Smart Career Paths: Earn 100% More in Five Years

Where do you see yourself in five years? Whether you are a college student trying to figure out what direction to take or considering a career change, having a strategy can help you maximize your potential. If you think beyond the initial paycheck, there are many jobs that offer considerable career growth in a fairly short time frame. You can move up in the world and make more money at a faster than average pace, if you have the right career path in place.

Here's a look at five hot career paths where pay can grow quickly over the course of five years, all with a strong job outlook through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Registered Nurse

The medical field needs nurses. If you start out as a certified nurse assistant, by completing an associate's degree and putting in some time, you can become a registered nurse (RN) and more than doubles your salary in the process. Registered nurses take home a median income of $57,600, which is 147 percent of the $23,300 typically earned by a certified nurse assistant.

This is a career that's adding jobs, with the expected growth at 22 percent through 2018. With 74 percent of nurses reporting they feel fairly or extremely satisfied with their job, you can look forward to getting out of bed in the morning no matter which shift you work. The associate's degree can often be completed in two years, so you may be increasing your income more quickly than you think.

Nurse Anesthetist

The opportunities in nursing don't stop once you have your associate's degree. If you're willing to pursue a bachelor's degree in science (typically) and a master's degree in nursing, you can become a nurse nesthetist. The median, annual income for this occupation is $147,000, which translates to a 155 percent of the median income for an RN. While the estimated number of professionals in this field was 49,000 in 2008, this job is expected to grow 13 percent through 2018. Nurse anesthetists report some of the highest job satisfaction in medicine, with 86 percent saying they are fairly or extremely satisfied with their work.

Relationship Manager

If you're great with both people and finances, following the career path of a relationship manager may be the right choice. Expected job growth is 24 percent through 2018. Becoming a relationship manager typically requires a bachelor's degree and starts in personal banking. Being a personal banker requires in depth knowledge of the bank's product offerings and the ability to form relationships with banking customers. With experience, you can be promoted to a relationship manger, supervising others in banking professions with a median, annual income of $72,900, which is a 95 percent increase from the median income of a personal banker. The majority of relationship managers (67 percent) also report feeling fairly or extremely satisfied with their job.

Education Consultant

Teaching is a noble profession, but some folks may want to move on from being only in the classroom. An education consultant is one career option for those starting out as an elementary school teacher. The median income for education consultants is $64,900 per year, which is a 59 percent increase over typical elementary school teaching salaries. Projected job growth through 2018 is an increase of 23 precent. If you're looking for a job that makes you happy, look no further; 82 percent of education consultants report feeling fairly or extremely satisfied with their job. Advanced education is required for this position, with most needing a master's degreee.

Recruiting Coordinator

Human resources offers many career possibilities, with plenty of opportunities for advancement in a fairly short time frame. For those looking to pursue a human resources career, consider planning to become a recruiting coordinator. The median income for this position is $48,200, up 39 percent from the human resources assistant position where coordinators often start. Job growth in the recruiting coordinator field is expected to be 28 percent through 2018. Recruiting coordinators typically have a bachelor's degree.

A Brighter, Wealthier Future

Katie Bardaro, Analytics Manager at PayScale, notes that if you decide to make a career change towards one of these jobs "a big change in pay can be expected, but so too can an increase in educational attainment. For each of these jobs, an individual will need to acquire more education if they hope to move into these fields. For example, an RN commonly holds a bachelor's degree, but must obtain a master's degree to become a nurse anesthetist." She adds that "this just goes to show that more education can pave the way to higher paychecks as it opens doors to more lucrative fields."

Are you thinking of switching careers? Get a free PayScale compensation report and see the salary range for the job of your choice. And if you have any salary range topics you would like to see covered here on The Salary Reporter, write us at