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Whether you managed to survive the recession with your job intact, or you’ve recently landed yourself a new position after being laid off, 2011 could be a good year for your paycheck.
Although employers aren’t yet ready to start hiring like crazy, they are encouraged by signs of growth and are willing to expand budgets a little and start giving out raises in an effort to hold on to the talent they already have.
Surveys show that on average, raises won’t be as great as they were right before the recession (2005-2007), but they will be better than they were last year. Below we have the top 10 career areas that will experience the best raises this year.

1. Utilities: Energy
Expected pay increase: 3.6%
Jobs in the energy industry are expected to see the largest salary increases of all the industries on our list at about 3.6 percent. Energy research positions are always in demand but positions dealing specifically with clean and renewable energy are leading current growth trends.

2. Oil & Gas
Expected pay increase: 3.5%
The oil and gas industry gets a bad rap — but it isn’t all environmental disasters and price hikes at the pump. Careers in fossil fuel research such as petroleum engineering and making fossil fuels work together with renewable energy sources are especially relevant in today’s market.

3. Business & Professional Services
Expected pay increase: 3.2%
Business and professional services are what keep the rest of the world turning and moving smoothly, as industries grow and consumers spend. Those working in this “catch-all” industry category can expect to see pay increases of about 3.2 percent.

4. Hospitality & Restaurant
Expected pay increase: 3.0%
Restaurants, hotel chains, and other hospitality-based businesses are planning to increase employee compensation by an average of 3.0 percent this year, which means they’re feeling confident that consumers will be spending more on their non-essential services and small but indulgent “extras.”

5. Telecommunications
Expected pay increase: 2.9%
Technology is booming in the telecommunications industry as the latest technology gets smaller and faster while everything continues to go wireless. Demand for new and improved products and services for both consumers and businesses, as well as the need for decision makers to stay on the cutting edge, will propel the industry forward this year and allow for modest pay increases of about 2.9 percent.

6. Pharmaceutical
Expected pay increase: 2.9%
Pharmaceutical research is chronically underfunded, and pharmacists seem to always be in short supply; but whether you’re on the scientific side or the sales side, you will likely see positive growth and pay increases just under 3 percent.

7. Retail
Expected pay increase: 2.8%
The successful 2010 holiday shopping season was a sign that consumers are willing to start spending again — and when consumers spend, so do retailers. Hiring may be slow and jobs competitive, but look for raises around 2.8 percent for top performers.

8. Health care
Expected pay increase: 2.8%
The health-care industry is a monster under scrutiny that’s undergoing painful changes and overhauls, but it’s also an absolute necessity and offers a virtually endless supply of career options, avenues, and specialties to pursue. In addition to seeing raises around 2.8 percent, most health-care employees will also enjoy working in a field that made our Top 10 Most Secure Jobs of 2011 list.

9. Banking
Expected pay increase: 2.7%
Banking and financial services took a major hit during the recession, but in the end it’s an industry few can live without. Some areas, like debt management and retirement planning, are actually doing quite well. Those working in banking can look for pay increases around 2.7 percent this year.
–Find Banking Jobs

10. Education
Expected pay increase: 2.6%
Teachers and education professionals are almost always underpaid  but thankfully the education industry squeaks onto our list with an expected average salary increase of 2.6 percent in 2011 although with budgets and funding varying widely across schools, individual experiences will also vary.
—————–
By Rigel Celeste for AOL Jobs

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