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You want a job. You want a job that makes money. You want a job that makes money that is actually hiring people to perform said job. After all, buggy whip makers used to do pretty well, but that faded when Henry Ford made them obsolete.

So what’s an ambitious job hunter to do?

Research.

via Lifehacker:

If you haven’t settled on a career yet, this interactive chart from Rasmussen College can help you find the best options. It organizes occupations into four quadrants based on salary, expected job growth, and number of opportunities available.

The chart looks confusing at first, since it’s a bunch of dots spread on a grid, but the data visualization is actually very smart. The higher the dot is placed on the vertical axis, the higher the median annual salary (that top spot belongs to anesthesiologists, by the way). The farther to the right the dot is on the horizontal axis, the more opportunities there are, based on total number of people employed in that occupation for 2011. And the color of the dot represents how much the occupation is growing (or declining).

The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as of April 2013). You can find out more about each occupation by clicking on the dot.

Naturally, your skills and interests should inform your career decision, but an occupation’s salary and other economic factors also are important.

As an important aside, everyone flocks to the high-dollar careers, and that’s great. But they’re high-dollar for a reason. For example, the graphic above highlights pharmacists, who often start above $75,000. The catch is that not everyone can be a pharmacist. If you don’t like science and aren’t good at math (550 Math SAT MINIMUM), you aren’t going to be a pharmacist.

Even if you gain admittance to university, in order to go to the upper-level of the major, many make you hold a certain GPA. Here’s a chart from San Diego State University listing the minimum GPA to advance to upper level courses in your junior year. These vary by school, but it’s a good starting point.

Wait? What? Minimum?

Yes, minimum. If you fall below this, you can’t go into the major classes. Also, if you fall below a 2.0 (4.0 is an A, 3.0 is a B, 2.0 is a C, 1.0 is a D), you lose all of your federal financial aid and unless you’re really rich, you can’t afford to stay in school anyway. This is known as “dropping out”.

Additionally, many colleges have limited seat programs, majors like medical school, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician’s assistant, a lot of the high-dollar jobs people like to look at. For these, you not only have to hit minimum scores, but because they’re limited seat, you might hit the minimum and not be offered admission simply because 50 other people (or however many seats there are) are better than you.

It’s important to pick something that goes with your strengths, loves, and interests. Why? One, it should be attainable; a C in high school Bio isn’t going to get you into medical school or veterinary college. Two, you’re going to be doing it for 40 years.

Study.

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