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Julie Jason: Career path is a big consideration when contemplating college loans

By Julie Jason

King Features Syndicate

First Published Jul 03 2014 05:33 pm • Last Updated Jul 03 2014 05:33 pm

Before incurring student-loan debt, wouldn’t it make sense to have a good idea of a career path? There is an abundance of information available to students on careers, and it is 100 percent free, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education.

If you are interested in careers with a bright outlook — those that "will grow rapidly in the next few years, will have large numbers of openings, or are new and emerging careers" — visit Bright Outlook at www.Mynextmove.org.

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There you will find a list of 109 careers that are expected to grow rapidly, 173 careers that have current openings, and 152 that are new or emerging careers.

In the first category, you’ll find actuaries, geographers, electricians, elevator installers, health-care social workers, interpreters, nurse anesthetists, riggers, stonemasons and surgeons, to name a few.

In the current openings category, you’ll find accountants, bartenders, civil engineers, coaches and scouts, correctional officers and jailers, dental assistants, hairdressers, lawyers, machinists, pathologists, software developers, teachers, tellers and welders, among others.

In the category of new and emerging careers, you’ll find acupuncturists, anesthesiologist assistants, biochemical engineers, business continuity planners, compliance managers, endoscopy technicians, green marketers, intelligence analysts, online merchants, video-game designers, as well as wind-energy project managers and many more.

If you click on any of the careers, you’ll be taken to a detailed description of the job. For example, an actuary’s job outlook is bright, with new job opportunities "very likely."

The salary is listed at $94,340 per year on average. You can click on your state to take you to a map of the U.S. to see where the opportunities for employment might be.

If you want more detailed state information, you can click through to a set of additional maps that show metropolitan areas. For example, the Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas metropolitan area has 610 actuaries who earn an annual mean wage of $125,120. New York City’s metropolitan area has 2,390 actuaries who make an annual mean wage of $136,190.

Another map shows the top-paying states for actuaries (Kansas, New York, Colorado, Vermont and Idaho).

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You also can find industries that employ actuaries, including insurance and employee benefit funds, insurance carriers, agencies, brokerages and other insurance-related activities, and management, scientific and technical consulting services. And you can find a list of top-paying industries for actuaries, such as legal services, where the annual mean wage is $240,500.

Then go back to see what college degree is required under "training." A bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, applied mathematics or statistics comes up, along with a list of colleges that offer these programs within the ZIP code you select.

If you click certifications, you’ll be brought to a list of organizations that provide training and information, such as the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries in Arlington, Va. (www.asppa.org/). Work experience is required, as well as oral and written exams and continuing-education credits.

Another is the Society of Actuaries in Schaumburg, Ill. (/www.soa.org).

So, what do actuaries do? Quoting from the website, they "analyze statistical data, such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates and construct probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits. May ascertain insurance rates required and cash reserves necessary to ensure payment of future benefits." The site also lists what you would do on the job, the knowledge you would need to have to do the job, your skills and abilities, personality, and the technology you would use. In addition, you are offered the opportunity to explore similar careers, such as accountants, biostatisticians, logistics analysts and others.

You then can go to a link to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for an exhaustive list of careers. Look for Occupational Employment Statistics at www.mynextmove.org/profile/ext/oesmaps/15-2011.00.

If you put this career information together with our discussion last week of how to pick a college based on value and affordability, you can improve your chances of graduating on fiscally sound footing.

If you would like my download of the careers listed in Bright Outlook, please email me at readers@juliejason.com.

Julie Jason welcomes your questions/ comments (readers@juliejason.com).

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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