Few decisions are more important than choosing a career. And especially in these uncertain and changing times, no decision may be more difficult.
U.S. companies, saddled with increasingly onerous costs of employing people, are downsizing, cutting employees’ hours, hiring temps, automating jobs and sending work offshore. Meanwhile, technology is redefining existing jobs and demanding new skills from an aging workforce, and new competition for jobs looms in the form of 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants likely to get legalized in the years ahead. Perhaps most potent, the U.S. is experiencing the largest transfer of gross domestic product from the private sector to the government sector in history — and shifting jobs along with it.
In these roiling times, what are smart career choices? Of course, the best career for one person can be the worst for another, but I believe these 13 are particularly worthy of attention. From among thousands of occupations, I selected the 13 that rank best overall based on these criteria:
• Likelihood of sustaining at least a middle-class income. This subsumes three factors: likely job growth, income potential and being under the radar (so there\’s less competition for jobs).
•Socially redeeming. There may be jobs, for example, as casino managers and tobacco executives, but such occupations were immediately excluded from consideration.
•Quality of life. Reasonable work hours, freedom from toxic or noisy work environments, and so on.
•Status. Most Kiplinger readers will not, for example, be attracted to owning gas stations, even though some gas-station owners make a great deal of money.
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