Finding Work in Alaska
Every year thousands of people inquire about working
and living in Alaska. This is a short guide to job
opportunities in Alaska. Alaska has adequate numbers
of qualified people to fill most jobs.
A Caution: Exercise
caution when you see books or ads that guarantee
"big money jobs" in Alaska. Many simply
offer names of companies and require you to find
your own job. The information provided is often
inaccurate. Companies outside Alaska calling themselves
the Alaska Employment Service (or something similar)
and offering employment services for a fee are
not associated with the State of Alaska, Department
of Labor and Workforce Development, Employment
Before you come to Alaska:
You should have a round trip ticket and cash or
credit card resources ($2,000 for temporary and
$3,000 for permanent work) to live on while looking
for work. Many who arrived short of cash encountered
serious hardship and shattered dreams. Public
assistance programs cannot be counted on by persons
relocating to Alaska without adequate funds. Homesteading
is not available now. The climate and unpredictable
summer weather generally discourage camper or
tent living for extended periods. You cannot travel
through Canada without showing customs officials
cash and/or credit cards that are good in Canada.
The Internet and vacationing in Alaska are two
great ways to learn about the state, and explore
job opportunities. Your public library is another
resource. Alaska newspapers and magazines report
on the economy, industries, housing, food costs,
and weather, and they advertise jobs.
Alaska is vast, stretching thousands of miles
in all directions, with starkly contrasting climate
zones, breathtakingly beautiful scenery, abundant
wildlife, and Native peoples with rich cultures.
It presents abundant and varied recreational opportunities.
No wonder it is a prime tourist destination! So
come for a visit, savor the flavor of various
communities, experience the weather, and check
out the job scene. Visit employers and job sites.
and misinformation about Alaska are rampant. Study
maps. Get the facts. Extensive information is
available on the Internet. Research time can provide
you with a realistic view of the current job market
(it's no longer the wide open market of pipeline
days) and direction in locating a job. Learn about
the climate, the cost of living, read about our
cities, towns and rural villages, and where the
jobs are (and aren't.) Several sites on the Internet
list job openings. Read the classified ads in
the Anchorage Daily
Empire, Peninsula Clarion , or the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Check out US.Jobs. A few shortage occupations with
the State of
Alaska are open to applicants from out of
state. If you find a job vacancy to your liking,
negotiate with the employer via phone, e-mail
or fax, and you may land a solid job offer before
coming to Alaska.
Job Market Overview:
Alaska ranks 20th among the states in per capita
income. Cost of living comparisons are imprecise,
but one study ranks Kodiak, Juneau, Fairbanks
and Anchorage among the survey's 10 most expensive
cities to live in. Unemployment in Alaska is above
the national average. The employment growth rate
is slow, below one percent. All in all, recent
economic growth has been slow.
Where the jobs are:
At the turn of the century in Alaska, most job
opportunities are in the services sector, (where
average wages are relatively low.) Hotels and
lodging places, amusement and recreation services,
business and social services, and health care
are pacesetters in expected services job growth.
Recruitment is active for seasonal summer seafood
processing jobs. In the summer, there are labor
shortages in some occupations. In Anchorage, the
transportation sector is growing. There are opportunities
for teachers, (especially with certain specialties)
in the rural villages, known as "the bush."
Many openings are for seasonal employment.
And where they are not:
Due to falling production, oil and gas industry
employers have been laying off workers, and further
layoffs are expected. Employment in state and
local government is in a downward trend. Mining
companies have been curtailing operations. Urban
school districts have more teacher applicants
than positions and rarely hire from out of state.
The timber industry is much reduced from earlier
years. There is no factory work in Alaska. The
fishing industry has experienced dramatic declines
in harvests in some species and areas. Competition
for federal jobs is keen: for information, contact
an Office of Personnel Management in your state.
What? No roads?
The highway system in Alaska is very limited.
Juneau, Ketchikan and other Southeast communities
are accessible by air and water only. Vast areas
of interior and northern Alaska are reached by
air, and may be supplied by summer sea shipments.
The high cost of air travel and supplies shipped
by air has dramatic impacts on the cost of living.
largest city, with a population of 264,937 on
the shores of Cook Inlet, is the hub of the Anchorage/Matanuska-Susitna
region in South central Alaska. Anchorage has
the most job openings and a relatively reasonable
cost of living.
The Kenai Peninsula:
The cities of Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Homer
have populations between 3,000 and 7,000. This
is a popular recreation area. Seasonal work in
tourism or seafood processing may be available.
Kodiak Island, off the tip of the Peninsula, has
a large seasonal fishing industry.
Valdez: The terminus
of the Alaska Pipeline on Prince William Sound,
east of Anchorage, has a stable economy where
tourism is taking up the slack from the oil industry.
state's second largest city has long, warm summer
days and long, cold winters with temperatures
of minus 50 degrees. The population of the Fairbanks
North Star Borough is 84,000. Fairbanks is home
to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and government
is a major employer here.
Juneau: The state
capital has a population of 30,000. State government
is the largest employer, and tourism is a source
of seasonal employment. Apartment rental prices
in Juneau are among the highest in the nation,
averaging $950 for two bedrooms without utilities.
(Add first and last month's rent and deposit.)
and Northern Alaska: These areas are
mainly off the road system. In the north, winters
are severe, and the sun makes only brief appearances.
Midsummer days have no nightfall. Villages outside
the hub communities of Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow
often have difficulty finding qualified professional
and technical employees. The western Alaska towns
of Bethel and Dillingham are sometimes in need
of qualified medical, city government and education
professionals. Food and other purchases in the
bush can cost twice their price in urban areas.