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These 5 people had the smarts to launch careers in booming fields

With job growth higher than it’s been in 15 years, it’s a good time to be starting out in these growing Massachusetts industries.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff


Staff Nurse, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Growing up, Angie Ruth Garcia — who spent about a year in the hospital as a child with pediatric Guillain-Barre syndrome — loved the idea of working in health care, but it took the now 30-year-old awhile to decide on her exact calling. Nursing was always in the back of her mind, but she worked as an administrative assistant and a unit coordinator at Brigham and Women’s and trained in massage therapy before suddenly realizing, in 2010, “I need to start my undergrad degree today. It’s now become urgent to me.” She graduated from UMass Boston in December and is now a medical-surgical nurse at the Brigham. “I could not be more ecstatic,” she says.


Between longer life spans and improved treatment for chronic illnesses, Garcia points out, there will always be a need for nurses. In fact, there’s a shortage elsewhere in the nation, and no single occupation in this state is expected to add more jobs than registered nursing through 2022. “There are so many aspects of nursing,” Garcia says. “I can work in a clinic, in research, in public health, in legal advocacy. No matter what happens in the future, I’ll have many different ways to put my experience to work.”


Occupation: Registered nurse

Typical education requirement (entry level): Bachelor’s degree

Projected nationwide growth through 2024: 16 percent

Projected jobs added in Mass. through 2022: 14,557

Average annual pay in Mass.: $88,650

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff


4th-year Apprentice, Harrington Air Systems via Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 17

Dorchester native Shamaiah Turner was always interested in building. She studied architecture for three semesters at Tulane University in New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina derailed her, as it did so many others. “I just like working with my hands,” she says, “using my brain in a way that’s not sitting down in an office.” The now 30-year-old spent a year in AmeriCorps working with Habitat for Humanity, but every time she asked someone how to make construction her career, she was told the same thing, she says: “Go work in an office.” She “heard that so many times,” especially from men.


But then, in 2011, her aunt passed along a flier for Building Pathways, a competitive six-week program sponsored by the Boston Housing Authority and other agencies that introduces potential apprentices to various aspects of construction. “It turned out to be the perfect opportunity,” says Turner, who started learning on the job at Harrington Air Systems four years ago. She’s not sure if she’ll continue with the physical work her whole career, mentioning other options such as drafting and testing, but says for now she loves what she’s doing. “And it provides a huge level of security,” she says. “I’m already putting money away to retire.”


Occupation: Construction laborer

Typical education requirement (entry level): On-the-job training

Projected nationwide growth through 2024: 13 percent

Projected jobs added in Mass. through 2022: 4,298

Average annual pay in Mass.: $52,120

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff


Software Engineer, Google

As an undergrad at MIT, Ceres Lee, now 23, had a lot of friends in computer science, but she was convinced bioengineering was for her — until she did a stint in a research lab. “Bioengineering was too slow,” she says, recalling hours spent in a hushed room mixing substances and waiting for the results of her experiments. “Computer science is more developed,” says the California native. “Everyone uses it, it’s important, and it’s basically everywhere. And I didn’t have to go to grad school to get a job.”


Initially, though, she didn’t realize that and was considering going for her master’s in engineering. But when a friend referred Lee to higher-ups at Google, who reached out to her, she quickly changed her plans. She started working at the Cambridge location the August after her 2014 graduation, having turned down another offer at a large video platform company.

“I felt like I had many options open,” she says. “Among people I know doing computer science, I’ve heard almost no stories of difficulty finding jobs. Not everyone ends up working at, say, Google or Facebook, but they can inevitably find a job.”


Occupation: Software developer

Typical education requirement (entry level): Bachelor’s degree

Projected nationwide growth through 2024: 17 percent

Projected jobs added in Mass. through 2022: 6,261 (systems developer); 5,584 (app developer)

Average annual pay in Mass.: $113,410 (systems software); $109,430 (applications)

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff


Test cook, America’s Test Kitchen

When native Londoner Joe Gitter visited friends in Cambridge (Massachusetts, not England) in July 2012, he didn’t expect it to change his life. But one night he and his hosts had dinner at Harvest with Judith Flynn, a resident dean and lecturer at Harvard. Within 18 months, Gitter, then a trader at J.P. Morgan, had married Flynn, moved to the United States, become a father, and enrolled in the professional chef’s program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. “It was a real whirlwind,” the 36-year-old says today.


He’d been interested in food since childhood, when his family took annual road trips to France, but had never thought it could be more than a hobby. In the States, he realized he could transform his love of working with his hands into a career. In February, Gitter beat out heavy competition to get a job at America’s Test Kitchen in Brookline. He “felt very lucky to have got it,” Gitter says, because the possibilities are limitless — not only can he cook, but the opportunities to grow include becoming an editor or art director or even, someday, the creative director. “I plan to be here forever,” he says.


Occupation: Chef or head cook

Typical education requirement (entry level): High school diploma or equivalent

Projected nationwide growth through 2024: 9 percent

Projected jobs added in Mass. through 2022: 5,659 (restaurant cooks); 1,511 (institution/cafeteria cooks)

Average annual pay in Mass.: $28,230 (restaurant cooks); $33,830 (institution/cafeteria cooks)

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff


Accounting Major, UMass Dartmouth

“Prior to entering college, I just thought, OK, accounting is a growing field,” says 21-year-old Miriam Asangong, who graduates from UMass Dartmouth this year and already has a job lined up in Boston as an audit associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest accounting firm. “But now I’m really sure of that.”


Asangong, who moved here when she was 13, had multiple opportunities for internships, but having had her eye on PwC since freshman year, she leapt at its offer, and her work quickly led to a full-time job. “Based on the amount of positive response I got from applying to different internships,” she says, “my confidence in finding a job after graduation increased.”

She likes that accounting allows her to get out and interact with clients and notes that there are many opportunities within the field, from opening your own firm to making partner at one of the “Big Four.” She plans to take her CPA exam during her first year at the firm and “prove to them I’m a good asset” by working hard and always looking toward the next opportunity. “If I love something, why change?” she says. “Everyone needs an accountant, no matter what the economy is.”


Occupation: Accountant/auditor

Typical education requirement (entry level): Bachelor’s degree

Projected nationwide growth through 2024: 11 percent

Projected jobs added in Mass. through 2022: 4,456

Average annual pay in Mass.: $82,540

Elizabeth Gehrman is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to