Dreams balanced against realities in choosing career

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    University of Toledo class of 2009.

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  • Nikki Rinehart would love to study American military history at the University of Toledo, where she’s a senior. But the chances of her landing a job in a relevant field with that degree are slim to none.

    "It’s so specific, there’s no real way to get into it," said Miss Rinehart, 23, originally of Orlando, Fla.

    While Miss Rinehart loves politics, the idea of having a career in it doesn’t excite her. But the idea of job security and career longevity were enough to make her reconsider.

    "I’m pretty much just doing it to get a government job," said Miss Rinehart, who plans to go into political public relations. "I love to watch politics. I love what’s going on, but as far as having a career in it, I have no desire."

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    As the cost of a college education continues to rise and entire career fields are vanishing, students are becoming more cautious about their future plans, abandoning the chase of their dream jobs while opting for careers that are in demand and expecting to see growth.

    "Job security and benefits are my main priorities when it comes to a job," Miss Rinehart said.

    As computers continue to be assimilated into nearly every aspect of everyday life, computer-related careers in Ohio are the third-fastest growing in the state and the fastest growing career that requires a four-year degree.

    "If you have a degree in computer networking or a computer background, you can write your own ticket," said Lewis Horner, section chief of workforce research at the Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information.

    In Ohio, between 2008 and 2018, networks systems and data communication analysts careers are expected to grow more than 43 percent, adding about 721 jobs each year.

    Careers in the medical field also will experience continued growth. Traditionally "safe careers" such as nursing will see growth, but at a slower rate than in previous years. In Toledo, there are about 289 openings for nurses annually, Mr. Horner said.

    "Baby boomers are starting to age out and retire from those careers. However, hospitals may not be hiring a lot of nurses because things are flat," Mr. Horner said. "But as soon as the economy picks up, people will start receiving health care again and hospitals will start hiring."

    Jobs will be available at all education levels, but not surprisingly, of the 100 highest paying careers, 91 require at least an associates degree.

    Home health aides will be the fastest growing careers in the state, with an expected growth rate of almost 48 percent.

    "A lot of people are going to need care and they’re not going into nursing homes," Mr. Horner said. "Yes, those careers will see the most growth, but the average wage is only about $10 hour."

    The fastest growing careers that require at least a bachelors degree include physician assistants — with an expected growth rate of about 34 percent — biochemist and biophysicists (32 percent), and applications computer software engineers (31 percent).

    Although these careers will be some of the fastest growing, that doesn’t mean they’ll have the most job openings in coming years. Jobs such as cashiers, waiters, and retail sales will have the most annual job openings, but they also come with wages substantially lower than those in careers that require more formal training.

    As of May, 2009, the average hourly wage was $8.75 for a cashier, $8.99 for a waiter, and $11.46 for a retail salesperson.

    More than 6,000 cashiers, 5,000 waiters, and almost 4,500 retail sales staff are expected to be added to the state workforce annually through 2018.

    Marco Montero wanted to be a veterinarian, but decided to study exercise science after noticing a national growth trend for athletic and fitness trainers.

    "Sports is big business and it’ll always be big," said Mr. Montero, a freshman at Bowling Green State University. "I know I’ll be able to get a job."

    Athletic training is the fifth-fastest growing career in Ohio, with an expected growth rate of almost 36 percent by 2018. About 60 jobs will be added to the field each year and the average salary for the position is $42,860 annually.

    Declining careers include those in the manufacturing and auto industries. With school districts and municipalities struggling to balance budgets, teaching jobs are also at risk of declining, Mr. Horner said.

    Amanda Frey isn’t bothered that her future job as a relationship adviser didn’t make the list of fastest growing careers or careers with the most annual openings.

    "I’m not really worried about it. It’s what I love, it’s what I’ve always wanted to go into," said Miss Frey, who is double-majoring in sociology and psychology at BGSU. After her undergraduate studies are complete, Miss Frey, 20, plans to attend graduate school, which will cost her about $30,000 a year.

    "My parents have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. They’ve always told me I can do what I want," Miss Frey said. "As long as I’m doing what I want to, the money shouldn’t be the end all be all."

    Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.