Somewhere within the country’s trillion-dollar annual budget, or whatever the exact figure might be, a tiny fraction is siphoned off by the U.S. Department of Labor to publish O*Net Online, a website devoted to helping people research new job possibilities and career avenues.  If you haven’t discovered this site yet, you’ll find it here, and if you visit it you can browse around a range of tools it offers for folks seeking career inspiration and guidance.  You can hunt for occupations that might be closely related to your current (or most recent) career path, you can search for jobs that utilize certain specialized skills you possess, and you can read detailed descriptions of various professions and what they involve.  Is this data always accurate and does the system reflect all of the latest job niches popping up in the marketplace?  Not necessarily.  But it’s still a fairly useful resource to explore if you’re looking to take your career in a new direction.

Specifically, however, I was intrigued by a new page the site offers called Bright Outlook Occupations where you’ll see a listing of the 200-300 career paths that the Department of Labor feels will be in most demand in the coming years.  Specifically, we’re told that “Bright Outlook occupations are (those) expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, will need large numbers of new job openings, or are new and emerging occupations.”  On this list, accessible from the above link, you’ll see everything from Accountants to Wind Turbine Service Technicians.  It’s pretty interesting, at first, but then you sort of realize that this list includes SO many careers that it kind of defeats the purpose — or makes it hard to narrow down your choices to a useful degree.  Seriously, Bicycle Repairers are going to be in hot demand?  And Animal Trainers?  And Mail Carriers?  And Midwives?

At any rate, if you’re thinking it might be time for a career change, poke around on O*Net a bit.  It’s a good starting point, at the very least, and then if somebody wanted to crank things up a notch, they could do some deeper research or engage a coach, such as myself, who specializes in helping people with these kinds of explorations.  At the end of the day, however, since I don’t personally believe these big government sites do a very effective job at keeping up with the “reality” of the market out there, I employ a lot of other sources and guerrilla techniques to help people figure out where the action really might be in terms of the modern job market.

One such source I use?  It’s pretty simple.  Having published my newsletter and job lead updates now for over six years, which involve spending 8-12 hours per month surfing through employer websites to see what jobs they have listed, I’ve seen some definite patterns emerge in terms of some new job titles that are on the rise — and some traditional jobs that have held fairly steady, despite recent economic conditions.  So while this is an utterly unscientific approach to the question, here’s a quick list of things I’d throw out there:

New Job Titles That Are Emerging:

— Social Media & Emerging Media Specialists
— Consumer Insight / Customer Experience Managers
— User Interface / User Experience Design Consultants
— SEO/SEM & Internet Marketing Consultants
— Web Designers / Web Producers / Digital Media Strategists
— Oracle/SAP Analysts
— Business Intelligence Professionals
— Technology/Enterprise Risk Management Practitioners
— Decision Support Analysts
— Software Development Engineers in Test (SDET)
— Content Managers / Content Analysts
— Lead Generation / Market Development Specialists
— Sharepoint Analysts & Developers
— Salesforce.com Analysts & Developers

Traditional Jobs That Have Held Steady:

— Bookkeepers & Accountants
— Payroll Processors
— Compensation & Benefits Analysts
— Financial Analysts (of various types)
— Nursing & Clinical Health Care Positions
— Inside Sales Professionals
— Internal Auditors & Audit Managers
— Regulatory Compliance Specialists
— Credit & Collections Managers
— Paralegals
— Contract Administrators

This is a short list of the job titles I come across most commonly, in my Internet travels, suggesting there’s a pretty steady demand for people in these professions.  Any other job niches some of you have seen out there in growing numbers?  Or do you know some people in fields that have seemed largely immune to the sting of the recession?