Hot Jobs: What career tracks give you the best chance of long-term employment?

The answers may surprise you

CINCINNATI - Jose Zamora occupies a sweet spot in the Cincinnati labor market. He has skills in advanced manufacturing that are both highly coveted and in short supply. Zamora, 26, is a field service engineer for the Mason-based machine tool company, Makino.

“It’s definitely comforting knowing that your field is in demand,” he said. “There is plenty to do.”

Zamora is a former helicopter mechanic for the U.S. Army who joined Makino in 2012 after two tours overseas. His military training left him well-equipped to be an industrial machine mechanic, which Makino can’t hire fast enough.

“On the machinist side, we actively recruit folks out of the military,” said Mark Rentschler, marketing manager for the company. “They come out of the service with a high degree of skill and they have excellent organizational skills and excellent discipline.”

WCPO went in search of hot jobs, professions where the demand for labor far outstrips the supply. The University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center provided a list of nine jobs with the biggest gaps between supply and demand. Zomora’s profession, industrial machinery mechanic, is projected to have more than 529 annual openings in Ohio between now and 2020. That’s about 12 times more than the local educational pipeline turned out in this field in 2013, making it the hottest job in town.

The Economics Center ran its numbers with local data only, using proprietary research tools, so the center can't share its raw numbers. So, WCPO took the UC list and added publicly available state data to give readers an idea of how much demand there is for each of these jobs. Annual job openings come from Ohio's employment outlook estimates. Education pipeline figures came from the EMSI Career Coach, a publicly searchable database of degree programs active in the Cincinnati area.

Here are 9 hot jobs UC produced in its analysis:

1. Industrial Machinery Mechanics repair, adjust, install and maintain machinery used in production, refineries and pipelines.

Employment growth: 18.4 percent

Annual openings: 529

In the education pipeline: 44

Median annual wage: $39,680


2. Industrial Engineers design, develop and test integrated systems for managing industrial production processes.

Employment growth: 5.2 percent

Annual openings: 290

In the education pipeline: 51

Median annual wage: $64,352


3. Biological Technicians set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments, monitor experiments, make observations, and calculate and record results.

Employment growth: 13.6 percent

Annual openings: 116

In the education pipeline: 55

Median annual wage: $32,238


4. Civil Engineers use math and science principals to insure the structural integrity of roads, bridges, pipelines, power plants, sewage systems, airports and other infrastructure.

Employment growth: 13.8 percent

Annual openings: 224

In the education pipeline: 106

Median annual wage: $63,234


5. Insurance underwriters evaluate the risk of insuring individuals and companies against financial losses from accidents and natural disasters.

Employment growth: 4.4 percent

Annual openings: 192

In the education pipeline: 36

Median annual wage: $52,001


6. Health care social workers provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses.

Employment growth: 28.1 percent

Annual openings: 339

In the education pipeline: 55

Median annual wage: $42,656


7. Rehabilitation Counselors help people overcome vocational and personal challenges from birth defects, illness, disease, accidents, or the stress of daily life.

Employment growth: 14.1 percent

Annual openings: 162

In the education pipeline: 121

Median annual wage: $31,981


8. Dental Laboratory Technicians construct and repair dentures or dental appliances.

Employment growth: -2.6 percent

Annual openings: 72

In the education pipeline: 231

Median annual wage: $31,218


9. Career/Technical Education teachers (Secondary School) teach occupational, career and technical, or vocational subjects at the secondary school level in public or private schools.

Employment growth: -1.2 percent

Annual openings: 180

In the education pipeline: Not available

Median annual wage: $56,632


One expert on the Cincinnati labor market sees some omissions in this list, including truck drivers, software programmers and certain health care professions.

“If the board had $500,000, we'd get about 100 people into commercial drivers license training and they could get to work in days,” said Sherry Kelley Marshall, president and CEO of Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board. “Everybody from dairy producers to large manufacturers needs drivers right now.”

Marshall said software programmers are in high demand, but local training programs and the use of the H-1B visa immigration program have been effectively used by local employers to address the shortage.

As of August 21, the Ohio Means Jobs web site listed 11 “wanted technologies” in which all employers are seeking at least 1,000 new employees in the Cincinnati region.


Customer Service Representative: 2,687 jobs

Commercial Licensed Driver: 1,638 

Sales Representatives: 1,598

Sales Associate: 1,565

Insurance Professional: 1,400

Finance and Banking Specialist: 1,370

Teller: 1,210

Registered Nurse: 1,208

Physical Therapist: 1,145

Maintenance Technician: 1,101

JAVA Developer: 1,100

Finally, the state of Ohio has a list of 50 high-wage and in-demand jobs available on its web site. The Buckeye Top 50 is a list of jobs that rank above the state’s average in annual compensation and growth rates.

Insurance agents, loan officers and electricians provide the best opportunities for job hunters with a high school diploma, while software developers and logisticians are among the best careers for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Which is what Jose Zamora is  at Makino.

The Army veteran and San Diego native went through a 28-week training program before Makino started sending him out on field assignments in 2013. Now, he visits factories all over the country, diagnosing problems with the computer-driven cutting tools that Makino sells to the automotive and aerospace industry. Zamora is pursuing a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering to broaden his future career options.


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