Understanding both of these factors helps ensure you’re not “barking up the wrong tree.”
If you’re talented and driven enough to succeed in a glutted occupation like rock star, astronaut or librarian (!), I’m not saying you shouldn’t give it a shot. But too often I’ve seen job seekers struggle because they didn’t take these factors into account when they first made their decision – or they just didn’t know the facts.
The Department of Labor is a treasure trove for information on occupations, including statistics on their growth or shrinkage, which is a good indication of the level of demand. Look up occupations you’re considering at America’s Career InfoNet or O*NET. You’ll also find out about working conditions, skills and education required, and much more.
Which occupations have particularly good prospects these days? A recent Careerbuilder survey states that employers are having difficulty filling openings for the following:
- Sales Representative
- Machine Operator/Assembler/Production Worker
- Truck Driver
- Software Developer
- Marketing Professional
- Mechanic IT Manager/Network Administrator
You’ll also want to know whether your target industry is growing, especially if you have highly “portable” skills such as IT or accounting. America Career InfoNet’s top 50 span a wide range, from healthcare and aging-related industries through satellite telecoms, management consultants and even masonry contractors. Other online sources show lists that look very different, probably due to differing ways of interpreting the statistics. Check more than one source.
Choosing an occupation shouldn’t be based entirely on gut feelings or happenstance. It’s worth doing some research!