6 Careers to Watch in 2012

These hot jobs are hiring in droves this year.

Woman at the dentist.
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How to nab an analyst job: Most computer systems analysts have at least a bachelor's degree in a technical field like computer science, mathematics, or even engineering. And a complementary graduate degree is preferred for many companies looking to hire in the profession. For example, analysts who work in a corporate setting often pursue a master's degree in business administration.

[See How to Turn Your Career Resolutions into Action.]

4. Social Worker

Social workers help people to cope with significant transitions in their lives, like the adoption of a child, the loss of a parent, or the adjustment to sobriety from substance abuse. For the next few years, these types of professionals will be in demand throughout the country, particularly those who specialize in medical and public health (also known as clinical social work). According to the Labor Department, there should be more than 103,000 new positions for social workers between 2008 and 2018, and nearly 58,000 of those are healthcare positions.

One pleasant perk: You could increase your marketability by focusing on a specific niche. Examples include family, child, and school social workers who specialize in deaf children, or clinical social workers who administer to cancer patients.

How to nab a social worker job: The minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field like psychology and sociology. An increasing number of social workers also hold a master's degree, particularly those who do clinical work. After basic courses are completed, social workers must obtain licensure, granted from sitting exams and practicing a certain number of supervised hours of fieldwork.

[See The Outlook for Senior Jobs in 2012.]

5. Dental Hygienist

Of course dental hygienists clean teeth. But they have a handful of additional duties that vary by state. Some hygienists can place fillings, others can administer local anesthetics, and still others remove sutures. All hygienists strive to help educate patients about the best practices for brushing and flossing their teeth and gums, however. And according to the Labor Department, there should be more than 62,000 positions to fill in this profession by 2018.

One pleasant perk: This could be an ideal occupation for someone who requires a flexible schedule. The Labor Department reports that approximately half of all dental hygienists work part time.

How to nab a hygienist job: Aspiring hygienists must study at an accredited dental hygiene program. Those who work in a private office have at least earned an associate degree within their program. Bachelor's and master's degrees are also offered, with which a hygienist could choose to do research or teach. And similar to dentists, hygienists must be licensed by the state in which they practice.

[See Ways to Stay Organized on the Job Hunt.]

6. Sales Manager and Representative

This profession requires a cool head and a competitive spirit. Sales representatives and their managers are customer service representatives in the most basic sense, seeing as they make sure to keep their paying clients happy and loyal. But they also are charged with bringing in new customers to meet and improve their bottom line. Those in the managerial role are often still salespeople, but they also have the charge to hire, fire, and motivate their team to exceed expectations.

One pleasant perk: While it could be difficult to obtain a sales job and rise in the ranks without a bachelor's degree, it's not impossible. Experience, plus strong communication and sales skills, could serve you just as well in your career.

How to nab a sales job: As mentioned, many sales representatives and managers have a bachelor's degree. Good word-of-mouth also helps, as many people working in this industry completed an internship at the firm where they were eventually hired. Those who are managers most likely ascended through the ranks.

Twitter: @USNewsCareers