30 Jobs Projected to Grow the Most in the Next Decade

Hannah Lang
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With the world around us dynamically and quickly changing, the jobs of the next decade will look quite different from the jobs of the past. And although technology has served as a major disruptor for many of the most commonplace jobs in the United States, the tech industry is not slated to grow as fast as some other key industries.

The health-care sector is expected to experience a boom in the next decade. In fact, of the top three fastest-growing industries—specialty hospitals, home health-care services, and health-care practitioner offices—all fall under its umbrella. Other industries that made the top 10 for the next decade include power communication line construction, electronic shopping, and financial investment.

By 2030, experts also predict job-seekers will need a whole new host of skills to impress their potential employers. Those skills of the future include digital literacy, emotional and social intelligence, computational thinking, and cognitive flexibility. Taken together, these traits could signal both that top job applicants are willing to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and that human value—like a warm bedside manner—can’t simply be replaced by automation.

Stacker compiled a list of 30 jobs expected to grow the most by 2028, using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections data. Jobs are ranked by projected percent-changes to employment between 2018 and 2028 projected employment percent change, and ties are broken by the overall projected 2028 employment. Any occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that included “all other” in the name were excluded from the list because these occupations are groups of similar jobs and are not accurate representations of growth for one job or field.

1 / 30 Antoniusaw // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers, metal and plastic

– Projected employment change: +4,900 (20% change)
– 2018 employment: 24,300
– Projected 2028 employment: 29,200
– Predicted annual job openings: 3,200

A computer numerically controlled machine tool programmer in metal and plastic is responsible for developing programs to control machines that process metal and plastic parts, writing computer programs, determining the sequence of machine operations, and updating programs to eliminate any errors. Typically, people with this job only need a high school diploma or an equivalent, and earn an average annual salary of about $53,190. Many youth apprenticeship programs offer on-the-job training for CNC programmers.

2 / 30 Suzannekweiss // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary

– Projected employment change: +13,800 (20% change)
– 2018 employment: 69,000
– Projected 2028 employment: 82,800
– Predicted annual job openings: 7,700

Nursing schools in the United States are short-staffed. By 2022, there will be a need for 34,200 more postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers, with 24,000 of those expected to be new positions and 10,200 positions to replace current teachers and instructors. In particular, nursing instructors and teachers are needed at rural schools, all while the U.S. is projected to need 1.1 million registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the next five years. The average assistant professor at a nursing school with a master’s degree earns an annual salary of $73,633.

3 / 30 fizkes // Shutterstock

#28. Actuaries

– Projected employment change: +5,000 (20.1% change)
– 2018 employment: 25,000
– Projected 2028 employment: 30,000
– Predicted annual job openings: 2,200

Actuaries work to manage risk and reduce the negative impact that potential risk might have at insurance companies, banks, investment firms, consulting firms, and other large companies. Currently, there are a few actuaries in the U.S., with just 24,600 actuarial jobs recorded in 2014. But because the current number is limited, actuarial jobs are expected to have a higher-than-average rate of job growth, especially as new risks for corporations emerge in the coming years.

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#27. Market research analysts and marketing specialists

– Projected employment change: +139,200 (20.4% change)
– 2018 employment: 681,900
– Projected 2028 employment: 821,100
– Predicted annual job openings: 90,700

Market research analysts and marketing specialists sift through data to help companies determine how best to sell their products and determine the price consumers will pay. Employment of market research analysts is expected to grow 23% by 2026, largely because companies are increasingly relying on market data to make business decisions. The digital age has also ushered in new pools of data, which companies have used more to guide their business.

5 / 30 ChooChin // Shutterstock

#26. Respiratory therapists

– Projected employment change: +27,900 (20.8% change)
– 2018 employment: 134,000
– Projected 2028 employment: 162,000
– Predicted annual job openings: 10,600

By 2024, the employment of respiratory therapists is expected to grow more than 12% as the United States population ages and respiratory conditions are likely to become more common. The health-care industry is also working to limit hospital patient readmissions, meaning that there will be more of a need for respiratory therapists in doctors’ offices and nursing homes. Additionally, air pollution has contributed to a higher demand for respiratory therapists as some people have been negatively affected by the poor air quality in their surroundings.

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#25. Physical therapists

– Projected employment change: +54,200 (21.9% change)
– 2018 employment: 247,700
– Projected 2028 employment: 301,900
– Predicted annual job openings: 16,900

Job opportunities for physical therapists are projected to be in high demand in orthopedic settings, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals. The employment rate for physical therapists is expected to grow much faster compared to other jobs, and some have even predicted that there could be a shortage of physical therapists as the demand increases. On the plus side, increased demand for physical therapists also means that employers will probably start offering more competitive salaries.

7 / 30 Chef Ayabonga Gope // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Cooks, restaurant

– Projected employment change: +299,000 (21.9% change)
– 2018 employment: 1,362,300
– Projected 2028 employment: 1,661,300
– Predicted annual job openings: 243,800

The growth rate for restaurant cook employment is attributable largely to casual dining and eateries rather than full-service restaurants, as dining trends indicate more people are looking to eat on the go. In California alone, the number of chefs and head cooks is expected to increase by 14.3% from 2016 to 2026. The median annual salary for cooks in the state is currently $47,848.

8 / 30 Nicole De Khors // Burst

#23. Massage therapists

– Projected employment change: +35,400 (22.2% change)
– 2018 employment: 159,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 195,200
– Predicted annual job openings: 24,200

Massage therapist jobs appeal to many people who look for flexible work hours and job security—after all, massage therapy is one service that’s unlikely to become automated. In a survey of 1,200 massage therapists, 88% reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. Careers in massage therapy also appeal to many people because of the low barriers to entry: no college degree is required, and most massage therapists report finding jobs within a matter of weeks.

9 / 30 Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

#22. Marriage and family therapists

– Projected employment change: +12,300 (22.3% change)
– 2018 employment: 55,300
– Projected 2028 employment: 67,700
– Predicted annual job openings: 7,500

In 2015, marriage and family therapists were projected to grow by 41% by 2020, and that trend is only just beginning to explode thanks to the increased mental health awareness and comfort with visiting a therapist. A provision in the Affordable Care Act of 2008 that required all new insurance policies to include coverage for mental and behavioral health treatment has also led to more people able to access therapy services.

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#21. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors

– Projected employment change: +68,500 (22.5% change)
– 2018 employment: 304,500
– Projected 2028 employment: 373,100
– Predicted annual job openings: 41,500

The mental health counseling field is expected to grow at three times the rate of other fields, largely because of new health laws that require insurance companies to cover mental health counseling. Under the Affordable Care Act, an insurance company must provide the same amount of visits to a mental health counselor as they would to a medical doctor. There are expected to be 165,100 mental health counselors in 2022—an additional 36,700 compared to the number of mental health counselors in 2012.

11 / 30 Africa Studio // Shutterstock

#20. Medical assistants

– Projected employment change: +154,900 (22.6% change)
– 2018 employment: 686,600
– Projected 2028 employment: 841,500
– Predicted annual job openings: 99,700

The employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 29% between 2016 and 2026, in part because of advances in the health-care field and the aging adult population in the United States, which will require more medical care. Opportunities abound for career growth in this field: Many medical assistants move to specialty offices or further their education and become doctors, nurses, radiologists, or medical assistant instructors.

12 / 30 Toralf Thomassen // Unsplash

#19. Physical therapist aides

– Projected employment change: +11,300 (22.8% change)
– 2018 employment: 49,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 61,200
– Predicted annual job openings: 8,000

Physical therapist aides can also expect to enjoy more job opportunities along with the growing health-care job sector. The job has been projected to grow 29% from 2016 to 2026, and since the role is entry-level, some suspect there could be a surplus of job applicants. To be a physical therapist aide, you need only a high school diploma and computer literacy skills.

13 / 30 Airman 1st Class Tori Schultz // U.S. Air Force

#18. Phlebotomists

– Projected employment change: +29,500 (23% change)
– 2018 employment: 128,300
– Projected 2028 employment: 157,800
– Predicted annual job openings: 18,100

The phlebotomy field is projected to add 30,100 jobs by 2026, outpacing the growth of other jobs largely because of the continued need for bloodwork at medical offices, hospitals, and labs, and its necessity for diagnosis and analysis. Different emergencies, such as natural disasters, will also continue to require blood donation services.

14 / 30 Ness Kerton/AusAID // Flickr

#17. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

– Projected employment change: +59,100 (23.2% change)
– 2018 employment: 254,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 313,900
– Predicted annual job openings: 29,400

Postsecondary health specialties teachers instruct college-level courses on topics like dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine. Employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow 13% between 2014 and 2024 as the enrollment at postsecondary schools is projected to increase, though some postsecondary instructors are expected to be employed only part-time. The average annual salary for a postsecondary health specialty teacher is $122,320.

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#16. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

– Projected employment change: +500 (24.1% change)
– 2018 employment: 2,200
– Projected 2028 employment: 2,800
– Predicted annual job openings: 300

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists inspect forests for fire hazards, enforce regulations, and recommend ways to prevent forest fires. Job opportunities for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists are expected to grow, with people in those roles earning an average annual salary of $39,600. Most employers expect applicants to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

16 / 30 Senior Airman Greg Nash // U.S. Air Force

#15. Operations research analysts

– Projected employment change: +28,100 (25.6% change)
– 2018 employment: 109,700
– Projected 2028 employment: 137,900
– Predicted annual job openings: 10,900

Operations research analysts work with mathematical models and complex analytic methods to help companies produce top-notch solutions and solve problems. The demand for operations research analysts is already high in the biotech industry and expected to increase: The job represents one of the six most in-demand biopharmaceutical careers. The median annual salary for an operations research analyst in the biopharma industry is $83,890.

17 / 30 Sarah Pflug // Burst

#14. Software developers, applications

– Projected employment change: +241,500 (25.6% change)
– 2018 employment: 944,200
– Projected 2028 employment: 1,185,700
– Predicted annual job openings: 99,200

An increase in new digital and internet technology, as well as the high demand for web and internet applications, will contribute to the expected high job growth rate of developers. There is also a high demand for job applicants in the field who are well-versed in a variety of computer programming languages, and applications software developers are usually required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering.

18 / 30 Wallpoper // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Mathematicians

– Projected employment change: +800 (26% change)
– 2018 employment: 2,900
– Projected 2028 employment: 3,600
– Predicted annual job openings: 300

Careers in mathematics are in high demand and increasingly attractive because of the positive growth outlook in the industry, high levels of income, and low-stress work environment. More mathematicians in the future will be needed to analyze the growing amount of digital data that companies accumulate online and through mobile devices. Aspiring mathematicians should be sure to keep up to date with professional journals, attend trade conferences, and stay abreast of industry trends.

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#12. Genetic counselors

– Projected employment change: +800 (27% change)
– 2018 employment: 3,000
– Projected 2028 employment: 3,800
– Predicted annual job openings: 300

Genetic counselors work with patients who have or are at risk of having genetic disorders and help patients make informed decisions about their health. Like other professions in the health-care industry, genetic counselors are expected to be in high demand particularly in clinical, research, teaching, consulting, public health, and public policy spaces as patients look for specialists to provide them with a holistic assessment of their genetic risk. Today, most genetic counselors work with mothers who are planning pregnancies.

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#11. Physical therapist assistants

– Projected employment change: +26,700 (27.1% change)
– 2018 employment: 98,400
– Projected 2028 employment: 125,000
– Predicted annual job openings: 16,500

Physical therapist assistants are expected to be in higher demand in the coming future as the U.S. population ages and requires more services. Different from a physical therapist aide, a physical therapist assistant can provide physical therapy under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist and often participates in administrative activities like billing or risk management. Often, a physical therapist uses an assistant to help implement treatment and works side-by-side with the patient.

21 / 30 Pixel-Shot // Shutterstock

#10. Speech-language pathologists

– Projected employment change: +41,900 (27.3% change)
– 2018 employment: 153,700
– Projected 2028 employment: 195,600
– Predicted annual job openings: 13,500

The field of speech-language pathology is expected to balloon in the next decade alongside several trends, including an aging adult population that may be prone to medical conditions resulting in speech or swallowing problems. Additionally, thanks to medical advances, there are an increased number of stroke and trauma survivors that might require treatment for their speech as part of their rehabilitation. Plus, as the public becomes more aware of the importance of an early diagnosis of speech and language disorders, more young children may require treatment.

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#9. Nurse practitioners

– Projected employment change: +53,300 (28.2% change)
– 2018 employment: 189,100
– Projected 2028 employment: 242,400
– Predicted annual job openings: 16,900

There is expected to be a high demand for all nurses as the “baby boomer” population continues to age and requires more medical care. Nurse practitioners are especially in demand for team-based models of care. While physicians’ offices employ the largest percentage of nurse practitioners, there is also a need at nursing homes, urgent care centers, home health organizations, and Veterans Affairs hospitals.

23 / 30 U.S. Department of Agriculture // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Statisticians

– Projected employment change: +13,600 (30.7% change)
– 2018 employment: 44,400
– Projected 2028 employment: 58,000
– Predicted annual job openings: 5,300

While statistician careers are expected to grow steadily in the next decade as data becomes increasingly available and computing power grows stronger, statistician jobs actually grew more in the last decade at a whopping rate of 70%. Still, by 2025, it is projected that the amount of annual created data will be 10 times greater than in 2016. From 2015 to 2016, the number of undergraduates majoring in statistics increased 19%, but experts are concerned that that still might not meet demand.

24 / 30 Steve Pivnick // U.S. Air Force

#7. Physician assistants

– Projected employment change: +37,000 (31.1% change)
– 2018 employment: 118,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 155,700
– Predicted annual job openings: 11,500

Like other jobs in the health-care sector, physician assistants will be increasingly needed as the U.S. population grows older and needs more medical attention. Unlike a medical assistant, a physician assistant can examine patients, offer a diagnosis, administer vaccinations, provide follow-up counseling, and prescribe medications. In some areas with a shortage of doctors, physician assistants can even serve as the leading primary physician.

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#6. Information security analysts

– Projected employment change: +35,500 (31.6% change)
– 2018 employment: 112,300
– Projected 2028 employment: 147,700
– Predicted annual job openings: 12,800

Information security analysts are responsible for preventing cyber attacks and security breaches and keeping software up to date. Today, the highest concentration of these analysts is in Washington D.C., followed by New York City and Minneapolis. The largest employers of information security analysts are computer systems design services, finance and insurance, and company and enterprise managers.

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#5. Occupational therapy assistants

– Projected employment change: +14,500 (33.1% change)
– 2018 employment: 43,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 58,300
– Predicted annual job openings: 7,000

The job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is very positive, and occupational therapy assistant jobs are expected to grow steadily for the foreseeable future. Those considering a career in occupational therapy can expect to work with people of all ages, and have a great amount of career flexibility, with opportunities to work with children, people with disabilities, students, or people with behavioral issues.

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#4. Personal care aides

– Projected employment change: +881,000 (36.4% change)
– 2018 employment: 2,421,200
– Projected 2028 employment: 3,302,100
– Predicted annual job openings: 486,900

Personal care aides offer clients companionship and assistance with daily tasks and are often hired in addition to social and health-care workers. Unlike home health aides, however, personal care aides do not provide medical services. Personal care aides will be in high demand soon as the “baby boomer” population ages and older Americans may develop health and mobility problems and require assistance.

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#3. Home health aides

– Projected employment change: +304,800 (36.6% change)
– 2018 employment: 831,800
– Projected 2028 employment: 1,136,600
– Predicted annual job openings: 140,800

Many home health agencies have experienced staffing and retention issues, only adding to the already-present demand for caregivers. The home health aide occupation is expected to be the fastest-growing health-care industry job in the next decade. By 2026, about 1.2 million home health-care aides are expected to be added. The projected high demand will be due in part to the aging U.S. population, longer life expectancies, and more chronic health conditions.

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#2. Wind turbine service technicians

– Projected employment change: +3,800 (56.9% change)
– 2018 employment: 6,600
– Projected 2028 employment: 10,300
– Predicted annual job openings: 1,300

Wind turbine service technicians install, inspect, maintain, and operate wind turbines. In 2016, the job was the fastest-growing of the decade, with employment projected to double by 2026. Most wind turbine service technicians start their career at a technical school or achieve an associate’s degree at a community college and earn an average annual salary of $52,260.

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#1. Solar photovoltaic installers

– Projected employment change: +6,100 (63.3% change)
– 2018 employment: 9,700
– Projected 2028 employment: 15,800
– Predicted annual job openings: 2,200

Solar photovoltaic installers assemble, install, and repair solar panel systems, which convert sunlight to electricity and are a source of energy that is increasing in popularity. From 2016 to 2026, the job growth rate of solar photovoltaic installers is expected to be an astounding 105%, far and away surpassing the projected growth rate for all jobs projected by the BLS. The average solar photovoltaic installer earns an annual salary of about $39,240 per year.

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  • Hannah Lang

    Hannah Lang is a housing and finance reporter based in Washington, DC. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a journalism degree, and has been published in The Washington Post, CNN and National Geographic.

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