Ohio's employment landscape is growing, especially for those with a degree in hand. According to 2013 figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio's highest paying and most in-demand jobs require a college education. (See: online colleges in Ohio). At the top of the demand and wage projections are Computer Systems Analyst positions, with average annual openings of 1,018 and an average median wage of $37.29 per hour.
Though this and other top positions require a bachelor's degree or higher, there are also positions with strong prospects requiring an associate degree or postsecondary non-degree award. For example, dental hygienists enjoy a median wage of $31.52, and licensed practical nurses can expect average annual openings of 1,886 and median wages of $19.29, according to the Department of Job and Family Services.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2013 there were 382 institutions of higher learning granting associate degrees to Ohio students wishing to increase their employment opportunities. One of those institutions, Stark State College in North Canton, granted 1,035 associate degrees in 2013.
We asked Stark State's Director of Career Development for her advice on the best way to begin career research, as well as her insights into Ohio's most promising industries and employers.
Kristin Hannon, Director of Career Development, Stark State College
1. How should students in northern Ohio research post-graduation job opportunities?
The sooner a student starts this research, the better. However, for someone who will graduate soon, we have several options available. The first is a tool called Career Coach. Career Coach provides the most current local data on wages, employment, job postings, and associated education and training. With Career Coach, students can compare employment in our area, the number of estimated annual job openings related to their career/degree and the number of workers approaching retirement age within a specific career.
Another tool is our online job board - College Central Network. We encourage students to register on this site when they enroll at Stark State College. By registering, students can start to research jobs that employers post for our students and alumni. This is also the place where students can find internship opportunities. By using this site, students can see the expectations and requirements of jobs in their major. When they are ready to graduate, they will use this system to apply for these positions.
In the State of Ohio, another great tool is OhioMeansJobs.com. When a student creates an account, they are able to create an employment plan, view and save jobs, build a resume, apply for jobs and more.
The Career Development Office also completes an Annual Graduate Statistics Report. This report is published each August for the prior year's graduates. Graduates self-report their employment status. If they report that they are employed in their major, we ask them to share the name of the company, their title and their entry level salary. This report is available on our website so students can see what the employment potential is for their degree.
Job Shadowing is another way students can research post-graduation opportunities. Students can work through their Career Development office to identify potential companies or mentors for a job shadow. After a few introductory meetings, the student would shadow the employer to gain an understanding of the work environment. We work around the availability of the employer so some job shadows last a few hours and some may last an entire day.
2. What is a student's first step in their career search? How does Stark State College help?
Our first recommendation would be to take an assessment called MyPlan. MyPlan helps students plan more fulfilling lives by making well-informed decisions about their education and careers. Whether they are choosing a major, planning ahead for their first career, or thinking about making a career change, MyPlan can help them explore options and bring clarity and insight into figuring out what is right for them.
Our office does not tell students what field they should enter. Instead, we help them interpret their results so they can make the best choice for their personal situation. Once the student makes their decision, we will support them by providing services such as resume assistance, mock interviews, internship and other experiential learning opportunities and job search assistance.
If a student is close to graduation, the focus of our coaching would be on helping the student to decide what kind of organization interests them, the location they are willing to work, as well as resume and interviewing assistance.
3. Which industries are showing great opportunity for Ohio students?
Currently, our College Central Network online job board is showing a steady stream of Advanced Manufacturing opportunities. Both mechanical and electrical engineering are the top requests.
Note: Hannon says OhioMeansJobs.com also which provides a list of in-demand occupations, divided by the level of education required. According to the site, the top three jobs ordered by annual openings requiring an associate degree are:
- Registered Nurses (5,016 annual job openings)
- General and Operations Managers (829 annual job openings)
- Radiologic Technologists and Technicians (399 annual job openings)
4. Which companies typically hire the most Stark State grads?
The following companies have employed the most Stark State College graduates since 2010:
- Affinity Medical Center
- Akron Children's Hospital
- Akron General Medical Center
- Alliance Community Hospital
- Aultman Hospital
- Babcock & Wilcox
- Cleveland Clinic
- Diebold, Inc.
- Emergency Medicine Physicians
- First Energy
- Mercy Medical Center
- Stark State College
- Summa Health System
- Summa Health Systems
Students at Stark State College, and other colleges in Ohio, may benefit from Hannon's advice to start planning early, access career development tools at the college and state levels, and ask themselves key questions about where they want to work--all before sending out that first resume.
- 2012-2022 Snapshot of Occupational Projections, http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.asp?id=2250&type=application/pdf
- Kristin Hannon, interview with the author, March 2015
- National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Data Center, 2013-2014 http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Ohiomeansjobs.com, http://jfs.ohio.gov/owd/omjresources/in-demandoccupations.stm