Top careers for better work – life balance

Top careers for better work - life balance

These fields let you scrap the 9-to-5 routine and work a flexible schedule.

Are you tired of the same old, same old 9-to-5 office routine? Want to change to a career with a more flexible working schedule? You’re not alone. More than three out of five working adults agreed that flexibility is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a new job, according to a recent Business News Daily article.

The good news is that with the right education, you could be prepared to pursue a career with flexibility built in…

Career 1 – Registered Nurse

Want a career that offers a flexible work schedule? Look to nursing. These physical and emotional health care providers generally help perform a variety of tasks – from recording medical histories and symptoms to doing diagnostic tests and helping with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Flex Factor: Instead of being confined by normal business hours, registered nurses (RNs) usually have the flexibility to work night and weekend shifts. At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Dana Dye, chief nursing officer, RN, says the hospital allows nurses to choose between eight-hour or 12-hour shifts. And during the weekends, nurses could have the option to work 24 hours.

Education: Look into either an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an approved nursing program.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for RNs was $67,720 in May 2010.

Career 2 – Dental Assistant

Dental assistants usually play an important role in preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing dental equipment, organizing instruments, and updating dental records. During procedures, assistants usually work alongside the dentist to provide patient care. They also could perform laboratory duties.

Flex Factor: Many dental assistants don’t subscribe to a 9-to-5 schedule or a 40-hour workweek. Some put in hours on nights and weekends, while others work for more than one dental office to form a more balanced work-life routine. In 2008, nearly half of all dental assistants had a 35- to 40-hour workweek, says the Department of Labor.

Education: While there’s no formal requirements for dental assisting gigs, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that dental assisting diploma and certificate programs – which could take as little as one year to complete – are growing in popularity.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for dental assistants was $34,140 in May 2010.

Career 3 – Accountant

If you excel at organization and attention to detail, you may want to consider an accounting career. Accountants usually help to ensure that firms are run efficiently, public records are kept accurately, and taxes are paid properly and on time.

Flex Factor: Off-site work and travel for audits are two fun flex factors that can be found in accounting. At Ernst & Young, workplace flexibility has been built into the culture, says a recent New York Times article. Ernst & Young’s Chairman James S. Turley said, “We listen to our people and they tell us very consistently that flexibility is incredibly important to them and to their family.” Nearly 10 percent of Ernst & Young’s 23,500 U.S. employees are on flexible arrangements.

Education: If you want to prepare to pursue this career, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related area like finance or business.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for accountants was $68,960 in May 2010.

Career 4 – Graphic Designer

Using tools like color, type, illustration, and various layout techniques, graphic designers generally convey visual messages in a variety of mediums. From designing magazines and promotional displays to marketing brochures and packaging, this career is usually about having an eye for design.

Flex Factor: If working normal business hours at a big design or advertising firm doesn’t excite you, there could be work-life balance alternatives for a graphic designer. Many creative types are self-employed and usually work from home on a contract basis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just note that since this has the potential to be a self-employed position that revolves around production schedules, night and weekend hours could be necessary.

Education: If you want to start a graphic design career, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is generally needed to land an entry-level position, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for graphic designers was $48,140 in May 2010.

Career 5 – Police Officer

Uniformed police officers usually protect lives and property by carrying out law enforcement duties. From responding to a traffic accident to confronting criminals, these everyday heroes work to keep our communities safe.

Flex Factor: The prospect of flexible or part-time schedules seems to be attractive to police job candidates – it appears on many career hiring sites, including the NYPD Cadet Corps’ web site. Although police officers usually work 40-hour weeks, hours can be flexible, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since police officers provide around-the-clock protection, shift work could be necessary.

Education: Educational requirements vary for each agency – from a high school diploma to a few years of college coursework.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for police officers was $55,620 in May 2010.

Job fields with surprisingly high earnings

Job fields with surprisingly high earnings

You’ll never guess the average incomes in these seven diverse professions.

Career 1 – Public Relations Specialist

Think public relations gigs can’t pay? Think again. Reputation can have a direct impact on profitability, making many companies willing to pay well for PR specialists. In fact, the mean annual wage for this career is $59,370, with the top ten percent earning – on average – $96,630.

Potential career prep: A bachelor’s degree in a subject like communications – plus public relations experience – can provide adequate preparation for careers in this field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career 2 – Fashion Designer

Becoming a fashion designer is a good gig. It also has the potential to pay surprisingly well. Fashion designers make about $74,000 annually. Most fashion designer positions are in New York or California, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Potential career prep: Studying fashion design is the first step. You can earn an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, which is what employers usually look for, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career 3 – Art Director

Working as an art director has the potential to pay. Whether you find a position as an art director at a magazine, website, book publisher, or agency, it’s a career that can lead to big bucks. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average pay for art directors in May 2009 was $91,520.

Potential career prep: To become an art director, you need an extensive, eye-popping portfolio of work, as well as enough experience to prove you’re worthy of the position. Consider studying art and graphic design in school to get started.

Career 4 – Paralegal

Think becoming a lawyer is the only way to make money in the legal field? Think again. Paralegals, who do everything from interviewing potential witnesses to conducting research and assisting lawyers in general office work, have the potential to earn a pretty decent living too. The mean annual wage for paralegals in May 2009 was $50,080, with the top ten percent averaging at $75,700.

Potential career prep: An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies can provide you with career-relevant skills. If you already have a degree, another option is to earn a certificate from a paralegal program.

Career 5 – High School Art, Drama, or Music Teacher

It’s probably not the first teaching title that springs to mind, but the average compensation is surprisingly competitive for high school art, drama, and music teachers, who get to pass along their passion for creativity to a younger generation. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average annual pay is $68,230.

Potential career prep: A bachelor’s degree is a must for this type of position, as is completion of a teaching education program. To become a public school teacher, you’ll need to get licensed to teach in your home state.

Career 6 – Advertising Sales Agent

It’s not just creative types who can make money in advertising. Companies rely upon advertising sales agents, who make about $53,000 on average, to bring in the revenue they need to turn a profit. The top ten percent of advertising sales agents averaged at $94,100 in May 2009.

Potential career prep: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to work in sales for most employers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Studying communications, marketing, or business is recommended.

Career 7 – Police Officer

For police officers, working on behalf of the public has the potential to pay surprisingly well. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this gig pays about $55,000 on average, and $83,550 for the top ten percent of earners. While no part of a community’s budget is sacred these days, law and order remains a priority across the country.

Potential career prep: A high school diploma and some work experience are musts. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, federal agencies expect a college degree.