11 Promising Jobs for 2011

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Some of the best-paying jobs, and the ones most in demand for next year, are in careers you've probably never heard of.

Data modeler? No, you don’t walk the fashion runway holding an iPhone. Business intelligence analyst? No, you’re not teaching CEOs how to stop making dumb decisions.

Along with ERP technical developer and user experience (UX) designer, these are just some of the jobs predicted to be hot next year.

According to the Salary Guides just released from staffing firm Robert Half, there are 11 jobs that bosses will be aggressively hiring for – and paying top dollar for – in 2011.

Oddly enough, one of those is perhaps the butt of more jokes than any other profession: lawyers. But as you’ll see, you must be a certain kind of lawyer.

“The common thread among the jobs highlighted in our research is that they help businesses improve efficiency and profits, and foster a more positive customer experience,” says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

Here they are …

1. Senior business systems analyst

These folks “enhance existing systems and leverage new hardware and software.” In other words, they look for inefficiencies in IT. You can see why that’s in demand for employers looking to cut costs in a recession. “Average base compensation is projected to rise 5 percent to the range of $66,500 to $85,500,” Robert Half predicts.

2. Financial analyst

Along those same lines, but more specialized, companies are looking for expertise in evaluating financial plans, forecasts, and budgets. “Analysts who can assess borrowing structures to ensure competitive funding costs are in demand, as are those with exceptional communication skills,” the study shows. “Starting salaries are predicted to climb 4.8 percent for financial analysis managers at both large ($81,500 to $109,750) and midsize ($72,750 to $95,000) companies.”

3. Staff accountant

If you have 1 to 3 years experience at a midsize company, you could see a 3.7 percent starting salary increase – to a range of $42,000 to $55,500. “Businesses continue to seek staff members who can perform fundamental duties, such as maintaining the general ledger, compiling financial reports, and overseeing payroll and accounts payable and receivable,” the study says.

4. ERP technical developer

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, and in its simplest form, it tries to get big companies operating across one lean and mean computer system, improving efficiency and cutting costs. (See a theme on this list?) So it’s a highly technical job – and a high-paying one. “Base compensation for these professionals is projected to increase 5.2 percent next year, to a range of $79,250 to $109,500,” the study says.

5. Business intelligence analyst

The study explains: “Companies need analysts who can guide decision-making processes in a constantly changing business environment, and help reduce costs. Average starting salaries for business intelligence analysts will rise 5 percent, to between $82,500 and $116,250.”

6. Data modeler

No, you don’t model, but you use a computer to do it: “As firms analyze more complex data and create custom applications, they require skilled modelers who can design methods for handling, processing, and evaluating material. Data modelers can expect base compensation in the range of $80,750 to $111,250, a gain of 4.5 percent over 2010 levels.”

7. Mobile applications designer/developer

Anyone with a smartphone grasps the basics of this job. Obviously, all those iPhones and Android devices need apps, so if you know how to write them, you “should command a starting salary of $73,250 to $102,500. Strong demand for these individuals is based on the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers; companies want to develop applications and advertising to target users of these devices.”

8. User experience (UX) designer

Here’s a computer tech job that deals with human beings – you develop “innovative and impactful online experiences for customers. Compensation is expected to rise 7.8 percent to a range of $67,500 and $98,000.”

9. Lawyer

How many lawyers does it take to … forget it. Because this is no joke. “Attorneys with four to nine years of experience at midsize law firms should see average starting salaries of $106,250 to $163,250, a 4.1 percent increase over 2010.” And what are these lawyers needed for? You guessed it: “litigation, healthcare, bankruptcy, and foreclosure law.”

10. Paralegal

You don’t expect those lawyers to do all the work themselves, do you? “Paralegals with 4 to 6 years of experience at midsize law firms will see average base compensation ranging between $48,250 and $62,500, a 3.7 percent increase over 2010 projections.”

11. Senior administrative assistant

Administrative assistants were laid off in droves at the height of the recession, so Robert Half says this is simply a matter of the pendulum swinging back toward equilibrium: “Companies that cut support roles during the downturn are adding staff to help make departments more efficient and productive. Senior administrative assistants with advanced technical skills, specific industry expertise, and staff supervision experience are in demand, and should see starting salaries grow 3.1 percent, to a range of $32,500 and $41,750.”

Stacy Johnson

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