Love Animals? Become an Animal Trainer!

If you’re interested in an industry that’s rewarding, fun, and has an excellent job outlook, consider animal training. Employment in this career field is expected to grow 20 percent for the 2008-2018 decade, which is much faster than the average for all career fields. Not only this, but this is one of the top fields for individuals interested in freelancing or running their own business. Around 54 percent of animal trainers are self-employed.

So what do you have to do to become an animal trainer? Besides having a love for animals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED equivalent for some jobs, and a bachelor’s degree for others. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a marine mammal trainer, a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, animal science, animal psychology, or biology may be required. Some jobs may also require an animal health technician degree.

Education plays an important role in how much you will earn as well as experience and certification. For example, dog trainers with certification by a professional association or a private vocational or state-approved trade school have the most opportunities and earn the highest salaries in this sector. The Bureau reports that overall, animal trainers earn an average salary of $27,270 per year. The middle 50 percent earned between $19,880 and $38,280 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,700. The top 10 percent earned more than $51,400.

To find out information about animal training and certification, visit the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) at www.ccpdt.org or the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov.

Real Estate Career Outlook OK

In its heyday, real estate was one of the most lucrative careers in the U.S. Top agents and brokers could easily make six (or even seven) figures a year doing what they loved—selling homes and commercial properties. Today, the market has obviously cooled, so it’s a bit tougher for agents and brokers to make a buck. However, according to financial analysts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real estate industry is far from dead. In fact, because home prices and interest rates are so incredibly low, right now is the best time to buy. What this means is, although real estate agents and brokers may make less per sale than they’re used to, there are lots of sales to be made. So, if you want to break into the real estate industry and you’re willing to wait, say 3-5 years for the industry to really bounce back, you could end up making a very lucrative living down the line.

Employment in Real Estate at a Glance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-2011), employment of real estate brokers and agents  is expected to grow faster than average for the 2008-2018 decade. The industry is still very competitive, with well-established, more experienced brokers and agents leading the pack. Beginners do face an uphill battle, but can use the time to learn the ropes, establish themselves, and prepare for better days down the line. As such, the Bureau suggests that beginners have enough money to live for about 6 months or until commissions increase.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of real estate brokers and sales agents (combined) is expected to grow 14 percent during the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than average for all occupations. Separately, employment of real estate agents is expected to grow 16 percent and real estate brokers is 9 percent, for an average of 14 percent overall.

Brokers and agents can expect job growth based on “a growing population, particularly young adults, who will be forming households in greater numbers.” These buyers will require the services of real estate agents and brokers to buy their homes. In addition, although some argue that renting rules right now, millions of people still believe in the American Dream. This means owning a home. According to BLS, home sales will be sparked by the continuing desire for people to own their own homes and their perception that real estate will be a good investment over the long run.

According BLS, in addition to job growth, agents just entering the field can expect a large number of job openings based on the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Real estate brokers and sales agents are older, on average, than most other workers, and many are expected to leave the occupation over the next decade.

Salaries for Real Estate Brokers and Agents

Today’s real estate industry is no place for part-timers. If you are ambitious, well trained,  enjoy selling, and have “extensive social and business connections” you will have the best chance of success. In addition, large urban areas and “rapidly growing communities” are the best places for real estate. Employment is heavily concentrated in these areas.

The Bureau reports average salaries for agents and brokers, but keep in mind that commissions are the main source of earnings in this industry and they vary greatly “according to whatever the agent and broker agree on, the type of property, and its value.” Region may play a role as well. While commissions can be all over the board, several years ago, the National Association of Realtors reported an average commission rate of 5.2 percent across the nation, with a range between 5 and 7 percent. Again, average salaries should be taken with a grain of salt. According to BLS:

The median annual wages, including commissions, of salaried real estate sales agents were $40,150 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $27,390 and $64,820 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,860. Median annual wages, including commissions, of salaried real estate brokers were $57,500 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,420 and $93,970 a year.

Residential building construction offered the highest median average annual wages at $63,280 per year for real estate brokers and $49,620 per year for real estate agents.

Becoming a Real Estate Agent or Broker

Yes, to be a successful agent or broker, you have to have a pleasant personality and be trustworthy, mature, and enthusiastic about selling real estate, but in today’s competitive real estate industry, you need much, much more. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement to break into the industry, but many firms wont even look at an applicant that has less than a bachelor’s degree. Common degrees for this field include real estate, finance, law, business, economics, accounting, and marketing.

Whether you have a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, you must be licensed to become a real estate broker or agent. This means you’ll have to pass a written examination. Many states also require 30-90 hours of classroom instruction. Broker’s must take a more comprehensive exam and have between 60 and 90 hours of formal training, and typically 1-3 years of experience selling real estate. In some states, a bachelor’s degree in real estate may allow you to waive the experience requirements to become a licensed broker.

Because laws are always changing, among other things, many states require continuing education for license renewals. Brokers and agents must renew their licenses every 1-2 years, depending on state requirements. Contact your state real estate licensing commission for specific licensing requirements. Visit Nationalrealtorsdirectory.com for contact information for each state commission.

Can I get a good job without a 4-year degree?

Not everyone can (or wants to) go to college. For those that don’t think college is for them, it’s perfectly ok to feel this way. The only issue at hand is, how do you earn a decent living in America today without a 4-year degree? You’ll have to keep an open mind and expect to earn a certificate, 2-year degree or go through a training program to get a job with a future and benefits. The list below is by no means complete, but it does give you an idea of the types of jobs that do not require a 4-year degree. Some of the most popular jobs include:

  • -Armed Forces
  • -Artist
  • -Correctional Officers
  • -Dental Assistants
  • -Information Processing

Armed Forces
Did you know that there are literally thousands of positions in the military? Do you remember the draft? If not, here’s a refresher. Between 1948 and 1973, men could be drafted into the armed forces whether they wanted to go or not. These men were not all fighters. Some were carpenters, others were mechanics, some were dispatchers or typists while others worked in health care. If you had a special skill, chances are, you would not end up in combat because the armed forces could better utilize you in other areas. What does this mean for individuals considering entering the armed forces today? Your skills in any given area could lead to job stability (for 4 years or more), free housing, free health care, a salary, and if you do decide to go back to school, the military will foot the bill. Want more information? Go to www.army.mil or www.goarmy.com.

Artist
“Artist” is one of the broadest career fields in the world. Painters, musicians, writers, animators, filmmakers, sculptors, illustrators, cartoonists, sketch artists, and painting restorers are a part of this massive industry. This is one of the few industries where (in many cases) talent and artistic ability may very well outweigh education. If you have artistic ability and you would like to explore this career field further, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics at  www.bls.gov to learn more about each individual area of the industry.

Correctional Officer
Yes, you will have to complete a training program. Yes, you should be physically fit. And yes, you should have patience and excellent communication skills. And no, you do not need a degree to become a correctional officer. Most correctional officers are employed in state and federal prisons and unfortunately, the nation’s prisons are overcrowded and in desperate need of skilled officers. This means, the field offers tremendous job growth and plenty of stability to boot. Correctional officers may earn anywhere from $33,600 per year up to $70,990 or more per year depending on rank and facility. Want to learn more about becoming a correctional officer? Visit the American Correctional Association at www.aca.org.

Dental Assistant
Certification or registration and completion of an accredited dental assistant program are required for entry into this field. In order to be accepted into a dental assistant program, you must have a high school diploma. Dental assistants are in high demand, so you can expect plenty of job opportunities in hospitals, private practices and offices, clinics, and schools. Dental assistants may also work in missions or “free” clinics supported by the U.S. government as well as other institutions such as correctional facilities.

Dental assistants also earn a pretty good salary to start. They earn an average salary $31,550 per year. The highest paid dental assistants average around $43,040 per year and the lowest paid dental assistants earn approximately $20,530 per year. For more information about dental assistants, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics www.bls.gov to learn more about this career field.

Information Processing
Hey, if you like peck, peck, pecking away at your computer all day, why not get paid for it? Data entry and information processing workers make a pretty penny processing information for companies and organizations and some even work from home. The catch? You just have to be accurate, fast, and open to performing other clerical duties. Information processing workers earn anywhere from $28,000 per year up to $45,000 per year. Salaries might be higher or lower based on skills, geographic location, and industry. For more information about jobs in this industry visit www.usajobs.gov or the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov.

20 More Careers that don’t Require a 4-Year Degree

  • -Bank Teller
  • -Claims Adjuster
  • -Computer Support Specialists
  • -Cosmetologists
  • -Customer Service Representative
  • -Fire Fighter
  • -Interviewers (solicit and verify info, for banks, government programs, and medical facilities)
  • -Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • -Medical Assistants
  • -Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks
  • -Personal and Home Care Aides
  • -Pharmacy Technician
  • -Postal Service Workers
  • -Purchasing Manager
  • -Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
  • -Retail Salesperson
  • -Science Technicians
  • -Self-enrichment Teacher
  • -Teacher Assistant
  • -Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Dressing for an Interview: What’s Appropriate, What’s Not

First impressions are everything, especially in today’s competitive job market. There are dozens, if not hundreds of applicants for any given position, so the first impression you make has to be a lasting one. By the time you are called in for an interview, you can assume that you already look pretty good on paper to the employer. However, according to a recent Forbes Woman article, one tiny detail can have a big impact when it comes to securing the job. And what you wear has a lot to do with it.

According to a recent study by associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University Frank Bernieri, Ph.D., your interviewer decides within 10 seconds of meeting you whether or not you’re right for the job. If you put the right amount of effort into putting a polished look together, you are more likely to be hired than someone that did not.

So, what’s appropriate for an interview and what’s not? The most appropriate style for an interview is conservative. You just can’ t go wrong with this look. What you should never do is wear too tight or ill-fitting clothes, and women should never show cleavage or wear see through garments. If you wear a skirt, fishnets or patterned stockings are a huge no. Women should wear light makeup (if you wear makeup at all) and hair should be neat and clean. Mohawks, cornrows, excessive hair accessories, and multi-colored hair are all no-nos. It’s also a good idea to cover  tattoos or piercings, especially if the piercings are in unusual places such as the eyebrows or lip.

Men should follow the same rules for piercings and tattoos, and stick to button-downs and slacks when it comes to attire. A tie would be a great way to top things off.  A Polo shirt and slacks or khakis are fine for a date, but not for an interview.

While these are general guidelines for interviews, you should also consider the type of business you’re interviewing with. For example, strict conservative is great for conservative businesses, but it’s perfectly ok to go a little trendier (but still polished) for say, an advertising or graphic design firm. A few tweaks here and there can go a long way. For conservative businesses, opt for closed-toe shoes. For creative businesses sling-back heels are hipper, but they still look polished.

So where can you shop for the right interview clothes without breaking the bank? Both men and women can try Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. During your shopping trip, just remember this: Forbes author Laura Sinberg writes “proper attire for an interview will create a halo effect, meaning your interviewer will see you in a positive light and forgive any minor gaffes you make.”

For a quick slideshow to get an idea of what’s appropriate for an interview and what’s not, read Dress for Interview Success at Forbes.com.

Graduate, Online School Enrollment Increase

One of the best ways to increase your marketability in tough economic times is to earn a degree. It’s true that a degree is not a guarantee that you will get the job you want and in the timeframe you want, but it is a fact that the unemployment rates for individuals without an education or less education are astronomical compared to unemployment rates for individuals with a degree—especially an advanced degree. As of February 2010, the unemployment rate for individuals with less than a high school diploma was 14.9 percent. For individuals with a high school diploma, the unemployment rate was 10.3 percent. The unemployment rate for individuals with some college, but no degree was 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate for:

  • -Associate degree holders is 7 percent
  • -Bachelor’s degree holders is 5.4 percent
  • -Master’s degree holder’s is 4 percent
  • -Professional degree holder’s is 2.4 percent
  • -Doctoral degree holder’s is 1.9 percent

These figures combined and averaged bought the overall unemployment rate to 8.2 percent in 2010, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only does education protect you from unemployment, to a certain extent, it can also keep you out of the low-income bracket. Individuals with a degree earn double (and in some cases triple) the amount per week that  less educated workers do.  

The bottom line is—education pays, especially in a tough economy where competition is intense and employer’s are in a position to demand more from potential employees. As a result, adults are making the decision to return to school to earn an advanced degree, while others are enrolling in a variety of certificate programs, online degree programs, and more. Hundreds of colleges and universities have reported an increase in graduate school enrollment ranging from 7 to 15 percent, while online undergraduate degree programs have seen a significant increase over the past several years. Some colleges and universities report a 2.3 percent increase in undergraduate online enrollment while others report more than a 10 percent increase. 

The reasons for the increase in enrollment in graduate programs and online undergraduate degree programs go beyond America’s current economic crisis. Graduate programs have actually become more accessible through online offerings and international enrollment is up, which helps boost percentages.

The availability of graduate programs online appeals to many full-time working professionals that may also have major obligations at home. The same is true for online undergraduate programs. Overall, these online programs are also a way to conserve and save money. They’re just more affordable, as they eliminate the need to commute and spend.

About Online Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs

Most online undergraduate degree programs are an extension of an existing program at a brick and mortar college or university. Online graduate programs, especially MBA’s, are offered in abundance through most accredited colleges and universities. Although online degree programs have the same curricula and requirements as brick and mortar programs, in many cases (and contrary to popular belief) online degree programs are much more difficult.

To successfully complete an online program you must be at least somewhat computer savvy, mainly because you have to master the system you will be using in order to attend lectures, chat, submit papers, post to discussion areas, and more. Programs such as Blackboard and SOAR are common platforms. In addition, you must be extremely disciplined, organized, and focused. It’s a lot tougher when you don’t see your professor or interact with other students several times a week.

It’s up to the student to check in, read through all materials, jot down due dates, post to discussion boards, and contact the instructor if there are any issues. There is absolutely no hand holding in an online environment, but the good news is, in addition to earning an advanced degree, your organizational and problem-solving skills will soar.

Before you enroll in an online degree program, check to make sure the school is accredited. This means that the U.S. Department of Education must recognize the schools accreditation. You can check your school’s accreditation status by accessing the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

About Accreditation

Accreditation is a validation process by which institutions of higher education are evaluated against established standards to ensure a high level of educational quality. Accreditation is accomplished through a peer-review process in which faculty from accredited institutions help to conduct evaluations of either new non-accredited institutions or accredited institutions seeking renewal. The standards used to conduct these evaluations may vary but in general they assess the institution’s mission, goals and objectives, resources and resource allocation, student admission requirements, student support services, and the quality of the faculty and educational offerings.

6 Financial Advantages for College Students

College Graduation.

For many people, the knowledge that you gain while in school is more than enough incentive to pursue higher education. For some, however, the little extras that come along with going to college make it that much better. When considering the option of college, think about the other financial advantages that you will have.

Health Insurance

There are a few different options with health insurance. One of the most beneficial to students is the ability to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan for a longer period of time. This can save a lot of money in the long run. Keep in mind the restrictions to this; for example, if you are married, you will not qualify.

Car Insurance

Many auto insurance companies offer discounts for students. You can find the discounts available by calling your insurance provider or checking out websites like 21st.com. Sometimes, you may be able to get larger discounts if you have good grades. 

Cell Phone Plans

Have you looked at the price of cell phone plans recently? It can get a little overwhelming. Luckily, if you are a student, many cell phone providers are willing to give you a break. Talk to your cell phone provider and find out if they offer a discount for students. You’ll never know unless you ask!

Checking and Savings Accounts

Many banks today are offering great deals for students. With a copy of your transcripts or student ID, you may be able to get highly reduced, or even free, bank accounts. Many of these accounts come with both checking and savings options, which is a great benefit for students. Having the ability to start putting money away into a savings account now will greatly benefit you in the future.

Local Businesses

Have you ever seen an advertised student discount at the places you shop, eat, or otherwise frequent? If so, you may already know the best places to find a great financial advantage. Many restaurants and other service-based industries offer a discount with a student ID. This is a great way to save a little money on the things you do regularly.

Tax Benefits

As a student, you may be able to get great tax benefits. Whether you do your taxes yourself, or you have someone do them for you, make sure to look into the options you have as a student. Each year these benefits differ, so don’t forget to check every year.
There are many benefits to being a student. Some of the benefits may seem small in the short run, but when you look at the overall savings that you will come across as a student, you start to see the bigger picture. Carry your student ID, you never know what discounts you may come across.

America’s Best Graphic Design Programs

Graphic designers design art and copy layouts for material to be presented by electronic media and visual communications media such as magazines, newspapers, books, television, and packaging. Graphic designers use a variety of techniques to communicate messages such as animation, illustration, color, type, and photography. Graphic designers work for advertising agencies, newspapers and magazines, the film and video industry, publishing houses, and government agencies, design firms, and public relations firms.

Although graphic design jobs are available in these industries and many others, the biggest employers of graphic designers are marketing and advertising firms. Many graphic designers work on a contract basis. Currently, 25.6 percent of all graphic designers are self-employed.

Depending on factors from the size of the firm to region, graphic designers can earn anywhere from $42,000 per year on the low end to $95,000 or more on the high end. Entry-level graphic designers usually earn the lowest salaries, but in most cases, these designers advance rather quickly—usually within 1-3 years.

Graphic designers are in high demand today, but positions are very competitive. However, most graphic designers will agree that the right position is well worth the effort because not only are these creative positions exciting and rewarding, they are also the most stable positions in the creative sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for graphic designers is good, based on an impressive 13 percent increase in job growth between now and 2018.

So, what does it take to become a graphic designer? Employers prefer to hire graphic designers with at least an associate degree, but designers with a bachelor’s degree or higher will find more opportunities. They will receive higher starting salaries as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of all graphic designers have an associate degree or higher and more than 20 percent have some college experience, but no degree. More than 6 percent of all graphic designers have a master’s degree. 

It is important to note that education alone does not guarantee entry into or success in the field. Creativity, communication skills, and computer skills are a must. Web design and animation experience are also a must for most of the top firms.

Graphic designers come from many different educational backgrounds. Some have a degree in advertising or marketing communications while others may have a degree in fine art, multimedia arts, or even animation. If the focus is graphic design, students can expect to take classes such as flash animation, marketing design, website design, computer graphics, studio art, printing techniques, principles of design, commercial graphics production, history of graphic design and desktop publishing, to name a few.

In the U.S., there are more than 250 accredited postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Art & Design schools are twice as likely to offer a degree or certificate in graphic design, but many of the schools on the list below are traditional four-year colleges and universities. The list was complied by U.S. News and World Report. If you decide that the schools on the list aren’t for you or they are just too competitive, remember, many other schools offer graphic design programs. If you come across a school that you aren’t familiar with, just check to make sure the program is accredited by The National Association of Art and Design (NASAD) or other recognized accrediting agency. Visit Ed.gov for a list of recognized agencies.

America’s Best Graphic Design Programs 

  • -Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
  • -Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
  • -Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • -Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
  • -Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • -Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • -School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
  • -California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
  • -Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
  • -California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA
  • -School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • -New School–Parsons School of Design, New York, NY
  • -Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
  • -University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • -Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN

How to Compare Colleges

One of the first things to consider when creating a targeted list of colleges is budget. If you plan to finance your education through loans and/or income from a full or part-time job, this will help narrow your search significantly. Many colleges offer grants and scholarships, so be sure to include these types of schools on your your list—even if the tuition is beyond your budget. If you want to find out about grants and scholarship programs, visit CollegeScholarships.org. Just about every college website also lists grant, loan, and scholarship program information. Go to each website’s financial aid section for details.

After you have considered your budget, price, and the type of financial aid each college on your list offers, it’s time to think about location. Do you plan to live on campus? In state or out of state? Do you prefer to commute? Once you have decided on a location, this should eliminate a good number of schools on your list. At this point, comparing colleges should be somewhat easy, but an even shorter list will make comparing colleges even easier.

To trim the list to just a few, consider your career path. What do you plan to major in? Engineering? Literature? Architecture? Not all schools offer all programs, so this will help shorten your list to just a select few colleges. If you are unsure about your location, major, and price, you can still compare colleges using the comparison criteria below.

Comparing Colleges

Now that you have your shortlist ready, it’s time to compare colleges. A good way to keep things organized is to use the following comparison criteria:

-Admission Procedures and Requirements
-Campus Life
-Cost and Financial Aid
-Location
-Type of School

Admission Procedures and Requirements
The admission procedures and requirements for any given college discusses the percentage of students accepted. This will tell you how competitive the college is. You will also find out whether an interview and/or essay is required, and any SAT and ACT requirements. The school website will usually list the minimum acceptable SAT and ACT scores.

Campus Life
This information is also located on the school’s website and will tell you whether or not the school is in an urban, suburban, or rural setting. This section also includes enrollment figures, so you’ll know what to expect regarding class size, male/female ratio, etc.

Cost and Financial Aid
Cost and financial aid information covers tuition and fee information for both in-state and out-of-state students. It will also list costs for room and board or room only.

Location
Location is all you need to determine whether you’ll have to commute, live on campus, or relocate to another state.

Type of School
The type of school affects price, financial aid, grant offerings, scholarship programs, and more. For example, private colleges cost more than public colleges, and public colleges offer more breaks on tuition than private colleges do.

When comparing colleges, the best place to find the most reliable and up-to-date information about any given college is the school’s official website. For a directory of colleges visit AllCollege.org.

How to Find a Legitimate Work from Home Job

 Work from home jobs are the toughest jobs to find, get and keep. Why? For starters, the demand is much higher than the supply. Stay at home moms, students, moonlighters, people with limited physical abilities, and those that prefer not to  commute are all competing for these jobs. Some may not mind the commute, but prefer to work in a relaxed and familiar environment. What this adds up to is thousands of workers lining up to compete for the few truly legitimate work from home jobs available. 

Next, some of the best work from home jobs actually begin as onsite jobs. A large percentage of workers get to the point in their careers where they can suggest working at home part-time. Eventually, if the boss is satisfied, these part-time situations move into full-time work from home positions.

If you’re fortunate enough to land a work from home job or convince your boss that it will work out better for everyone—great, but you’re still not home free. Stay at home jobs are not for you if you are unorganized, easily distracted, or tend to procrastinate. Many stay at home job seekers mistakenly believe that stay at home workers can work when they feel like it and they only have to answer to themselves. This is not true. In fact, if you work at home for a company, they will monitor you just as much as they would if you were working in an office—maybe even more. Stay at home workers still need to produce and employers will waste no time making sure you do.

Best Work from Home Jobs

The following list of work from home positions includes jobs that are suitable for all skill levels and personality types. Some may sound like fun, while others might sound like, well, work. It is important to remember that no matter how much fun these jobs are (or are not), in order to keep your position you must always remain professional and follow company rules to the letter. If you don’t, there are thousands of stay at home job seekers who are ready and willing to take your place.

Some of the best work from home jobs include: Customer Service Representative, Virtual Assistant, Medical Transcriptionist, Online Tutor, and Travel Agent.

Customer Service Agent – Customer service agents work in just about every industry. They work in travel, telecommunications, retail, insurance, entertainment, and more. True, many companies do outsource, but there are still some that prefer to hire workers right here in the U.S. Just a few examples include wireless cell phone services, auto insurance companies (claims), ticket agencies (concerts, sporting events), and travel agencies. To find a work at home customer service position, contact the company you’re interested in directly.

Virtual Assistant  – “Virtual assistant” is a fairly new job title, but it’s growing at a rapid pace. Companies and businesses both small and large, use virtual assistants to do everything from mailings and bookkeeping to marketing and data entry. There are several ways to become a part of this new industry. You can sign up with an agency (simply search through listings online) or you can start your own service. Our advice, to see how it’s done, try working with a service first. Use your favorite search engine to look for virtual assistant agencies online. 

Medical Transcriptionist – All transcription jobs require different and specific skills. If you are working for the medical industry, you must have a firm grasp of medical terminology or if you are working in the legal field, you should be familiar with legal terms. You must also be a fast typist. The minimum wpm for most positions is 65. To find medical transcriptionist jobs, use your favorite search engine to locate agencies. One of the most professional and reliable agencies out there is MedQuist (formerly Spheris). Visit www.medquist.com for job listings and information about how to get started.

Online Tutor – Most online tutoring agencies prefer to hire individuals with an associate degree or higher. You should also have excellent grades in the subjects you plan to specialize in. All online tutoring agencies will check your credentials. To locate online tutoring opportunities, just use your favorite search engine or visit www.tutor.com. There are literally hundreds of online tutoring agencies to choose from, so take your time and do your research.

Travel Agent – Online travel agents are much less expensive to hire than operating out of an office. Cruise lines, cruise travel agencies, hotels, and more hire travel agents (also customer service reps.) to help customers find the right travel package or the cheapest flights. You can check for openings for just about any cruise line or hotel by visiting the line’s official website or you can visit Locate A Travel Agency (LATA) for travel agency listings  across the U.S., www.locateatravelagency.com.

No matter how polished an agency, company, or business website looks, always do your homework. Check to make sure the company or agency has a physical and verifiable address. And no, PO boxes do not count. Also, make sure the agency or company has a phone number. Call to see if you can get through to a live person. Finally, find out if the company is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) by visiting the BBB at www.bbb.org.

Tips and Warnings: If a company or agency asks you to pay an application fee, to pay for a list or to pay for equipment or software, do think twice. You should never, ever have to pay a fee or otherwise to obtain a position.

CIOs plan on increasing IT hiring

Here’s some more good news on the technology jobs front:

Technology executives expect information technology (IT) hiring to continue in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report (http://rht.mediaroom.com/ITHiringIndex). In the latest quarterly survey, 12 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 6 percent expect cutbacks, for a net 6 percent projected increase in hiring activity. This is up two points from the previous quarter’s projections.

The economy goes up and down, but if you have a degree in the technology area you have a good shot at being in demand throughout your career.

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