Health And IT Top Areas Job List

August 18, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — As one might expect, the fastest growing occupations in the metro area will be found in the health care and information technology industries.

From now through 2012, metro Grand Rapids will see a need for jobs rise in those two fields. Each placed seven career paths on a listing of the 25 fastest-growing occupations that was recently released by the Bureau of Labor Market Information, a division of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

Home health aides topped the list, as that profession is expected to grow by 53 percent over the next six years. The other growing health care careers listed were medical assistants, medical records technicians, pharmacists, health services managers, dental hygienists and assistants, and pharmacy technicians.

Computer software engineers led the IT field and were second overall on the list, with a projected job growth by 2012 of just under 50 percent. More systems analysts, management analysts, systems managers, systems administrators, support specialists and graphic designers are also expected to be needed in the coming years.

Jobs in health care are prominent, of course, because the population is aging.

"If you look at a lot of the medical fields, it's because of the baby boomers. We've got home health aides and the medical assistants, which is another lower-level job. Then on the other side, we've got pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. A lot of these tie in to an older population," said Brian Waters, a labor market analyst with the bureau who specializes in employment data for Grand Rapids and West Central Michigan.

Somewhat surprisingly, only two occupations in education made the list. Preschool teachers placed 19th, while self-enrichment education teachers finished in 9th place. Courses taught by self-enrichment teachers often don't lead to an occupational degree. They normally teach self-improvement and nonacademic subjects.

But education placed well on another metro area list compiled by the bureau. Elementary and secondary school teachers were respectively ranked first and second on a listing of high-growth occupations that require at least a bachelor's degree. Systems analysts and systems managers were third and fourth, respectively, while lawyers were in the fifth spot.

Registered nurses placed first on a third list, one that ranked high-growth occupations requiring an associate's degree, technical training or work experience. The bureau estimated the region would need 1,680 R.N.s by 2012 and their average hourly wage would be $23.47.

The 2012 fastest-growing occupations list differed quite a bit from the one released a few years ago with projections for 2008. Missing from the 2012 listing that were on the 2008 list are college faculty, bill collectors, financial services personnel, aerospace engineers, and six manufacturing occupations ranging from assemblers and laborers to mechanical engineers.

"I try to explain in basic terms what is happening in manufacturing, and then I move into what sort of industries and occupational groups people should consider. And then I point them in a direction where they can go for help," said Waters.

Waters said Michigan Works! and the Area Community Service and Training Council are good places for individuals to gather more information. And he offers timely advice through a monthly workshop he holds at

1560 Leonard St. NE.

"When I teach my workshop, I really try to push people to go into some sort of advanced education," he said.

"There is going to be a definite need in the future to have something beyond a high school education. It's very apparent looking at people trying to transition from a production occupation into something else that they're going to need some additional skill."

Contact Michigan! Works at (616) 336-4100 for more information on the workshop Waters conducts.    


The Top 25

LANSING — According to the Bureau of Labor Market Information, the fastest growing occupations for the next six years will be in the home health and computer software

Occupations                Percent Job Growth
Home Health Aides 53.3%
Computer Software Engineers, Applications 49.6%
Medical Assistants 44.5%
Computer Systems Analysts 44.4%
Management Analysts 42.1%
Painting, Coating, Decorating Workers 40.9%
Medical Records/Health Information Technicians 39.8%
Computer/Information Systems Managers 39.0%
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers 38.4%
Pharmacists     36.9%
Sales Managers 31.9%
HVAC/Refrigeration Mechanics/Installers 31.4%
Network/Computer Systems Administrators


Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics 29.4%
Receptionists, Information Clerks


Medical/Health Services Managers 29.1%
Public Relations Specialists 28.4%
Computer Support Specialists


Preschool Teachers 28.1%
Dental Hygienists 28.0%
Amusement, Recreation Attendants 27.7%
Dental Assistants 27.6%
Graphic Designers 27.3%
Pharmacy Technicians


Interviewers 27.1%

Source:Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives, Michigan Career Outlook through 2012

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