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Ceiling Busters: 4 Paths to Career Advancement

Hitting a career plateau can be unsettling and disappointing. You know you've hit a plateau when you've gone as far as you can in your job and you find it unchallenging and well below your earning expectations.

Continuing education can be a real tonic. By adding a certification or advanced degree in your field, you can become more competitive for advancement or find fresh interest in a profession that has gone stale. Online career training or college degree programs can take as little as a year, while some educational pathways take a little longer. But the flexibility of online learning means you can meet your work commitments or family obligations while injecting fresh energy into your professional life.

If you love your field, take a look at these fast-growing careers and advanced training that can boost your challenges, responsibilities, and earnings.

7 Creepy Careers With Staying Power

Sometimes making a living requires working with blood, dark spaces, or creepy-crawlers. Are you up for a little fright? The following jobs each include something a little unsettling, but one just may be the right fit for you.

Take a look and see if you're brave enough to make a "creepy" career move.

1. Funeral Director
Median Salary: $46,000

While shows like "Six Feet Under" like to emphasize the drama in this career, a calm demeanor, soothing words, and attention to detail are the qualities most needed to excel. As James Olson of Lippert-Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, says, "I don't think of what I do as creepy. Being able to give a person the opportunity to grieve for their loved one is an honor."

Besides ensuring that the funeral service goes smoothly, funeral directors must also coordinate transportation and burial of the body. Employment projections for this job are good. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), funeral directors are older, on average, than workers in other fields, so many are expected to retire in the coming decade.

Building up America: Jobs in Infrastructure

Looking for a job that can't be outsourced and that could provide a good income for years to come? Think infrastructure. In the 21st century, infrastructure isn't just roads, bridges, railroads, and water or sewer plants -- it's high-tech electrical grids, high-speed Internet cable and wireless networks.

Several factors have come together to make now a great time to get into infrastructure jobs. One is demographic -- a generation of baby boomers who've spent their careers maintaining water, sewer, and power plants are hitting retirement age. Another issue is America's longtime habit of deferring maintenance on its roads, bridges, and other infrastructure systems, says executive recruiter Stephen Hinton of Hinton Human Capital in Atlanta.

This has recently come home to roost with prominent infrastructure failures such as the 2007 Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minneapolis. With infrastructure crumbling, many cities are launching massive infrastructure-repair programs, Hinton says, sometimes under federal-government order.

Scrutinizing 2010 Insurance Options

Whatever you do with your health benefits during the current open enrollment season for 2010, there’s a good chance it won’t be what you did last year.

The time-honored “evergreen” option — defaulting to your current plan — may simply no longer be an option. Either your employer no longer even offers that plan, or the terms may be so radically different that you may no longer want it.

With so much in flux, this may be the year you will need to switch health plans. That realization hit home with me recently, and painfully, when I studied my own family’s health insurance options for 2010, under my husband’s employer-sponsored plan.

Becoming a celebrity personal assistant. Skills You'll Need to Get Hired.

Every celebrity personal assistant will have various duties that are specific to the profession of the person they’re working for, but the following are some basics that you should not be without. And don’t forget, the more you have to offer an employer, the more likely they are to hire you, and the more you’re likely to get paid.

Persuasive Communication

“Liza [Minnelli] didn’t have a clue how to live in the real world. If she wanted something, she expected it to be there. One Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., she called me into her dressing room and told me that since we were doing a benefit matinee on Sunday afternoon, she wanted me to decorate all the dressing rooms and fill them with flowers. It never occurred to her that all the florists and stores were already closed.

“By thinking on my feet and dropping Liza’s name (and money), I was able to talk a florist into working half the night. I found one party store that was open on Sunday. I was there when they opened, then I talked a couple of my friends into going to the theater with me. We hung crepe paper and valentines and the flowers arrived and the dressing rooms were beautiful when the actors arrived. It never occurred to Liza that accomplishing this was something of a feat.”
—Linda Brumfield, former Celebrity Personal Assistant

Graduating with a plan of action

Congratulations, you’ve just graduated with a degree in your chosen field. So what’s your next step going to be to launch your long-anticipated career? Like a young racehorse at the starting gate, you have tons of energy and determination, and are anxious to get out there and seize new career opportunities. But are you ready? Do you know what you need to do? Do you have a plan of action to turn those opportunities into a reality? If you don’t, you will need to get one.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that the quickest route from point A to point B is a straight line. Well, launching your career is no different in terms of setting your job search goals and carrying them out diligently and methodically. You might have a few corners to navigate, but you should do your best to avoid deviating from your goal as much as possible.

One of the first things you need to decide is what type of job interests you the most. Depending on what your degree is, there might be many positions in your field to consider. For example, if you are a graduate nurse you can work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, childcare center, school, private practice, or field setting. Then, within those settings you can work within various units such as medical-surgical, pediatrics, and maternity. Then there are transitional opportunities. Let’s say you tried your hand at nursing and realized it was not what you expected. You can always consider pharmaceutical sales as a new career. Some fields, such as business management, are even more flexible. The key is to decide which direction you are headed towards and learn as much about that field as you possible can.

What's the Problem?

If you're in a leadership role, you're never at a loss for problems to solve. But be careful about getting too involved in problems that don't really deserve your time and energy. Engaging in the wrong problem is like stepping in quicksand. Down you go!

Instead your role is to help others work together best to solve the problem. Challenge. Provoke. Listen. Guide. Don't fix it yourself.

Help people build capability instead.

Yes, I know you're a good problem solver because you wouldn't be in your role otherwise. Problem solving is an essential leadership skill. It's especially hard to resist doing if you've been trained in problem solving in previous roles. Technical and engineering types often have unique challenges in that regard.

When the economy tanks it's time to shine

When the economy tanks, it’s time to shine. It’s not a guarantee for staying employed but it might tip the scale in your favor if the downsizing cross hairs focus in on your department. At the very least, it will help you get a good reference should the axe fall.

Here is a checklist to make sure you are being proactive during these shaky economic times. Some of these items may seem elementary, but I assure you they will be significant if staff-cutting decisions have to be made.

Surprising Jobs that Pay $25 an Hour

Career websites typically compile a listing of jobs that pay $25 an hour. The list of professions -- and the career training you need to pass the muster of recruiters -- can be daunting. But you don't necessarily need a post-graduate degree to qualify for a job that pays several hundred dollars a day.

While it may be true that helicopter pilots, high-tech administrators, and civil engineers earn $25 an hour or more, so do many other professionals in careers that require only an associate or bachelor's degree to leap onto the playing field.

Of course, you add to your hourly earnings by continuing your education, taking certification courses or advanced degrees that ultimately boost on-the-job responsibilities along with earnings.

Seven careers you might have overlooked paid workers $25 an hour in 2008, meaning you may be able to earn more performing the same role today. These 2008 salaries may also rise by the time you complete an online degree or career training program to pursue future job openings. Let's look at the education you'll need to land a job:

How Facebook could cost you your job

If you are one of the six million Australians or 250 million people worldwide who use Facebook, you probably use the social networking site to keep up with your friends, write on each other’s walls and view each other’s photos.
Caught up in this breezy social interaction, it’s easy to forget all the invisible readers who may be reading your profile information and looking at the photos you just posted of your last drunken night on the town. That may include the ‘friends’ you’ve added who you actually barely know, the friends of your friends, your colleagues and – shudder – your boss. Depending on your privacy settings, total strangers may be able to view your profile – including prospective employers.

Cautionary tales are increasingly emerging of how Facebook has proved the undoing of the hapless. Many people will already have heard about Australian Kyle Doyle, a call centre worker who chucked a sickie after a drunken night out, only to be busted by his boss after posting this on his Facebook page: ‘not going to work, f*** it i'm still trashed SICKIE WOO.’ Oops.

Then there was Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank in the US, who told his employers he had to miss work to go to New York for a family emergency. When his Facebook page later showed a photo of a fairy costume-clad Colvin at a Halloween party instead of his ‘family emergency’, his manager copied the photo and emailed it around the office with the reply: ‘Thanks for letting me know – hope everything is OK in New York. (cool wand).’

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