There were 3 million job openings in the U.S on the last Friday in February, and about four times as many job seekers chasing them, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. No doubt, the only jobs that are easy to get in this economy are the nepotistic ones, and even those are harder to justify amid furloughs and layoffs and hiring freezes. Some jobs, however, may be easier to get—they have a higher volume of openings compared with other occupations, and there's a strong likelihood of continued growth in openings over the next decade or so.
The following jobs represent options with higher availability in recent months--thanks, in part, to data on postings by job title measured by job sites LinkUp, Indeed, and Simply Hired—as well as easier training requirements and less turnover than others. For a longer-term outlook, we also considered the Labor Department's list of jobs with the most openings projected through 2016.
Physical therapist/physical therapy assistant: Just as the baby boom generation is aging, the need for physical therapy is growing. "A lot of people are getting very creaky," says Laurence Shatkin, a career expert and author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs, who notes the outlook is very good for physical therapy employment. Physical therapists boast an unemployment rate far below the national average, according to the American Physical Therapy Association, and openings for physical therapists were among the most available at job search sites in recent months. But the job requires an advanced degree. Second best is the job of physical therapy assistant. Physical therapy assistants work under the oversight of a physical therapist. While they don't have the advantage of being able to open their own practices, they do have fewer education requirements. Assistants generally complete two-year associate's degrees. The median income is $42,000, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Indeed.com, which culls job listings from other websites, including job boards and newspapers, found that the occupation of physical therapy assistant saw one of the largest increases in openings in the first quarter over the previous quarter.
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Truck driver: This is a job that can boast the stability of being impossible to outsource. The schedules can be rough, as long haul truck drivers can drive more than 100,000 miles a year. Truck driver is among the Labor Department's top 15 occupations with the most openings through 2016. The occupation also saw one of the largest increases in openings in the first quarter on Indeed.com, and was among the top 25 job titles posted in March on LinkUp, which aggregates openings from company websites. Simply Hired reported "truck driver" postings were up 44 percent in the first quarter. The outlook is also good. An American Trucking Association 2005 report perceived a dramatic shortage of long-haul truckers. While the recession has mitigated worker shortages of all kinds, the association says it anticipates the problem will return once the recession has ended.
Customer service representative: Following a move already made by many corporations, Delta Airlines is eliminating its India call-center contractors and bringing its customer service back stateside. The outsourcing threat for American workers remains, but the need for customer service representatives is so great--and growing--that the job continues to have high rates of U.S. employment, with nearly 2.2 million employed in 2007. The job of a customer service representative can be stressful, but the work is crucial to companies in various sectors. Along with being among the most available job on multiple job sites, this is no. 4 on the Labor Department's list of jobs with the most openings. The training or education required to be hired as a customer service representative is less than many. A college degree may be increasingly expected, but many employers still hire workers with high school diplomas.
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Computer engineer: The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported on jobs most in demand in the state for March, and while healthcare took nearly all the top spots, information technology jobs quickly followed--with high ranking for computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer engineers in both computer hardware and software. Software engineer ranked high for job openings on LinkUp in March, as well, and the occupation is projected to be among the fastest growing jobs through 2016, according to the Labor Department. The job has opportunities for people with a bachelor's degree in a related field, and some work experience.