6 Careers to Watch in 2012

These hot jobs are hiring in droves this year.

Woman at the dentist.
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For many people, the new year sparks fresh interest in finding a new job. Some are just looking to switch workplaces, but others are hoping to start or change careers. So where are the jobs?

According to Tig Gilliam, CEO of staffing and recruiting firm Adecco Group North America, they aren't within the government, nor are they in construction. Key indicators of those sectors' slackened openings include post office closures in 2011 and a long-suffering housing market, says Gilliam. However, highly specialized professions, particularly in the healthcare, information technology, and finance industries, should provide a wide-range of employment opportunities. "These sectors have fared well throughout the recession and are poised for growth in the year ahead," Gilliam says. "Finance, mortgage-related, and accounting jobs will show growth based on low interest rates and homeowners opting to refinance."

[See our list of the 50 Best Careers.]

The Labor Department's projections on the fastest-growing occupations corroborate Gilliam's predictions. According to the Labor Department's findings, here are six careers that should provide plenty of job openings in 2012 and the years to come.

1. Accountant

Accountants are in especially high demand in April. But throughout the year, large firms require the assistance of public accountants to prepare, analyze, and verify financial documents. The Labor Department projects that more than 279,000 accounting positions will become available between 2008 and 2018.

One pleasant perk: Many accountants are their own bosses. The Labor Department estimates that 8 percent of those in the profession are self-employed.

How to nab an accounting job: You'll need a bachelor's degree. For the best job prospects, you should also take and pass the exam to become a certified public accountant, or CPA, which has its own educational requirements. You might also gain a competitive edge if you have a master's degree in accounting or business administration.

[See 6 Networking Tips for Your Job Search.]

2. Registered Nurse

Caring for others could be considered more of a calling than a career. Still, the Labor Department includes registered nurses on its list of professions that will continue to hire plenty of workers in the coming years—an estimated 582,000 nursing jobs will need to be filled between 2008 and 2018. One reason demand remains high is because of the profession's exhaustive number of specializations, which include variances in work setting, medical treatment type, particular diseases, and particular organs.

One pleasant perk: Most RNs work in hospitals, but the Labor Department estimates that 40 percent of employed nurses provide care in homes, schools, and community centers. Those healthcare professionals are likely to keep normal business hours.

How to nab a nursing job: There are three ways to become a nurse. The least common method involves enrollment in a hospital-administered diploma program that lasts for three years. Another route is to pursue an associate degree in nursing at a community or junior college. For more in-depth training and potentially better job prospects and pay, you might consider the third option: pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing at a four-year college. If you already hold a bachelor's degree, you could opt for an accelerated Bachelor's of Science in Nursing program that takes about 18 months to complete.

3. Computer Systems Analyst

The need for well-trained, information technology professionals is apparent, given our digitized society. People who choose a career in this field are problem solvers whose responsibilities entail building, matching, or fixing a computer system to meet the needs of their clients. Those clients could range from corporations to laid-back Internet start-ups. There should be as many as 108,000 computer systems analyst openings between 2008 and 2018.

One pleasant perk: Computer systems analysts and other IT professionals with advanced specialized knowledge or experience can parlay their skills into independent consulting or may start their own business.