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October 14, 2007

As the job market continues to be strong in most areas, demand for management and support personnel in the business world remains good.

Firms are keeping compensation competitive to attract the best workers, with pay rising an average of 3 percent to 5 percent. The biggest increases are going to those with industry experience, strong technical skills, specializations and certifications, and additional abilities such as a second language.

Although the overall picture is "not quite as hot as last year, companies are still hiring," according to Mike Steinitz, New England district vice president for Office Team administrative staffing. Healthcare remains strong, and fields such as property management, financial services, legal, and nonprofits are showing improvement over last year.

If you're looking for work or better opportunities, pursue networking through family, friends, recruiters, and business organizations, Steinitz advised.

"I wouldn't rely strictly on ads," he said. Look for job and market information at business2.com, boston.com/monster, and tigerjobs.com.

MANAGERS AND SENIOR EXECUTIVES

Average salary: $115,130 (general and operations managers); $157,640 (chief executives). Pay for chief executives at large corporations often runs well into the millions, plus stock options and other benefits.

Demand: Fair to good. Openings at the very top are extremely limited, but talented, experienced operations managers can find good opportunities in healthcare, financial services, and accounting.

Qualifications: Minimum of bachelor's degree; a master's is increasingly important, preferably in finance, law, business, or economics; experience and skills in leadership. Some executives rise through the ranks.

PERSONNEL, TRAINING, AND LABOR RELATIONS MANAGERS

Average salary: $115,400

Demand: Strong. A good job market, rising healthcare costs, and the need to meet government regulations mean companies want talented managers for personnel fields.

Qualifications: Business, personnel management, labor relations, or liberal arts degree, plus communications skills and expertise in healthcare and government regulations.

HUMAN RESOURCE ASSISTANTS

Average salary: $38,800

Demand: Good. As companies continue to hire, they need human resource personnel to deal with employee issues.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree preferred, plus additional courses and training.

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS AND EXECUTIVE SECRETARIES

Average salary: $45,350

Demand: Very good. Firms seek senior-level executive assistants and secretaries with office management abilities; starting salaries for talented professionals are up 8 percent and more. Demand is strongest in legal, financial, and healthcare services.

Qualifications: Strong technical and communication skills, plus industry experience. Better pay and jobs go to those with college degrees and who are bilingual.

CLAIMS REPRESENTATIVES

Average salary: $57,750

Demand: Steady. Despite advances in technology, personal service is still necessary. Good fields include health insurance and property loss claims.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree plus good communication skills and problem-solving abilities.

RECEPTIONISTS

Average salary: $26,470

Demand: Good. Pay is low and turnover high, but companies and organizations still need friendly, reliable front-desk workers. Medical offices, universities, and service industries offer opportunities.

Qualifications: Minimum high school education, more schooling improves pay and opportunities; good technical and people skills critical.

REAL ESTATE PROPERTY MANAGERS

Average salary: $64,680, plus on-site housing in some large complexes.

Demand: Good. Commercial real estate and apartment complexes want competent, experienced managers to protect their increasingly valuable investments. Opportunities growing with neighborhood associations, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities.

Qualifications: Business, real estate, or related degree; interpersonal and computer skills; experience in real estate.

REAL ESTATE SALES AGENTS

Average salary: $61,170, but much depends on commissions. Pay varies widely by area and an agent's skills and determination.

Demand: Fair. With the housing market down, competition is tough and sales work can be frustrating.

Qualifications: Must receive formal training and licensure; some firms require real estate, business, and/or law courses. Success requires a good personality, tact, ambition, and maturity.

CASHIERS

Average salary: $19,510. Jobs are often part time or seasonal.

Demand: Fairly good. Though automation has reduced the numbers of jobs, high turnover and part-time positions mean work is available.

Qualifications: On-the-job training; high school diploma helps.

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