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10 Industries Most in Need of Skilled Workers

While the job market is making a recovery, it's still hard to find a job in many cities in America, especially for new college grads who have little experience. Yet not all industries have been hit hard by the recession. Many are hiring quite readily and a select few aren't able to find enough employees to fill available positions. For those just graduating from high school or considering potential college majors, a career in one of these 10 industries may give you some job security where other fields cannot. Read on to learn about some of America's most in-need industries and how you may just be able to start filling their need for skilled workers.

  1. Healthcare

    As the U.S. population ages, more and more health care professionals are being needed to fill jobs in hospitals, health care facilities, and home care, yet in many places, there aren't enough qualified applicants to fill those jobs. The American Hospital Association has found that 89% of hospitals have openings for RNs that have remained unfilled, with many also unable to find enough pharmacists, radiology technicians, laboratory technologists, and maintenance staff. And the problem isn't going away: research suggests that over the next decade the U.S. will require an additional 103,900 nurses and 7,860 physical therapists a year to maintain the current standard of care. Healthcare is also seeing a drive for those in the upper levels of management, opening up a number of opportunities for those with degrees in business within the fields as well. While there has been a shortage of health workers for several years, many expect the trend to accelerate over the next decade as the need for health professionals increases without accordant gains in the supply of qualified workers.

  2. Energy

    Up to 40% of the individuals employed by U.S. utilities are expected to retire or leave by 2013, leaving a gaping hole in one of America's most essential industries. This retirement, paired with the drive for cleaner, more renewable energy sources, is creating a job market flush with opportunities for those who want to work in the industry. While many colleges are building programs to help train workers for these positions, it may not be enough to not only replace lost workers but also meet the need for new workers who will operate and install modern smart grad technologies.

  3. Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction

    While they might not be the most glamorous, these staples of American industry are doing quite well amid the economic downturn. Natural gas is having a boom in employment, so much so that some states asked for federal help in finding field workers additional living space because there simply isn't enough housing in communities to hold all the necessary workers. Oil and gas were one of only two industries to actually grow in size during the economic downturn, with tens of thousands of new jobs being added each year. One of the problems in finding qualified workers is new extraction technology, which often requires special training and skills that many older workers may not have. Training new workers to work with the often highly computerized mining and extraction industries will be key to sustaining their economic growth in the coming years, and those with the appropriate skills should see a wealth of job opportunities through 2018.

  4. Technology

    If the political hubbub over drawing more students into STEM fields hasn't been a big enough indicator of the lack of qualified professionals in the tech field, consider this: by 2018, jobs for software programmers are expected to rise 34%, computer systems analysts 20%, and even greater increases are expected in IT, with 27% of managers hoping to expand their IT departments by 20% or more. Yet at a time when jobs in the tech field are booming, fewer and fewer students are choosing a computer-related major. Many business owners are worried about being able to find enough technology-savvy workers to maintain growth over the coming decade. This makes careers in IT, computer science, and programming smart moves for job security and availability, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that one in 19 new jobs created will be in the IT profession.

  5. Engineering

    If you want to have your pick of jobs when you graduate, consider a career in engineering. In a survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management, 88% of employers reported not being able to find enough qualified engineers to hire. Some reports suggest that this is because they're looking for very specific skill sets which American universities may be ill-equipped to prepare students with. But it's also the result of a complex set of problems that include many engineering grads not going into engineering work, reluctance to hire new graduates, and many engineering students returning to home countries to work after studying in the U.S. All of this combines to create an atmosphere where there simply aren't enough workers to fill engineering positions, especially in certain fields where specialized skills are required.

  6. Biotech

    Biotech is another great industry to get into if you want to be in big demand upon graduation. Medical research companies, pharmaceutical companies, and science start-ups are on a hiring binge, with a 40% jump in job openings for research-based jobs in the field expected from now until 2018. But in some fields, like molecular diagnostics for example, not being able to find specialized lab workers is putting great stress on the industry and driving wages higher as training programs struggle to produce more qualified grads. Some communities are even worried that a lack of qualified grads will drive away big biotech businesses or force them to hire foreign workers. The problem? The amount of students graduating with science and engineering degrees isn't growing as fast as the number of jobs that require them, an issue that becomes larger when you move into more specialized fields. Despite paying well ($65,775 on average) biotech is having a hard time drawing in students. For those who are undecided on a major, this industry is one to seriously consider both for job security and benefits.

  7. Sales

    In tough times, salespeople can be what stands between a business flourishing and floundering. While many salespeople have seen layoffs in the past year, that doesn't mean there aren't jobs out there. In fact, 72% of employers report not being able to find enough salespeople to fill available positions. Why the need? Companies want to bring in new clients and build revenue, both of which require those who can work in sales and get those deals going. According to CareerBuilder's mid-year job forecast, 22% of hiring managers said they'd be hiring more salespeople in the coming year, with an additional percentage interested in customer service and other support positions.

  8. Manufacturing

    Companies who can't find enough workers to keep factories operating smoothly are all over the news these days. In one notable case, a Siemens manager reported not being able to find enough skilled workers in the U.S. to operate a factory, a sentiment that has been echoed by numerous other industrial manufacturing businesses. Dennis Winslow, owner of a defense and aerospace manufacturing company said in a CNN Money report, "There are so many unemployed people in the country. But I can't find the skill sets that I need. I would hire tomorrow if I could." While factory jobs were once common in America, they seem to have lost their appeal, despite paying well and offering job opportunities when many other fields are laying off workers. The often high-tech and highly-skilled positions are remaining open all over the nation, sometimes for months at a time, as employers seek out qualified individuals or debate hiring those who will need to be trained at the expense of the employer.

  9. Child Care

    Over the next decade, there are expected to be 532,100 new jobs created in child care as the industry grows and those in the field retire or move to another profession. Part of the driving force behind the growth is that many families are now having to have both parents work in order to make ends meet, requiring a greater number of child care workers to watch children while they're at work. Even in past years, the childcare industry has had a problem with finding and maintaining qualified workers, with many seriously restricting the number of children they would admit for daycare as a result. This poses a big problem for parents who often must be extremely competitive to get children into high-quality, certified childcare facilities.

  10. Construction

    While construction as a whole has slowed in most places in the U.S., those who practice a skilled trade like electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and welders are still in extremely high demand, with 68% of employers reporting a shortage of potential new hires. Many blame the shortage of workers on the gravitation of young people towards white collar jobs and the insistence of many parents that the all children go to college. In a survey by Manpower, it was found that a lack of skilled tradespeople was the No. 1 hiring challenge for the U.S. and five other leading industrialized countries around the world, making any number of skilled trade positions a good bet for those who don't want to invest in four years of college.