Job Seekers Can Cash in as Baby Boomers Age; Medical Fields to See Shortages

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 26, 2007 | Go to article overview

Job Seekers Can Cash in as Baby Boomers Age; Medical Fields to See Shortages


Byline: Bryce Baschuk, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Pay close attention in biology class - students who pursue science and math careers will be earning far more money than their peers.

A range of high-paying jobs will have shortages, especially in medical fields, as the baby boomers age, both because they will retire from those professions and because they will need increasing medical services.

The boomer exodus will leave a quarter of a million jobs to highly skilled workers hoping to earn more than $100,000 a year.

The nation's 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1954, make up 40 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 2012, nearly 20 percent of the total work force will be age 55 or older, according to a study from senior citizens group AARP.

Students with real vision for the future might find a career in optometry to be a good choice.

"The growth in demand for eye care will grow exponentially in the next few years," said Richard Edlow, a spokesman for the American Optometric Association.

Mr. Edlow said the prevalence of cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes in the boomer population will increase 20 percent by 2020, and boomers will require extensive eye-care services.

"It will become a great opportunity," Mr. Edlow said. "I'm telling high school sophomores to start looking into optometry now."

By the time those students finish optometry school in 2017, there will be a shortage of eye doctors.

The American Optometric Association said the average annual income of optometrists was $136,898 in 2004; with demand growing, salaries are likely to rise.

By 2014, the U.S. also will need 17,000 more dentists to care for aging boomers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jackson Brown, associate executive director of the American Dental Association, said he has been keeping an eye on the growth trends of the industry for years.

"Class sizes of dentistry have increased by 15 percent since 1990, and in the next 15 to 20 years, more and more dentists will be added to the population," he said.

Dentists, with an average income of $123,000 a year, will have their work cut out for them, as aging boomers require more complicated dental work to keep their teeth healthy.

"A larger percent of the population goes to the dentist more than they did 20 to 30 years ago," Dr. Brown said. "Generally speaking, the elderly generation is healthier, more ambulatory and goes to the dentist because they still have teeth."

The future for high-tech specialists and engineers also looks bright as biomedical and computer engineering sectors offer some of best job opportunities in the nation.

Biomedical engineers can expect to see more opportunities as aging boomers demand better medical equipment and pharmaceutical treatments, said the BLS. …

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