Plan b: 11 'fallback' careers

  • An average 331,000 jobs were lost each month from May through July.
  • You can become a certified phlebotomist in four to eight months.
  • Medical assistant will be a fast-growth occupation through 2016.

Millions of Americans are jobless, and millions more fear they may soon join the ranks of the unemployed as well.

The situation -- some 331,000 jobs were lost each month from May through July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics --  is such that just about everyone is looking for a job, a second job, ways to supplement their incomes or entirely new careers.

At the same time, there are a number of occupations crying out for workers. In most cases, they require some formal training but offer what could be considered recession-proof jobs.

Even workers who already have jobs may consider getting evening or weekend training and certification to prepare themselves for these "fallback careers" or "survival jobs."

These certificate programs at trade schools and community colleges may not always lead to the most lucrative careers, but they do offer alternatives and job options for those who have little time for retraining.

Here are 11 in-demand jobs that require no more than a year of training.

11 'fallback' jobs
  1. Emergency medical technician
  2. Police officer
  3. Phlebotomist
  4. HVAC technician
  5. Drafter/CADD operator
  6. Medical assistant
  7. Truck driver
  8. Dental assistant
  9. Massage therapist
  10. Medical records and health information technician
  11. Nuclear medicine technologist

1. Emergency medical technician

Job description: Emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and paramedics respond to everything from heart attacks to auto accidents and violent crime scenes to care for patients and transport them to hospitals. The work can be stressful and difficult, but EMTs have the opportunity to save lives every day.

Training required: There are three basic levels of training, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. EMT-Basic courses are generally 100 to 120 hours in length and feature classroom and hands-on training. Graduates of approved programs must pass a written and practical examination administered by the state certifying agency or the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Cost of training: Costs can vary significantly -- generally from $800 to $1,200 or more -- depending on the college and training facility.

Expected salary: As of May 2006, the median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics were $27,070. The middle 50 percent earned between $21,290 and $35,210.

Job availability and outlook: From now until 2016, employment in the field is expected to grow by 19 percent, which is higher than average.

2. Police officer

Job description: Police officers help protect lives and property and apprehend individuals who break the law. Television sometimes portrays police officers as having action-packed jobs, but most of their time is spent writing reports and maintaining records of incidents they encounter. Nevertheless, the job has its dangers and can be stressful.

Training required: In general, departments call for a minimum age of 20 years and require a certain level of physical fitness, a high school education and sometimes one or two years of college level coursework. Police academies are typically 12 to 14 weeks long and include classroom instruction and training in patrol, traffic control, the use of firearms, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.

Cost of training: Candidates must selected to attend a police academy, and then their training is either free, funded or subsidized by municipalities. Many agencies also pay part or all of college tuition toward degrees in criminal justice or police science.

Expected salary: As of May 2006, the median annual earnings of sheriff's patrol officers nationwide were $47,460 and the middle 50 percent earned between $35,600 and $59,880.

Job outlook: The need for police officers is expected to grow 11 percent from now until 2016.

3. Phlebotomist

Job description: Phlebotomists work in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics and blood banks to draw blood from patients. They collect blood by performing venipuncture or finger sticks.

Training required: A formal training program typically entails 200 hours of training over the course of four to eight months. Not all states require phlebotomists to be certified, but there are entry-level certifications (Certified Phlebotomy Technician) awarded by the American Society of Clinical Pathology, American Medical Technologies and the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians.

Cost of training: The full cost of tuition to attain the certification of Certified Phlebotomy Technician typically runs between $2,000 and $2,500.


Expected salary: According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, median hourly wage of phlebotomists in 2005 was $12.15 in private clinics.

Job availability and outlook: Employment of clinical lab workers -- including phlebotomists -- is expected to grow by 14 percent from now through 2016 due to new tests and an aging population.

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
  • Apply for a Private Student Loan to pay for your education
  • Find Rates

Connect with us