government sectors. School psychologists work hands on with kids, from disabled to gifted. Higher education administrators and professors work in stimulating job environments-college campuses-and get to keep learning. Many such careers appeal to people who want to make a difference.
Other areas where jobs are becoming plentiful:
Homeland security. Defense isn't only about jobs in the military. The terrorism threat has yielded opportunities for workers knowledgeable about security, both physical and technical. As macabre as it sounds, any new terrorist event will create jobs: A cyberattack would produce jobs for computer-security experts; an attack on the water supply would boost demand for toxicologists.
Immigration. Continued growth in America's immigrant population will generate a strong demand for translators, English-as-a-second-language teachers, and bilingual workers in healthcare and the legal system.
Still determined to become an attorney, chiropractor, or small-business owner? Think twice. They rank among America's most overrated careers (story, Page 51). But there are alternatives that have similar appeal, without the hassle, costly training, or killer hours. Instead of joining a law firm, for instance, consider work as a mediator-and help resolve disputes before they get to court. It might be your dream to start your own business, but you might still get an entrepreneurial thrill-with fewer headaches-if you can accept being somebody's No. 2. Being the boss might boost your ego. But a great career needs to enhance your life, too.
Marty Nemko is a career coach, author of Cool Careers For Dummies, and contributing editor to usnews.com.
By Marty Nemko