Columbus Ohio skyline
Columbus, Ohio, might not be the most exciting place in America to live, but network administrators and HR specialists have good employment chances there, according to a recent survey of the most sough-after employees and where those jobs are located. Creative Commons

The best chances at finding work in 2013 will go, as it usually does, to diploma-holding professionals. That’s about 47 million Americans, of which 96.4 percent are currently employed, according to the latest official figures, an employment rate over three times higher than non-degree holders.

But that high rate is a national average of all degree holders, from the jobless English major to the country’s top brain surgeon. For everyone in between, particularly those plotting their higher education course for a steady income, figuring what to become and where to become it is an important life decision.

According to a recent survey by the jobs website CareerBuilder, a division of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) of McLean, Va., and the job-market research firm Economic Modeling Specialists Unit International of Moscow, Idaho, the best chances at finding work in 2013 will go to technology and engineering geeks while the fastest growing demand is for market analysts and events planners.

Software developers top the list in terms of number of help wanted ads posted at the site, nearly 71,000 over the past two years over a nationwide total estimate of almost a million positions. Six of the 18 positions on the list involved some form of computing with an estimated 2.67 million jobs, about 151,000 postings since 2010 and a total average yearly growth rate of about 5 percent.

These positions are of course largely centered in the high-tech corridors, not just Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, but also the Seattle area, home to, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), and the greater Austin area of Texas, most famous for computer systems maker Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) but also the headquarters of a directory of tech names you’ve never heard of.

Full-time annual wages for these computing gigs posted on the site range from about $44,000 for an entry-level database administrator to $135,000 for a highly experienced software developer.

Columbus, Ohio, made it to the list as an ideal place not only for network administrators but also human resource specialists, who are also in high demand. Another place appealing for HR work is the Milwaukee urban area.

Accounting came in as the second most in-demand career and also the job with the most slots, 1.26 million jobs. CareerBuilder has posted over 31,000 auditing or accounting positions since 2010. Demand has growth at the fastest rate, too, with 10 percent annual growth in help wanted ads on the site.

New York City and Washington, D.C. – the financial and political capitals of the country – are the best places to seek accounting work, but also making the list for the most lucrative urban zone right now: Denver.

Annual full-time salaries for accountants and auditors on the site range from about $40,000 to $103,000.

Specialists in studying local, regional or national markets to help companies grow sales revenue was the third most in-demand on this year’s list, with the most jobs concentrated in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the Washington, D.C., area. High in demand but potentially low in pay, market research analysts tied with accountants on annual rate of growth of help wanted ads at 10 percent. But the posts also offered the lowest pay of the jobs on this list, under $35,000 at the low end. The high end, however, offered wages above the top salaries for auditors or accountants: $107,000.

Detroit, home to the Big Three U.S. automakers, is predictably one of the centers for both mechanical and industrial engineers, but so are the Hartford, Conn., and the Minneapolis urban areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin, respectively.

The full-time pay rate for both types of engineers is very similar, with the mechanical paying a little more than the industrial, from about $52,000 to $120,000. According to the survey, there are about 470,000 engineering jobs and about 26,000 positions have posted on the site over the past three years with a 6 percent annual growth rate.

Other positions in high demand include sales and public relations reps and financial analysts. Washington, D.C., was the most common urban area for these positions. Oklahoma City was cited as a hot spot for logisticians, specialists in analyzing how to acquire materials for companies and distribute products they manufacture.

The total U.S. unemployment rate has been declining from a near historic high three years ago, but it’s still hovering at 7.9 percent. Prior to the economic chaos of 2009, the last time the unemployment rate was above that level was in January 1984 as the country was recovering from an all-time high of 10.8 percent.

To read the full survey results, click here.