SPECIAL SECTION: EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK
Where the jobs are--and will
Computer, health fields still on the
Special to the
Published January 7,
Choosing a career used to be a
simple matter. Young people wanted to grow up to be nurses,
firefighters, teachers or maybe businessmen.
That era has
gone the way of the milkman and door-to-door salesman.
the growing complexity of today's world, it's no surprise the titles
of emerging jobs can confuse anyone not working in them.
of today's students will spend their careers serving as
polysomnographic technologists, studying the actions of adults and
children in sleep laboratories. Others will be bioinformaticists,
combining skills in biology and information technology to help
gather and analyze data related to genetic mapping. Still others
will serve as robot technicians, installing, servicing,
troubleshooting, maintaining and repairing robots and automated
But the best jobs for the rest of the
decade remain those growing rapidly enough to be widely
recognizable. And as in previous years, careers in computer-related
and health care-related fields dominate the list of occupations with
the highest growth rates.
These two areas also are well
represented in the lists of occupations with the greatest numbers of
job openings and with the best earnings, said Theresa Cosca,
supervisory economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and
Employment Projections with the U.S. Bureau of Labor
"It's probably not surprising earnings are
highest in the computer-related occupations," she said.
"Health-care-related occupations are also among the better paying,
particularly those at the professional or technician
With a few exceptions, the fast-growing jobs in
Illinois tend to parallel those of the nation as a whole, noted
Mitch Daniels, labor market economist with the Department of
Employment Security in Springfield.
"One of the points made
nationally and mirrored here in Illinois is that professional,
scientific and technical occupations will be the fastest-growing
occupational group," he noted.
Under that broad umbrella are
such categories as "Education, Training and Library Occupations,"
"Health Care Practitioners and Technical Occupations" and "Computer
and Mathematical Sciences Occupations."
The following list
comprises jobs that offer the most opportunity in terms of rate of
employment growth and raw numbers of new jobs added, as well as
comparatively high median incomes.
The 2005 State of Working Illinois Report of the
state's 30 fastest-growing occupations from 2002 to 2012, prepared
by the Chicago-based Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and
Northern Illinois University, reports the No. 1 projected growth
occupation in Illinois is registered nursing.
nurses earned a 2004 median wage of almost $49,000 and good
benefits, said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for
Tax and Budget Accountability. Through 2014, they will be able to
take advantage of an average of 4,024 annual Illinois job openings,
the Department of Employment Security reported.
comparatively higher pay for registered nurses is based on the
growing technical demands of health care, Daniels said. That will
spell more opportunity for licensed practical nurses and certified
nurse assistants as well in the years ahead.
much more demand for registered nurses, and as a result it's
spreading across nursing as a whole," he said. "At the top of the
nursing cluster, registered nurses represent the No. 1 shortage that
all sectors of the health-care industry
Business operations specialists
group, which includes liaison officers, grant coordinators, pursers
and many other titles, appears in third place among Illinois'
fastest-growing jobs in the 2005 State of Working Illinois Report,
Business operations specialists generally
possess more than a bachelor's degree and often have MBAs. Their
median annual earnings in 2004 were $50,359, he
General operations managers
managers and department managers are among those in this category,
the eighth fastest-growing job field in Illinois, Martire
Like business operations specialists, they typically
have education beyond the bachelor's degree level and often possess
"You don't graduate from an MBA program and become a
general operations manager but start in a job title such as vice
president of operations, under the No. 1 person," Martire
In 2004, general operations managers earned median
annual incomes of $69,377. There are projected to be 2,421 annual
job openings for this occupation through 2014.
Appearing in 13th
place are sales representatives. Most sales reps now possess a
bachelor's degree or some form of on-the-job training, Martire
"The educational requirements are growing for this
job," he added. "That's because of the need for both communication
and computer skills. It's tough to be successful in sales these days
unless you're pretty technologically savvy and maybe even addicted
to your Blackberry."
The state's Department of Employment
Security projects 2,674 average annual job openings for sales
representatives in wholesale and manufacturing. Their median annual
earnings in 2004 were $44,553, Martire said.
The 15th of the 30 fastest-growing jobs in
Illinois through 2012, this profession pays a median annual salary
of $68,186, Martire said. Systems analysts will see an average of
1,001 annual job openings through 2014.
Requiring at least a
four-year college degree, the job of systems analyst is frequently a
springboard to other, loftier titles, because good systems analysts
must understand what the system is accomplishing for the
"You find out which aspect of the business you
like and then work toward becoming a manager in that department,"
Martire said. "It's realistic and doable, and gives you a chance to
learn about the business in which you're working."
leading to the abundance of openings for systems analysts and others
in computer-related fields is that demand cuts across industries,
"What would shock a lot of people is that these
jobs are in every industry," he said. "They're in banking, health
care, manufacturing, legal and protective services. They're in
industries people don't always associate with computer-related
Secondary school teachers
school teachers place 16th on the list of fastest-growing
occupations. Through 2014, there will be a need for 3,111 new high
school teachers in Illinois each year. It's a job that requires at
least a bachelor's degree. In 2004, this group recorded median
annual earnings of $52,307.
When the term "construction" is mentioned, many people
think of carpenters, Daniels said. But the field actually comprises
many trades, including glaziers, carpenters, electricians, HVAC
technicians and more.
"Many are apprenticeable, require up to
two years at a community college, and many pay initial wages as you
enter the field that are higher than those paid in occupations
requiring a four-year degree," he noted. "So if you look at lifetime
earnings, the person with the four-year degree over a lifetime will
outearn someone in the construction trades--but not by much. A
four-year degree isn't the ticket to everything."
seven years should bring 1,394 annual job openings for carpenters,
which place 17th on the list of fastest-growing occupations, and 944
openings for electricians, which place 23rd, according to the
Illinois Department of Employment Security.
yearly earnings were $46,109 for carpenters, and $56,711 for
- - -
10 hot jobs in Illinois
2. Retail salespeople
4. Janitors and cleaners, except
5. Customer service
6. Waiters and waitresses
prep/service workers, fast food
8. General and operations
10. Truck drivers, heavy/tractor
Source: State of Working Illinois Report
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