Biz Bits: Future careers for today's high school students

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

High school seniors nationwide are preparing to graduate, receiving college acceptance letters and possibly enrolling in a college or university. The challenging economy has made many of these young adults acutely aware of the important role their degree can play when they face commencement once again, this time entering the job market.

Some schools offer degree programs that address the skills required to enter fast-growing fields, such as cyber security, cloud computing, health care and accounting - U.S. News & World Report included accounting in its ranking of 25 Best Jobs in 2012. This strong connection to a promising career path can be attractive to prospective students.

"Knowledge of projected industry growth is extremely helpful as students choose their major or area of study," says Dr. Chad Kennedy, chair and professor of biomedical engineering technology in the College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University. "Unlike some career fields where opportunities are shrinking, many technology and engineering fields are expanding at double-digit rates. In fact, many employers can't find enough qualified applicants to meet their needs."

Careers in technology are growing up to three times faster than other fields. For students interested in pursuing employment in this thriving industry, ComputerWorld recently outlined the "10 hot IT skills for 2013." Cloud computing was among the most coveted skills. Though relatively unfamiliar to the average consumer, this data management knowledge drives the services that support many of today's businesses.

Similarly, cyber security professionals will play an integral role in keeping information safe as the majority of companies' assets move online. According to Today's Engineer, the monthly Web publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the cyber security field is growing "in leaps and bounds."

Employment in health care fields is also on the rise. An aging population of baby boomers and expanded access to health care has placed growing pressure on the health care industry to add workers in fields ranging from health information systems and biomedical engineering technology to nursing and ambulatory care.

"Given the sensitive nature of medical data, my role -- ensuring data integrity, availability, and security for every current and former patient -- is essential and growing in demand," explains Adam Franzen, a systems administrator at Presence Health Care who holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University. "As health care evolves, so do the technology and management skills that are central to career success in the field."

The workforce is rapidly evolving; some of the most desired professional roles of yesterday are shrinking today and will become obsolete tomorrow. The class of 2013 will enter emerging career fields, managing the technologies that drive advanced hospital settings, leading development of the next cloud-based application and protecting companies and consumers from cyber and financial fraud alike.

-- Brandpoint

BBB Watch

Every year the Better Business Bureau receives inquiries and complaints about tax preparers. In the past 12 months both measures are up significantly as many consumers get assistance from professional tax preparers or tax software when filing taxes. The BBB encourages taxpayers to use caution when selecting tax preparation help.

In the past 12-month period the BBB has seen an increase of 76 percent in the number of complaints about Tax Return Preparation; 125 compared to 71. Also in the same period, the number of inquiries for Tax Return Preparation that the BBB receives increased 56 percent, a rise to 11,135 from 7,128. 

"Tax season comes every year and it is important to leave time to do research on different tax preparers," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Do not let false claims lead you astray, instead rely on tax preparer's credentials and your research."

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to find a trustworthy tax preparer:

Ask around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and check the BBB Reliability Report on tax preparation services.

Check on the preparer's history. Check to see if the preparer has a questionable history with the Better Business Bureau and check for any disciplinary actions and licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants; the state bar associations for attorneys; and the IRS Office of Enrollment for enrolled agents.

Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney or an enrolled agent. All three can represent you before the IRS in all matters, including an audit. Also, find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that holds its members to a code of ethics.

Don't fall for the promise of a big refund. Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid any tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.

Think about accessibility. Many tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to April 15. In case the IRS finds errors, or in case of an audit, you might need to be able to contact your tax preparer throughout the year.

Be wary of people claiming to be IRS agents. Don't reveal any personal information if someone calls and claims to be from the IRS. Instead, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to see if an agent has a legitimate need to contact you.  

Read the contract and know what you're paying for. Understand how much the service costs, how the cost will be affected if preparation is more complicated and time consuming than expected, and whether the tax preparer will represent you in case of an audit and how much that will cost.

It is illegal for tax preparers to encourage you to falsify deductions, exemptions or income in order to pay less tax or obtain tax credits. If they ask you to sign a blank or incomplete form or guarantee that you won't be audited, go elsewhere.

For more advice on finding professionals you can trust, visit

The List

The 10 worst cars of all time, according to

10. 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel

9. 1957 Trabant

8. 1982 Cadillac Cimarron

7. 1958 Edsel Corsair

6. 2003 Saturn Ion

5. 1971 Chevrolet Vega

4. 1987 Yugo

3. 1955 BMW Isetta

2. 1974 Ford Mustang

1. 2001 Pontiac Aztec

Number to Know

$96: Approximate price of crude oil per barrel on Monday, showing the effects of weakened U.S. industrial production and the European recession.


Tech Talk

Facebook has announced that although it was recently hacked, the company does not believe any user data was compromised, CNN reports. The hack took place in January, when a few employees reportedly visited a compromised website. The site installed malware onto their computers which allowed Facebook to then become compromised.

Facebook appears to be the most recent victim of a string of high-profile hacks. Twitter, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post have also reported security breaches. The news sites attacked blame hackers working for the Chinese government, though Twitter and Facebook have made no mention of this when reporting the attacks. The hacks reportedly take advantage of vulnerabilities in Java programming. Facebook said any Java weaknesses were fixed after the hack.

GateHouse News Service