The Top Jobs in Alabama (for 2012)

OVERVIEW

In this post, we identify some of the best occupations in Alabama for 2012, using three primary metrics: pay, concentration, and growth since 2007. This is all based purely on labor market data analysis. For each step, we interact with labor market data from EMSI’s 2011.4 data release, which is drawn from more than 80 state and federal data sources.

To gain a little perspective, we’ll start with an overview. From 2007 to 2011, jobs in Alabama declined by 3.7%. The state’s population is nearly 4.8 million people. There are 2.5 million jobs and (based on current estimates) 200,000 unemployed workers. Average annual earnings for the state is $45K.

HIGHEST-PAYING

Table 1 shows the highest-paying jobs in the state (2011 median hourly wage). Not surprisingly, healthcare occupations are at the top of the list: orthodontists ($79.56), physicians ($79.34), and dentists ($70.09). We should note, however, that orthodontists and dentists haven’t really added any new jobs since 2007. The top-paying non-healthcare jobs are engineering managers ($50.60), aerospace engineers ($48.76), and computer/information scientists ($46.32).

Here is a bit more information on the last three:

  • Engineering managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields.
  • Aerospace engineers perform a variety of engineering work in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. May conduct basic and applied research to evaluate adaptability of materials and equipment to aircraft design and manufacture. May recommend improvements in testing equipment and techniques.
  • Computer/information scientists conduct research into fundamental computer and information science as theorists, designers, or inventors. Solve or develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software.

SOC Code Description 2007 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2007 National LQ 2012 National LQ 2011 Median Hourly Wage
Source: EMSI Complete Employment – 2011.4
29-1023 Orthodontists 142 144 2 1% 1.20 1.20 $79.56
29-1069 Physicians and surgeons 9,195 9,385 190 2% 0.79 0.78 $79.34
29-1021 Dentists, general 1,333 1,333 0 0% 0.71 0.71 $70.09
29-1022 Oral and maxillofacial surgeons 122 123 1 1% 1.08 1.08 $66.14
29-1051 Pharmacists 4,458 4,657 199 4% 1.16 1.21 $53.67
29-1029 Dentists, all other specialists 179 196 17 9% 1.70 1.78 $50.75
11-9041 Engineering managers 2,533 2,376 (157) (6%) 0.91 0.94 $50.60
17-2011 Aerospace engineers 2,258 2,475 217 10% 2.08 2.28 $48.76
29-1041 Optometrists 548 545 (3) (1%) 0.84 0.82 $46.73
15-1011 Computer and information scientists, research 542 642 100 18% 1.27 1.43 $46.32
19-2012 Physicists 203 222 19 9% 0.93 1.00 $46.29
17-2199 Engineers, all other 3,682 3,781 99 3% 1.29 1.40 $45.87
17-2061 Computer hardware engineers 1,177 1,031 (146) (12%) 1.14 1.06 $44.82
11-9121 Natural sciences managers 164 183 19 12% 0.25 0.27 $44.70
11-3021 Computer and information systems managers 2,537 2,572 35 1% 0.54 0.56 $42.50
17-2072 Electronics engineers, except computer 1,893 1,890 (3) 0% 0.88 0.95 $41.51
53-2021 Air traffic controllers 139 164 25 18% 0.42 0.45 $41.18
23-1021 Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers 113 118 5 4% 0.60 0.62 $40.91
53-2011 Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers 465 506 41 9% 0.38 0.44 $40.61
Total 31,683 32,345 662 2% $57.86

When we consider growth and concentration as well as wages, aerospace engineers comes out on top. The career pays well at almost $50 per hour, has grown by 10% since 2007, and has an average concentration that is more than twice the average for the nation (2.28 LQ). (For more on LQ, click here.) With 18% growth, computer/information scientists has also done well, but if we consider the actual number of jobs, we see that it doesn’t have as many to offer–the total employment is 642 jobs.

FASTEST-GROWING

To determine the fastest-growing jobs, we applied a filter so we can look at jobs earning above $25 per hour (2011 median hourly wage) and employing more than 500 workers across the state:

SOC Code Description 2007 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2007 National LQ 2012 National LQ 2011 Median Hourly Wage 2011 Avg Hourly Wage
Source: EMSI Complete Employment – 2011.4
53-5021 Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels 416 525 109 26% 0.75 0.97 $32.17 $34.22
49-2095 Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay 699 876 177 25% 2.20 2.54 $25.29 $25.70
49-2091 Avionics technicians 905 1,077 172 19% 3.46 4.17 $25.13 $25.40
15-1011 Computer and information scientists, research 542 642 100 18% 1.27 1.43 $46.32 $46.93
13-1032 Insurance appraisers, auto damage 467 541 74 16% 2.60 3.17 $34.58 $34.32
13-1081 Logisticians 2,734 3,094 360 13% 1.83 1.99 $37.13 $37.38
13-2031 Budget analysts 815 922 107 13% 0.90 0.99 $30.71 $32.00
33-3021 Detectives and criminal investigators 1,068 1,205 137 13% 0.71 0.75 $25.70 $26.79
29-1123 Physical therapists 1,933 2,159 226 12% 0.70 0.70 $33.91 $34.48
15-1031 Computer software engineers, applications 3,704 4,125 421 11% 0.47 0.51 $35.65 $37.59
11-3031 Financial managers 6,543 7,282 739 11% 0.64 0.65 $29.88 $33.96
15-1099 Computer specialists, all other 2,229 2,465 236 11% 0.70 0.76 $35.49 $35.65
29-1071 Physician assistants 482 533 51 11% 0.44 0.44 $35.32 $38.93
53-6051 Transportation inspectors 497 549 52 10% 1.30 1.42 $26.11 $29.52
29-1122 Occupational therapists 1,177 1,295 118 10% 0.75 0.75 $29.27 $29.89
17-2011 Aerospace engineers 2,258 2,475 217 10% 2.08 2.28 $48.76 $48.29
Total 26471 29765 3294 0.12 33.78 35.4

The three jobs to note here would be electrical and electronics repairers (25% growth), avionics technicians (19%), and logisticians (13%). Of these, logisticians particularly stands out because, even though it increased by a smaller percent, it has more jobs overall (360 new jobs to make a total of over 3,000) and has the highest pay ($37.13). Avionics technicians, however, has the highest LQ (4.17).

  • Electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, repair, or maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays.
  • Avionics technicians install, inspect, test, adjust, or repair avionics equipment, such as radar, radio, navigation, and missile control systems in aircraft or space vehicles.
  • Logisticians analyze and coordinate the logistical functions of a firm or organization. Responsible for the entire life cycle of a product, including acquisition, distribution, internal allocation, delivery, and final disposal of resources.

HIGHEST-CONCENTRATED

Table 3 shows some interesting results with the highest-concentrated jobs in the state. Here, again, we applied a filter that weeds out any job employing fewer than 500 workers:

SOC Code Description 2007 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2007 National LQ 2012 National LQ 2011 Median Hourly Wage 2011 Avg Hourly Wage
Source: EMSI Complete Employment – 2011.4
47-5061 Roof bolters, mining 572 636 64 11% 7.30 7.82 $21.04 $23.13
51-3022 Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers 14,974 13,852 (1,122) (7%) 5.96 5.83 $10.15 $10.31
51-6064 Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders 3,098 2,087 (1,011) (33%) 5.18 5.41 $11.33 $12.02
51-9197 Tire builders 1,273 1,062 (211) (17%) 4.18 4.47 $15.51 $17.50
51-6063 Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders 2,588 1,331 (1,257) (49%) 5.45 4.39 $11.12 $11.48
45-4022 Logging equipment operators 3,580 2,922 (658) (18%) 4.05 4.30 $17.36 $19.05
51-4051 Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders 1,112 1,010 (102) (9%) 3.70 4.22 $18.21 $19.44
49-2091 Avionics technicians 905 1,077 172 19% 3.46 4.17 $25.13 $25.40
25-9021 Farm and home management advisors 675 647 (28) (4%) 4.12 4.11 $22.91 $23.95
47-5042 Mine cutting and channeling machine operators 538 622 84 16% 3.55 3.98 $15.92 $16.60
51-2011 Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers 1,906 2,247 341 18% 3.39 3.98 $14.43 $16.20
53-7121 Tank car, truck, and ship loaders 750 633 (117) (16%) 3.77 3.72 $12.24 $14.05
49-9012 Control and valve installers and repairers, except mechanical door 2,413 2,311 (102) (4%) 3.73 3.71 $17.56 $18.02
51-6091 Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers 1,042 648 (394) (38%) 3.91 3.66 $13.56 $14.27
13-1032 Insurance appraisers, auto damage 467 541 74 16% 2.60 3.17 $34.58 $34.32
47-2132 Insulation workers, mechanical 1,412 1,321 (91) (6%) 2.70 3.15 $13.98 $14.98
45-4021 Fallers 674 540 (134) (20%) 2.87 3.06 $17.13 $20.07
51-4052 Pourers and casters, metal 644 546 (98) (15%) 2.68 2.97 $17.73 $19.23
51-4023 Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 1,338 1,237 (101) (8%) 2.33 2.78 $22.03 $22.18
27-2032 Choreographers 872 887 15 2% 2.67 2.67 $11.67 $14.32
51-7041 Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood 2,498 1,729 (769) (31%) 2.66 2.63 $11.04 $11.76
51-9041 Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders 2,940 2,654 (286) (10%) 2.47 2.56 $16.26 $16.88
49-2095 Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay 699 876 177 25% 2.20 2.54 $25.29 $25.70
Total 46971 41417 -5554 -0.12 14.38 15.13

These jobs have some truly hefty LQs, but the most concentrated of all (roof bolters, mining) doesn’t have a whole lot of growth or jobs, and the rest are actually in decline. Another noteworthy fact is that eleven of the twenty-two occupations listed here are production-related. These are all in decline except one–aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers, which has grown by 18% (341 new jobs). We should also once again pay attention to avionics technicians (4.17 LQ) and electrical and electronics repairers (2.54). As we’ve seen earlier, both these jobs have decent pay and growth as well.

  • Roof bolters, mining operate machinery to install roof support bolts in underground mine.
  • Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers assemble, fit, fasten, and install parts of airplanes, space vehicles, or missiles, such as tails, wings, fuselage, bulkheads, stabilizers, landing gear, rigging and control equipment, or heating and ventilating systems.

BEST OVERALL

So, putting it all together, what are the top jobs in Alabama for 2012? Based on this data, aerospace and health care are the best targets. Logisticians and electrical and electronics repairers also seem interesting, and could be worth a look in 2012.

If you have questions or would like more info, please contact us (rob@economicmodeling.com). Find us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.

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