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In a perfect world, we'd all earn more money than we'd know what to do with. But, in such tough economic times, we have to be realistic. The truth is, while earning an abundance of money would be ideal, those earning the average national income or even slightly above it should consider themselves lucky.
It's hard to feel lucky, however, when than the national mean average salary is $42,504 per year, according to the National Compensation Survey. It might not seem like much, but these days, it's more than enough -- or at least it has to be.
That's why we've compiled a list of jobs that pay around the average, in the $40,000 range. If you can't find a job earning enough to keep you comfortable for the rest of your life, at least you might find something to keep you comfortable for the time being.
Here are 10 jobs in various trades that earn around or more than the national average, and the industries with the highest levels of employment for each profession -- aka, the places with the most jobs.*
1. Graphic designers design or create graphic layouts for books, magazines, newspapers, Web sites and other commercial or promotional needs.**
Qualifications: A bachelor's or an associate degree
Industries with most job openings: Specialized design services; newspaper, book, periodical and directory publishers; advertising.
2. Precision instrument and equipment repairers fix and maintain watches, cameras, musical instruments, medical equipment and other precision instruments.
Qualifications: A high school diploma; in some cases post-secondary education.
Industries with most job openings: Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers; electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance; electronics and appliance stores.
3. Medical and public-health social workers offer patients and families psychosocial support to help cope with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses. They can also suggest caregivers, and counsel and educate the patient on his or her illness.
Qualifications: A bachelor's degree, sometimes an advanced degree; state license.
Industries with most job openings: General medical and surgical hospitals, individual and family services, home health-care services.
4. Kindergarten teachers (except special education) teach young children basic science, music, art and literature, and encourage physical, mental and social development.
Qualifications: A bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and a state teaching license.
Industries with most job openings: Elementary and secondary schools; child day-care services; individual and family services.
5. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters put together, install and fix pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air and other liquids or gases.
Qualifications: Training in career and technical schools and community colleges, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
Industries with most job openings: Building equipment contractors; nonresidential building construction; utility system construction.
6. Dietitians and nutritionists plan diet requirements and determine nutritional needs for clients; manage meal programs and oversee meal preparation.
Qualifications: A bachelor's degree and state license, certification or registration.
Industries with most job openings: General medical and surgical hospitals; nursing-care facilities; outpatient care centers.
7. Reporters and correspondents report and convey facts about newsworthy events to an audience via newspaper, magazine, radio, television or Internet.
Qualifications: A bachelor's degree in journalism or mass communications is preferred, but some other majors are OK; internships are preferred.
Industries with most job openings: Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers; radio and television broadcasting; other information services.
8. Bailiffs maintain the order and security in a courtroom and escort jury members outside the courtroom to prohibit interaction with the public.
Qualifications: They vary by employer, but most require a high school diploma or equivalent, and some also require some college education or full-time work experience.
Industries with most job openings: Local government.
9. Respiratory therapists administer respiratory care and life support to patients with breathing problems and other cardiopulmonary disorders, under the supervision of a physician.
Qualifications: An associate degree is the minimum educational requirement, but a bachelor's or master's degree may be important for advancement; state license.
Industries with most job openings: General medical and surgical hospitals; specialty hospitals (except mental or substance abuse); nursing-care facilities.
10. Architectural and civil drafters prepare detailed drawings of architectural and structural features of buildings used in civil engineering projects like highways, bridges and public works.
Qualifications: Employers prefer applicants who have completed post-secondary school training in drafting, which is offered by technical institutes, community colleges and some four-year colleges and universities.
Industries with most job openings: Architectural, engineering and related services; residential building construction; nonresidential building construction.
* Salary data according to the most recent National Compensation Survey, December 2006 - January 2008, provided by the BLS.
** Job descriptions provided by CBSalary.com and the BLS.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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