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College Guide

Jobs that Pay

Have a seat, artists — it's health care, oilfield that drive much of today's demand

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If you were smart, you'd find yourself a nice spot in your college library's ventilation system, build yourself a paper nest out of copies of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, and hide out till your family declares you dead. With the job market avoided, you'd be free to spend the rest of your days in peace, pilfering Froot Loops late at night from those weird food chutes they have in the cafeteria (what are you, cattle?), and watching all those poor fools march off to the job market.

However, there may not be room for all of you up there. Some of you are going to have to brave the world outside. Thankfully, despite the grim news about our floundering economy, Texas is actually not a bad place to be job hunting. It's the top state for creating jobs in the country. San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas are all growing steadily in energy, technology, and education jobs, and San Antonio looks to be the best of all. Credit that in part to the low cost of living (8-10 percent below the national average) and to the fact that San Antonio has a steady flow of college grads coming into the market every year: 35,000 brave souls who chose not to hide out in the ventilation system. The younger demographic allows many companies to fill entry-level positions. Medtronic and Nationwide opened up shop here because of all these eager graduates, and Toyota relocated its Tacoma operation here from California to take advantage of all the high school and college tech graduates. Youth attracts business, and we've got a lot of you.

"That's one of the things that's helped keep us a little more stable than other cities," says Becky Bridges, vice president of communications at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

The local chamber just released its economic forecast for job growth, and the biggest increases are being seen in manufacturing, natural resources/mining (credit that South Texas oilfield boom), trade and transportation, government, and leisure. Yet overall the strongest trends here are in health and education. If your folks spent many tense family dinners telling you to look into nursing, they were right.

In San Antonio there's a whole medical town within the city, and as Andrea Casas, human resources director for University Health System tells us, "We've actually been pretty steady with the amount of hiring that we've done. We continue to grow as a health care organization and so we continue to have good opportunities." She cited the ongoing national nursing shortage and the fact that hospitals are 24-hour operations as proof that the work is plentiful if you've got the degree. Casas says a nursing salary can range from $35,000 to $80,000 a year. And the demand is not likely to decrease, considering that soon enough San Antonio, like every other city in the United States, will be producing another natural resource: old people.

Those same Baby-Booming folks squawking at you about nursing are going to get old soon. And unless we find some island to stick them on where they can reminisce about polyester together and how they got all of us into this financial mess in the first place, they'll require a lot of medical care. Leading us to another big opening: pharmacists ($75,000-$130,000!). Casas says there's also a constant need for medical technicians and assistants in all related fields.

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