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. IWD also has a regional and statewide report available that breaks out Iowa's hottest jobs from 2010-2020 by region and salary.

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. The Women's Bureau (U.S. Department of Labor) also has projections from 2010-2020 on selected in-demand, occupations.

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 and high annual growth rate 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. (Information based off of Iowa's Hot 50 Jobs: 2010-2020)

1. Family and General Practitioners

The annual growth rate for family and general practitioners is 2.4% with a 2012 mean salary of $216,241.

2. Dentists and Dental Hygienists

Iowa has a severe shortage of dental professionals across the board, including dentists. More dentists and dental hygienists mean better access to oral health care for Iowans. The annual growth rate for dentists is 2.4% each year, and the annual growth rate for dental hygienists is 2.9%. The 2012 mean salary for dentists was $205,279; for dental hygienists, it was $66,603.

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry is currently the only college of Dentistry in Iowa.

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

3. Optometrists

Optometrists are in high demand and expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 3.2% over the next decade. The 2012 median salary was $111,300.

4. Marketing Managers

Marketing professions and marketing managers are needed in Iowa and pull in around $107,972 per year.  The annual growth rate for marketing managers is approximately 2%.

5. Computers/Computer Systems

In a nutshell, professions related to computers and computer systems are a high-growth industry and are associated with higher than average salaries in Iowa.

2012 mean annual salaries:

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers: $107,687

  • Computer software engineers/systems software professions: $82,804

  • Computer systems analysts: $75,166

  • Computer Programmers: $65,659

  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators: $62,554

Despite the "computer geek" stereotype that some may think of, these positions most often require as many people skills as technology skills. 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.

6. Pharmacists

Pharmacists are also in high demand in Iowa with an estimated annual growth rate of 2.1% over the next decade. In 2012, the mean annual salary for pharmacists was $104,232.

7. Actuaries

An actuary is a professional who deals with risk and uncertainty. Typical employers for actuaries are insurance companies, consulting firms, government, employee benefits departments of large corporations, hospitals, banks and investment firms, or, more generally, businesses that need to manage financial risk. With the large amount of insurance companies in Iowa, actuaries are in high demand. The 2012 mean salary for actuaries was $101,495.

8. Sales Managers

Iowa Workforce Development has estimated sales management positions in the state to increase by 1.6% each year from 2010-2020. These highly competitive positions require candidates with excellent communication skills, a strong service orientation, and management of time and financial resources. The 2012 mean annual wage was $98,232. 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.

9. Construction Managers

Women are underrepresented in the construction profession and make up under 3% of the construction workforce. Several resources and networks are available for women in construction, such as the National Association of Women in Construction, National Association of Professional Women in Construction, Women Construction Owners and Executives, National Association of Black Women in Construction, and more.

Construction managers, on average, bring home salaries of around $78,281 per year. The construction industry is projected to be a high-growth industry over the next decade.

10. Management Analysts

The job duties of a management analyst involve changing the structure of a company to improve its structure and efficiency. More management analysts are going to be needed in the coming years and make an annual salary of around $69,468.

11. Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors are needed in business and government to keep businesses profitable and government entities honest. The annual median salary in 2012 for accountants and auditors was $62,241.

12. Loan Officers

Loan officers are needed at financial institutions such as banks and mortgage lending companies. The annual growth rate for loan officers is projected to be 2.4% over the next decade and the 2012 median salary was $61,700.

13. Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Someone is always needed to make the world a better place! With the growing need for environmental scientists and specialists, these professions will become increasingly important over the coming decades. The annual median salary for these professions is $60,514.

14. 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.

15. 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 both have programs for women in science and engineering.

The annual median salary for engineers depends on the type of engineering you are interested in pursuing. In 2012, the annual median salaries for the following types of engineering sectors was:

  • Computer software engineers: $82,804

  • Civil engineers: $75,997

  • Mechanical engineers: $75,953

  • Industrial engineers: $69,391