There's hopeful news for soon-to-be graduates, too. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2012 survey, employers plan to hire 9.5 percent more graduates from the Class of 2012 than they hired from the Class of 2011. While many of those job openings will be triggered by attrition, it's still a good sign that the number is increasing.
What this all means is that things are starting to look up, but there will still be bumps in the road ahead. Yet some industries are seeing growth -- so much so that some can't fill their positions fast enough.
If you're a job seeker, consider exploring a career in one of these nine occupations, all of which are expected to grow in 2012.
1. Biomedical engineer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical engineers apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development and evaluation of biological and health systems and products. This is one of the fastest-growing occupations, with an expected 72 percent increase in employment from 2008-2018.
Average salary: $82,421*
2. Computer software engineer
The computer systems design and related services industry has seen continued growth throughout the second half of 2011, according to the BLS. In addition, the NACE Job Outlook 2012 survey found computer sciences to be one of the top bachelor's degrees in demand by employers.
Average salary: $97,581
3. Customer service representative
This occupation is expected to experience faster than average growth, one reason being the high turnover rate in the field. This is also a good industry to consider if you are fluent in multiple languages, as opportunities for bilingual representatives are fruitful.
Average salary: $29,314
4. Home health aide
Home health aides provide in-home care, a service that will continue to be important as the elderly population continues to grow. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of Americans 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million by 2050, more than double its estimated 2010 population.
Average salary: $28,173
5. Management analyst
Management analyst is an occupation in the management and technical consulting services field, a field that grew by 3.8 percent from September to October 2011 and has seen steady growth throughout the second half of the year. According to the BLS, management analysts study and analyze business-related issues and recommend solutions.
Average salary: $72,197
6. Medical assistant
The BLS predicts that the medical assistant field will grow by 33.9 percent from 2008-2018. Medical assistants often work at physicians' offices and perform administrative and clinical duties. Proper training and skills can be acquired by attending a one- to two-year program at a vocational school.
Average salary: $37,571
7. Network systems and data communications analyst
The BLS notes that this occupational category, with sizable employment growth projections through 2018, includes network architects and engineers, as well as Web administrators and developers. According to the Labor Department, the type of degree required depends on the position level.
Average salary: $48,316
8. Registered nurse
The registered nurse profession is the largest health-care occupation and is expected to grow by 22.2 percent from 2008-2018, according to the BLS. While RNs can be employed by physicians' offices, most work in hospitals.
Average salary: $71,692
9. Retail salesperson
The record-busting Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales show that consumers are starting to feel a little more confident about the economy. In fact, the retail trade has overall trended up since June 2011, with a slight dip from July to August. Due to this occupation's high turnover rate, employment opportunities are expected to be good.
Average salary: $25,557
*All salary estimates are from CBSalary.com and are the U.S. national average salary.
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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