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Choosing a career is no longer about simply following a passion. While passion should play a part, deciding upon a career for the future involves much more. Security, opportunities for success, and a salary structure that is solid are critical aspects of selecting a profession or area of study that makes sense. In the past, stable careers with good salaries were hard to come by; however, more options exist today than ever before. What turns a job into a long-term career? Which fields offer the most promise?

When Do Jobs Become Long-Term Careers?

Many factors work together to determine which jobs could become long-term careers. Some factors are dependent upon the individual employee while others have more to do with the positions themselves.

  • Pay. Making six figures doesn’t necessitate long-term career success. An online survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 27 percent of American workers feel successful earning between $50,000 and $70,000. 23 percent feel successful with earning less than $50,000. Only 10 percent of respondents felt as though six-figure incomes were required for success.
  • Happiness and Satisfaction. A career cannot be a long-term opportunity if the employee is not satisfied with the work that he or she is responsible for. Stable careers with good salaries are important but an employee must feel fulfilled, be engaged in the position’s mission, and be interested in moving forward for success. This is where passion becomes more important. Considering your interests and what motivates you is critical when examining career opportunities.
  • Structure. Once again, this is an independent factor which depends upon the individual. Some people are born to be entrepreneurs. The idea of stepping out into the unknown is exciting and motivating. Others value structure and wish to follow paths that have already been paved. Generally speaking, proven careers offer the greatest opportunity for lasting in the long term. Entrepreneurship – while exciting with the potential for great success – does not always offer the most security. Stable careers with good salaries are often accompanied by some type of tried and true structure.
  • Innovation. Stable careers for the future often involve innovation. The world and job market is changing and needs vary from one year or decade to the next. Consider the online revolution and the growth of social media. Twenty years ago, social networking didn’t exist. The idea of connecting online with other individuals was in its earliest stages and, as such, career opportunities were limited at best. Today, entire positions exist just to handle a company’s social platforms online.
  • Tradition. Certain careers are the most secure jobs simply because they have always been around and will continue to be around in the future. In this case, it’s about the needs of society. Finances have always been important; therefore, accountants and those involved in forecasting have always been in high-demand. People have always needed medical attention. While technologies have changed, this means that medical professionals and careers in the field will always be in need. Tradition plays a large role in determining the long-term potential of a given career.

Determining Which Career Is Right for You

To determine which career is right for you it’s important to consider the following questions:

  • What drives you? If you’re not motivated to get out of bed and go to work every day, the most secure jobs in the world will mean nothing. Identify your passions and look for opportunities that follow suit.
  • What are your talents? For a standard position to become a long-term career, you must be talented at what you’re doing. Think about things you’ve received compliments on or subjects in school that you’ve always excelled in.
  • What’s your style? Do you enjoy office interaction with large numbers of people, or do you prefer limited interaction? Do you want to travel for work? Do you prefer to stay situated? Understanding your style will help in narrowing down career opportunities.
  • What income level do you desire? Money doesn’t have to be a motivating career factor. However, if you’re not satisfied with your pay scale you’re less likely to stay in a career for the long term. Examine your motivations and goals and think about the lifestyle you’d be comfortable living. Determine a range and look for careers that fall within that range.

7 Stable Careers for the Future

1. Software Quality Assurance Engineers

Software quality assurance engineers are involved in the development process of various software products and are responsible for ensuring the quality and integrity of the final releases. With average salaries that fall between $85,000 and $100,000, software quality engineering positions offer excellent opportunities for growth.

In addition to the attractive salary range, these professionals will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. No company or organization wants to release software – or other technology-related products – without knowing that the product has been tested and will perform as promised. This means software quality assurance engineers are heavily relied upon. Furthermore, the need for software quality assurance engineers is expected to increase by 25 percent through 2022, which is an excellent growth rate compared to the national average. The demand is only expected to grow in the future.

Software quality assurance engineers generally start as software engineers or testing engineers. They must become familiar with the development process in order to test it. Degrees in information technology are helpful in developing the skills necessary to pursue this career path.

2. Accountant

Accountants – especially in specialized fields and roles – are gifted with limitless career opportunities that are known for lasting long-term. Large corporations, private firms, the government, non-profit and membership organizations and individual people are all in need of accounting services on – at minimum – a yearly basis. This has always been and will always been the case. Numbers are frustrating and difficult for many people; if they are not difficult to you, this might be considered one of your most secure jobs.

With an average earning potential of $67,430, the pay is an attractive feature of accounting positions. Duties typically include bookkeeping, preparing taxes, and offering financial and investment planning services for both individuals and corporations. Additionally, accountants take steps to ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are handled properly. They often work behind the scenes in organizations to ensure smooth operations from a financial standpoint. In certain roles – public accounting and auditing – longer hours during “busy season,” which could include tax season or the end of the budget year, are expected.

The opportunities to specialize in specific fields and certain designations – like the CPA – add potential for future success. A degree in business management with a focus in accounting should be the starting point for this career.

3. Dental Hygienist

Falling within the medical field, a career as a dental hygienist is known for its stability. Dental offices require more hygienists than dentists to keep the patient flow stable and to alleviate the load of the dentists. The career offers a solid opportunity for growth and an attractive salary – $70,000 on average – without pursuing an advanced medical degree.

Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, examining patients while watching for signs of oral disease and providing general preventative care while educating patients on proper health and hygiene. The position is generally a part-time role that requires a state license. Over the next decade, the dental hygiene field is expected to grow by 33 percent, which is much faster than most occupations.

To pursue a career as a dental hygienist, a diploma or Associate degree as a dental assistant is an excellent starting point. From there, it’s easy to move into a hygienist program. Because of its stability, the position consistently ranks among long-term careers that pay well.

4. Human Resource Management

Human resource managers are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the backend administrative functions of any given organization. They handle duties like recruiting, interviewing and hiring new staff members, and consulting with executives and managers on strategic planning and employee movement throughout a company. Additionally, human resource managers serve as liaisons between management and employees ensuring that all activities are monitored. They serve to uphold the integrity of an organization and to protect the organization from potential legal downfalls.

Because human resource professionals are needed in every industry, the opportunities for advancement and long-term placement are great. Normal 9-5 business hours and limited travel make the position attractive for individuals looking for something stable. Because the average salary of a human resource manager is $99,000, the position is attractive for most people. The industry is expected to grow 13 percent each year.

Obtaining a business management degree in human resources is an excellent starting point for pursuing this career. From there, an entry-level position could become a management role over time. This position is stable, attractive, and requires nothing in the form of advanced, post-bachelor degrees.

5. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

When examining possibilities for long-term, stable, career offerings, medical records and health information technicians are often overlooked. While the pay – $34,000 per year on average – may not stand out, the stability and potential for landing a job quickly and easily without an advanced degree often make up for it.

Medical records and health information technicians – with names ranging from health information technicians to medical insurance and billing specialists – help to organize and manage health information data for private practices, public hospitals, and other medical offices. They are responsible for maintaining and ensuring the quality, accuracy, and security of records and must be able to work with paper and electronic systems. These professionals use various codes and classifications to properly coordinate insurance coverage for patients and to keep accurate health and treatment histories.

As of 2012 – the most recent available record year from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics – there were 186,300 active medical records and health information technicians across the country. The availability of roles is expected to increase by 22 percent over the next decade, which ranks ahead of the national average for most industries. The increased demand caused by an aging population is only expected to fuel this growth.

With just a postsecondary certificate in medical insurance billing and coding, a long-term, stable career can be easily obtained.

6. Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVARC Technicians)

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers – otherwise known as HVARC technicians – work on consumer and commercial heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems to control temperature and optimize air quality in private residences and business locations.

Because heating and cooling are essential to any physical location, private homeowners, schools, hospitals, factories and office buildings both in the US and abroad are in need of HVARC technicians. Systems can crash without notice, meaning many HVARC technicians must be available or at least on-call at various hours. Those looking for a career in this field could work independently as a contractor or for a larger service provider. The average salary is attractive at just over $43,000.

Long-term potential for success is critical and stability is necessary. With an expected growth rate of 21 percent through 2022, HVARC positions meet the necessary criteria. The completion of an HVARC training program, associate degree, or apprenticeship offers the best prognosis for interested practitioners. Those familiar with computers and electronics have the most room for growth as systems become increasingly complex.

7. Police Officers and Detectives

Order is essential for any society to function. Police and those involved in criminal justice help to promote this order. As such, criminal justice professionals and law enforcement agents have always played integral roles in the justice system and will continue to do so for the future. Because of this, criminal justice degrees offer an opportunity for stable employment that can be difficult to find elsewhere.

Police officers protect the lives and property of citizens in a specific jurisdiction; they uphold laws and provide assistance to those in need. Detectives take it one step further by serving as investigators who gather facts and collect evidence of crimes and possible crimes.

Police work is not for the faint of heart – it is generally physically demanding, stressful and even dangerous at times – though protection methods have increased and improved over the past decade or so. Shifts vary and many officers work outside of the standard 9-5 range. However, the average salary of criminal justice professionals is nearly $57,000, making it an attractive career opportunity.

In addition to a degree in criminal justice, police officers and detectives are required to graduate from their agency’s – local, state or federal – training academy and to complete a pre-specified on-the-job training period for a number of supervised hours. Through 2022, the number of positions is expected to increase by 5 percent. Stable growth, an increased need for public safety, and regular opportunities for advancement work together to make criminal justice a viable long-term career opportunity.

When searching for career opportunities, it’s critical to examine all factors that come into play: what makes a career attractive to you, what your goals and objectives are for the future, and where you see yourself finding success as you grow as a professional. From there, it’s important to look at the careers that offer the most promise as far as long-term success is concerned. Nothing is more important than a career that is stable and designed to last. The seven long-term careers outlined above are excellent places to start.

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