Nearly everyone wants to know the salary for a potential new job or career. It’s understandable since we all need to pay our bills. Also, it is important to know whether these high-paying jobs actually exist in the economy. There is nothing worse, in my view, than training for a high-paying occupation that does not offer opportunities going forward.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor (DOL) updated its employment projections for 2030 in April 2022 so the information is current for new graduates.
A statistic that caught my attention is that five of the top-ten fastest growing jobs paid median salaries in excess of $95,000 per year in 2021. They include:
- Nurse Practitioner – $120,680
- Statistician – $95,520
- Information Security Analyst – $102,600
- Medical and Health Services Manager – $101,340
- Data Scientist – $100,480
There are good reasons why these roles offered salaries near or exceeding $100,000/year. First, supply and demand rules. Demand drives salaries (the price of workers) up. Supply is limited because all five jobs normally require university-level training along with skills not everyone can develop.
These jobs will also see high growth rates because of demographic changes in the United States, and an increasing reliance on technology. Briefly, demographic changes—all baby-boomers will be 65 years of age or more by 2030—are driving the need for more medical workers and healthcare managers. Technology drives the need for statisticians, data scientists, and information security experts. We cover these trends in more detail in our Guide to the Post-pandemic Job Market.
The first step to deciding whether you can qualify for one of these highly compensated and fast-growing jobs is to learn what they are. My favorite source for this stage of career exploration is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and related web pages prepared by the DOL. Here’s a head start for your research.
According to the OOH, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (DOL discusses these occupations together) “coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare.” These practitioners work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and clinics.
Nurse practitioners are required to have at least a master’s degree in advanced nursing practice. They also must be licensed in their state and pass a national certification exam.
The nurse practitioners I’ve met appear to do much the same work as the doctors in their offices—they have their own assigned patients, examine them, order tests, and write prescriptions. While they earn less than doctors, the job is in a growth field with a solid living wage.
The majority of statisticians and other mathematicians probably do not get to do the life-enhancing and life-saving work of nurse practitioners although industry and government depends on them. “Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.” According to the OOH. The role typically requires a master’s degree.
The work that statisticians do is not esoteric. It is important even in seemingly unrelated fields such as career coaching where it is valuable to correctly interpret and explain salary data. The statisticians and economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics say the job paid a median salary of more than $95,000 per year in 2021.
Most of us probably think of the information security staff as the people that remind or require us to change our passwords every 30 days. The OOH says “information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. Most information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, or business and financial companies.” Requirements for the job, according to the OOH, are at least a bachelor’s degree, and could include relevant certifications, and “a stroke of ingenuity.”
There seems to be a business, government, or national security related information security or “cybersecurity” story in the news daily, so it’s easy to see why demand for these experts is increasing while supply is limited by the number of workers with the aptitude to learn the role. That’s why it’s a six-figure job.
Managers in medical and health services organizations are highly compensated senior leaders that usually start out in administrative or clinical roles, according to the OOH. They may lead entire facilities or specific departments and medical practices. It’s common for health care managers to have advanced degrees, although they can start out with a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Data science is another highly specialized field that normally requires an advanced degree. Some of the data scientists I’ve spoken with even have doctorates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, data scientists “develop and implement a set of techniques or analytics applications to transform raw data into meaningful information using data-oriented programming languages and visualization software.” Also, they apply data mining, machine learning, and other advanced techniques to analyze data and prepare reports.
In other words, this is another sophisticated role that is highly-compensated because not everyone can learn the job and do it effectively.
Cautionary Note: The fastest growing jobs—those with the highest percentage growth rates—are not necessarily those that will have the largest increase in the number of jobs. As shown on the chart below (originally created by the DOL, and in the public domain), the job with the highest percentage growth rate is Wind Turbine Technician, while the job with the largest anticipated increase in the number of positions is Home Care Aide. Salary potential is just one of many factors to consider in making a career choice although it is an important one. So start with the information above and continue doing your research.