International College Offers Degree Programs Within Six of the Top 10 Fastest-Growing Occupations in the Southwest region of Florida

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation recently announced in its "Florida Employment Forecast," the fastest-growing occupations in Southwest Florida. One hundred occupations were listed in the report.

Of the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in Southwest Florida, six are offered within degree programs at International College. Those six occupations are: medical records technician (#2), computer support specialist (#3), systems analyst (#5), computer engineer (#6), medical assistant (#7) and paralegal (#8).

International College officials say the report affirms the College’s efforts in offering educational and training programs that reflect the workforce needs of the community.

"Academic programs utilize advisory boards to ensure the programs offered at International College are in tune with industry demands," said Jeanette Brock, J.D., Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Carlene Harrison, Medical Assisting Program Chair, said the program’s fall enrollment is the highest it’s been in a few years. Last fall, for example, total medical assisting enrollment was 48 students. This fall, there are a total of 72 students in the program.

"It’s a pretty dramatic increase," Harrison said. "I think the word is out that medical assisting is a good career, stable, and an occupation in high demand. Our students are finding employment while they are still attending school, because the influx of physicians in the area has created a demand for medical assistants."

Another reason for the demand is that salaries are improving, Harrison added. Two years ago, medical assistants made about $7 an hour. Today, the average is $11.45, according to the report. One of Harrison’s graduates recently took a local medical assisting job where salary started at $13 an hour.

Health Information Technology Program Chair Deborah Howard also saw an increase in her program. Fifteen of the 34 total students are new – the highest new enrollment to date. Howard credits the increase to more aggressive recruiting. She contacted local hospitals, clinics and physicians offices about fall registration and sent mailings to them.

Howard isn’t surprised that medical records technicians were ranked second on the Employment Forecast list.

"Health Information Technology fields have been in the top 20 of the labor statistics bureau since 1997, because of increased demand for quality-coded data," Howard said. "Increased regulation from the federal government and the need for accurate data in the healthcare continuum have created a need for staff that have specific knowledge of those regulations and the skills in data collection and reporting.

In spite of the hit the high tech market took a couple of years ago, computer occupations are still experiencing growth. David Rice, Computer Information Technology Program Chair said his numbers remain healthy because nearly every organization uses technology. A total of 278 students are enrolled in the computer information technology program; of those, 68 are new students.

"It’s not just high tech firms looking for high tech workers, but all firms, from doctors offices to insurance companies. These firms are becoming more reliant on technology to increase productivity, so they need technically skilled, business-savvy people," Rice said. "That’s why we have a strong business component to our bachelors degree program. Our students also take courses in marketing, management, accounting and business."

International College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Degree programs are offered in 13 fields of study in management, business, legal studies, accounting, healthcare, computer information technology and criminal justice.
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