Most Secure Jobs

Job security matters, especially during periods of high unemployment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment rates at the end of 2010 hovered close to ten percent. Is there anywhere to turn for job security? Yes, there is, according to the experts. The following jobs should offer stability last year and beyond.

Project Manager
“The jobs that will be most secure this year are those that focus on project management,” says Steve Langerud, workplace consultant and director of professional opportunities at DePauw University. Strong communication skills, a solid understanding of finance, and the ability to lead and work with a team are the project-management skills that will give workers an edge.

Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis for online salary database PayScale.com, agrees with the need for project managers, especially in information technology. “That kind of coordinating is valued and holding its own,” Lee says. Project managers in the IT field earn $90,000 per year, according to PayScale.com. In general, project managers can expect to earn $65,000 per year.

Social Media Manager
Also promising is the outlook for jobs that capitalize on the social media “explosion,” Lee says. Exactly how that will unfold is somewhat murky. As Langerud points out, “Everyone sees the need, but not everyone is yet coming up with the right way to use it.”

One person who has caught the wave is Yianni Garcia, a digital strategist who focuses on teaching brands how to integrate social media into their business processes. “The role of the social strategist and the community manager will certainly increase in value and importance in 2011, as companies refocus their marketing, customer service, communications, sales, and overall business processes to align with the social web,” says Garcia, digital marketing and community manager at The McGraw-Hill Companies. Salaries for social media managers average $55,000 per year.

Physician Assistant
Job growth throughout the health care industry will remain strong, in part because of changing demographics. “As baby boomers continue to get older, health care needs continue to grow,” Lee says.

More communities will rely on physician assistants to meet their population’s health care needs. Physician assistant positions are expected to increase by 39 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS. Physician assistants treat patients and diagnose illnesses under some level of supervision by physicians and surgeons. A physician assistant’s median salary is $85,000 per year.

Home Health Aide
The BLS predicts that, due to an increasing number of senior citizens who want to stay in their own homes, jobs in the home health care industry will expand rapidly, adding 460,900 new positions for home health aides and 378,500 for personal and home care aides. Salaries for home health aides are $22,000 per year. Personal and home care aides perform fewer health-related tasks and earn slightly lower salaries.

Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant
More elderly people with chronic conditions will lead to increased demand for physical therapists and their assistants, according to the BLS. Physical therapists typically earn $70,000 per year, and physical therapy assistants earn $47,000.

Staffing Manager
The very fact that unemployment remains high going into 2011 does offer job opportunities in one specific industry: staffing. “Between 400,000 and 500,000 people every week get laid off and apply for unemployment,” says PayScale’s Lee. Those individuals sometimes turn to temporary jobs, often hoping that the temporary position will turn into a permanent one.

Jonathon Thom, vice-president of the specialized recruiting group at Express Employment Professionals, says his company not only places workers in positions in commercial utilities, administrative staff, and engineering, but also added more than 100 new employees to its own payroll last year. Staffing managers typically earn $45,000 per year.

“We’ve seen a 47 percent increase in our revenue,” Thom said. “The industry is absolutely booming, and I think that’s going to continue for some time.”

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