What career path should I choose?
September 15, 2006 4:17 AM   Subscribe

What career paths are booming with jobs?

I have a degree in marketing communications (advertising) and jobs are hard to come by. (Except for cold-call sales or skeezy places.) I'm currently working for a marketing company that is sinking fast--I'm not kidding when I say my job is a joke. I am embarrassed to tell people what I am doing, which is basically writing get-rich-quick sales letters.

I've decided that I hate sales, I hate marketing, and I have lost all interest in advertising--which is what I originally really wanted to do.

I've been seriously considering going back to school, and getting a degree in a completely different field. I want to get a degree in a field that has a surplus of jobs. I've heard nursing, but I don't really handle blood/guts that well. I probably would be very interested in a less messy medical field, say radiology.

It doesn't have to be medical, however: my only stipulations are that it not take several years to get the schooling I need, that there are plenty of jobs to be had--and that they are pretty much guaranteed with a degree, and that I will make somewhat decent money.

People have told me to just figure out what I love to do, and I'm not saying I don't have hobbies, but I just can't nail one down I'd like to do as a career. I'm interested in learning about pretty much anything non-business/marketing related, so fire away.
posted by saucy to Work & Money (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
People have told me to just figure out what I love to do...

Yeah, I get that crap all the time. As if enjoying something automatically makes it a viable career choice.
Honestly? Look into the skilled trades. Electrician, for instance. Those are jobs that are always in demand, the pay can be very good, and you can get great satisfaction for actually accomplishing something concrete.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:44 AM on September 15, 2006

Oops! Integrated transport, transport planning, transport modelling. More cars, more people, more funding for local government to solve traffic and emissions problems. Not the most inspiring occupation but it pays well and prospects are good.
posted by DZ-015 at 4:57 AM on September 15, 2006

MRI technician, if you live in Canada. That's where the bottleneck apparently is, they have the machines, but not the people to run them. Though the question is: is it the lack of people, or not hiring them?

You could try going through job advertisements in your local area to get an idea of what is being sought. If you are leaning towards the health sciences, go to industry specific advertising forums. Talk to people in the industry to ask where they adverstise for skilled positions. Seeing the ads would also tell you what the income range is.
posted by jb at 5:09 AM on September 15, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, and I'm in Memphis, TN, if that makes a difference--not planning on relocating anytime soon.
posted by saucy at 5:14 AM on September 15, 2006

So you want a degree program that doesn't take a few years? I'm not sure that's remotely realistic.

Sure, a certificate program is doable, and could get you an entry-level job (or slightly higher) in a new field, but if you're serious about a major career change, you may also need to look seriously about how you'lll pay the bills while you're back in school.
posted by canine epigram at 6:09 AM on September 15, 2006

Thorzdad said: As if enjoying something automatically makes it a viable career choice.

I think you might have misunderstood that advice. Assuming that you love to do woodworking that means that you have some knowledge about woodworking. In that case you are better off choosing carpentry as a career. It's hella easier to work towards a profession you know something about over one you know nothing about. Do you want to find out midway through a career change that you have absolutely no aptitude doing that future job?
posted by JJ86 at 6:09 AM on September 15, 2006

Back to the OP, the service industry will do well in years to come. For many jobs you will do fine with an associate's degree. Pick up a catalog from the local community college and choose something that looks like it might be interesting. Before you get admitted though, meet with an advisor to see if the real world of that particular industry will meet your expectations.
posted by JJ86 at 6:13 AM on September 15, 2006

It could be worth a look at www.idealist.org (by far the biggest site devoted to jobs at non-profits and arts orgs) to see if there are local positions in marketing that would be radically different from your current one and that you might love...
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:17 AM on September 15, 2006

Technology and science jobs are fairly strong and consistent with opportunities during all economic conditions, especially if you are in a few key industries. Love science and a challenging curriculum? Try an engineering degree in a field such as as chemical/biochemical (my career), mechanical, electrical, or civil. No matter the economy, people always need drugs, infrastructure, transportation, communications, etc. and these are solid career paths with plenty of growth opportunities.

Not looking for a path requiring a full degree? There are plenty of schools and technical colleges/training programs that offer associate's degrees and vocational training for careers in the science field. There are tons of openings for interested technicians in many science fields, including chemical industries, pharmaceutical manufacturing and research, consumer electronics, etc.

My e-mail is in my profile if you'd like more specifics regarding engineering and related career paths. I work for a major pharma company and can answer questions relating to a career path in that industry, too. Good luck with your transition!
posted by galimatias at 6:22 AM on September 15, 2006

Government contracting is super lucrative nowadays, but avoid! Avoid!!!!
posted by echo0720 at 6:23 AM on September 15, 2006

UP is hiring in Memphis:

posted by raildr at 6:52 AM on September 15, 2006

Accountancy! My job field, although not the most exciting of areas, continues to expand globally. So many more regulations and so few skilled people to take such positions on.

Its a win-win situation if you like numbers and decent wages at the end of the month. However, it can also be very dull.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 6:52 AM on September 15, 2006

Civil, electrical, and mechanical engineers are in very high demand in my industry. Civil engineering firms are simply unable to find competent, fluent employees.
posted by vaportrail at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2006

So you want a degree program that doesn't take a few years? I'm not sure that's remotely realistic.

I agree with this advice. If you're looking to go back to school to facilitate a career change, I would bank on approximately a 2 year time investment. Even a degree in something like radiology is going to take you that long. A certificate or something like it might be nice, but IMO, it's not going to qualify you for a radically different career.

Anyway, my mother, a human resources director in the medical field for over 20 years, says careers like radiology/dental hygiene/respiratory therapy/etc are pretty safe bets in terms of career opportunities. In many places, there's a decent demand for such skilled professionals.
posted by theantikitty at 7:45 AM on September 15, 2006

Psychiatric nursing might involve less blood and guts than other kinds. If you once had an interest in marketing/advertising, you probably have at least a passing interest in what makes people do the things they do, so this might be an option. (Not that I have any firsthand knowledge or anything. I'm just saying.)
posted by scratch at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2006

Response by poster: So you want a degree program that doesn't take a few years? I'm not sure that's remotely realistic.

Actually, I said several years, and by that I meant more than 4. 2-4 years is what I was expecting.
posted by saucy at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2006

If I were looking for a new career, I'd think about something in the arena of aging and death: managing a retirement home, running a funeral home, a service that helps adult children care for their parents long-distance, etc.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2006

I hope this isn't a derail, but I was wondering what made you hate sales, marketing and advertising. I work in marketing and I've gone through times where I've disillusioned with the field. However, this usually happens when I'm in a role that isn't challenging enough or when I'm working with people who don't share my world view. If you think reasons like those are behind your distaste for the field, perhaps you could look at ways to change them.

Also, you might want to try marketing in a different field. Business-to-business marketing is less about selling people something they don't need and more about helping business decision-makers create a vision for a solution to a business problem they face.

The high tech field, especially B2B, may also be of more interest to you. You could look at your role as one of technology transfer and diffusion of innovation. By understanding how and why people adopt and keep technologies, you can play a role in creating value-added jobs for people in your region.

In fact, you can take much the same approach if you go into a medical field. In this case, you'd be helping to transfer medical innovation (including health ideas) to a population.

If those sorts of concepts are somewhat interesting for you, but you still really want out of marketing and business, perhaps you could look at pursuing a role in community healthcare nursing, public information, education, training, technology transfer liaison, or even consulting.
posted by acoutu at 8:28 AM on September 15, 2006

There is a shortage of qualified teachers in most fields here in California, and likely in many other states as well.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:39 AM on September 15, 2006

People always get sick. People always get old. People are always born, and will always die.

Being somewhere in the healthcare sector (be it as an MRI tech, a registered nurse/nurse's aide, whatever) is a good way to ensure that you will always be employable.

Technology's not bad either, although it's a lot more volatile than healthcare.
posted by pdb at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2006

A great resource for the predicted growth of particular careers is the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook site. It's worth a look.

(I'll also just throw in my two cents and say Radiology would be pretty good choice. Two more medical-related ideas to throw into the mix: audiology, and epidemiology, the former of which is experiencing good growth, the latter of which is experiencing big shortages.
posted by j-dawg at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2006

I also wanted to mention that magazines like Forbes, Smart Money, Fortune, Etc. tend to put out annual "fastest growing industry" and "best places to work" guides, so it might be worth taking a look at their websites to see if you can find those articles online. They might give you some ideas.
posted by echo0720 at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2006

Since you're doing a bit of marketing right now, have you thought about becoming a head-hunter? All the ones I know make buckets of cash, and don't have anything more than a standard business degree.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 AM on September 15, 2006

IT for HealthCare. They are hiring extensively up here at the moment.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2006

I once had to pay a locksmith $300 for ten minutes of work, a lock, and two keys. I suppose there will always be a new fool making the mistake of leaving his keys on the wrong side of the door.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:33 PM on September 15, 2006

"I have a degree in marketing communications (advertising) and jobs are hard to come by."

You are already familiar with blogs, being on MeFi, and there's a large and active community of professional-level bloggers in Tennessee. You're also obviously skilled in succinctly communicating a point in an approachable voice. It might be possible to get work helping write online communications like blogs, newsletters, or podcasts for companies, especially since you might be able to work remotely.

I'd swing by one of the blogging meetups and see who's looking for help in creating content. I know more than one person who was fed up with marcomm work that found it interesting and challenging again after getting to work with social media instead of, as you say, get-rich-quick junk mailings.
posted by anildash at 8:47 PM on September 15, 2006

As a copywriter myself, I share your distaste for certain kinds of marketing materials. You might think about going out on your own. As an independent, you have a lot more power over the projects and clients you work with. I hated working at an agency, but since hanging out my own shingle about 5 years ago, I work far fewer hours for the same or better money. Even better, I can "fire" clients or refuse projects any time I like. (And I do.)

Peter Bowerman's Well Fed Writer is a good primer, if you're interested.

PS: As OnStar spreads, I'm not sure locksmiths have such a golden future anymore.
posted by wordwhiz at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2006

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