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 or the Bureau of Labor Statistics at


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 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 or

“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 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

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 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 or the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics at

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


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.


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