chia.jpgThis morning my MSNBC column on the fastest growing jobs came out and I’m a bit nervous about how the top-ten list will be used.

Lists like these remind me of a Chia Pet. The jobs on them often do grow, but they’re a long way from a career garden for most of us.

I can just hear parents telling their high school seniors to consider biomedical engineering, the No. 1 job on the list.

And many of you who are unemployed, or worried about your jobs will potentially take another look at nursing — the No. 2 job on the list.

There will also be a group of you who will just get frustrated with the whole list because there isn’t one profession you’d even consider; while others just don’t have the time or inclination to go out and get the education or training needed for some of the gigs on the list.

I’m going to include the list here, and a bonus list of jobs that didn’t make it into my column. But the reasons above are why I dread such lists. They are not career gospels my friends. But they can be great guides.

So, let’s all think outside the box, aka the list, when reviewing all these options. Experts suggest thinking of jobs that may be related to some of these fast-growing categories.

For example, biomedical engineering requires a good amount of education and training, but as the need for experts in medical devices and procedures grows technicians that support these engineers could also see a jobs boon. And as the demand for financial examiners grows, so will the need for the support staff around such professionals.

Another thing to keep in mind, even if you have the time and resources to embark on the road to one of these top-growth jobs, that doesn’t mean you should. Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse or a teacher.

It’s hard to figure out if a profession is going to be right for you but there are ways to have a better idea.

So, how do you figure that out? And how do you find out what support jobs will be needed? Do a bit of legwork. Read everything you can on the professions you find interesting and also email one of these individuals who are doing the job now. It’s best if you have a friend of a friend refer you but often people are more than willing to take a few minutes out of their day to discuss their work. You might even consider shadowing an individual in a certain profession; or taking one or two classes at a community college. Some schools even give you an opportunity to do hand-on training early in the education process, especially in education.

OK, here’s the list already:

• Biomedical engineer
• Registered nurse
• Network systems and data communications analyst
• Home health aide (nursing and psychiatric)
• Personal and home care aide
• Financial examiner
• Medical scientist (except epidemiologists)
• Physician assistant
• Customer service representative
• Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food

And here’s the bonus fast-growth jobs list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics we did not publish on MSNBC:

* Skin care specialists
* Biochemists and biophysicists
* Athletic trainers
* Physical therapist aides
* Dental hygienists
* Veterinary technologists and technicians
* Dental assistants
* Computer software engineers, applications
* Medical assistants
* Physical therapist assistants
* Veterinarians
* Self-enrichment education teachers
* Compliance officers
* Retail salespersons
* Office clerks
* Accountants and auditors
* Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
* Postsecondary and elementary school teachers

Now that you have the list, it’s time to do your homework and figure out what’s best for you and your abilities. If you need any help figuring out how to get more information about these professions just email me at

And I’m curious — have any of you made career decisions, or are about to make a career decision, based on a job list of any sort? If so, I’d love to hear how that turned out.

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