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Career Planning Clues from the State of the Union Address

By Marty Nemko

President Bush’s State of the Union address, like previous ones, contained a laundry list of initiatives. Historically, some never come to pass and others take a year or more until jobs are created. But if you’re planning ahead, you might want to consider areas that Bush touts for growth:

--- Bush said, “I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science…(and) bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms.” News You Can Use: In my practice, I see many unhappy scientists. Typically, they’re frustrated that they must serve as mere cogs in a wheel. Such people might want to consider teaching, where they run their own show. Tip: In 47 states and in the District of Columbia, you can be certified to teach in the public schools without the long, university-based, often low-value teacher preparation programs dispensed by professors who are long on theory and short on practicalities such as how to control an unruly class. For more info, visit the National Center for Education Information:

--- Bush said, “This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school.” He cited gang prevention as a particular priority. News You Can Use: The National Youth Gang Center’s site ( lists gang prevention organizations. Even if jobs aren’t immediately available at an organization, try to develop a relationship with key people there so when jobs do come available, you have an inside track.

--- Citing the need to become independent of Middle East oil, Bush announced “the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy…zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.” News You Can Use: For the foreseeable future, solar and wind will provide only a small percentage of U.S. energy, so nuclear and coal holds the greatest short- and intermediate-term promise of providing jobs. Skip Bowman, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute said, “The industry anticipates building 12 to 15 new nuclear plants by 2015.” Jim Davis, NEI’s Director of Operations, adds this clue: “The first group of plants will be concentrated in the Southeast and in the middle of the country.” Carol Berrigan, NEI’s Director of Industry Initiatives adds, “The combination of our aging workforce and increased plant builds will mean significant hiring,” for example, “architects and engineers to build new plants or work for utilities in construction, operation, and maintenance or for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Stable, well-paying jobs should be available for graduates of any of the 23 nuclear engineer bachelor’s programs for tradespeople such as electricians and welders, and for jobs for people completing two-year degrees in nuclear technology.” For additional career information, including a list of training programs and internships: see NEI’s site: and American Nuclear Society’s site: Not withstanding the recent coal mine disasters, Luke Popovich, spokesperson for the National Mining Association, said, “The coal industry is clearly in resurgence. Clean coal technologies will reduce emissions by at least 90% compared with plants built in the ‘60s. The U.S. has the world’s largest coal reserves, so we needn’t import. As a result, 2006 is expected to be a record year for coal and ever cleaner coal will mean an ever larger share of the energy market. So, we need many mining engineers and metallurgists, plus environmental engineers to help meet clean air standards.” For information on jobs in the coal industry:

--- Bush said, “We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars and pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.” News You Can Use: Most hiring will be for electrical engineers, chemists, and software engineers (to design the chips governing the battery’s use). Major players in the effort to create better batteries are outside the U.S.: Panasonic and NEC-Lamilion. However, last month, Glenview Illinois-based, Johnson Controls announced it will join the fray. Hydrogen (and fuel-cell) powered cars are still in very early stages of development. Sites listing who’s doing what in that field: and Lyonsdale Biomass and International Paper are involved in developing the use of wood chips for ethanol, which many observers believe is a more likely near- to mid-term source of ethanol than stalks or switch grass. The push for ethanol use may create jobs in companies that manufacture farm equipment such as Deere, Agco, and Gehl, all of whose stock prices rose significantly today after Bush’s address. For other possible hirers in the hybrid/electric car space, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s CARFreedom Web site:

--- Bush said, “I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in…nanotechnology, supercomputing.” News You Can Use: Most of the research jobs go to PhDs in physics, applied mathematics, and some in engineering. In the past decade, conventional wisdom has been that most physical phenomena have already been understood and that the future of science is in the biosciences. As a result, there is a relative shortage of physicists. For the person contemplating a science degree, this might be the time to pursue a PhD in physics or applied mathematics. For information on nanotechnology jobs, careers, and training: For information on the supercomputing industry and jobs:

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