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Dave Carpenter

Looking for a growing job sector? Try social media, accounting, or massage

By Dave Carpenter
Associated Press / June 8, 2011

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If you’ve been fantasizing about becoming a farmer or a rancher, pick another daydream. No other occupation category has had a bigger decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Twitter strategist or massage therapist? Now you’re talking.

The digital revolution, changes in consumer habits, and an aging population are continuing to reshape the job market.

A million new jobs are forecast to be created Health care, financial services, information technology, and science occupations are also expected to see great demand.

The fastest growth will be in areas that require years of specialized training or higher education. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce calls that the shift to a college economy. But you don’t need a PhD to get a job in social media, for example. Here are some fast-growing jobs:

Accountant: The number of jobs is projected to grow 22 percent by 2018. Forget the green eyeshades stereotype. Accountants do everything from audits and budgets to financial planning and analysis to advising companies as they create new products and services.

Attending graduate business school is the surest way to a lucrative accountant’s position on Wall Street or with a major corporation.

IT professional: No IT occupation is hotter than network systems and data communications specialist. The government projections identified it as the number two job in terms of expected growth over the coming decade, behind biomedical engineer and just ahead of home health aide.

Other booming IT occupations include computer software engineer, computer and information research scientist, network and computer systems administrator, and computer systems analyst.

Massage therapist: Massage is a young industry that’s growing as more people learn about the benefits of massage therapy. Therapists typically work 25 to 30 hours a week and average $37,000 to $45,000 a year working in a chiropractor’s office, a spa, or a freestanding business. It’s physically and mentally demanding work, but job prospects are bright and training is relatively affordable. It typically costs $7,000 to $12,000 to get the 500 hours of training required by most states.

Social media strategist: The field is starting to take off. Recent college graduates have the edge as employers seek members of the younger generation to help target that demographic.

Outsiders may titter at “Twitter consultant,’’ but it’s a valued role for people who are knowledgeable about social media, adept at evaluating options and able to map out a customized social media plan for a company. The pay isn’t bad either. While many of the jobs available to college students or new grads are internships, the average salary for social media jobs is $55,000, according to Simply Hired, a search engine company that compiles jobs databases.

Dave Carpenter writes for the Associated Press.