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Top Careers for 2011

Do what you love. We’ve all heard this old adage, and though it’s good advice, when it comes to finding a great job, it’s rarely enough. Earning potential, flexibility and demand are other important considerations. Adaptability in the wake of technological advancements or social shifts is another. The following careers were chosen to rank among our top careers for 2011 for their ability to satisfy all of these potential benefits. We’ve even researched salary and career growth potential,* so all you have to do is decide whether you’re ready for a career change.

  • Registered Nurse (RN). Registered nursing is one of the fastest growing careers in the country: positions among RNs are expected to grow by an impressive 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. RNs earned a mean annual salary of $66,530 in 2009, and will likely earn a bit more in 2011. Those who advance their educations can earn significantly more. Nurse anesthetists, for instance, earned a spot on CNN Money’s Best Jobs in American in 2010 for earning a median salary of $156,000 that same year.
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  • Ultrasound Technician. While Americans and their insurance companies battle rising health costs, diagnostic ultrasound is increasingly considered a safer, less expensive alternative to other radiologic procedures. Positions among these professionals are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018. Ultrasound technicians earned a mean annual salary of $63,640 in 2009, and are expected to earn slightly more in 2011. Certified technicians tend to earn more than their lesser-trained peers.
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  • Automotive Engineer. New fuel efficiency standards issued in 2009 require autos to get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon (or better) by 2016. In order to comply, auto manufacturers must redesign their cars and light trucks to be more efficient. At the same time, the push for green autos, including electric cars, is at an all-time high. All of this spells great news for automotive design professionals. Careers among research and design specialists, including automotive designers, are expected to grow by 25 percent between 2008 and 2018. Meanwhile, engineers, including, automotive engineers, earned a mean annual wage of $90,600 in 2009.
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  • Personal Financial Adviser. A difficult U.S. economy has people scrambling to keep their books in the black, which, in turn, is boosting demand for personal financial advisers. Positions among these number crunchers are expected to grow by a whopping 30 percent between 2008 and 2018. What’s more, personal financial advisers earned an average annual income of $94,180 in 2009, and earning potential for 2011 is even higher. Another bonus: personal financial advisers enjoy a great deal of flexibility when determining where, when, and how much they work.
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  • Technical Writer. Technical writers can often telecommute and freelance, meaning they control their own workflow, even in part-time roles. This convenience combined with strong projected demand through 2018 landed this career on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Careers of 2011. According to the BLS, those with Web design skills will fare particularly well. Technical writers earned a mean annual salary of $65,610 in 2009.
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  • Web Developer. As the Web becomes increasingly integrated in our personal and professional lives, demand for Web developers continues to grow; positions among these code gurus are expected to grow by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018. The Web-based nature of the profession means Web developers can often work from home or launch their own websites and e-businesses. They earned an average of $78,010 in 2009, and will likely earn even more in 2011.
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  • Graphic Designer. Like Web development, graphic design is a telecommuter-friendly career field. Unlike developers, however, graphic designers enjoy a great deal of creative latitude in their day-to-day tasks. Graphic designers are also in greater demand than other artists; positions among these professionals are expected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018.
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* Unless otherwise stated, all salary and career projections data were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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