What does it take to switch jobs in a shaky economy? Arm yourself with data, bolster it with more research, and then solidify your work by comparing the options to make your switch a success. Here are several tools that will help along the way.  

Let’s face it, in the current economy, many industries are declining, especially real estate and construction.  But do not despair; there are some industries (mostly healthcare related) that are growing despite these hard times.  If you’re looking for a job, or if you want to switch jobs, the best way to approach your search is with as much information and data about the careers you want to pursue. Armed with the right tools, you will know the exact next steps to switch careers.

First Stop: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dive into your search by comparing the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Future Jobs and Careers Forecast. Since the 1960s, the BLS has been compiling employment and economic data in the United States in order to predict the future of jobs and careers for U.S. citizens. For each occupation, the BLS reports the forecasted number of jobs, the projected number of job openings due to growth and replacement, as well as reports and assigns ranks to each occupation’s median annual wage. With this data, you can tell which careers are growing, what degree you’ll need to find a job in that field, how much money you can expect to make, and where that salary ranks against other occupations.

Second Stop: Where do you want to live and how much do you want to make?

Once you choose a new career that fits your needs, you’ll need to decide where to live and factor in the average salaries of that area for an occupation. Sorting jobs by their salary and location can seem like a daunting task. However, if moving is an option in your job search, it’s important to know where you’ll get paid the highest for your skills.

Many new careers will require new qualifications, unless you are looking within your current profession. If a new career peeks your interest, don’t hesitate to look into graduate degree programs. The New York Times reports that with a graduate degree, you can earn up to 25 percent more on average than a bachelors-holding colleague. However, among the top job prospects based on BLS reports are biomedical engineers, network systems and data communication analysts and financial examiners, occupations which require a bachelor degree if you’ve chosen that area of study.

Third Stop: Making Job Websites Work For You

Job websites help organize your search, making new careers more accessible and saving you time. Though most job websites focus on all industries, several are industry-specific: Monster, Employment Guide and Career Builder list all industries, while Mediabistro focuses on media and PR, AllRetailJobs focuses on Retail and HigherEdJobs focuses on university and graduate level teaching and research jobs.

Fourth Stop: Your new job

You should now have plenty of data, tools and resources to help you make an informed decision about your future job prospects.  Take the time and do the research, after all, this is your job and your future.  If you’re stuck in a dying industry or unhappy with your current job, there has never been a better time to make the leap and find a new career.  Confucius’ saying has held true for thousands of years: “chose a job you love and you will never work another day in your life.”