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In Demand Careers

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services identified jobs in health care, education and business management as having the most potential for growth through 2022. Education and health services ranked second only to hospitality in terms of overall job growth, at 19.18 percent. Business and professional services was third on the list at 10.1 percent. Universities, colleges, junior colleges and trade schools were all expected to grow at a brisk pace — 20 percent, 22 percent and 35 percent respectively, in the education sector. The top business professions were all forecasted to grow just under 10 percent over the decade.  



Whether students need job skills in a year or less to enter the workforce or are looking to complete bachelor’s degrees or beyond, ASU-Beebe offers degree options at a very affordable price. At $98 per credit hour, the school offers the lowest tuition in central Arkansas. 

Most programs at the Searcy campus lead to a certificate of proficiency or technical certificate within the discipline; however, all technical certificates can lead to an associate’s degree for those wishing to pursue that level of education. The Searcy programs offer specific training curriculums designed to meet the needs of area business and industry in programs such as welding, computerized machining, diesel technology and air conditioning.  This past spring, technology programs in auto body and automotive received accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.



Digital innovation, public administration and engineering management are three new programs with great growth potential.  A-State remains one of the top providers of nurses and related health industry careers for the state along with education, business and media related careers.

A-State shines in the field of education, its single largest group of graduates representing 41 percent of the 2015 graduating class. Among those responding to an employment outcomes survey, 84 percent reported being employed in their field or admitted to graduate school. The numbers among grads in healthcare are also impressive – among those responding to the survey almost 70 percent were working full-time or admitted to graduate school. 



Arkansas Tech has expanded its academic programs with six new undergraduate degrees including new undergraduate programs of study in chemistry education, computer science education, electrical engineering biomedical option, environmental science, game and interactive media design and physics education. The programs will debut on the Russellville campus during the Fall 2016 semester. 

The environmental science degree will create opportunities for graduates to work in government and private industry. The program will include courses in animal and plant taxonomy, geographic information systems and environmental assessment. Three new education degrees will help the state and region address teacher shortfalls in tough-to-fill positions. Graduates of the school’s electrical engineering biomedical option will be prepared to apply the concepts and principles of engineering to careers in a variety of health care disciplines.

Arkansas Tech University has received permission from the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) to begin offering a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science education. The school’s curriculums in computer science and information systems are accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET, Inc.; ATU is one of only 24 nationwide to receive ABET accreditation. 

Arkansas Tech is launching a new degree in game and interactive media design during the 2016-2017 academic year complete with a new state-of-the-art computer lab. Students will prepare for careers in video game development, entertainment, animation, simulation programming, web design and interactive visualization construction.



Baptist Health College Little Rock offers three programs that do not require previous college experience.

Baptist Health College Little Rock’s occupational therapy assistant program is consistently a competitive, strong outcome program. As more OTA to OT Bridge programs pop up, students are electing to begin with the two-year OTA program, then work and gain experience while earning their OT. The program is extremely hands-on, with only 18 students accepted each year to keep the one-on-one fieldwork ratio between student and teacher, an amazing way to turn a student into an occupational therapy assistant. 

Baptist Health College Little Rock is proud to offer three programs that do not require previous college experience and only take one year to complete. These programs are great for students to get into the healthcare field quickly and start building a successful career. These include surgical technology, working in the operating room as part of the surgical team; histotechnology, preparing tissue for microscopic study by the pathologist and is perfect for someone who loved their lab sciences in school; and finally, sleep technology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. 



Registered Nursing remains at the top of the list for high demand career choices.  COTO’s 2014 RN graduates earned an average of $50,322 in 2015. Students that graduated from the LPN program earned $36,417 in 2015.  

Truck driving is one of the “high demand occupations” listed with the Arkansas Department of Labor and statistics indicate that prospects for employment in the area of truck driving are excellent. Thanks to a partnership with the Department of Labor grant, the college’s newest program includes a 53-foot truck trailer that serves as a hands-on classroom with four truck driving simulator stations. An instructor’s station in the middle of the trailer also gives the instructor a chance to monitor each student as they operate the simulators. 

Mechatronics and pre-engineering both offer internships with opportunities for employment after graduation.  The College’s newly redesigned computer information systems program will roll out in August 2016 in the Center for Applied Science Technology.  



Henderson’s curriculum aligns with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s (AEDC) 15 Targeted Industry Sectors. As a result, the majors in high demand correlate with most-desired jobs. 

Among the leading majors is teaching, with an estimated starting salary of $32,000 to $38,000. Henderson offers bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in all content areas of teaching and master’s degrees that allow graduates to either earn an alternative teaching licensure or advance in instructional studies or leadership. 

Other top majors include management and accounting at the bachelor and MBA level; registered nursing, mental health and school counseling programs up to the master’s level and various human services and social work majors, all of which offer a starting salary of between $32,000 and $45,000.

The school’s business programs are particularly robust – students complete internships, receive mentoring from members of the Business Advisory Council, develop business plans, and participate in an investment challenge. Many of them also participate in an experiential learning program called Business Beyond the Classroom.



JBU offers 39 majors, with top programs in business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing. This fall a new minor in entrepreneurship will equip students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively navigate the risk and uncertainty of launching a startup or to successfully lead new ventures in an established firm. Our students put their knowledge into practice through real world experience, as well as competing against students nationally. Since 2012, JBU’s business teams have advanced to Reynolds Tri-State Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition after placing top 3 at regionals. This year JBU’s Enactus team took second out of 120 teams at the Enactus United States National Exposition. JBU construction management students took first place for the second time at the 2016 American Institute of Contractors Ethics Competition.



Lyon College students continue to achieve levels of success seldom matched at most colleges and universities. Almost 100 percent of pre-law students are accepted into law school and more than 90 percent of law school students who earned undergraduate degrees at Lyon are successful in completing their respective state bar exams on their first try. 

In health care, more than 95 percent of Lyon’s pre-medicine students are accepted to medical schools in Arkansas, the South and throughout the United States. National placements for law and medical students include Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Harvard, and other prestigious institutions. Lyon students applying to professional programs such as pharmacy, dental school and physical therapy schools are accepted at rates far exceeding the national average.



Employment forecasts place hospitality and tourism as the fastest-growing segment of jobs through 2022, a fact not lost on the entertainment- and tourism-heavy industries of Hot Springs and Garland County. National Park College meets this need head-on with curriculums to prepare graduates with knowledge appropriate to be successful.

A centerpiece for creating the skilled workers of the future is the development of NPC’s Innovative Technologies Center. NPC was recently awarded a Regional Workforce Grant that will expand technology education and create an environment of technology collaboration for industry, educators, innovators and the community. NPC has also partnered with both the University of Arkansas and with Arkansas Tech University to provide an engineering pathway for students, and the school’s computer information systems program prepares students for networking jobs and programming jobs, with classes that include gaming and mobile app development.

The school’s highly regarded trades programs include training in welding, automotive mechanics, industrial technology and aerospace fabrication and repair. Its marine repair program, developed in partnership with Yamaha, Mercury, Ranger and other marine technology companies, is unique in the region. 



Next to Baptist Health in Little Rock, Ozarka College produces more LPNs than any other school in the state with a licensure pass rate of more than 96 percent. To put the quality of its graduates on display, Ozarka hosts a career fair for nursing and health professional students. Having just completed its fourth year, the career fair is organized by Ozarka’s College of Nursing to connect employers with nursing students. This year’s event included employment options from urban and rural hospitals, home health agencies, prison systems, clinics, hospice and nursing homes. 

Ozarka College will begin offering courses for the emergency medical technician program this fall. In addition to classroom coursework, additional clinical hours are also required by the program. The courses are being offered through the college’s Ash Flat campus. 



Lab work at Philander Smith College.

The 2015 Little Rock Labor Market and Economic Report projects high growth occupations and industries in Little Rock to include general finance, weatherization/green energy and computer and information systems that include health care, logistics and distribution. 

To address the needs in many of these fields, Philander Smith College has developed the Workforce Innovation Strategic & Economic Public Private Partnerships (WISE P3) program. WISE P3 has a very specific focus and offers advanced training in the areas of computer coding, STEM, health care, advance manufacturing and finance. Training efforts will encompass a mix of portable certifications and two-year and four-year technical and applied degree programs to meet the state’s workforce needs. An initial focus of the new WISE P3 Program will be the collaborative Arkansas Coding Academy. The goal of the program is for those who complete the courses to be prepared for immediate placement as mobile device app developers, database administrators, cyber security analysts, software code developers and web application developers. 

In addressing the demand for STEM fields of study, Philander Smith College has focused very heavily on undergraduate research. The undergraduate research program ensures PSC students are groomed to be competitive in obtaining internships, scholarships, fellowships and awards at regional, state and national levels. 



Pulaski Technical College prepares students for its industry partners, including Caterpillar, LM Windpower, LOreal and Kimberly-Clark.

Supporting the economic development of Central Arkansas is key to PTC’s core mission. The college is an economic engine for the region. PTC offers targeted business training in the areas of health care, information technology, manufacturing, and other high-demand industries. The vast majority of graduates stay in the state, where an estimated 129,000 new and replacement jobs are projected to be available in PTC’s service area by 2019.

In 2012-13, PTC served more than 6,500 participants with business and industry training, continuing education and adult education, totaling 86,835 contact hours. Industry partners include Caterpillar, LM Windpower, L’Oreal and Kimberly-Clark.   



The outlook for business students at the Sam M. Walton College of Business continues to be strong, providing impressive earning potential through classroom excellence and networking opportunities. Of job-seeking graduates from Walton College, 88 percent were employed at graduation at an average starting salary of $52,112.

All seven departments at the Walton College – accounting, economics, finance, information systems, management, marketing and supply chain management – are distinguished and the supply chain management department, ranked #12 in the country by U.S. News & World Report, continues to grow and expand its influence in the fields of transportation and retail.

Other centers for excellence include the professional architecture, landscape architecture and interior design programs in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, the only one of its kind in Arkansas, and the College of Education and Health Professions, a leader in both nursing graduate programs and rehabilitation counseling, a program ranked #13 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

The poultry science program in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences has a 100 percent placement rate and beginning salary range of $43,000-45,000 for bachelor’s degree graduates. Graduates of the food science program in Bumpers College are also in high demand. More than 80 percent of undergraduates are placed with companies in the first year with a reported starting salary of $53,000.

In STEM studies, the engineering fields show strong growth with an 8.4 percent rise in enrollment between 2014 and 2015, and the school’s computer science graduates are also in high demand. In fact, more than 90 percent of recently graduated, full-time Master’s of Information Systems students were employed by graduation.



Targeting the jobs of the future – health care, information and data analytics – UAFS programs prepare students for the challenges of a changing world. Health care programs include programs in dental hygiene, imaging sciences, nursing (BSN), practical nursing, radiography and surgical technology, and it also offers a Master’s of Healthcare Administration. 

The school’s job placement rates for program graduates is consistently over 85 percent with median salaries around $60,000 for diagnostic medical sonographers, $70,000 for dental hygienists with an associate’s degree and $96,000 for a master’s level nurse practitioner.  

Preparing students for highly-sought after and well-compensated positions in IT, UAFS’ concentrations include programming, security and enterprise computing and information systems management. Information technology median salaries range from $80,000 for computer system analysts to $86,000 for information security analysts.



UALR’s Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology graduates in B.S. and M.S. in construction management,  civil and construction engineering, architectural and construction engineering and environmental engineering receive excellent starting salaries and substantial opportunities for rapid advancement. 

Similarly, technology graduates are in high demand resulting in above-average salaries for qualified graduates. UALR’s College of Engineering and Information Technology offers a wide range of “big data” majors with programs ranging from certificates to doctorates. Information quality, bioinformatics, information assurance and integrated computing command median salaries from $60,000 to $110,000 depending on degree level and marketplace. 

Data-oriented fields such as business analytics, which requires technical and analytical skills needed for decision making in today’s increasingly competitive business environment, are in especially high demand. UALR’s MBA program, with its weekend option, was recently redesigned from the ground up by business leaders to make it fit contemporary needs of businesses.  



It’s no accident that the graduates of UAM College of Technology in Crossett and McGehee are in demand; the schools’ respective rosters of programs have been on the occupational demand list in Arkansas, particularly the southeast portion of the state, for nearly a decade. 

In Crossett, popular programs available through a one-year course of study include administrative office technology, early childhood education, electromechanical technology, health information technology, practical nursing and hospitality services, all of which boast a median hourly wage of over $10 per hour.  

UAM-CTC enjoys a reputation of being among the best multi-craft industrial maintenance programs in the region. Graduates of the two-year electromechanical technology-instrumentation and industrial technology programs are highly recruited by businesses and industries. The job placement rates of graduates in these two-year programs consistently hover near 90 percent annually with an earnings outlook of $18.50 to $27.50 per hour without prior experience in the field.

The practical nursing program has one of the highest pass rates for the NCLEX Practical Nursing Licensure Exam in Arkansas, and achieved a pass rate of 100 percent for 15 of the last 20 years. The program has also been recognized for having the second-highest average licensure pass rates over a five-year period in Arkansas.  

McGehee’s reputation for excellence in areas of nursing, welding and early childhood education is well-known through the region and the state. Quality daycare and preschool is strong, as is the need for welders in this blue-collar region of Arkansas. Automotive service technology and the new diesel technology programs are robust and graduates can expect to earn between $15 and $20 an hour upon completion of the program.



UCA’s business degrees lead to career opportunities in the most in-demand fields. The school’s College of Business offers majors in accounting, economics, finance, insurance and risk management, marketing and management and management information systems. 

A unique element of the business offerings is the robust entrepreneurship program at UCA, which shows students how to think and act like innovative entrepreneurs within existing business ventures. The College of Business hones the aspiring entrepreneur’s ability to identify problems and opportunities, develop innovative solutions that have a significant positive impact on products, services or processes and launch those solutions.

UCA has also partnered with Metova, Inc. to open an on-campus internship office. The new office will provide student interns with the experience required for gainful employment in one of the many openings in the technology industry available in Arkansas and across the country, ranging from coding to marketing. Arkansas-based technology companies, such as Metova, Acxiom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Ensono, currently employ more than 2,000 technology professionals with a steady need for new talent. These companies have committed to hiring at least 100 new employees each year. 



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