Tuesday, October 16, 2012

13 Careers Short on Graduates

By Sophia Coppolla

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.

The above originally appeared at OnlineCollege.org and is reposted with permission.


  1. Does teaching refer to university teachers or primary, secondary and high school teachers?

    1. I find this hard to believe. Yes, they may be needed but with money so short public schools are laying off every chance they get. Retired with 40 years teaching experience. Your best chances are in Math and Science.

  2. My response to some of the careers on the list is this: a shortage at what price?

  3. You need a college degree for plumbing, trucking, mechanics, sales, and farming???

    Sounds more like trying to keep the college bubble inflated to me....

    1. Agree. You don't need any degree for plumbing, trucking, mechanics, sales, etc., but most jobs require experiences, so the important thing for newbies is where and how to get some experiences in specific field.

  4. You need a student loan Bro...here is why?!

  5. The shortage of teachers has been created by two things:
    ---The attack on public schools and teachers by school privatization pushers, which have lead to increased stress and decreased benefits for already overloaded teachers.

    ---The power of anti-intellectualism is America.

    ---the fact that people who actually teach--not the administrators, but the teachers----have been grossly underpaid for decades in most of the country.

    The best way to increase the number of teachers is to raise the pay and benefits. If teachers were paid more, it would impact the entire attitude toward both teaching and learning.

    1. I think the unruly kids with an extreme lack of discipline are more to blame for the stress on teachers than the "school privitization pushers".. I agree teachers are highly underpaid..

    2. You are forgetting the intransigence of Teachers' Unions; the difficulty of firing incompetent teachers; the lack of authority (fed by political correctness) and knowing, smarmy kids who are well aware of the teachers' restrictions; a lack of proper teacher evaluation and rewards based on proper, fair, evaluation; a career track that rewards teachers --often the better ones-- for leaving the classroom to become administrators, frequently barely competent and far too sympathetic toward their charges.

      If so-called local "Teachers' Associations" were dedicated to good and improved teaching rather than petty politics, bad teachers would be trained or driven out and good teachers would become Master Teachers who teach as well as train their peers in place.

      Why can't this happen as a matter of course? ...of policy? Too many entrenched privileges and incentives skewed away from classroom success. Standardized tests are not a curriculum objective; knowledge and understanding are.

      I served on a School Board which won the support of the Teachers' Association to expose and eliminate incompetent teachers after they failed to improve; that supported Merit Pay for teachers and the establishment of in-house Master Teachers.

      It can be done.

  6. Engineering? You are out of touch with reality, talking to engineers in the field will give you a different story altogether, no jobs, no promotions and no raises. Fantasy world is where you live.

    1. There is always a shortage of engineers, no matter how many engineers there are and what salaries are on offer. This is because engineering is such a wide field. Employers do not want to train up their staff, or wait while people who are eminently able to quickly master a new skill do so. They want persons who are current in a particular narrow niche and are already familiar with the specific software programs they've invested in. Such people constitute a small sub-section of the available engineering talent available. Hence the myth that there is a shortage of engineers.

  7. I've read many articles like this since the 1960's; I have degrees in economics and accounting, as well as extensive training and coursework in science and technology, specifically computer electronics, agriculture and life sciences and health care delivery. The good news is my career experience includes 20 years in data system electronics, about 4 years in biology and social research programs, and 10 years in public (finance) administration. The job opportunities exist only if you specifically and exactly match the employer's ideas about the job he describes. Do NOT waste your time and energy chasing these false promises of rewarding technical jobs and "careers"! My best career choice was the one that closely matched my "dream job" during my freshman college year. The "shortages" are myths that only help the recruiters have a larger pool to pick from, and you aren't in that 1%, even if, like me, you are in the 99th percentile.

  8. "Are there ever enough teachers?" If you are talking about public school teachers, the real question is "are there ever too few teachers?" Public schools breed stupidity, mindless obedience to authority, and aversion to work, and business, and original thought. Contrary to the propaganda of teacher's unions, class size has no measurable impact beyond early grade school where reading and writing are taught. Home schooling is growing by leaps and bounds, which undermines the myth that teaching is something that can only be accomplished by those with degrees in education.

    Perhaps the forces aligned against college education are even stronger. The best professors can record their lectures and provide supplementary information via the web, make more money with less stress, and create almost unlimited effective class sizes. Government promotion has done for higher education what it has done for medicine -- created an unsustainable price bubble.

  9. lies to keep people in expensive schools and in debt.

  10. They need truckers? I didn't know that. I used to drive. Im gonna have to get back to that. Get my license renewed and stuff. Its a good job just long days on the road.