Change is inevitable, especially when you’re bordering on 30. You may have spent most of your 20s trying to find yourself, establish a career, and essentially just figure life out. You’re not alone. A 2016 poll showed that 80% of workers in their 20s said that they wanted to change their careers. On the flip side, those who are satisfied with their careers in their 20s typically strive to climb to a higher rung of the career ladder by the time they’re 30. Regardless of the side of the coin on which you land, making the right career move in your 30's can be a challenge.
People tend to make drastic changes in their 30s. Before you make a major career move, however, it’s important for you to carefully assess the best move to make. Some questions to consider include:
• Does this career excite and energize me?
• Is this something I’m good at?
• Is this something I am interested in learning more about?
• Does this job match my personality type?
• Does this career match my gifts, passions and values?
• Am I willing to go to the next level of this career if the opportunity presents itself?
Advancing in your career or embarking on a new career path may require that you obtain a particular degree. This article highlights some of the top careers for people in their 30s. Descriptions are given for each career along with education requirements and approximate salaries. The jobs have also been arranged into the most popular categories: business, healthcare, science and math, computers and technology, art and design, and education.
Computers and Technology
The world is becoming more technology-dependent each year. This dependency has bolstered the demand for highly skilled computer and technology professionals. Therefore, computing and technology is the most popular career category with a high growth potential. Some of the most common careers in this niche include: computer engineers, computer forensic specialists, and business analysts.
Computer Forensics Specialist
Computer forensics specialists work with law enforcement to procure information (hidden, deleted, or visible) from digital devices. They must have extensive computer science and forensics knowledge. A Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science is mandatory. It is also crucial to have a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) certification. The demand for computer forensic specialists is increasing due to an increase in the number of cybercrimes. Delving into this field is, therefore, a wise decision for those who are interested. The average salary of a computer forensics specialist is $85,800 per annum.
Technology is the way of the future. As the demand for technological devices and innovation increases, the need for highly skilled computer engineers also rises. Computer engineers design and create computer systems and other technological devices. A strong electrical engineering and/or computer science background is a must for success in this field. There are two main branches of computer engineering: hardware engineering and software engineering.
Hardware engineers are skilled in the design and creation of complete computer systems as well as smaller computer components. They create microprocessors, circuit boards, routers and all the other components needed for technological devices to operate effectively. Software engineers, on the other hand, create, test and debug programs and applications that are used on technological devices. Employers require that computer engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree depends on your area of specialization. Hardware engineers require a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a specialization in computer engineering. Conversely, software engineers require a bachelor’s degree in either general computer engineering or software engineering. A degree in Computer Science is also accepted.
Computer engineers seeking managerial positions usually need an MBA with a technology focus. Pay increases are often pegged to the level of education the engineer possesses. Computer hardware engineers typically earn more than software engineers. Their median salary is $108,430. Software systems engineers have a median salary of $102,880 per annum while software applications engineers have a median salary of $95, 510 per annum.
A business analyst helps businesses effectively implement ICT solutions at minimal cost to the business through the creation of projects that transform customers’ needs into new products or services that generate profit. Continuous project assessment is required to determine if the project has met its objectives. Some business analysts may restrict themselves to IT related projects; others may become involved in other areas of the business such as: finance, accounting or marketing.
Most employers require that a business analyst has at least a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field. Individuals who have an International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) or Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification also have a competitive edge. A business analyst’s median salary is typically $67,454 per annum.
Healthcare continues to be one of the fields with the greatest demand. Healthcare providers often go to other countries to source some of the nurses and healthcare workers they need because of an insufficient supply in America. If you have strong communication skills, a compassionate heart, and a desire to help others, pursuing a career in this field may just be right for you.
Physician Assistants (PAs) work with other healthcare workers to examine, diagnose and treat patients. They perform most of the functions of a physician, but they must always work under the supervision of a physician. A master’s degree in the field is mandatory. Entry into a master’s program generally requires a bachelor’s degree in science or some medical related discipline. Most of the people who apply for master’s degree programs in the field already have experience as registered nurses (RNs) or paramedics.
All PAs must be licensed. Licensing follows successful completion of the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). PAs must be recertified every 10 years and can only keep their certification if they complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. PAs earn a median salary of $90,269 per annum.
Occupational therapists help patients who suffer from mental, physical or social disabilities to carry out routine tasks with a greater level of confidence and independence. They create treatment plans, monitor the progress of these plans, and make changes where necessary. It is anticipated that there will be a 27% increase in the employment of occupational therapists between 2014 and 2024. Additionally, occupational therapists earn a median salary of $80,150 per annum. The anticipated growth and attractive salary make occupational therapy a worthwhile career choice.
A master’s is required to become an occupational therapist. Some bachelor’s programs that provide prerequisite skills to enter an occupational therapist master’s program include: kinesiology, psychology, anthropology, biology and sociology. Most occupational therapy master’s programs require applicants to have had some experience working with people who have mental, developmental or physical disabilities.
In addition, occupational therapists must receive a state license. Licensure is granted to individuals who have successful completed an accredited master’s program, gained field experience and passed the examination set by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Persons who have met licensure requirements receive the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) designation. This designation requires continuing education and coursework in order to be maintained.
Registered Nurse (RN)
America is on the verge of a nursing crisis. Currently, there are approximately 3 million nurses in America and nursing is considered to be one of the fastest growing professions in the country. Nevertheless, the present supply of nurses cannot meet the country’s demands. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has projected that there will be approximately 1.2 million registered nurse positions will need to be filled between 2014 and 2022. RNs provide and coordinate patient care, provide the information patients and their families need about health conditions, and also provide emotional support to both patients and their families. RNs, therefore, must have good interpersonal skills.
Positioning yourself to occupy one of these positions will provide financial benefits. The average income for a RN is $71,000 per year. Additionally, RNs are able to work on an hourly basis with health care providers such as homecare agencies. RNs have either a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing. They also have the relevant state licensure. All licensing boards require RNs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). RNs may also be required to undergo continuous education depending on their state and employer.
Physical therapists often offer a glimmer of hope to those who feel hopeless. They are responsible for helping individuals reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. In order to advance in the field, a physical therapist must have either a master’s or doctorate in physical therapy. Graduates of these programs are then required to pass state-administered national exams. The Bureau of Labor predicts that the demand for physical therapists will grow by 36% between 2012 and 2022. Greater demand equates to greater opportunities. The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,400.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world.” Although it is one of the lowest paying fields, it offers great satisfaction for those who pursue it. Educators know that they are changing the world by planting seeds of knowledge into the minds of people hoping to change the world.
Higher education often provides more income generating and growth opportunities than secondary and primary education. Most universities prefer their lecturers have PhDs. However, it is possible to be a lecturer with a master’s degree. Moving up to the rank of professor and receiving tenure won’t be possible without a PhD. Lecturer salaries range differ based on the institution, years of experience, and field of study. Lecturers in the fields of law, medicine, engineering and economics tend to receive higher compensation.
Superintendent of Schools
The Superintendent of Schools Is the chief administrator of area public schools. This individual’s chief responsibilities include: budgeting, managing teachers and staff, ensuring that the curriculum is effectively implemented, and bolstering school and student achievement. Holders of this position must have a doctorate in education or educational leadership and years of experience in the field. It is possible to earn $196,000 per year in this position.
Art, Design and Communications
Few people in this world are truly blessed with the gift of creative flair. If creative expression is your strong suit, one of these careers may be perfect for you.
Digital Marketing Specialist
Web 2.0 has changed the digital landscape. Marketing efforts are no longer limited to traditional advertising media such as billboards and television and radio ads. Instead, businesses are able to reach a wide array of consumers via the medium they most frequently use: the internet. Digital marketing specialists focus on implementing effective digital marketing strategies that help companies build a strong online presence. The aim is to create the best possible ROI by attracting the right customers.
The most popular options in the digital marketing field are: digital sales executives, internet marketing specialists, search engine optimization (SEO) marketing specialists, and digital marketing directors. An individual with a bachelor’s degree in internet marketing has a solid foundation in this field. A digital marketing manager, however, will need a master’s degree in either digital marketing or integrated marketing communications. Persons who already have general marketing degrees can also opt to obtain a digital marketing certificate. The median salary for a digital marketing specialist is $49,501 per annum.
Graphic designers play a vital role in advertising and computer design companies. These designers are required to create visual concepts, usually via computer software, to present ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate customers. Designers that have competencies in website design and animation have a competitive edge. Generally, graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, this isn’t mandatory. Getting hired as a graphic designer essentially boils down to your ability to present a well-developed portfolio that showcases your work.
It is also crucial for graphic designers to keep abreast with the latest computer graphics and design trends in the field. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Graphic Artists Guild provide their members with relevant short courses to keep their skills up-to-date. After about 2 or 3 years in the profession, there is usually opportunity for advancement to supervisory positions such as artistic director. Experience and level of responsibility make the median salary $41,428 per annum.
Animators are responsible for creating animations and visual effects for various media using illustrations and computer software. There are a wide range of career paths that fall under animation including: 3D Modeler, Art Director, Film and Video Editor, Flash Animator, Stop Motion Animator, Cartoonist, Character Animator, Character Rigger, Color Key Artist, Compositing Artist, Concept Artist, Digital Painter, Effects Animator, and Visual Development Artist. This career path can be quite exciting since it facilitates a great deal of creative expression and innovation.
A bachelor’s degree in computer animation, fine art or graphic arts is mandatory for success in the field. Developing a strong portfolio is also crucial for success. Animators who want to take on senior-level positions usually enroll in a Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects program. The median salary of an animator is $49,952 per annum.
Fashion merchandising combines creativity with business savvy. Fashion merchandisers should have a knack for projecting future fashion and market trends. Equipped with this knowledge, the fashion merchandiser would then determine the fashion items the store should stock based on that store’s clientele. Buying, pricing and displaying the items are usually the final steps in the fashion merchandiser’s job requirements.
A degree in fashion merchandising provides a competitive edge. Most degree programs provide students with the option to specialize in specific areas of merchandising or do a general degree. The salary of a fashion merchandiser depends on location and experience. Fashion merchandisers can earn from $40,384 to $124,728 per annum.
Management, Business and Finance
Business is one of the most popular career fields. After all, businesses are what make us consumers and drive the economy. People in this field have to be forward-thinking, innovative and strategic. Although there are many possible career options in this niche, the most popular for people who are 30 are: managers and consultants.
Business administration is one of the most popular fields of choice for many individuals. It extends beyond managing the operations of a particular business and includes areas such as: project management, environmental management, public administration, supply chain management, and human resource management. Anyone who is tasked with the responsibility of running a particular aspect of a business with the assistance of a team is a manager.
Managerial qualifications differ from one organization to another. Some companies may require a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), others may not. General business managers typically earn approximately $60, 154 per year based on experience. Project managers typically earn an average of $89,000. Environmental managers typically have years of experience and earn between $44,000 and $130,000 per year.
Consultants are considered experts in their fields. Companies generally hire consultants on a contractual basis depending on their needs. They are often tasked with the responsibility of increasing a business’ efficiency. Experience is the name of the game in this field. It is possible for someone with no formal education, but years of industry experience, to be an excellent consultant. However, consultants typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. Some organizations may also require consultants to have a MBA.
Consultancy is one of the most diverse fields. Anyone with the right education and experience can work as a consultant in his or her particular field. The most common types of consultants include:
• Strategy Consultants: These consultants address issues related to corporate and organizational strategy, economic policy, government policy and functional strategy. Strong quantitative and analytical skills are required for this position and these consultants focus on giving advice rather than monitoring implementation. Strategy consultants typically earn $90,775 per year.
• Management/Business Consultants: These consultants focus on organizational concerns. These are the most popular types of consultants because their jobs span aspects of strategy consulting, operations consulting, and HR consulting. Management consultants earn a median salary of $86,063.
• Operations Consultant: These consultants work on improving a business’ operations. They work in tandem with strategy consultants and IT consultants to ensure the best results for the organization. Operations consultants earn a median salary of $65, 291.
• Financial Advisory Consultant: These consultants focus on the financial aspects of an organization. They can provide assistance in corporate finance, risk management, tax, restructuring or real estate. The median salary of this consultant is $65, 252.
• Human Resource Consultant: These consultants work on improving the HR department of an organization. Their core functions include: organizational change, change management, terms of employment, learning and development, talent management, and retirement. The median salary of an HR Consultant is $70,400.
• IT Consultant: These consultants focus on developing a business’ IT framework. They typically work on implementation projects that focus on transitions as opposed to day-to-day IT operations. Data analytics, cyber security and IT forensics are the blossoming areas of this field. The median salary of an IT Consultant is $74,441.
Science and Math
Science and Math careers are perfect for those with an analytical mind. People in these types of careers tend to be very inquisitive and active problem solvers.
If you love Math, becoming an actuary is the perfect career choice. Actuaries are charged with the responsibility of measuring and managing risk for organizations. They usually work with insurance companies and financial institutions. Having an actuarial science degree isn’t mandatory to enter the profession. However, degrees in actuarial science, math, statistics, economics, business and finance provide the background knowledge needed to complete the qualifying exams. Your performance on the actuarial exams is what truly determines your ability to enter the profession.
Exams are offered by two main groups: the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Each body offers exams that follow particular career paths within the field. Some actuaries, for instance, may choose to focus on Enterprise Risk Management. Regardless of the path chosen, actuaries typically earn a median salary of $81,482.
Statisticians acquire and use data to make decisions. They design the instruments used to collect the data, collect the data, analyze and interpret the data, and present their findings. Statistics is one of only a few disciplines that span a variety of sectors. Everyone uses data and needs to interpret the data they have to solve problems.
A bachelor’s degree in statistics is necessary for entry level positions in the field. Higher-level positions require either a master’s degree in statistics, mathematics or survey methodology. The median salary for Statisticians is $79,990 per annum.
Simply put, cartographers create maps. They use science, technology, and art to develop and produce maps for a variety of purposes. A modern-day cartographer typically uses hi-tech surveying techniques, with the most common being Geographical Information Systems (GIS), to record topography and analyze geographical information. The information gathered is then used to create online maps, atlases, ordnance survey maps, and maps used in GPS devices. Cartographers generally have a bachelor’s degree in a physical science, cartography geography or surveying. On the job training may also be provided. The median salary is $61,880 per annum.