Demand for biomedical engineers is projected to grow a whopping 72% between 2008 and 2018. America's best jobs will see big opportunities, and what do hiring managers look for?1. Biomedical Engineer
Best Jobs rank: 10
10-year growth: 72%
Median pay: $76,000Although the job is highly technical, the opportunity for biomedical engineers to have a positive impact on society is great.
At Medtronic, for example, biomedical engineers work with doctors and clinicians to come up with new devices to help patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease or other debilitating conditions.
To get a job with the Minneapolis-based company -- which invented the first battery-powered wearable pacemaker -- candidates need more to their resumes than just lab time.
"The people who have stood out are the people who are motivated to help patients," says Mike Hess, Medtronic's vice president of innovation. "There are candidates who have looked for opportunities to volunteer in hospitals or developing parts of the world. It tells me that they are sincere in really wanting to help people. That kind of experience builds your credibility and it builds your skills more than something you can read in a book."
2. Telecommunications Network Engineer
Best Jobs rank: 21
10-year growth: 53%
Median pay: $87,000Demand for people skilled in managing large networks -- particularly the stability of telephony voice, data and wireless -- is on the rise.
That's especially true at Harris Corp., a Melbourne, Fla.-based communications and information technology company that supports the U.S. Navy's and Marine Corp's Internet network.
With more than 700,000 users who cannot go down, it's up to Harris employees to keep the network humming even at night and on the weekends.
"It's not typically a 9-to-5 job," says Michael Higgins, director of communications assurance. "What you really look for is someone is really enjoys the technology and is excited about it."
Those candidates are surprisingly easy to spot, he says: "During an interview, [you know] when someone's eyes light up when talking about the latest developments in optical switching or dense wave division multiplexing and they are excited about these new technologies."
3. Physician Assistant
Best Jobs rank: 2
10-year growth: 39%
Median pay: $92,000Because of the need to cut health-care expenses, physician assistants are in hot demand. That's because while they don't demand the same salaries -- or need the same education levels -- as physicians and surgeons, they can still treat patients and even make diagnoses. (No, they're not the ones in doctors' offices checking your temperature; that's a medical assistant.)
The Intensivist Group, which provides outsourced critical care services to community hospitals, is currently seeking a PA for Mercy Suburban Hospital's intensive care unit in Norristown, Pa.
"We're looking for people with good interpersonal skills because they'll be taking care of sick people," said Jay Cowen, president of the Lake Zurich, Ill.-based company -- and flexible schedules are a must. "You need to be aware of the requirements of the job. Our doctors work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. We've parted ways with candidates because of their inflexibility to work within our schedule."
4. Software Architect
Best Jobs rank: 1
10-year growth: 34%
Median pay: $119,000At Echo Nest, software architects not only help analyze and store music data, but they also have their finger on the changing nature of how music is shared online.
That means the Somerville, Mass., company is constantly seeking people with smart new insights -- which can make finding job candidates difficult.
"You can't go off and look for the 'VP of doing that before' because it doesn't exist," says CEO Jim Lucchese, who started the music intelligence company while he was a student at the MIT Media Lab.
In addition to engineering expertise, Lucchese looks for job candidates who are passionate about and synched with how people consume music online. Moonlighting in a band doesn't hurt either.
"More than 50% of our employees are also musicians," says Lucchese, who plays the drums. "One of our [interview] questions is 'What is the band you hate the most?' There is no right answer, but there are ample opportunities to insult people's music taste."
5. Environmental Engineer
Best Jobs rank: 5
10-year growth: 31%
Median pay: $81,000Environmental engineers apply the principles of science and math to address concerns about sustainability. And with the green movement going mainstream, there's been a resulting hiring boom.
Current openings at London-based consulting firm Environmental Resources Management, which has 137 offices in 39 countries, range from entry level environmental engineers to senior level wetlands ecologists.
Regardless of position, though, one thing is key: "We want people with personalities," says recruiter Scott Yanover. "Someone who isn't a total nerd."
A second language, extracurriculars and especially a good batting average will all help. "We just hired someone with great field experience and he also played minor league ball. He was our ringer; we won our softball league this year," Yanover says.
6. Physical Therapist
Best Jobs rank: 4
10-year growth: 30%
Median pay: $75,000A greater focus on strength, wellness and preventative care has moved physical therapy into the mainstream. Now these specialists work with patients of all ages and ailments to improve their standard of health.
East Hartford, Conn.-based Preferred Therapy Solutions has 170 openings for those interested in working with patients who are suffering from disease or injury. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required -- though a doctorate is recommended -- along with all of the appropriate licenses. Just as important: A love for the job.
"I'm a non clinician, when I talk with someone to screen them, I'm looking for someone who can convey how much they enjoy being a physical therapist," says employment and human resources director Linda Black.
"Someone that I hired gave me an example of the last patient she had treated and how thrilled she was that that patient was able to stand up on her own and walk down the hall and it brought tears to her eyes. It was catching, it was like maybe I should go back to school and become a PT."
7. Employment Recruiter
Best Jobs rank: 58
10-year growth: 28%
Median pay: $60,000As the economy improves and hiring picks up, employment recruiters will be in the driver's seat once again. This is particularly true at Kennametal, a metalworking tools manufacturer, where there are currently five openings for recruiters.
But getting on the company's talent acquisition team is no easy feat. "The recruiter is typically the face of the company," says Kevin Walling, vice president and chief HR office. "Having a great recruiter is a key component of Kennametal's agenda."
"The most successful candidates are the ones that understand how the role is core and critical to our strategy," he says. "This is an expertise no different from engineering; the folks that apply science and art to the process are the ones that pique my interest."
8. Environmental Health & Safety Specialist
Best Jobs rank: 22
10-year growth: 28%
Median pay: $71,000"It's a little bit of a dirty job," says Mike Spinale, director of human resources and training at Triumvirate Environmental.
Environmental health employees at the Somerville, Mass.-based company are responsible for a vast array of compliance services, from hazardous waste disposal to lab inspections.
For those who can hack it, the position can be a starting point to a successful career in environmental health and safety.
"For our company, we're looking more at soft skills, like leadership and emotional intelligence," says Spinale. "I love when I interview someone and they have no qualms about hard work, long hours, matched with a positive attitude."
Job candidates must be willing to work their way up and pay their dues. "My biggest turn off is when someone wants to be a manager," he says.
9. Occupational Therapist
Best Jobs rank: 19
10-year growth: 26%
Median pay: $72,000Yes degrees, experience and certification are vital to landing a job as an occupational therapist, but when it comes to helping those that suffer from a disabling condition, compassion is paramount.
As such, Erin Wright, senior recruiter for Lakeland HealthCare, pays just as much attention to a job candidate's social cues as she does their resume. "A lot of it is their tone," she says. "The way they answer the telephone, you can hear it in their voice."
To help screen candidates, she brings them into the office to see how they interact. "We do on-site interviews where they get to meet the team and throughout those interviews we are able to see if they were engaged," says Wright. "Did they smile? Did they make eye contact?"
10. Construction Estimator
Best Jobs rank: 54
10-year growth: 25%
Median pay: $68,000It may not be "sexy," but being an estimator is a vital component of a construction company, says Ty Freeland, corporate recruiting manager for Flatiron Corp., a heavy-construction firm.
Estimators generally project the time, labor and cost of each project and coordinate with designers, builders and subcontractors. Their numbers can decide if a company gets a job -- or underbids and goes broke. "It's all in the details," Freeland says.
The right person for the job should have a degree in civil engineering, at least 10 years of experience in the heavy-highway industry and some hands-on construction experience.
Previous experience in the military is also plus, Freeland says. "Solid leadership and integrity goes a long way." As does out-of-the-box thinking, since there are great opportunities to make a positive impact on the environment, like building a bridge in a way that does not disturb the surrounding wetlands.