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12 Great Caring Careers

March 1, 2010

Considering the standard American workweek is 40 hours long, who doesn't want to love what they do? But with so many choices available, sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly what exactly that might be.

If your strongest trait is your compassionate nature, a job that requires caring for others might be right for you. Whether you are fresh out of college or considering a career change, this guide to caring careers can help you identify your perfect career path.

By analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics using four measurements--pay, job growth, current unemployment levels, as well as the specific characteristic of the week--our experts have been able to categorize careers in a way that will make your decision making significantly easier.

This week we examine 12 jobs that require a caring spirit.

Funeral director

pharmacistYou can't be a funeral director and be a stiff. In a time of grief, no one wants a cold person running the show. Funeral directors are dealing with families during a highly emotional time, so the ability to be patient and compassionate is crucial to helping family members plan a service for their loved one.

What do they do? Compassion, good communications skills and a strong stomach are required for this career. Additionally, good organizational skills are a must since the mortuary industry is details, details, details, namely the details surrounding the ceremonies of burial or cremation. Aside from handling family members during a sensitive period, the business aspects of the industry are equally rigorous.

Duties include arranging transportation for the body, preparing a ceremony for the deceased that corresponds with his or her religious preferences and, often, preparing the body for burial through embalming.

What do they earn? Median annual wages for funeral directors are about $52K.

How you can become one: All states require funeral directors to be licensed. While state licensing laws vary, most require applicants to be 21 years old, have two years of formal education, serve a one-year apprenticeship, and pass an examination. A degree in mortuary takes two to four years to complete.)

Correctional officer

pharmacistWhile burly and surly may come to mind when picturing a prison guard those qualities alone just doesn't cut it in real life. Prisoners are people too, and correctional officers are charged with caring for their wellbeing. The ability to maintain control while treating prisoners with dignity and respect is crucial in this position.

What do they do?Correctional officers keep the peace in jails and prisons. They maintain security and supervise inmates to prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes. In addition to compassion, this job requires fairness and good verbal and written communications skills, as officers are often required to write up reports.

But be forewarned: Being a correctional officer is a stressful and dangerous way to earn a living, with correctional officers sustaining the highest rate of nonfatal on-the-job injuries of any profession.

What do they earn? The median salary for correctional officers and jailors is over $38K and rates of unemployment in this field are expected to remain very low.

How you can become one: Correctional officers go through a training academy and then are assigned to a facility. After that it is all about on-the-job training. Correctional officers are required to have a high school diploma, or GED.

Athletic trainer

If the body is a temple, athletic trainers are caretakers of that temple. To do a good job of that, athletic trainers must have a true concern for their clients. Since athletic trainers are often dealing with the injured, a good bedside manner is critical, as is having the ability -- and patience -- to explain complex medical issues in plain English is critical.

What do they do? Don't confuse your aerobics instructor with an athletic trainer. Recognized by the American Medical Association as allied health professionals, athletic trainers specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries and illnesses, not in getting people physically fit.

Athletic trainers don't just work on the athletic field, they help prevent and treat injuries for people of all ages. While most often associated with professional athletes, trainers can work with everyone from industrial workers to the elderly, depending on their position.

What do they earn? The median annual income for athletic trainers is just under $40K.

How you can become one: A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement, but many athletic trainers hold a master's or doctoral degree. In 2009, 47 States required athletic trainers to be licensed or hold some form of registration.

Dietician

pharmacistBreaking bad habits is, in a word, stressful. Add to that the fact that food and weight can be very sensitive subjects and compassion rises to the top of list of qualities needed to be a good dietician.

The ability to be non-judgmental is also important in this career, as is a level of comfort around the ill and infirm since many dieticians create diets for those suffering from diseases and eating disorders.

What do they do? Move over Paula Deen. Dietitians and nutritionists take menu planning to a whole new level by creating food and nutrition programs designed to prevent and treat illnesses. Often working in school or hospital kitchens, dieticians supervise meal preparation, oversee the serving of meals, and promote healthy eating habits.

Recommending dietary modifications for specific conditions is a big part of a dietician's work, particularly those who work in a hospital setting. A dietitian might create a reduced fat diet for an overweight patient, or work with a cancer patient to create a diet that promotes recovery.

What do they earn? The median annual salary for a dietician is about $50K.

How you can become one: Dietitians and nutritionists need at least a bachelor's degree. Licensure, certification, or registration requirements for this career vary state by state. To earn more, learn more: career advancement and higher earning are more likely if advance degrees and certifications are pursued.

Concierge

pharmacistYour wish is my command should be the official motto of the concierge. You'll need an eye for detail, discretion, good networking skills and the ability to smile at even the most irritating guest to excel in this career.

Most of all, this career requires the desire to please. The concierge is there to please and to make sure guests' wishes are accommodated. Caring comes in to play most when dealing with guests who are sick or in crisis, and also when dealing with particularly difficult requests.

What do they do? Concierges arrange special or personal services for guests. They may rustle up a sought-after ticket to a concert or play, arrange for babysitters, make restaurant reservations, provide directions, give advice on entertainment and local attractions and monitor requests for housekeeping and maintenance.

What do they earn? The median salary of a concierge is $27K.

How you can become one: There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a concierge. On-the-job training is an important aspect of this career as, with experience comes advancement.

Registered nurse

pharmacistForget Nurse Ratched. Being a registered nurse is one of the most caring careers in the category. You cannot be a hardhearted person and care for the ill. A major part of an RN's job is to provide advice and emotional support to patients' family members so patience and a good bedside manner are critical in this position.

What do they do? While the duties of a registered nurse vary from specialty to specialty, generally RNs treat patients, usually in a hospital setting. RNs record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

What do they earn? Registered nurses earn a median income of nearly $62,500 a year and enjoy very low rates of unemployment. Job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be excellent.

How you can become one: An associate's degree is required at the minimum, though some specialties require more education. Advanced practice nurses, specifically clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners, need a Master's degree.

Marriage and family therapist

pharmacistAre you the foul weather friend? The one all of your friends come to for advice or a shoulder to cry on when they are down? Therapists spend their entire day listening to other people's problems so a thoughtful, compassionate personality is a must in this profession. Discretion is also a key personality trait for anyone who plans to become a therapist.

What do they do? Even in the caring careers category, this profession requires more compassion than your average job. Marriage and family therapist apply counseling techniques to couple and family dynamics in an effort to improve communication and conflict resolution. Those interested in counseling must have a strong desire to help others and should be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence.

What do they earn? The median annual salary for marriage and family therapists is $44,500.

How you can become one: Education and training requirements vary by state and specialty, but a master's degree is always required to become a licensed counselor.

Dentist

dentistThere is much more to being a dentist than pulling teeth and handing out toothbrushes. Soothing a fearful patient requires a soft touch on the part of a dentist, and arm patting is a definite part of a dentist's typical workday. Patience also comes into play in this career, since dentists give advice on diet, brushing, flossing and other components of dental health.

What do they do? Dentists diagnose and treat problems with teeth and tissues in the mouth. They remove tooth decay, fill cavities, examine x-rays and repair broken teeth, in addition to performing corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists also administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for medication.

Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs, while others dentists practice a specialty area, like orthodontics or pediatric dentistry.

What do they earn? Median annual wages of salaried general dentists is about $143K.

How you can become one: Dentists must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical examinations to become licensed, which is required in. all 50 states.

Pharmacist

pharmacistAny Joe can fill a prescription bottle but to be a good pharmacist a caring nature must be high on the list of personality traits. By doling out medications, pharmacists literally hold people's lives in their hands so being consciencious is very important.

Pharmacists are involved in counseling patients and planning drug therapy programs to prevent dangerous interactions, and monitor the health of patients to be sure they are using their prescriptions in the manner prescribed, so being observant and a good listener are also important skills to possess in this career.

What do the do? Pharmacists distribute prescription drugs to individuals. They also advise their patients, physicians, and other health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Compounding--the actual mixing of ingredients to form medications--today is just a small part of a pharmacist's practice, since most medicines are now produced by pharmaceutical companies. Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a retail drugstore, or in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital.

What do they earn? Median annual wages of pharmacists is $106K.

How you can become one: Pharmacists who are trained in the United States must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy. (This degree has replaced the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree.) To be admitted, applicants must have completed two years of study, including courses like natural sciences and chemistry. The PharmD. Degree generally takes four years to complete.

Veterinarian

pharmacistEver hear the expression, "Love me, love my dog?" People and their pets are a package deal. As a result, vets have a special spot in the caring careers category; not only do they have to love the dogs and cats and iguanas and goldfish that come through their offices, they must also care for and respect the human beings that come along with them.

What do they do? Veterinarians diagnose and treat diseases in animals. Specifically, they care for the health of house pets and livestock, as well as animals in zoos, at racetracks and in laboratories. While some focus on research, most vets work in private practice, interacting with animals and their owners.

A typical day can include everything from diagnosing an animal's health problems, to administering vaccinations to performing surgery. All of this also comes with a lot of hand holding of worried and sad pet parents.

What do they earn? The median annual salary of a veterinarian is $79K.

How you can become one: To become a veterinarian one must graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree from a 4-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. Additionally, all states and the District of Columbia require that veterinarians be licensed before they can practice.

Forester

Foresters may be the original tree hugger because it is their job to care for our nation's forests. As a result, a deep love of the Earth and of all living things, both fauna and flora, is required in this career.

What do they do? Some primary duties of foresters include drawing up plans to regenerate forested lands, monitoring the progress of those lands, and supervising harvests. Some foresters and conservation scientists work regular hours in offices or laboratories, but others may split their time between fieldwork and office work. Fieldwork can require long hours alone in the great outdoors.

What do they earn? The median annual salary for a forester is just under $54K.

How you can become one: A bachelor's degree in forestry, biology, natural resource management, environmental sciences, or a related discipline is the minimum educational requirement for careers in forestry, though in certain jobs a combination of experience and related education may substitute for a bachelor's degree. Foresters who conduct research or who teach forestry require an advanced degree, preferably a Ph.D.

Flight attendant

flight attendantIf being pleasant was recognized as a fine art, flight attendants would rank right up there with Picasso and Beethoven. Flight attendants are charged with making flights comfortable and enjoyable, which requires true concern about the needs of the passengers.

In addition, the ability to smile and keep your cool with difficult passengers is critical. A great bedside manner is also a plus as flight attendants occasionally are in a position to handle sick or injured passengers mid-flight.

What do they do? The primary job of the flight attendant is to ensure that security and safety regulations are followed, which can mean having to play the heavy with restless passengers or poorly managed children.

What do they earn? The median income for a flight attendant is about $40,000.

How you can become one: Only a high school diploma and on-the-job training are required for most positions.


Written By Heather O'Neill

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