Urban Planner Lisa Padilla
President Obama says the massive stimulus package he recently signed into law will create or save 3.5 million American jobs. Republicans say that number will be less -- but all agree that new jobs, including at the manager and executive levels, will be created as a result of the $800 billion legislation. So, if you're out of work or concerned that you might be laid off by your current employer, is there a stimulus job out there for you? For most jobseekers, the answer will depend on how well the stimulus plan works. Initially, many of the jobs created will go to blue-collar workers (such as construction workers), public-sector employees (such as teachers), and those experienced in working with government entities (such as IT pros with government security clearances). Ultimately, however, the stimulus plan's backers predict that 90 percent of the jobs created will be in the private sector. This projection is based on the belief that the economic activity generated by the stimulus will lead to new jobs in retail, leisure and hospitality, and other sectors as companies and individuals who directly benefit from the plan begin to spend their windfall. No matter how well the plan succeeds, however, it's safe to say that the following six white-collar occupations should see an upsurge in demand over the next two years:
1. Urban planners. As state and local governments quickly determine how best to use the billions of dollars flowing in from the federal government, they will rely on urban planners to guide them on everything from the best location for new school construction to the environmental impact of infrastructure projects. Although more than 60 percent of planners currently work for government entities, an increasing number are employed at architectural, engineering and management consulting firms.
2. Civil engineers. After the planning comes the design and construction. Thousands of civil engineers will be needed to design and supervise the construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, wind turbines and other projects that get a green light as a result of the stimulus package. The government employs about 12 percent of the nation's engineers; the rest work in private industry. Civil engineering was experiencing double-digit employment growth even before the passage of the stimulus.
3. Computer systems analysts. Improving the technology infrastructure of schools, hospitals and medical offices is an important objective of the stimulus. IT pros will be needed at all levels, for jobs ranging from wiring buildings for Internet access to transitioning the healthcare system to electronic medical records and e-prescriptions.
4. Medical researchers. With billions of dollars being funneled to the National Institutes of Health and President Obama prioritizing a "cure for cancer in our time," the stimulus represents a boon for medical researchers. About a third of medical researchers work for colleges and universities; most of the rest work at private research firms, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals.
5. Management consultants. When making complex decisions with big money, corporate and government leaders tend to get sweaty palms -- and that's where management consultants come in. Consultants can bring the expertise to analyze vexing problems and develop sweeping, ambitious proposals to solve them. And if something doesn't turn out as planned, the politicians and execs have someone to point their fingers at when it's all over.
6. Auditors. With so much federal money flowing into so many hands so quickly, there will be a significant need for oversight. Some experts predict that the government may need to hire auditors for its auditors. At the federal, state and local levels, accountants and auditors will be required to make sure the numbers add up.