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The Quickest Route to a Six-Figure Job
Actuaries earned a mean annual wage of $95,420 in 2007, with the top tier hauling down a tasty $145,600. Most (60 percent) are employed in the insurance industry, crunching numbers to determine risks in pension planning, insurance coverage, or investment strategies. That means they need a high math aptitude and financial savvy. However, many only hold a bachelor's degree in math, business or statistics. You can earn one of those online in short order and get yourself going.
Job outlook: Exceptional, with a 24-percent rise in positions for actuaries projected over the 2006-2016 decade.
Not all dental hygienists' earnings skyrocket into the six figures -- but there are enough that do, making this a surprisingly rich opportunity for someone who holds only an associate degree. The Labor Department reports that while the median earnings are in the high $60k range, the top-end hygienists found themselves in the $90k range last year. And you can prep for this career in the two-year, online career training program and be loving life in a matter of a few years with experience.
Job outlook: Magnificent. Hygienists are among the fastest-growing career groups in the country, with a 30-percent rise in new positions predicted through 2016.
Marketing managers earned a median income of $104,000 in 2007. At the top end, salaries were well over $150k. These professionals lead campaigns by determining a potential customer base for products and services and eyeballing what the competitors are doing. You can enter the profession with as little as an associate or bachelor's degree in finance, business, or marketing, but the best earners typically continue their career training, pursuing an MBA degree. Many employers offer tuition assistance for employees who seek advanced degrees.
Job outlook: Strong, but highly competitive. A 12-percent growth in jobs is expected in the 2006-2016 decade.
Computer Software Engineers
Computer software engineers may often begin their careers after completing a two-year, online associate degree in programming or IT systems. Starting salaries actually can reach the $90k range. But to grab the top-end $130,850 salaries earned in 2007, you'll probably need a bachelor's degree, on-the-job experience, and some professional certifications.
Job outlook: Sizzling. Labor Department projections show a 38-percent increase in career positions over the 2006-2016 decade.
Medical and Health Service Managers
The American health care industry will generate 3 million new jobs between 2006 and 2016, the most of any industry. Medical and health service managers will be in high demand to help direct the growth and daily operations. A bachelor's degree may provide sufficient career training to enter the occupation and earn the median $76,990 salary reported for 2007; however, earning a master's degree in management, finance, or health care administration typically provides the best path toward the $132,580 high-end 2007 wage.
Job outlook: Excellent. Most jobs will be with hospitals. A 16 percent increase in total management jobs is predicted through 2016.
Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers earned a mean annual wage of $92,710 in 2007, with high-end earnings reported as $120,960. That's a solid income that varies based on training and experience. Most professionals find their way following graduation from a bachelor's degree program in personnel, human resource management, or labor relations. Typically, interdisciplinary training is beneficial, combining coursework in recruitment, labor law, or business administration. Rise to the top wage through on-the-job experience or by earning an advanced degree.
Job outlook: Solid. A faster than average, 17-percent rise in career positions is predicted through 2016.
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