Medical field shows potential for growth

Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alaska was slightly spared the brunt of the recession that put 15.4 million Americans out of work, but no industry or occupation was spared from some form of layoffs, hiring freezes, benefit cuts and general anxiety. As such, many unemployed workers and college students are looking at where the jobs will be in the coming years.

"It's always challenging when you look at what are the 'up-and-coming' jobs because there's always unforeseen factors," said Krista Timlin, Programs Manager of the Career and Community Engagement Center at Kenai Peninsula College.

"But there are things we do know," she added.

Timlin said that as the baby boomer generation ages the healthcare industry will continue to offer some of the best opportunities for employment. This includes careers as doctors, dentists, veterinarians and registered nurses, but also related positions that require slightly less schooling.

"Not all of the jobs will be at the M.D. level," she said.

"These include positions such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, X-ray technicians, lab technicians, physical therapist assistants, dental assistants, veterinary technicians and personal or home health aides, to name just a few.

Jobs in the business and finance fields remain, although the opportunities have shifted a bit because of the economic shake-up. Consumers continue to seek the advice and experience of personal financial advisers and financial analysts.

Computer software and systems software engineers, computer systems analysts and database administrators will continue to be in demand.

"Based on my experience, there is also lots of funding -- both nationally and in-state -- for the STEM disciplines, those being science, technology, engineering and mathematics," Timlin said. "And some of this connects with green energy developments."

In Alaska, where jobs in the oil and gas industries have reigned supreme for decades, the concept of green jobs and renewable resource technology has not always been embraced, but Timlin said the green economy covers a broad spectrum of careers that are not always mutually exclusive from those of oil and gas.

"Its an important thing for our community to be aware of," she said.

Construction may take on a green theme, but there will still be a need for research, design and consulting services to plan out the projects. Contractors, carpenters, welders and machinist will be needed to do the work. And there will be jobs in environmental protection and governmental and regulatory administration to sure the work done is up to snuff.

Renewable energy generation, and energy- and carbon-capture storage will also be expanding arenas.

"HEA, Chugach Electric, and all the regulatory agencies are all looking into renewable energy," Timlin said.

"There is so much potential for existing jobs to be tweaked or transferred to the green arena. There will be new jobs, and there will also be existing jobs that are expanded upon, depending on the technologies that develop."

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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