Iowa's Hottest Jobs for Women

Information is power. The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women believes that women and girls need access to the most current information available about our prospects for employment and earnings as well as what it takes to be well-prepared for those careers.

Iowa Workforce Development is the state's workforce agency, making workforce data available to the public and connecting job seekers to skill development and employment. You can also find information about registered apprenticeships. Please visit their website or a local IWD office for more information.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor has additional information (demand, needed skills, etc.) about specific jobs and job categories in its Occupational Outlook Handbook.

ICSW also recommends Iowa Public Television's School to Careers website where career information is enhanced with video footage and resources for parents—some are linked below.

In the spirit of our mission to promote the full and equal participation of women in the economic, political and social life of the state, we highlight here several up-and-coming career opportunities that reflect the state's current job vacancies, where women may be under-represented, and/or where women have greater income potential. Job seekers should perform their own due diligence to determine if such positions are available in their parts of the state, and what specific qualifications are needed. Job shadowing and internships are always a good reality check to see if any career will really work for you and your life.

1. Computer Systems Analysts

In a nutshell, computer systems analysts design and assess the ways that technology can be used to solve complex problems for end-users. Despite the "computer geek" stereotype that some may think of, these positions most often require as many people skills as technology skills. IWD estimates that 8,270 jobs will be available in this field by 2014. Information technology is a field where women, especially women of color, are vastly underrepresented and are likely to be welcome applicants. Some employers also offer networking opportunities especially for women in IT. The IT field can be entered from a wide range of locally-based educational pathways from short-term certificates to community college and university degree programs. The 2006 annual mean salary for computer systems analysts was $61,844, which probably trumps having someone think you're a geek.

2. Sales Managers

Iowa Workforce Development has estimated sales management positions in the state to increase by 2.4% each year from 2004-2014. These highly competitive positions require candidates with excellent communication skills, a strong service orientation, and management of time and financial resources. The 2006 mean annual wage was $82,735. The demand for degrees varies greatly by position and employer. Due to the long hours and travel that may be required in such work, family schedules and support systems may be a consideration for persons with children and/or other caregiving or volunteer responsibilities. Dog owners and social butterflies in this career may also need to plan ahead.

3. Dental Hygienists

Iowa has a severe shortage of dental professionals across the board, including dentists. More dental hygienists mean better access to oral health care for Iowans. This profession is expected to grow at a rate of 3% each year, and its 2006 mean salary was $56,082. Plus, some folks just like to talk to people all day who can't talk back.

Five community colleges in Iowa currently offer degree programs for dental hygienists.

4. Teachers

Several states are experiencing a shortage of teachers across the PK-12 and college systems, which means Iowa's current shortage could get more acute. Several state agencies and businesses are working on efforts to recruit and retain teachers into high demand fields like English Language Learners, nursing, and science, technology, engineering, and math. Passionate, effective teachers of both genders are needed across the state, and some financial resources may be available to encourage those entering specific shortage areas.

5. Advanced Manufacturing

Today's economic climate in Iowa is highly focused on high-tech, cutting edge manufacturing, and more of these companies are looking at locating or expanding in Iowa all the time. In jobs from materials engineering to welding, women have a great deal to bring to the table. Teamwork, planning, problem solving and attention to detail are all highly sought after skills. Within the global economy, advanced manufacturing is less and less "your father's factory job." Antiquated strength tests and other factors that might have previously deterred women have often been replaced with ergonomic changes in the workplace that make advanced manufacturing cleaner and safer than ever before.

Many manufacturers partner with your local community college to provide industry-specific training opportunities. Pay attention specifically to training and careers in welding and wind energy for high growth potential. Look for organizations like Women in Wind Energy, housed in Minnesota, to pop up in Iowa.

6. Engineers

Engineering touches almost every aspect of our lives. An engineer needs to be well educated, good at math and/or science as well as solving problems. Also, creativity, persistence, and the desire to make the world a better place are three great qualities for engineers to have. Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have programs for women.

7. Road construction

To learn more, visit the Associated General Contractors of Iowa’s (AGCIA) new career.