Paramedics numbers rising in state

Sorry if this spoils your dreams, but we have a bit of career advice for you: Don’t become an actor.

You would starve.

There are tools available that can predict whether a given career choice will lead to full-time employment and a full-sized paycheck. The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains its Occupational Outlook Handbook, which predicts which jobs will be in demand nationwide. The state of Michigan maintains its list of the hottest 50 career choices. And third-party researchers, such as those at projectionscentral.com, maintain detailed databases of careers that are growing and those that are not.

Acting is not. About 300 people in Michigan make their livings as actors. That is expected to increase by about 10 through 2014. Not a wise career move.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics, though, are in a growth industry. Employment of paramedics is expected to grow by about 230 a year from now until 2014, with a total increased employment of 17 percent. Michigan paramedics are paid an average of about $31,000 to $32,000 a year, which is also the national average.

Those sorts of numbers make the St. Clair County Community College numbers that much more surprising. The college has just five students enrolled in its paramedic program; the EMT program has 10. Consider also the declining number of schools training the state’s future paramedics and you can see why Ken Cummings, executive director of Tri-Hospital EMS, is worried about where his front-line first responders will be coming from in the future.

Paramedics have important, fulfilling careers, get decent pay and make a difference in their communities. And they can get their training at SC4 in two years and at reasonable tuition rates that won’t stack up insurmountable student debt. It seems like an obvious choice that should attract more than just a handful of students.

Certainly, nobody — or almost nobody — checks with the Bureau of Labor Statistics when they are dreaming about what will become their life’s work. Choosing a career is personal. And not everyone has the skills and traits and desire to be a mechanical, electrical or software engineer — some of the fastest growing careers. Some will want to be lumberjacks, even though the job outlook is scant.

— Times Herald, Port Huron

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