Once again this week, we want to help you plan your post-COVID19 career. It’s important, whether you will be returning to work after the Pandemic, or you are a student planning your first career. As usual, we are consulting a respected source of employment projections for the next decade—not a crystal ball.
The most useful source of information regarding employment trends for this decade is the online version of a reference book I used for the first time when I started thinking about a college major during my junior year in high school—the Occupational Outlook Handbook, (OOH). The OOH is prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the US Department of Labor. BLS’s OOH continues to be updated annually although other reference books such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles have been replaced with more modern tools decades ago.
Specifically, we are revisiting DOL’s projections for the top 10 occupations in the 2020s. An important takeaway from the data is that the most highly compensated jobs will go to those with the best education. Nonetheless, there are jobs, albeit at modest salaries, for workers at all education levels.
10 Fastest Growing Jobs for the 2020s: Will You Qualify for Them?
|Occupation||2020 Growth Rate (%)||2020 Median Salary ($)|
|Wind turbine service technicians||61 %||$56,230|
|Solar photovoltaic installers||51%||$46,470|
|Home health & personal care aides||34%||$27,080|
|Home health & personal care aides||34%||$27,080|
|Occupational therapy assistants||32%||$60,950|
|Medical/ health services managers||32%||$104,280|
|Information security analysts||31%||$103,590|
|Physical therapist assistants||29%||$49,970|
BLS gathered data for this research in 2019, and last modified its summary data in September, 2020. We have updated growth and median salary numbers further from specific occupation pages on the OOH site.
The majority of jobs with rapidly growing demand are in healthcare.
We see that six of the 10 fastest growing occupations are related to health services. Salaries and education requirements for the fastest-growing medical and health occupations vary. Physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and healthcare managers had 2020 median salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. Occupational therapy assistants earned median salaries just above $61,500, while physical therapy assistants had median earnings just under $50,000 per year.
Let’s look at each occupation in a little more detail:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP); A master’s degree is typically required. NPs coordinate medical care, and may provide specialty medical care, according to the OOH.
- Home Health Aide and Personal Care Aide; Home health and personal care aide jobs require a high school diploma and some on-the-job training (OJT) to provide housekeeping and some health care assistance for people with disabilities.
- Medical and Health Services Manager; Health care managers plan, direct, and coordinate business activities at healthcare organizations. They usually have previous experience providing health services, and at least a bachelor’s degree, the OOH reports.
- Occupational Therapy Assistant; Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate’s degree from an accredited program. Assistants work with occupational therapists (OTs) that are providing services to patients.
- Physician Assistants; A physician’s assistant, according to the OOH, practices medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals. A PA is required to have a state license and a master’s degree.
- Physical Therapist Assistant; Physical therapist assistants jobs require an associate’s degree and a state license to assist patients that are regaining mobility after injuries or illness.
It is important to realize that the high demand for healthcare workers started well before the Pandemic, and has been attributed to an aging population with increasing health and personal care needs. The COVID19 Pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the demand for essential healthcare workers.
All the remaining fields are related to technology and mathematics.
The remaining four occupations on the top ten growth occupations list are related to STEM subjects–mainly engineering and math. They include wind turbine service technicians, solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, statisticians, and information security analysts.
These occupations also require varied levels of education, and perform critical business functions. Specifically:
- Wind turbine service technicians; Wind turbine technicians, the workers that install, maintain, and repair windmills that convert wind energy to electrical energy, learn their trade through OJT, and at non-degree technical school, according to the OOH.
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers; PV installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into electrical energy. A high school diploma, OJT, and sometimes technical school classes are typically required, according to the OOH.
- Statisticians; A statistician usually has at least a master’s degree. According to the OOH, statisticians analyze data and apply computational methods to solve problems.
- Information security analysts; An information security analyst plans and carries out security measures to protect computer systems. According to the OOH, analysts typically have prior experience in other IT specialties in addition to their college degree.
Again, workers in the two occupations that usually require university degrees—statisticians and information security analysts earned median salaries above $93,000 in 2020. Those seeking installer and technician jobs working on renewable technology equipment—photovoltaic solar systems and wind turbines–will earn modest salaries with high school diplomas and technical training during the 2020s.
Demand for technical experts could accelerate.
The high demand for technical experts such as wind turbine technicians, solar PV installers, and information security analysts started well before the recent spike of related news headlines. Our nation’s current debate on finding infrastructure, including, renewable energy—wind and solar—may further increase demand for expertise in these fields.
Of course, cybersecurity seems to be in the news almost every time we turn on the TV, so there is little doubt demand will continue increasing for experts in this field, too.
You could earn higher pay with higher education.
Work in one of the top-10 high-growth fields may be available to you whether you have a college degree or not. You will need at least a college education to land the highest-paying jobs.