5 Alabama Career Sectors That Offer Great Opportunities
Alabama provides a lot more than just Southern charm. With a variety of expanding industries, this state also generates many appealing vocational possibilities. And the region's growth could continue creating a lot of additional opportunities well into the future.
In fact, Alabama's population is expected to increase by over 13 percent between 2015 and 2040.* That increase could be especially pronounced in major cities such as Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. And economic growth is likely to accompany the rising number of residents. So the future of Alabama looks bright for students and career seekers. Plus, consider the following facts:
- Alabamians enjoy a cost of living that is below the nationwide average.**
- Median home prices in Alabama are about 28 percent below the national average, meaning that home ownership is more attainable in this state than many others.**
- Alabama has some of the lowest state and local taxes in the country.**
- Between 2012 and 2022, more than 213,200 job openings are expected to be generated in Alabama, which is an increase of almost 10.4 percent.***
Five of Alabama's most promising vocational sectors include:
1. Health Care
In 2013, this industry ranked third for the number of Alabamians it employed.** And it is poised to grow, thanks in large part to the state's increasing population of senior citizens. Already, qualified health care workers can find many terrific employers throughout the region, particularly in the larger metro areas. For instance, Birmingham alone is home to 20 hospitals and several other health and medical facilities.****
So how much will this sector expand? Potentially, quite a lot. From 2012 to 2022, the number of job openings for people with skills in health care could average about 7,350 each year. And many occupations within the sector are expected to have very high rates of employment growth. For example, look at how much growth the following occupations could experience over this period:***
- Occupational therapy assistants—49.6 percent
- Personal care aides—46.4 percent
- Diagnostic medical sonographers—44.6 percent
- Physical therapist assistants—43.4 percent
- Medical office assistants—35 percent
- Dental hygienists—30.2 percent
- Medical laboratory technicians—27.7 percent
- Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)—23.4 percent
- Registered nurses (RNs)—18.8 percent
2. Information Technology (IT)
This vibrant sector is quickly emerging as one of Alabama's most important areas of growth. In fact, it already employs about 15,000 people. And more than one billion dollars is generated each year by IT companies throughout the state.** But cities like Huntsville and Birmingham are especially noteworthy for IT opportunities. Here's why:
- Almost 800 technology-focused companies call Birmingham home.****
- High-tech firms are major drivers of the growth that's occurring in Huntsville. It's expected that this sector will help Huntsville become Alabama's largest city by 2022.†
Alabama's IT professionals play key roles in several different industries, including everything from utility automation and consumer-products manufacturing to education, government, and finance. Plus, between 2012 and 2022, many of the state's IT occupations are projected to expand with new employment opportunities. For example, check out the high rates of growth that are expected for these vocations:***
- Information security analysts—32 percent
- Computer and network support specialists—25.9 percent
- Applications software developers—23.8 percent
- Computer and information systems managers—19.5 percent
3. Manufacturing, Distribution, and Skilled Trades
Alabama has a diverse and well-established manufacturing sector that continues to help drive employment across many industries. In fact, no other sector employed more Alabamians in 2013. The job numbers are truly compelling. Just look at how many people were employed by the following manufacturing-related industries in 2014:**
- Aerospace products and parts—Over 12,300
- Chemical products—More than 10,400
- Food and beverage products—More than 32,000
- Primary metals and fabricated metal products—Over 42,000
- Plastics and rubber products—About 14,900
In addition to the industries above, Alabama also has a successful automotive manufacturing sector that produced exports worth more than seven billion dollars in 2014.** And many thousands of other jobs exist in the state's trucking, shipping, and logistics industries.
Plus, the region's economic and population growth contributes to the demand for many kinds of construction professionals. That's why, for example, high rates of employment growth are projected for electrician helpers (34.2 percent) and construction managers (18.6 percent) between 2012 and 2022.***
And opportunities will likely increase for other skilled tradespeople as well as engineering technicians and computer-aided drafting specialists. Collectively, the construction, extraction, installation, maintenance, repair, production, transportation, and material moving industries in Alabama are expected to generate more than 17,000 annual job openings over that same decade.***
4. Business Management and Administration
Many successful and emerging companies choose to start or expand their operations in Alabama. As a result, the state is home to a lot of good employers that provide business-related jobs to several thousand people. And the demand for skilled and knowledgeable professionals in this sector is projected to grow.
In total, more than 23,340 job openings could be created each year from 2012 to 2022 in occupations related to business management, financial services, sales, and office administration. Two of the fastest-growing occupations during this period are expected to be marketing specialists (with employment expanding by 26.7 percent) and management analysts (with employment growing by 21 percent).***
5. Hospitality and Personal Care Services
The South is well known for having friendly people and delicious food. Alabama has plenty of both. Plus, many people visit the state for the scenic outdoors, including the beautiful parks, mountains, lakes, rivers, and Gulf Coast beaches. Combined with lively cultural venues in the major cities, these attractions help drive a lot of employment within the accommodation and culinary sectors. And the personal care sector, which includes cosmetology, also thrives because of the beauty-related habits of residents and tourists alike.
In fact, between 2012 and 2022, the number of annual job openings related to food service and personal care services could total 6,705 and 2,580, respectively.***
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* University of Alabama, Center for Business and Economic Research, website last visited on December 3, 2015.
** Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, website last visited on December 3, 2015.
*** Alabama Department of Labor, website last visited on December 3, 2015.
**** Birmingham Business Alliance, website last visited on December 3, 2015.
† City of Huntsville, Alabama, website last visited on January 27, 2017.