In such a volatile employment market, it is perfectly reasonable for people to ask, “What is the best career choice?” There are several great “recession-proof” careers, and minorities and various ethnic groups are represented in many of these jobs already. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed the following as the top 10 career choices based on current hiring trends.
According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2011-2012, “Registered nurses (RNs) constitute the largest healthcare occupation, with 2.6 million jobs. Overall job opportunities are expected to be excellent, but may vary by employment and geographic setting; some employers report difficulty in attracting and retaining an adequate number of RNs across ethnicities or minority groups. The three typical educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor's degree, an associate degree, and a diploma from an approved nursing program; advanced practice nurses — clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners — need a master’s degree.”
According to the BLS, engineers will be among the top wage earners in the next decade, with Biomedical engineering in particular expected to grow by 72 percent. “Biomedical engineers should experience the fastest growth, while civil engineers should see the largest employment increase. Engineers typically enter the occupation with a bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty, but some basic research positions may require a graduate degree. Engineers offering their services directly to the public must be licensed. Continuing education to keep current with rapidly changing technology is important for engineers.” This also means that minorities and ethnic groups need to become more aware of opportunities in the engineering field, and what is required to be successful.
A valuable member of the medical community, occupational therapist help people learn valuable skills to care for themselves. Like many health professions, occupational therapists are always in demand. “Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase by 26 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. A master's degree or higher in occupational therapy is the typical minimum requirement for entry into the field. In addition, occupational therapists must attend an academic program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) in order to sit for the national certifying exam.” The field has high representation across ethnicities and minority groups.
Another high demand medical profession will be physical therapy, which the BLS projects to increase by 30 percent by 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. “Changes in restrictions on reimbursement for physical therapy services by third-party payers will increase patient access to services and, thus, increase demand. In 2009, there were 212 physical therapist education programs. Currently, only graduate degree physical therapist programs are accredited. Master's degree programs typically are 2 to 2.5 years in length, while doctoral degree programs last 3 years. Typical requirements for physical therapists include graduation from an accredited physical therapy education program; passing the National Physical Therapy Examination; and fulfilling State requirements such as jurisprudence exams.” This is a great areas for members of ethnic and minority groups who may be interested in pursuing alternative careers in a tight job market.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers are another group of professionals that are always in demand across ethnicities and other socio-economic demographics. “Employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be excellent because many districts report problems finding adequate numbers of licensed special education teachers. All States require special education teachers to be licensed, which typically requires at least a bachelor's degree and the completion of an approved training program in special education teaching. Some States require a master's degree. Most States have alternative methods for entry for bachelor's degree holders who do not have training in education.” The education field is often the profession of choice for many minorities and ethnic groups that seek advanced degrees.
Given the continued state of the country’s finances its little wonder why accountants will continue to be in high demand. Accountants “are expected to experience much faster than average employment growth from 2008-2018. Job opportunities should be favorable, and accountants who have a professional certification, should have the best prospects. Accountants “need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Many accountants choose to obtain certification to help advance their careers, such as becoming a Certified Public Accountant.”
Allied healthcare fields include radiology technicians, sonographers, laboratory technicians, etc. Most training programs “lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree. An associate degree is the most prevalent form of educational attainment among technologists and technicians. Programs range from 9 to 24 months leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree, and job opportunities are best for those who are certified and willing to relocate.”
As time goes on businesses depend even more on their computer systems and as such, they need IT professionals to set up and manage these systems. According to the BLS, there is an 18 percent job growth expected over the next decade. “A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is usually required for management positions, although employers often prefer a graduate degree, especially an MBA with technology as a core component. Common majors for undergraduate degrees are computer science, information science, or management information systems.” There are secondary programs designed to increase the interest of minorities and underrepresented ethnic groups to choose profession in the technology field.
In the past, paralegals primarily assisted attorneys in preparing documents. However moving forward more companies use paralegals to do much of the work that attorneys did previously. With a projected growth rate of about 28 percent over the 10 years, becoming a paralegal has exceptional opportunities. “There are several ways to become a paralegal. The most common is through a community college paralegal program that leads to an associate degree. Another common method of entry, mainly for those who already have a college degree, is earning a certificate in paralegal studies. A small number of schools offer bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in paralegal studies.”
Any education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields will offer a wealth of opportunities in the next 10 years, according to the BLS. In 2005, a BLS survey found, “As a group, STEM workers earned about 70 percent more than the national average, and employment of mathematicians is expected to grow much faster than average, by about 22 percent. A Ph.D. degree in mathematics is usually the minimum educational requirement for prospective mathematicians, except in the Federal Government.”
All of these degree paths welcome minorities, and ethnic groups or minorities often dominate in the case of STEM jobs. Due to a lack of qualified applicants at home, companies currently hire people from all over the world to fill these critical jobs. The key to success in all of these jobs is a good education, and with a little bit of foresight and planning, minority students can be ahead of the hiring curve.