7 Lucrative Jobs from Obama's Stimulus Package
President Barack Obama's plan to get the U.S. economy going has a strong focus on creating well-paid jobs. Two of the bills he's recently signed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Making Home Affordable program, provide funding that will create a wide variety of job opportunities with good salaries. Better yet, many of these jobs don't require a four-year degree, so job-seekers may be able to move into these careers pretty quick.
Here's a selection of some of the best-paying stimulus jobs:
1. Computer security specialist
A big chunk of the ARRA money is dedicated to healthcare information-technology initiatives – digitizing medical records so they're easier to transmit and share between doctors, hospitals and pharmacists.
Computer-security experts who can help keep electronic medical records locked away from computer hackers and other unauthorized users will be in high demand as the healthcare sector modernizes, says Laurence Shatkin, author of Great Jobs in the President's Stimulus Plan. Other specialists will be needed to train workers on how to keep the data safe. A brief certificate program may suffice to get you started in this field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. "There's going to be a special role here of how to keep prying eyes away," Shatkin says.
Median annual salary:$78,376
2. Cost estimator
For each of the major infrastructure projects that receive stimulus funding, an estimator must determine the likely cost of material plus labor so that accurate job bids can be submitted and budgets properly prepared. Shatkin says laid-off workers with a background in construction, who are familiar with the industry's labor and materials costs, should find opportunities here, though many estimators have a four-year degree.
Median annual salary:$58,868
3. Civil engineer
For each of these big federally backed construction projects, Shatkin points out, civil engineers must make sure structures are properly designed to withstand the elements. Engineers also make sure construction projects are executed correctly. You'll need at least a college degree, usually in engineering. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics says a degree in science or mathematics might work to get you started here, too.
Median annual salary:$66,638
4. Insulation installer
The ARRA is focused on making federal facilities more energy efficient, starting with simple methods such as weatherizing buildings with more insulation to save energy. Projects are happening all over the country, Shatkin notes, at science labs, military installations, and other federal buildings. High-school graduates often can receive on-the-job training, BLS says.
Median annual salary:$44,460
5. Solar panel installer
President Obama has made cleaner, greener energy use a top administration priority. The ARRA includes funding for the installation of solar panels to cut energy use at many federal buildings...and that means someone with an understanding of electric, water and heating systems will need to climb up on the rooftops and put up these systems. Training programs may be as short as six months, Shatkin notes.
Median annual salary:$44,460
6. Physical therapy assistants
The ARRA included an extension of medical benefits for workers laid off in the recent downturn, Shatkin points out. That will keep business brisk for medical professionals, including physical therapy assistants. Assistants may have a two-year degree, or can be trained on the job, to assist patients who need exercises or must use crutches or other devices, according to the BLS.
Median annual salary:$48,999
7. Loan officer
Just signed into law in May, legislation entitled Making Home Affordable provides federal incentives for banks to help up to nine million distressed homeowners renegotiate their loans. Because each mortgage agreement and piece of property is unique, the work is time-consuming – a loan officer must sit down with each homeowner individually.
This initiative is creating a sudden need for more mortgage loan specialists who can renegotiate with homeowners, says Joseph Burkhart, director of recovery-related business development at recruiting firm The Mergis Group in McLean, Va. Burkhart says the majority of the nation's loan-renegotiation work traditionally took place in the Dallas market, but that the huge volume of loan workouts planned means banks will be hiring all across the country.
"The mortgage industry in January only did 100,000 refis," he says. "Now they're projecting that millions of them will take place every month."
Because of high demand, Burkhart says employers are looking at applicants with a variety of past work experience – former bank loan officers and others who understand contracts. One background that's of interest, Burkhart says: call-center workers who've made contract offers over the phone.
Median annual salary:$43,070
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.