The 8 Most Secure Jobs for 2010

secure jobsThinking of embarking on a new career, but not sure where to begin? How about with a job that not only pays well but offers considerable stability? After all, a handsome paycheck isn't worth much if it's in a field that's expected to become the next recession casualty. Following are eight of our top picks for gigs expected to be both prosperous and abundant in the coming decade.

1. Cardiovascular Technologist

Median annual salary: $60,370

Between the ongoing need for hospital workers and the aging baby boomer population, this is one career that isn't going anywhere, says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of more than 20 books for job hunters, including "150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs." According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this job is expected to grow by 24 percent through the year 2018. As the BLS reports, most cardiovascular technologists receive a two-year associate degree. In addition, some receive on-the-job training in the necessary equipment (for example, EKGs).

2. Database Administrator

Median annual salary: $72,584

Like health care, information technology remains a hot field with ample opportunity, says workplace expert Alexandra Levit, whose latest book is "New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career." In other words, she says, "Everyone needs these people." Whether you've acquired the necessary tech skills in the workplace or trained in a two- or four-year college program, a solid foundation in computing is essential, reports the BLS, adding that certifications can only make you more attractive to employers.

3. Personal Trainer

Median annual salary: $43,203

"People may not be spending money on extravagant vacations, but they're still looking for something recreational to do," Levit says. And for many, she says, hitting the gym and working out with a personal trainer is that something. According to the BLS, many personal trainers work part-time or have flexible schedules, often working evenings and weekends to accommodate client schedules. As the BLS notes, trainers can make themselves more attractive to clients and health clubs by getting certified from a reputable fitness organization (for example, the American Council on Exercise).

4. Interior Designer

Median annual salary: $46,078

Are you a design blog junkie? The friend everyone calls when they need help sprucing up their living room? Then why not put your creative flair to work for you? Although you'll need to invest in an associate degree and acquire the necessary budgeting and software skills, the payoff is worth it, says Shatkin: job opportunities are expected to grow by 19 percent through 2018.

5. Dental Hygienist

Median annual salary: $57,066

Of all the jobs that require an associate degree, this one promises the most opportunity in the new decade, boasting a whopping 36 percent growth rate, Shatkin says. Why? Because "dentists try to shrug off more work to dental hygienists so they can see more patients," Shatkin explains. As a bonus, he adds, many of these positions are part-time with flexible hours, making them ideal for parents with young children.

6. Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Median annual salary: $44,043

As long as there are overextended lawyers, there will be a need for paralegals and legal assistants, Shatkin says. In fact, he adds, job opportunities are expected to grow by 28 percent in the new decade. Sharp writing skills are a must, Shatkin says, as is a foundation in law and legal research. Although many paralegals and legal assistants obtain an associate degree in the field, a number simply receive on-the-job training, he explains.

7. Water or Liquid Waste Treatment Plant System Operator

Median annual salary: $42,439

Working in the utilities sector remains a fail safe bet, no matter what the economy's doing, Levit says. "It's one of the more recession-proof careers," Shatkin adds. "You always need clean water, and you always need to have waste cleaned." Sure, it may not sound like the most glamorous job, but it's hard to argue with the BLS prediction of 20 percent job growth through 2018. Plus, Shatkin says, training is largely on the job; no advanced schooling is required, though a certificate in water-quality or waste water-treatment technology can make employers take notice.

8. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Median annual salary: $41,728

Thanks to the country's aging population, occupational therapy remains a high-growth field, with 30 percent more jobs predicted in the new decade, Shatkin says. If you're a nurturing sort who thrives on helping people, this could be the career for you. These assistants -- who must earn an associate degree in the field -- work with occupational therapists help patients who've been sick, injured, or otherwise impaired gain the necessary life skills to return to work or their own home.

Next: Top 10 Most Secure Jobs in 2011

Michelle Goodman is a freelance business journalist and author of "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube."

Source: Salary data from The salaries listed are median annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and all include bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing.

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