If you're ready—or, let's be honest, if you're dying—to change careers, it's smart to pick a field with a strong future. By choosing to work in an in-demand or cutting-edge industry, you increase your professional resilience. In short, you boost the chances that your job may actually exist 10 years from now.
We've rounded up seven high-growth fields where you don't need a Ph.D. to bring home a decent paycheck. In fact, many jobs in these industries demand less than two years of training. So if you need a change of pace, check out these growing fields:
1. Nursing. The job security of nurses is legendary: We always need them and it's hard to outsource person-to-person patient care. Plus, aging Baby Boomers are increasing the demand for healthcare in general—the United States government predicts the creation of more than 3 million new medical jobs in the next few years. And nurses top the list, with 711,900 new spots by 2020.
Nursing also offers great advantages—like flexible scheduling and good benefits—that can make changing careers a more attractive move.
2. Energy. The U.S. energy industry is adding jobs left and right for both fuel-centered projects (like oil drilling) and clean-energy solutions (like solar and wind power). This rising tide is also creating new jobs like energy consultants, who help protect the environment and combat waste by inspecting buildings for air leakages. Like many energy-related careers, the training to become an energy consultant is not too demanding: an associate's degree will come in handy, but many energy consultants only need to complete a short certificate program.
3. Interpreting and Translation. If you've got language skills, the field of interpreting and translation is a strong choice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this career area will grow at a blazing rate of 42 percent by 2020, much faster than average. More specifically, demand for people who are fluent in Arabic, East Asian languages, and frequently translated languages—like Spanish, French, and American Sign Language—will be high over the next decade.
The most important requirement for this industry is total language fluency. A bachelor's degree is a good place to start, but if you've got strong language skills many companies will provide on-the-job training.
4. Web and Software Development. Across the country, human resources managers are looking for qualified web and software development professionals, resulting in an expected job growth of 22 percent to 30 percent by 2020. And that means technically minded folks can bring home a big paycheck. According to Indeed.com, the average salary in this industry is around $90,000. Depending on where you want to work, education requirements vary widely. So check out training specifications for your chosen career path before committing to any further education.
5. Engineering. Engineering is a wide-ranging and rapidly growing field: the BLS expects more than 160,000 new jobs by 2020. While some roles do require higher levels of education (like a master's degree), engineering can be a great field for ex-military job seekers who are transitioning into civilian life. As Eric Sorrentino points out on the Grantham University blog: "Military members often possess highly technical skills that would translate well into areas of engineering."
6. Teaching. As school enrollment continues to rise, education and library careers are growing to the tune of 1.4 million new jobs by 2020.
If you love your current profession but aren't interested in corporate culture anymore, teaching can be a great way to share your knowledge and gain more work/life balance. If you already have a degree in your field, you may only need to take a few additional education courses to become a high school teacher or college professor.
7. Entrepreneurship. There's no better way to start fresh than to build something from the ground up. Sound appealing? You're not alone: according to a recent study by Babson College and Baruch College, the number of entrepreneurs in the U.S. has risen by 60 percent since 2010.
While entrepreneurship comes with big risks and challenges, creating a successful start-up or small business can be extremely rewarding. So if you're ready to be your own boss—and put your creativity, persistence, and smarts to the test—you can create your own entrepreneurial future.
Annie Favreau is the managing editor for Inside Jobs—a site that helps career changers and choosers discover strong career options + find the right education to make it happen. Follow her on Twitter @InsideJobs.