Pay declining

The upshot of this wretched economy is that compensation is beginning to decline as people take just about any position to stay employed. For example, in information technology overall, national starting salaries are expected to decline by an average of 1.3 percent, according to a survey by Robert Half International, a staffing company.

Within that, one promising job is as a  network administrators, especially now that cloud computing, voice over Internet protocol and software as service make the job more complicated. Network administrators can expect starting salaries in the range of $54,500 to $80,250. Information systems security management is also big, with top pay hitting $130,750.  Systems engineers are still being hired to maintain complex infrastructures. Their pay ranges from $64,250 to $93,250, the survey said.

Another declining group is administrative and office support. Pay in that category is declining by 2.2 percent next year, the survey shows. Best job in that category is also a tough one to get -- executive assistant. Executive assistants who can support multiple managers and adapt readily to change can earn as much as $47,000. Medical records clerks and customer service representatives are also showing salary increases, despite the general decline in the category, with top pay in those two jobs between $30,750 and $31,500.