My Seven Favorite Professions
By Marty NemkoIf my relative asked me, “What are the best careers?” I wouldn’t cop out and simply say “It’s a matter of what fits you.” Here are seven careers that I believe, for many of college-educated people, are an ideal combination of money, status, meaningfulness, quality of life, and a good job market for the foreseeable future.
Orthodontist. It’s one of the few
medical specialties in which self-employment remains a possibility,
and the average self-employed orthodontist earns $200,000+ a year.
Too, you develop a long-term relationship with most of your
patients, and at the end of treatment, you’ve succeeded with
nearly all--they walk out with a better smile. American
Association of Orthodontists: www.braces.org.,William
Proffit’s book, Contemporary Orthodontics, 4th
Same deal: high cure rate, self-employment possibility, and
six-figure average compensation. Plus, aging
boomers mean increased demand for optometrists. American
Optometric Association: www.aoa.org. Theodore
Grosvenor’s book, Primary Care Optometry, 5th
I rate this just a bit lower than optometrist because despite ever
improving hearing aids, success rate is lower. So is the average
compensation, though you’ll hardly starve. Too, the degree
requirement has been ratcheted up: Until recently, a master’s
would do. Now it’s a four-year doctor of audiology.
Still an unusually rewarding career. The
nation’s most famous hearing aid wearer? Bill Clinton.
American Academy of Audiology: www.audiology.org Frederick
Martin’s book. Introduction to Audiology (9th
Assistant. You derive most of the rewarding aspects of
being a physician with far fewer headaches. You get to do health
exams, diagnosis and treatment (even including suturing) under a
physician’s often not-close supervision, and instead of a
dozen post-bachelor training years, it’s two. And
there’s far less insurance and government paperwork. And
while salaries aren’t doctorly, they’re pretty healthy:
averaging $80,000 a year. American Academy
of Physician Assistants: www:aapa.org. Terence Sacks’
book, Opportunities in Physician's Assistant
Higher Education Administrator. A college campus is among of the most pleasant and stimulating work environments. And with education ever more viewed as the magic pill, ever longer legions of students are lining up to enroll. That means a better job market for you. Perhaps the most fun niche: student affairs administrator: you might coordinate orientation, student housing, or extracurricular activities. Student Affairs Administrator in Higher Education: www.naspa.org. Nancy Archer Martin’s book, Career Aspirations & Expeditions: Advancing Your Career in Higher Education.
Just a bachelor’s and you can be designing resorts,
industrial parks, and rich people’s backyards. And
today’s newest religion is environmentalism, so there are
lots of jobs in, for example, coastal habitat restoration.
America Society of Landscape Architects: www.asla.org.
John Simonds’ book, Landscape Architecture, 4th
Librarian. Forget about the
image of librarian as mousy bookworm. Today’s librarian is a
high-tech information sleuth, a master of mining cool databases
(well beyond Google) to unearth the desired nuggets. Plus
you’ll probably have regular hours and good job security.
American Library Association: www.ala.org. Priscilla
Shontz’s book, The Librarian's Career
Guidebook and Laura Townsend Kane’s book,
Straight from the Stacks: A First-Hand Guide
to Careers in Library and Information Science.
Does a specific career intrigue you? The next step is to check out that career’s professional association’s website (listed for all the careers above). If it’s still interesting, read the book I list. If the career remains in the running, find at least two people in the career (one can be misleading) willing to let you watch them in action for an hour or two. How to find professionals to shadow? Try the professional association site. It often includes a membership list or at least a list of its local chapters. Attend a chapter meeting, chat with a few people during a break and, voila, you’ll likely find people willing to let you observe. Don’t just watch; ask. These questions usually reveal the career’s dirt as well as its delights: Describe a typical day. What are the best and worst things about this career? What’s the wisest way to get trained? Are there particularly desirable niches within this career? Why do people leave this career? Anything else I should know before choosing this career? (A catch-all question is always a good idea.)
Of course, my favorite seven professions might be your nightmares. For one-paragraph introductions to 500+ careers, you might look at the brand new third edition of the book, Cool Careers for Dummies. Take that recommendation with a grain of salt--I wrote the book.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2018. Usage Rights