If you want job security and higher
pay, health care is exceedingly robust, geekdom is good and even accounting is
Experts say 2006 is expected to be a good year for those
who have slogged their way through college -- if they have the right skills and
The 2005 Job Outlook survey by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers,
or NACE, found employers plan to hire 14.5 percent
more new college graduates in the 2005 to 2006 academic
year than they hired in 2004 to 2005 -- the third
consecutive year that employers have predicted increased
hiring. Additionally, the Spring Update addendum
to the survey found that nearly 38 percent of respondents
expect to hire more new college graduates for full-time,
entry-level positions in fall 2006 than they did
in fall 2005.
Heightened demand for skilled workers could also mean
fatter paychecks. Three-quarters of employers who responded to the
NACE survey expect to boost their starting-salary offers to attract
new recruits. Grads with bachelor's degrees are seeing a 3.7 percent
bump in starting pay, while those with master's degrees are seeing
a 4-percent increase.
offers rose consistently over this past academic year, with the majority of disciplines
reporting higher increases this year than they did last year," says Marilyn
Mackes, executive director of NACE. "Increased competition is playing out
in a number of ways, including an increase in employers participating in on-campus
"Generally, we believe that this year's graduates
will fare well in the job market," Mackes says.
"At the same time, the good job market shouldn't
be an excuse for students to sit back and wait for
employers to come to them. Students need to be proactive
in the job search; they can start by going to their
campus career center for guidance and resources."
Tops in demand: medical
Seven of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in the country are related
to the medical profession, according to data from the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, or BLS.
The bureau's Occupational
Outlook Handbook projects employment will grow 50 percent or
more between 2004 and 2014 for home-health aides, medical assistants
and physician assistants. Over the same period, job growth will
climb in excess of 40 percent for physical therapist assistants,
dental assistants and personal and home-care aides.
"As the population gets older, there is a higher
demand for all types of health-care services, so more workers are
needed," says Debra Stock, vice president of the American Hospital
Association in Chicago. "The other thing fueling demand in
the industry is the fact that many current health-care workers are
getting older themselves and starting to retire. You put those two
trends together and it means huge opportunity in terms of employment."
for skilled workers in the dental industry, meanwhile, is largely a result of
the growing number of hygienists and assistants performing services previously
provided by dentists. Hygienists, who often work part-time for several offices,
earned a median hourly wage of about $26.59 in 2002, the most recent year for
which data are available from the bureau. Assistants, who perform more clerical
duties, earned a median $13.10 per hour.
Job prospects for
dental hygienists and assistants "are expected to remain excellent,"
writes the BLS in its Career Guide to Industries. "As dentists' workloads
increase, they are expected to hire more hygienists to perform preventive dental
care, such as cleaning, so that they may devote their own time to more profitable
In the more traditional health-care setting, physician
assistants are among the highest paid in the industry, with first-year
graduates earning roughly $68,116, according to the American Academy
of Physician Assistants in Alexandria, Va.
Median income for physical therapist
assistants was $36,330 in 2004, reports the American Physical Therapy Association.
And medical assistants, who typically hold a one- or two-year vocational degree,
earned roughly $24,000 in 2002, according to the bureau.
On the lower end of the pay scale, home-health aides,
who provide at-home health-related services for the elderly and
disabled, earned less than $9 an hour, while personal and home-care
aides, who provide mainly housekeeping and routine care services,
earned less than $8 an hour in 2002, according to bureau statistics.
medical practices aren't the only ones ramping up. Companies in all industries
are on the prowl for those with highly prized information technology skills.
pays to be a computer geek
Network systems and data
communications analysts, the second-fastest growing occupation on the BLS list,
will enjoy a 55 percent bump in employment between 2004 and 2014, while computer
software engineers who specialize in applications and systems software will watch
their numbers climb roughly 48 percent.
sector, of course, was hit hardest during the dot-com collapse. Fueled by speculative
demand, employment in the field surged to unsustainable levels during the late
1990s, adding millions to the unemployment rolls when the economic recession took
hold in 2001.