Magazine article Insight on the News

Pick the Right Profession before Looking for Work

Magazine article Insight on the News

Pick the Right Profession before Looking for Work

Article excerpt

Rather than searching the classifieds, job seekers should take a longer view, experts say. Think first about what employment sectors will be hot through 2005, then identify a niche.

If you're scanning the help-wanted ads for that perfect first job - or that ideal next job - you are pushing your luck. According to the Department of Labor, fewer than 15 percent of positions are filled through the classifieds. Before you begin to look for a job - before you even choose an occupation - it it helps to know what is happening in the workforce and where the opportunities will be.

Every year, Malcolm Cohen, a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, evaluates the top 12 jobs for the coming 12 months. Using indicators such as salary range and expected raises, prospects for growth and job demand, Cohen has ranked the following occupations as the best for 1996: physical therapist, physician, computer engineer, computer-systems analyst, registered nurse, radiologic technologist, computer programmer, clergy, pharmacist, special-education teacher, staff psychologist and high-school teacher.

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, projects that occupations in health services, business services and social services are expected to see the most growth between 1994 and 2005, accounting for one in two jobs added to the economy. Nine of the 10 fastest-growing industries belong to these three groups.

Mike Farr, author of dozens of books that analyze the demand for labor and the supply of workers, has examined opportunities in the workforce from a number of perspectives. In America's 50 Fastest Growing Jobs, for example, he lists the fastest-growing jobs requiring a college degree. Based on projected growth through 2005, Farr predicts college-educated computer engineers and scientists will lead the top 20 with 112 percent growth in job openings; systems analysts will be second with 110 percent growth and physical therapists will see 88 percent growth.

Farr also has categorized the top 50 jobs by percentage growth between 1995 and 2005, in which the top 5 winners are home-health aides (138 percent growth); human-services workers (136 percent); personal- and homecare aides (130 percent); computer engineers and scientists (112 percent); and systems analysts (110 percent).

But he also lists the fastest-growing jobs based upon number of openings, which gives a better picture of actual availability. In this case, the retail-sales industry comes out on top, adding 786,000 new jobs by 2005; registered-nursing slots increase by 765,000; cashiers gain 670,000 positions; the demand for general office-clerk grows by 654,000; and 648,000 new truck drivers will hit the road.

Some trends seem inevitable. The health-care industry will continue to grow. Hospitals and health insurers are aiming to decrease hospital stays to control costs, thus increasing the need for skilled in-home care, while baby boomers turning 50 will require more health services. "In 10 years it may peak," cautions Stephen Fuller, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., "especially with the cutbacks being proposed in budget-deficit-reduction plans, and overall demand in the industry may slow." Business-related services will account for another large segment of workforce growth, particularly in computers and information systems, says Fuller. …

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