by Becca Aaronson and Reeve Hamilton | Texas Tribune
January 19, 2012
When Tom Pauken was appointed chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission in 2008, he said, one thing particularly surprised him: “this notion that everybody needs to go to a four-year university and blue-collar jobs are not as good as ‘knowledge industry’ jobs.”
According to the workforce commission, the occupation expected to add the most jobs in Texas between 2008 and 2018 is fast-food services.
The availability of jobs in Texas has been a point of state pride and was — at least, at one time — a cornerstone of Gov. Rick Perry’s pitch to voters. And as Pauken has eagerly pointed out in public speeches, a significant portion of the state’s job offerings don’t require four years’ worth of tuition, which at Texas’ public universities can set you back an average of more than $26,000.
Pauken is calling for a greater emphasis on the skilled trades - many of which only require up to two years of post-secondary work - throughout the education pipeline.
He made this case at a recent higher-education panel discussion held by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank, where he was joined by Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes.
Paredes argued against the de-emphasis on four-year programs. He said that the state’s problem was not of having too many of one type of degree over another, but of needing comprehensive reform. “We need to improve our productivity in all of these areas,” he said of all levels of higher education.
“College is still worth it,” Paredes said. As evidence, he pointed out that people with advanced degrees have lower unemployment rates and most jobs that pay well require some form of post-secondary credential.
But comparing certain jobs may leave some wondering what they got in return for taking on all that student debt.
In 2009, according to workforce commission data, rotary drill operators — a job that primarily requires on-the-job training — could make an average annual wage of more than $72,000 in the Texas oil and gas industry. That’s more than the average wage of a number of professions requiring master’s and doctoral degrees.
“It’s costing us more to educate people,” Pauken told the Tribune. “At the same time, are we educating them for the right fields where the demand is?”
To provide a better sense of what opportunities are out there for present and future job seekers in Texas, we’ve put together the following graphs and database of the workforce commission’s projections.
In the top graphs, you can see the projections for the total jobs by category in 2018, which professions are adding the most jobs and which will experience the most rapid growth.
Below, you can search different professions based on average annual wages, preferred level of education, anticipated growth rate, expected annual job openings and more.
Check out the Graphs on All Occupation Groups in 2018, Occupations Adding Most Jobs, Fastest Growing Occupations