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13 Careers Short on Graduates


In an economy with more than 53% jobless or underemployed recent college graduates, it’s hard to imagine that there are actually careers short on graduates. But it’s true: there are several different fields that simply can’t find enough qualified candidates to fill all of their job opportunities. Health care, skilled trades, and even finance are hurting for graduates — are you cut out for one of these careers with room to grow?

  1. Agriculture:

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, agriculture employment is on a slight decline, but interestingly, demand is up for agriculture graduates. There’s an increased consumer demand for safe, nutritious food, and agriculture graduates are needed to make that happen. Graduates in agriculture management and business, as well as science and engineering will find the best graduates. In fact, there are an estimated 25,700 annual job openings for management and business in the agriculture industry, and more than 14,600 annual job openings available in agriculture and science engineering fields including animal pathology and biological engineering. Plus, there are nearly 8,000 spots opening up for crop consultants, land use managers, and related professionals. It’s clear that there’s a major need for agriculture graduates, and while some colleges of agriculture report increased enrollment rates, there currently aren’t enough graduates to meet the needs of the agriculture industry.

  2. Teaching:

    Are there ever enough teachers? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for teachers is growing about as fast as average, but it doesn’t look like graduates are keeping up with that growth. There are major increases in enrollment demanding more teachers, and there’s a big push for declines in student-teacher ratios, which means, of course, that we need more teachers than ever before. And we were already short on teachers to begin with!

  3. Accounting and finance:

    According to a recent ManpowerGroup survey, accounting and finance staff are in a major shortage. Simply put, it’s hard to find people with finance skills, and with the current economic situation, these people are in high demand as nonprofits, banks, and other financial institutions need accountants, bookkeepers, and counselors. Typically, accounting and finance clerk positions will require at least a two-year or four-year degree.

  4. Sales:

    In an economic downturn, sales staff is important to many companies. While some companies may be laying off workers, they’re beefing up sales representatives to help bring in more sales, so these workers are in great demand. Although not every sales job requires a degree, employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, and these days, they simply can’t find enough of them. The opportunities are ripe for sales staff with four-year degrees, especially in insurance and manufacturing sales.

  5. Manufacturing:

    Manufacturing isn’t exactly a glamorous job. It’s often in warehouses, and some of it includes doing the dirty work of the world that most people would rather ignore. But students who graduate with manufacturing skills are in incredibly high demand. Factory owners simply can’t find enough skilled workers to fill their warehouses. There’s a major skills mismatch, as today’s graduates often don’t have the skills necessary to complete manufacturing work. Graduates who leave school with the skills manufacturers are looking for have absolutely no trouble finding a job, and may even enjoy better pay and job security than graduates with four-year degrees.

  6. Nursing:

    Like teachers, nurses are chronically in short supply as demand for qualified health professionals typically outstrips the amount of nurses that actually exist. That means nursing recruiters are constantly working in overdrive to attract nurses, and often, the nurses that are employed have to work long hours and double shifts to make sure patients are covered. These days, the typical short supply of nurses is compounded by a growing demand for healthcare services, with a downward trend in nursing school enrollment.

  7. Mechanics:

    If your car breaks down, you can typically be confident that there’s a mechanic out there that can help you get back on the road. But recent stats indicate that this may not always be the case. Over the last four to five years, there’s been a shortage in mechanics as students pass up technical school to attend four-year colleges. That means there are more than enough openings for mechanics today, with good benefits and salaries available for qualified graduates. And employers report that with a trade education, you can make just as much, if not more, money than graduates of four-year colleges, making automotive services a great career choice for technologically-minded students.

  8. Trucking:

    Who wants to drive a truck cross-country? Apparently, very few people. There are currently 200,000 trucking jobs waiting to be filled right now, despite a high unemployment rate in the U.S. With a technical education, truckers are able to earn an average of nearly $40,000, which is $4,000 more than the median wage for all jobs. What’s keeping students from pursuing this career? Like other trade jobs, it’s often seen as unglamorous or difficult, as truckers spend long days away from family and friends. But in exchange, truckers can enjoy great employment opportunities, good pay, and job security.

  9. Computer science:

    There just aren’t enough graduates to keep up with the growth of the IT sector. Although there are approximately 150,000 new computer jobs opening up every year through 2020, there are less than 40,000 American students graduating with computer science degrees each year.

  10. Engineering:

    Engineering is a strong and stable profession, but so many student shy away from engineering degrees because they can be very difficult. That’s why employers are now complaining that they can’t find enough engineering graduates, especially those with the right qualifications and certifications. Civil engineering, environmental, and biomedical engineering are the hardest hit, leaving huge holes waiting to be filled with competent graduates that are in short supply.

  11. Plumbing:

    Although plumbing was once a hot career, these days, retiring plumbers are leaving the field faster than new graduates are joining it. That means that job openings in the plumbing field are being created faster than they’re being filled. Potential plumbers simply aren’t heading to vocational schools, leaving employers in need a a few (or more) good plumbers.

  12. SEO:

    Although it seems like everyone’s an “SEO expert” these days, the reality is that there are simply not enough skilled SEO strategists to fill the need for this career. Internet marketing is only becoming more popular as we progress, and the need for people who can bring in more traffic only continues to grow. With a huge demand and a high average salary of $70,000, there’s great potential for graduates with education in this field.

  13. Health care administration:

    Like nurses, health care administrators are few and far between. An aging population and 30 million newly insured American means that these professionals are needed now more than ever, but there aren’t enough graduates to go around. At the same time, health care administrators enjoy a great average salary of $88,000, so this career presents an excellent opportunity for those with a mind for administration in the medical field.

October 15th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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