5 Career Changes You Can Actually Make

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While it's certainly true that many Americans devote their entire working lives to a single employer, the practice is becoming rare in the private sector. On average, a job in this country lasts only three-and-a-half years.
You might shift roles in your profession as you advance into management positions. Or you may leap into a new career entirely, training in mid-life for a career that reflects your true passions. In turbulent economic times, you may head back to college to prepare for a radically different, better-paying profession.

Seven in 10 Americans admit that they'd change jobs tomorrow if only they could.

Well, they can -- and so can you. Online college degree and career training programs offer unparalleled scheduling flexibility, allowing you to shift lanes without slowing down. Some employers will even reimburse your tuition if you're training for management.

Here are five growing fields that make for easy transitions, along with salary figures and the training necessary to make your move:

Accountant
Accountants, contrary to old tales, don't sit around all day chewing on pencils and pining for adventure. They earn good wages and tackle dynamic tax, earning, or investment problems for corporations and private individuals. The United States will add 226,000 openings for accountants and auditors over the next decade, for an 18 percent overall increase.

To prepare, keep your day job; meanwhile, enroll in an online bachelor's degree program in accounting. The best jobs will go to those who pursue a master's degree in accounting or finance--also available online. Accountants and auditors drew a median annual wage of $63,180 in 2007.

Nursing Administrator
Nursing administrators often begin their careers as floor nurses. Nurses earn good wages and have plenty of job options from which to choose. But some either burn out from stress or want to earn more as health care managers. The Labor Department reports that all advanced practice nursing specialties require completion of a master's degree in nursing (MSN) or business administration.

Typically an online RN to MSN program includes a first-year program that satisfies bachelor's degree requirements. The earnings keep pace with the level of educational attainment. For example, median annual wages for nurses in the U.S. were $62,480 in 2007, compared with a median annual wage of $84,980 for medical and health-services managers.

Massage Therapist
Most people become massage therapists because they believe in hands-on healing. Many train online in their spare time while continuing to work in their current careers until they're licensed and ready to change. Some mix in massage therapy with an existing career in healing arts to add a part-time income. Or, you may just be tired of corporate America and ready to follow your dreams.

Employment of massage therapists is projected to increase 20 percent through 2016, meaning that the profession is being rapidly absorbed into mainstream American health care. You'll find jobs with existing practitioners, chiropractic offices, spas, hotels, athletic organizations, and clinics. Each state has its own set of licensing requirements. The median annual salary for massage therapists in 2007 was $40,330.

Management Analyst
Take your existing career and deep subject knowledge into the higher echelons of consulting. Jobs for management analysts are predicted to grow by a hefty 22 percent over the 2006-2016 decade. Businesses in the financial, high tech, and sales sectors are on the lookout for expert advice in streamlining operational practices and increasing the bottom line.

One of the best ways to qualify is to add a master's degree in business administration. Online MBA programs complement your existing specializations in biotechnology, IT, health care, marketing, or engineering. You'll be rewarded for your continuing education. The median salary for management analysts in 2007: $80,460.

Technical Writer
Who says majoring in English can't pay? While your peers may understand technology, health care, engineering, or finance, many of them simply cannot cobble a verb and noun into a coherent sentence. If you're a frustrated prose writer with an arts degree, enroll in a technical writing training program to learn the communication paradigms used in business and technology. Or, if you're an accomplished engineer or techie, learn the writing fundamentals in creating white papers, online copy, training manuals, and marketing publications.

A bachelor's degree in journalism, communications, or English with a concentration in technical writing will get you going -- or take classes in publications design, graphics, and technical documentation. Median annual earnings for technical writers in 2007 were $62,780.

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