3 Career Sectors With Promising Outlooks in Grand Rapids
With strong job growth, low unemployment, and an affordable cost of living, this city offers numerous benefits to anyone looking to train and launch a career. Given the area's strong labor market and high quality of life, it's hardly surprising that U.S. News & World Report ranked Grand Rapids among the top 15 places to live in the U.S.
Simply put, career builders can find plenty of opportunities in this part of the Midwest. Three occupational sectors with particularly good prospects in the Grand Rapids area are below.
Job and industry growth projections are for the decade between 2016 and 2026 and are based on information from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. Average salaries for the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area based on 2018 estimates from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program.
1. Health Science and Services
Grand Rapids is a major center for bioscience research. According to The Right Place, the city's Medical Mile has seen more than $2 billion worth of investment over the past 15 years and is now home to a wide array of hospitals, research centers, and other healthcare facilities that employ tens of thousands of local residents. And the demand will continue to grow: Employment in West Michigan nursing home and residential care facilities is expected to increase by 17 percent between 2016 and 2026. And hospitals should see nine-percent growth in jobs over that time frame.
The following are a few examples of healthcare careers that are projected to see faster-than-average job growth in the 13 counties that make up the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance.
- Home health aides—40 percent / $26,900
- Physical therapist assistants—27 percent / $51,490
- Medical assistants—24 percent / $34,320
- Diagnostic medical sonographers—19 percent / $60,010
- Registered nurses—15 percent / $65,930
- Medical records and health information technicians—14 percent / $37,250
- Pharmacy technicians—12 percent / $31,460
Manufacturing has long been a mainstay of the Grand Rapids economy, employing roughly 15 percent of workers in the area, according to The Right Place. Thousands of companies throughout the area produce office furniture, medical devices, automotive components, aviation parts, and more. And looking ahead, almost 7,000 new jobs are expected to become available in this sector between 2016 and 2026.
Check out the expected rates of growth for the following careers, along with their average annual salaries:
- CNC machine tool programmers—19 percent / $50,270
- Industrial machinery mechanics—19 percent / $49,080
- Electrical and electronics drafters—17 percent / $56,640
- Industrial engineers—17 percent / $76,960
- Millwrights—12 percent / $54,760
The building trades are booming in Grand Rapids. That's partly driven by the need to house more people. Between 2010 and 2017, Grand Rapids saw population growth of almost six percent. And the opportunities should continue to emerge: Construction jobs in West Michigan are expected to expand by close to 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Have a look at the projected job growth and average salaries for the following construction-related careers:
- HVAC installers and mechanics—17 percent / $52,740
- Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters—17 percent / $53,670
- Cement masons and concrete finishers—14 percent / $44,370
- Brickmasons and blockmasons—11 percent / $47,640
- Carpenters—11 percent / $40,450
- Electricians—10 percent / $51,980