Work doesn't have to mean a dreary cubicle and an unappreciative boss--in fact, several of today's most in-demand careers lend themselves to self-employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the following careers to grow faster than average from 2008 to 2018, and some require only a couple of years of career training.
Whether you want to add hours on a contractual basis or start your own business, the following five careers allow you to build client relationships and be your own boss.
Accountants keep financial records for businesses and individuals, and they often prepare financial statements, budget analysis, and taxes. Unlike management accountants, who are generally employed by large corporations, public accountants and tax specialists find their own work through individual clients. According to the BLS, accountants earned an average salary of $67,430 in 2009, and their employment is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018.
Accountants must be good with numbers, organized, and detail oriented. Most companies require their accountants to hold at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, and accountants who are self-employed often seek certification through the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
2. Web developer
Web developers use software languages to develop the technical aspects of Web sites, including organization, layout, and databases. Because Web developers can work from any computer with the required software, they can complete contract projects or run a small business from home. The BLS expects employment of all computer network, systems, and database administrators to grow by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018. In 2009, this group earned an average salary of $70,930.
Most Web developers have a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer programming, or a related field, and they continually learn about new technology and software to keep their work current. If you're interested in becoming a web developer and currently work full time, consider an online bachelor's degree program in computer science.
3. Software applications engineer
Software applications engineers design the computer software we rely on every day, from word processing programs to computer games. Software engineers use computer science and mathematics principles to create and test software that responds to users' needs. Technological advances have allowed many software engineers to telecommute and perform client projects from home. According to the BLS, computer software applications engineers earned an average of $90,170 in 2009, and their employment is expected to grow by 34 percent from 2008 to 2018.
Computer software engineers need technical knowledge, so most prepare by earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, or software engineering. Professionals with an associate's degree in computer science may find work as computer programmers.
4. Skin-care specialist
Skin-care specialists, also called estheticians, are beauty professionals who specialize in facials, waxing, exfoliation, and other skin treatments. According to the BLS, 44 percent of cosmetologists (including skin-care specialists) are self-employed, and employment of skin-care specialists is expected to grow by 38 percent from 2008 to 2018. In 2009, skin-care specialists earned an average of $31,990.
Skin-care specialists prepare for state licensing by attending an accredited cosmetology school and completing a program in skin care. These programs can often be completed in less than nine months, allowing you to quickly transition to a career in beauty.
5. Landscape architect
Landscape architects use principles of architecture, engineering, and ecology to design functional, attractive outdoor spaces. They design everything from public parks to shopping centers, and they ensure their designs meet clients' needs without harming the local ecosystem. According to the BLS, approximately 21 percent of landscape architects work for themselves, and their employment is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018. In 2009, landscape architects earned an average salary of $65,910.
Landscape architects should be artistic, good with their hands, and able to draft using computer-aided drafting software. Nearly all states require landscape architects to be licensed, which requires earning a bachelor's degree or master's degree in landscape architecture.
Start working for yourself
Whether you're interested in computers, beauty, or plants, you can work for yourself in one of today's hottest industries. Online degree programs and career training options can help you transition into your dream career without giving up your current job.
Jessica Hanley is a writer pursuing a graduate degree in creative writing. Her previous experience includes marketing for the Penguin Young Readers Group and teaching writing to students of all ages. Jessica received a B.A. in English from Stanford University.