Computer careers top area’s hot job targets

snipped from the Birmingham News

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


News staff writer

Computer-related jobs occupy three of the top five spots for careers with the best prospects for growth in metro Birmingham over the next seven years, according to the co-author of a new book that examines in-demand occupations.

Low-paying jobs such as clerks, meat packers, interpreters, farm workers and book bindery workers were at the bottom of 436 area jobs examined by Laurence Shatkin, senior product developer of Indianapolis-based JIST Publishing.

The Birmingham findings mirrored the findings of a new book, “Today’s Hot Job Targets – Find Careers and Cities with Big Job Growth,” that Shatkin recently wrote with career expert Michael Farr. Birmingham isn’t listed among the Top 10 cities in the book, but many of its top careers are.

<!– if (parseFloat(navigator.appVersion) == 0) { document.write(”); } –>”I’ve found that you don’t have to necessarily live in one of the upper cities to have a hot career,” Shatkin said.

In high demand in today’s workplace, he said, are software engineers/systems, who work on computer systems such as Windows; software engineers specializing in applications such as Excel; and network systems managers who help workers communicate via e-mail and the Internet.

Shatkin said he decided to compile data on metro Birmingham and Alabama so that area residents could get a feel for how their careers are faring compared to others across the country. Overall, Shatkin said, Birmingham and the state have strong labor markets.

Shatkin said Birmingham’s computer job prospects reflect trends across the country that show that information technology has bounced back from the downturn experienced after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000.

Brandon Shannon, Alabama director of operations for Matrix Resources, which helps companies fill technology positions, wasn’t surprised to see computer-related jobs fill three of the top five prospects in Shatkin’s career rankings.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for information-technology workers,” Shannon said. “Since 2003, we’ve seen a steady increase in our services, with the biggest spike being over the last 12 months.”

Shatkin said his analysis examines three main factors in determining hot jobs:

  • Median income for May 2006, as compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Expected growth for 2004-2014
  • Average yearly job openings in each field, as projected by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

<!– if (parseFloat(navigator.appVersion) == 0) { document.write(”); } –>Low-paying jobs such as cashiers ($15,970 annual pay, ranked 309th on the hot jobs list), tree trimmers ($21,670, ranked 408th) and shampooers ($16,540, 420th), fared poorly in growth prospects compared to jobs such as lawyers ($92,010, sixth), pharmacists ($91,490, 13th) and engineering managers ($92,590, 21st).

Shatkin’s findings did contain some surprises, such as clergy (20th, with average income of $44,150), ranking higher than personal financial advisers (32nd, $73,550) and electrical engineers (33rd, average pay $80,120).

Larry Holt, director of research for the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the findings are encouraging for the area labor market in showing computer technology, accountants, registered nurses and lawyers – all high-paying jobs – as leading the way.

“This is on target to the extent that it identifies high-skilled positions as those with the most growth, and correspondingly, low-skilled positions as those with the least growth,” Holt said.



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