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How Career Change Programs Work

Where are the jobs?

In California, Hartnell College in Salinas has an eye on the future. In 2011, the college, working with the Monterey County One-Stop Career Centers, began offering certificate programs in green construction for youths 16 to 24. The program provides students with hands-on work experience, textbooks, tutoring and job-placement assistance [source: Viel].

Hartnell is on to something. While traditional industries such as textiles, printing, automotive and apparel are losing jobs by the bucketful, green jobs are on the rise. In fact, experts say if you're going to change careers in the near future, the so-called "clean" or "green" economy is hot.

How hot? According to a 2011 study by the Brookings Institution, the "green economy" now accounts for 2 percent of all the jobs in the United States, employing some 2.7 million Americans. Between 2003 and 2010, the clean energy economy grew 3.4 percent, while clean energy jobs grew 8.3 percent during that same period [source: Clayton].

As part of this uptick, workers have been training to become solar panel installers and energy auditors, among other positions. Environmental consulting, which includes jobs in soil-, water- and air-quality management is an emerging field in the green economy. All sorts of businesses will need help in reducing carbon emissions because of the government's efforts to curtail green house gas emissions, which contribute to global warming [source: Scott].

Green is not the only color of money. The biotech industry is also booming. Many biotech companies and research organizations need workers with computer and life science skills. In the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry, companies are looking for skilled workers who have completed college courses in math and engineering [source: U.S. Department of Labor].

In addition, employment in the health care industry is surging. In fact, health care is one of the largest industries in the United States, providing 14.3 million jobs in 2008. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that an additional 3.2 million new jobs will be added by 2018 [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics].

But before you start training for any of these industries, do your research. Experts say it's best to talk to employers, recruiters and others in the industry that can provide you with objective information. You might be able to transfer some of the skills you already have to your new profession [source: CBS News].

Happy job hunting.