The acceleration of the digital revolution, changes in consumer habits and an aging population are continuing to reshape the job market, employment projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other experts suggest. • A million new jobs are forecast to be created by 2018 — good news for fresh-out-of-college grads as well as older adults looking for new lines of work. But with the occupational outlook ever-changing, they'd be well-advised to choose "hot" jobs in this high-unemployment market. • Here are five fast-growing jobs that may be of interest to new grads and second-career seekers:
The number of accounting jobs is projected to grow 22 percent by 2018, according to the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, as companies put a premium on their finances.
Forget the green eyeshades stereotype. Accountants now do everything from audits and budgets to financial planning and analysis to advising companies as they create products and services.
"The (old) role of counting the beans and vouching for the integrity of financial statements is just the minimum now," says Jeff Thomson, CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants.
Attending graduate business school is the surest way to a lucrative accountant's position on Wall Street or with a major corporation. But people looking to restart their careers with a less costly option can complete accounting certification programs in less than a year and still average $100,000 once they are certified, according to the IMA.
Despite some layoffs and outsourcing of domestic jobs, work in the computer and IT-related fields continues to expand rapidly with no end in sight.
No IT occupation is hotter than network systems and data communications specialist. The government projections identified it as the No. 2 job in terms of expected growth over the coming decade, behind biomedical engineer and just ahead of home health aide.
Other booming IT occupations include computer software engineer, computer and information research scientist, network and computer systems administrator, and computer systems analyst.
The IT job market has become less volatile because technology has become so deeply embedded in businesses that they can't afford to lose their tech talent, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of the Computing Technology Industry Association.
Massage is a young industry that's growing by leaps and bounds as more people learn about the benefits of massage therapy. It's used to treat ailments, reduce stress, rehabilitate sports injuries and promote general health.
Therapists typically work 25 to 30 hours a week and average $37,000 to $45,000 a year working in a chiropractor's office, a spa or a therapy business. It's physically and mentally demanding work, says Michele Merhib, founder of Elements Therapeutic Massage, a franchise business with 80 studios nationwide.
But job prospects are bright, the occupation lends itself to part-time and self-employed work, and training is relatively affordable. It typically costs $7,000 to $12,000 to get the 500 hours of education and training required by most states for licensing as a certified massage therapist, according to Merhib.
The number of massage therapists is projected to grow from 122,400 in 2008 to 145,600 in 2018 — up 19 percent with more than 23,000 new jobs.
Caregiver for seniors
Jobs in senior care pay far less at $10 to $12 an hour than those of registered nurses and physician assistants, two of the most in-demand jobs in health care. But they are much easier to qualify for and may be more plentiful as the 65-and-over population doubles from the current 37 million to 74 million by 2030.
Caregivers help seniors stay in their homes by assisting with dressing, shopping, housekeeping, meal preparation, bathing and errands. Get training required to become a certified nurse's aide or home health aide at community colleges or accredited programs.
Caregiving jobs appeal most to empty nesters and those looking to work 20 to 25 hours a week and do something meaningful, says Peter Ross, founder and CEO of Senior Helpers, one of the largest home care companies, with 6,000 caregivers nationwide.
Social media strategist
The social media field is starting to take off, jobs-wise, as companies embrace a new type of marketing. Employers seek members of the younger generation to help target that demographic.
Monica Wilson of Dartmouth College's career services office says she's seeing job titles that emerged only recently: social media strategist, consultant, manager, director. Outsiders may titter at "Twitter consultant," but it's a valued role for people who are knowledgeable about social media, adept at evaluating options and able to map out a customized social media plan for a company.
The pay isn't bad either. While many of the jobs available to college students or new grads are for social media interns, the average salary for social media jobs is $55,000, according to Simply Hired, a Silicon Valley-based search engine company that compiles online jobs databases.