Northern Idaho Shares Hot Jobs Demand

With unemployment rates down to levels not seen since the start of the recession and job growth on the rise, job seekers are becoming more strategic when looking for work and seek jobs in demand

Overwhelmingly, the health care sector and its occupations top every ranking — growth, number of jobs in the economy, annual openings and highest wages, according to the Idaho Department of Labor’s latest long-term state and regional job projections through 2022 regional projections which look at pay and growth prospects.

10 – Accountants and Auditors

While competition remains strong at most prestigious accounting and business firms, stricter laws and tighter lending standards are expected to increase the demand for accounting and auditing services. In northern Idaho, employment of accountants and auditors should grow 12.8 percent from 2012 to 2022  – five new openings a year. However according to Economic Modeling Specialists International, 21 percent of this occupation’s workforce is age 55 and older, and that will generate another 12 openings a year to replace retirees.

9 – Electrical Engineers

The rapid pace of technological innovation will most likely drive demand for electrical engineers in research and development. Compared to other hot jobs, the overall net growth of electrical engineers becomes significant when coupled with high wages. Employment of electrical engineers is expected to increase 25.6 percent from 2012 to 2022 in northern Idaho, a net increase of 34 jobs or just over three a year. That growth rate is 10 points higher than the statewide projection and 20 points higher than the nation. The latest projection estimates another three openings a year because of retirements or other reasons and the hourly median wage for electrical engineers in northern Idaho is $42.50 — nearly triple the median hourly wage for all occupations.

8 – Software Developers

Mobile technology, increasing computer applications in the health care industry and cyber-security are only a few examples of the growing demand for software developers. The demand for this occupation is similar to electrical engineers – significant growth with higher wages. Software developer jobs in northern Idaho should grow much faster than jobs overall, matching the state and national rates for this occupation at 22.5 percent. While this is a net increase of only 36 for the region,  the wage is $38.50 an hour in the five northern Idaho counties.

7 – Office Managers

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, also known as office managers, are projected to add 118 jobs by 2022, a 14.6 percent increase. This rate is slower than the statewide increase of 17.5 percent for this occupation, but faster than the national growth estimate of 12 percent. Replacement openings for retirees and others would add another 19 job opportunities each year. Looking at jobs posted through the Idaho Department of Labor alone, there have been 30 openings on average each year in northern Idaho over the past decade. According to EMSI, nearly 23 percent of the people working in this occupation in northern Idaho are age 55 and older. The median wage for this position is $20.33 in the region.

6 – Pharmacists

While few in number, the projected demand for pharmacists is relatively high as a result of increased demand for prescription drugs. Northern Idaho has the second oldest population in the state behind north central Idaho, and the population is aging and consuming more prescription drugs than younger people. Higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and scientific advances also boost demand for drugs. As more people have access to health insurance coverage, demand for prescriptions – and pharmacists to fill them – will rise.

There are 43 pharmacies in the region, and most employ two to three pharmacists. However, with the expected increased demand for prescription medications, the number of pharmacists should increase 21.4 percent, or four new openings a year on top of the four replacement openings expected. Statewide pharmacist jobs should increase 32.4 percent. The median hourly wage for a pharmacist working in the northern region is $54.

5 – Licensed Practical Nurses

The region has already witnessed significant demand for licensed practical nurses with the heavy in-migration of retirees. As baby boomers age and the number of residential care facilities and home health services rise, the demand for LPNs will continue to increase. After averaging 50 openings a year due to both growth and replacement over the past decade, future growth will likely slow. Regional demand for LPNs should generate about 100 new jobs through 2022 – 24.7 percent growth. That will be 10 new jobs annually and another nine openings for replacements. That matches the national demand for LPNs, who earn a median wage of $20 an hour in northern Idaho.

4 – Linemen

With many linemen ready to retire over the next 10 years, area utility companies are driving demand for electrical power line installers and repairers. The need to fill those openings is compounded by enhanced connectivity and the net growth of this occupation is projected to rise nearly 39 percent—four times faster than the nation’s 9 percent. Statewide growth is estimated at 21 percent. According to EMSI, 26 percent of the region’s linemen are 55 and older. The median wage is more than $40 an hour.

3Dental Hygienists

An increasingly older population in northern Idaho and a lower hygienist-to-dentist ratio means there is room for growth in the dental hygienist field. With the exception of the more rural counties in the region, the number of dental hygienists has grown exponentially and is projected to continue expanding. That may even occur in rural counties where the number of patients with access to dental insurance is expected to rise through new or expanded coverage. Similar to the sheer growth numbers for linemen, demand should total approximately 60 new jobs for dental hygienists through 2022, a growth rate of 2.8 percent. Hygienists earn a median wage of $39.46 an hour in northern Idaho. Improvements in dental care mean people age 65 and older are more likely to have their natural teeth than previous generations and more likely to require dental care. According to a white paper produced by Idaho Department of Labor in 2012, the ratio of Idaho-licensed dental hygienists to Idaho-licensed dentists was 1.13 in northern Idaho, the lowest of the state’s six regions.

2 – Physical Therapists

Employment for physical therapists is projected to grow at an annual rate of 3.1 percent – 35.2 percent over the decade. Statewide growth is estimated at 26 percent compared to 19 percent nationwide. The number of new physical therapy jobs each year will exceed the number of replacement openings. Like other health care professions, demand for physical therapists will come from aging baby boomers who are staying active longer but still suffer from heart attacks, strokes and other mobility related injuries requiring physical therapy. The median wage for physical therapists in northern Idaho is $39.26 an hour.

1 – Registered Nurses

The hottest job in northern Idaho through 2022 will be registered nurse. The number of jobs is high, wages are good and growth is significant. There are roughly 1,600 registered nurses in the region, and another 315 will be hired during the decade. Hundreds of additional job opportunities will occur due to retirements. Approximately 28 percent of the existing nursing corps is over age 55. The financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as possible may result in more people admitted to long-term care facilities and outpatient care centers while increasing demand for home healthcare. Because many older people prefer to be treated at home or in residential care facilities, registered nurses will be in demand in those settings.

(Click on table to open it in a larger window).

Hot jobs table

These only include 10 of the 374 northern Idaho occupations assessed. There are opportunities for every type of job seeker at every educational level.

To view all occupational projections, please visit:, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext. 3486