Fed up with a dead-end job and a salary that doesn't cover rent? Make a fresh start! These sunny career paths will shine on no matter how stormy the economy gets.
The economy is down and so is your mood. You haven’t gotten a raise in eons, and half the staff has just been given a pink slip (did we mention that you also hate your boss?). Don’t despair, there’s hope on the horizon. Some people’s careers are soaring, and yours can, too. Here are six of the jobs the U.S. Department of Labor reports are growing the fastest in this bleak economy—and show no signs of slowing in the next eight years.
A counselor or therapist helps individuals and couples work through stress, anxiety, depression or addiction. But under this rather big umbrella is a swath of career opportunities ranging from case managers and clinical social workers (employed by community agencies to help low-income people with substance-abuse or mental-health issues) to licensed psychotherapists and psychologists who work in a private or group-practice setting.
Justin Tobin is a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in the Loop that opened last year (180 N Michigan Ave, suite 916, 312-346-5156, jtobintherapist.com). He’s just one of many. On his floor alone, he estimates there are about 15 other counselors or therapists and suspects the number in the entire building may be as high as 100. He attributes the enormous job growth to a reduction in the stigma surrounding counseling as well as a spike in the number of people using their health-care benefits. “People realize they have these benefits,” he says, “and want to take advantage of them.”
Social workers and case managers working at nonprofit or social-service agencies can expect to make anywhere between $30,000 and $45,000, and do so willingly in exchange for the opportunity to advance social-justice causes. Meanwhile, a licensed psychotherapist working in a private or group-practice setting may charge between $80 and $150 per hour.
This career is for you if…You have the patience for patients. “The thing I appreciate the most is watching clients and helping them make the change they’re looking for,” Tobin says. He also loves being his own boss and setting both hours and policies around his practice, but notes that working at a social-service agency has its advantages. “All accountability and responsibility falls on me,” he says. “At a mental-health agency, even though responsibility is with each clinician, you’re being supervised so it ultimately falls on the agency.”
Prelicensed counselors or case managers may work in a mental-health or community agency under supervision and only need a high school diploma—although a bachelor’s or master’s degree is preferred. Alternatively, individuals who work toward their licensed clinical social worker degree can work independently, but licensure requires 3,000 hours of supervised counseling after which you must pass a test. Similarly, substance-abuse counselors may become licensed by the state by earning their alcohol and other drug-abuse certification. Get started on coursework here:
Poke around the website for the Adler School of Professional Psychology (65 E Wacker Pl, suite 2100, 312-201-5900) to learn more about the vast career options available to social workers and professional counselors. Not only does the school offer both Ph.D. and master’s programs, but it also offers a Community Service Practicum and in 2005 created the Institute on Social Exclusion where students can learn about advancing social-justice causes.
Haymarket Center (932 W Washington, 312-226-7984), a nonprofit offering comprehensive substance-abuse recovery programs, has a number of one-day classes as part of its 2008 Autumn Workshop Series. Topics to be discussed include working with trauma survivors and a spiritual perspective on recovery. Each workshop is $95 and includes lunch.