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Today, Mellody Hobson talks about jobs and changing careers.

With unemployment at 7.8%, most of TJMS listeners have jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with them. A recent study by UC, Berkley found that only 48% of participants said they were “very satisfied” with their work. That said, that same study also found that people WANT to work. When asked if they had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives, would they work or stop working, over 70% said they would continue working. The takeaway is that people get a lot of satisfaction from their jobs, even if they don’t love them, but you might as well love your work if you’re going to dedicate so much of your life to it.

What should you do if you aren’t happy at your job?

The first rule of thumb is NOT to leave your job until you’ve secured a new one. I cannot stress this enough. It’s always easier to get a job from a job. If it’s not the specific work environment that's bothering you but the nature of your work itself, consider switching careers entirely. It’s never too late for a fresh start, and there are a number of fast-growing fields with low barriers to entry.

Like what?

One field booming with hiring opportunity is the health care industry. Our population is constantly aging and reproducing, so from pediatrics to geriatrics, there’s no shortage of patients.

U.S. News and World Report named registered nurse the Best Job for 2012. The problem is that an entry-level position in nursing requires a bachelor of science degree in nursing, an associate's degree, or a diploma program administered in a hospital, but the good news is that people without those credentials can still take advantage of job opportunities within the industry by becoming medical assistants.

Medical assistant came in at #4 in the U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs Rankings. The good news is that job growth for medical assistants is expected to be much faster than the national average. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects medical assistant employment growth of 30.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, with the field adding 162,900 more jobs. No formal training is required, and workers with just a high school diploma can learn on the job.

What’s the job like—and what does it pay?

In addition to traditional office work like answering phones and filing, it can entail some basic medical care work like taking vital signs, drawing blood and sterilizing equipment. The median salary is about $29,000.

Any advice about how to make the switch?

Absolutely! The low barrier to entry means it can be harder to differentiate yourself in a sea of applicants. It would be great to take a certification course to learn lab techniques, but a small amount of volunteer work is another way to beef up your resume with a minimal time investment. Spend a Saturday afternoon helping at a blood pressure drive. Also, people skills and organization are two key necessities for the job, so be sure to highlight those attributes in your cover letter. By the way, always write a thoughtful but succinct cover letter when applying for a new job, and have someone else read it to check for typos. Your cover letter is what makes or breaks your chances for an interview.