JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU Preparing Students
for ‘Hot Jobs’

By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau

February 26, 2004 -- Jacksonville State University students who want to teach Spanish, or are working toward a degree in accounting, or are interested in analyzing spatial relationships are among those likely to land particularly desirable jobs after graduation. That’s because jobs in those fields are among the hottest for the geographic area of Alabama and the Southeast. (See below for a more complete listing of the hottest jobs.)

It’s possible for some JSU graduates to pick up a $5,000 check and a teaching contract if they want to work in the Talladega County school system.  Dr. Suzanne Lacey, the coordinator of personnel services there, says the offer is for teachers only in the fields of math, science and foreign language.


“It has been an effective program for us,” said Lacey. “It is an incentive to attract teachers to our system, which is a rural one.” Most  mathematics graduates follow careers into finance or engineering, and graduates in science go into engineering the medical profession,” Lacey said.


There are other fields for hot jobs. It’s possible for students in the field of spatial relationships to leave school with jobs paying more than what their professors make. Such is the case in the field called spatial analysis, where students are sometimes hired away before they get even get their masters’ degree.  According to Howard Johnson, head of the physical and earth sciences department, the future of jobs that use computer technology known as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) looks great.


“There are six billion people on a planet that’s fixed in its size,” said Johnson. “As that population grows throughout the next 40 years, the population could grow to about 10 billion people.” Johnson said space must be used more wisely and that GIS is the most powerful tool available to reach that goal.


One local employer that hires students proficient in GIS is the Northeast Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission. Executive Director Bill Curtis says that his staff of five GIS specialists plus two interns cover a 10-county area.


“More and more government departments will be using, tracking and analyzing data for better management of information,” said Curtis. “Governor Riley has appointed a GIS council to look at the issues involved in establishing more uniform standards so government can be more efficient.”


Curtis says he studies what larger metropolitan areas are doing with the system and knows the potential for jobs is high. Not only will specialists be needed to use GIS but also they’ll be needed to train employees in both the government and private sectors.


Kelly Ryan, director of JSU’s Teacher Education Services, says he and JSU recruiters tell students in high schools and community colleges where the most in-demand jobs are. “We don’t try to talk students into majoring in something they don’t want to do,” he said. “After all, this is their career. We give them information and let them make up their minds.”


Ryan says advising students about the hottest jobs is most effectively done on a high school level. What is helpful to college students, though, are activities such as the Career Fair on March 11 in Stephenson Hall.  Personnel officers from throughout the nation will interview students and collect resumes. It’s not unusual, according to Ryan, for a few students to walk out of the Fair with a contract for a future job.


The following list is not fully comprehensive for each of the five colleges housed at JSU. Nor does the list attempt to attach a monetary value to the hottest available jobs. After all, a fun, fulfilling job to one person may be more valuable than a higher paying but dull job. However, students still considering what field they’d like to pursue may find the list helpful and interesting.


College of Arts and Sciences:


Jobs are available in the areas of forensic science, psychology and social work related to mental health.  Jobs are available for federal marshals, those who want to work in witness protection, for the Drug Enforcement Agency and for positions involving serving federal warrants.


Other areas in demand are jobs in the field of Geographic Information Software (spatial analysis). As of Dec. 30, 2003, 162 jobs have been posted for positions on the GIS jobs clearinghouse, www.gjc.org.


Jobs involving basic computer skills are not as in demand as during the 1990s. However, according to Martha McCormick,  head of JSU’s math and computer science program, there are jobs available in software development, software engineering, information technology and networking. Students are advised to obtain a bachelor’s degree and then gain more specialized training through their job or by obtaining a master’s degree. In the recent past computer science students have been hired by such firms as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, Russell Corp., Westinghouse, Auto Custom Carpet, and Mesa.


College of Commerce and Business Administration:


Accounting jobs are available in public accounting firms, businesses, and government agencies. Government job openings are brisk in the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.


College of Education and Professional Studies:


Teaching jobs are most available in secondary math, secondary science, secondary foreign languages, and special education on any level.


College of Nursing and Health Science:


All fields of nursing are in demand.  Nurses do not usually specialize in a certain area while in college but, instead, do so once they have a job. Work is available in clinics, hospitals, home health, long-term care facilities and private offices. One rather glamorous job available to graduates who don’t mind moving around is the “traveling nurse,” who is dispatched to an area where there is an emergency shortage. Nurses stay about 13 weeks before returning to their base, where they can take off a few weeks before being sent out again. The College’s director of Student Services, David Hofland, can advise students in the field of nursing. His number is 782-5276.


Graduate Studies:


 Jobs are available in emergency management for coordinators and supervisors in the various aspects of safety, weather emergencies, emergency operations centers; wildlife management; wildlife research; and medical center emergency preparedness. Public administration has jobs in all levels of government. Political science has some demand for jobs in Congress, and jobs are always available in the private sector for manager trainees.


Two contacts for students who need career advisement are Dr. Bill Fielding, dean of the College of Commerce and Business Administration, 782-5773; and Debra Carmack, student support services coordinator, at 782-5774. Both are in Merrill Building.


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