Once upon a time, an entire generation was encouraged to go to college and study whatever they wanted, without consideration of the job prospects that would result from their majors of choice, or their ability to pay back the copious amount of student loans that they were sure to amass at Expensive Private School XVIII. Fast forward a decade. The recession happened. Millions of students graduated into piles of debt with almost zero career options. We’ve gotten smarter. We realize that while studying what we enjoy is great (really really great!); marrying our interests with practicality is the key to a rewarding educational experience and post-grad life. That’s why it is important to consider the demand for employees in a specific career before committing to 2, 4, or 6 years of education in a subject area with fledgling demand.
Here at Profession Concession, we like to keep things current. While we have a particular interest in careers in manufacturing, it is also important for us to share tidbits of information that may prove useful to residents from around our region, regardless of their chosen career. It just so happens that sometimes the two come together in a wonderful explosion of excitement…because guess what? According to the Forbes list of the 7 most in-demand jobs, 7 of 7 (yes, that’s a big ole’ 100%) career paths are available in manufacturing. Some are more exclusively manufacturing related, while others could be applied to multiple industries. Both are good news. If you pursue (or have worked in) one of these career paths outside of manufacturing, you could put your skills to work on the inside, and vice versa. In the advanced skill economy, it’s critical that we focus on cultivating and maintaining a diverse set of abilities so that as workforce needs shift, we can adapt our skills to fit into the new paradigm. Today, in Part One of In Demand, we discuss three careers, the education you need to get there and why you might be interested. Enough small talk, let’s get to it-
Engineering-No secret here. Engineering has long been the hallmark for dependable and well-paid careers. But did you know that Manufacturing Engineering is at the top of the most-wanted list in the field? That’s a straight up manufacturing career. So if you’re interested in making around 80k+ a year, and like to work with a hybrid of your brain and hands, consider this promising field. Manufacturing engineering is followed closely in demand by mechanical and electrical engineering, both of which can be applied inside or outside of the manufacturing sector. When it comes to your education, engineering is one of those fields with a broad range of requirements and possibilities. For most positions, you are going to need at least a bachelor’s degree in your engineering field of choice, for more senior positions, a master’s degree may be required, so you may choose to work while pursuing your master’s degree in order to advance. There may also be licensing exams/certifications you must obtain depending on the job specifics. Worth noting is that many manufacturing companies will pay for their loyal employees to attend college or graduate school to advance their careers within their company. You may be a machine operator, but dream of being a manufacturing engineer. That is a very real possibility, depending on the company that you work for and their policies. Be sure to ask about educational opportunities any time you interview for a job. Every position you have can be either a simple paycheck or it can be a crucial step in the progression of your career.
Finance & Accounting-This is a career that can be used in literally any sector of business. Every single business has an accounting staff or contractor. It’s absolutely critical to have someone on board who understands the budgets, taxes, expenses, and more, to ensure that a business is running smoothly numbers-wise. Senior accountants, cost accountants and finance managers are all in high demand and present in the business side of manufacturing. As far as the education you’ll need, a bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance (almost always), with master’s degrees a significant plus and in some cases a requirement. There are also specific exams required if you want to obtain a license as a CPA. For more on accounting and finance careers, check out this great guide from Learn How to Become. If you’re a numbers person and are looking for a career that pays up to six-figures at the senior level, consider a career in finance or accounting; you’ll be able to pursue your career path in nearly any type of business, anywhere in the world, or right here in SWVA.
Information Technology-IT has been the darling of careers for the past decade, and it doesn’t look like things are dying down anytime soon. With high median salaries, and stable job satisfaction, it’s easy to see why so many job-seekers are considering an IT path. In this field, project managers, software engineers, and network/security engineers are in greatest demand. There is no shortage of variety in the IT field. The same is true for the educational requirements needed to succeed. Skilled individuals may be able to get into IT with little or no formal training or degree; however, as with almost any career these days, a degree can make the difference in a company’s hiring decision. For some positions, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a specific IT field will be required. Also worth remembering is the fact that certifications and specific skills are the king of IT. Companies are interested in what you can do, not just what you have a degree in. For detailed info on all things IT career, check out IT Career Finder, an awesome resource for discovering if IT is right for you and what you can expect working in the field. In IT, it will be critical to stay up to date on the newest technology, so consider that continuing education will be important to your career if you plan to pursue this path.
That wraps up Part One of In Demand, a two-part story on in-demand career fields. The careers we’re covering are at the top of Forbes list of the most in-demand career fields out there today. Stay tuned for Part Two, where we will discuss four more careers on the list. Any guesses on the other four? Don’t peek.