If you decided on a new career path today, wouldn’t you like to know which jobs will be in high demand and pay the most once you were out of school? To serve as a guide, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the best-paying jobs of the future. These jobs will grow the most in the next decade and have median incomes well above the national average. Almost without exception, these occupations will be in highest demand because of changes in the nation’s population and in the way the country’s businesses operate.
One change that will create high demands for some professions is the increasing amount of data available to businesses. It is expected to grow 50 times over the next decade, according to predictions from technology research firm IDC. In an effort to make sense of the vast quantities of information, businesses will need employees who can understand and organize the data in a meaningful way. Professions such as market research analysts and management analysts will be in high demand.
Another change is the aging population. This year, the first baby boomers turned 65. As this generation grays, their needs will change. Their growing numbers and increasing medical needs will require more health care professionals to care for them. In particular, doctors, nurses and dental hygienists will all be in much greater demand. These new retirees will also increasingly look for help from personal financial advisors to navigate their investments.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Employment Matrix, which provides projected growth between 2008 and 2018 for the Bureau’s 750 major job categories. We then identified the jobs that are going to add the largest number of new positions — at least a 20 percent increase — and then selected those that had a median annual income of at least $60,000. These reflect the best-paying jobs that will also have the highest demand for new workers in the future.
10. Personal financial advisors
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 62,800
Percentage increase: 30.1
Median income: $64,750
States with most jobs per capita: New York, Connecticut, Delaware
Personal financial advisors assist people with their taxes, investments, and insurance. According to the BLS, “Growing numbers of advisors will be needed to assist the millions of workers expected to retire in the next 10 years. As more members of the large baby boom generation reach their peak years of retirement savings, personal investments are expected to increase and more people will seek the help of experts.” By 2018, the number of personal financial advisors is expected to increase by more than 60,000, a 30 percent growth from 2008. This rate is well more than the national average of job growth of 10.1 percent. Because of the level of certification required, as well as the long hours and heavy traveling, advisors are paid well. The median wage for this position is $64,750.
9. Dental hygienists
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 62,900
Percentage increase: 36.1
Median income: $68,250
States with most jobs per capita: Michigan, Idaho, Utah
Dental hygienists work alongside of a dentists, cleaning teeth and assisting in surgeries. The position pays a median annual salary of nearly $70,000 — that’s without going to medical school. Many colleges have dental hygiene programs, most of which can be completed in less than four years. According to the BLS, “The demand for dental services will grow because of population growth, older people increasingly retaining more teeth, and a growing emphasis on preventative dental care.” In 2008, there were roughly 175,000 dental hygienists in the U.S. By 2018, that number is expected to increase to nearly 240,000, an increase of more than 36 percent.
8. Civil engineers
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 67,600
Percentage increase: 24.1
Median income: $77,650
States with most jobs per capita: Alaska, Washington, Colorado
While engineering jobs are expected to grow at roughly the national rate of 10 percent, the number of civil engineers is projected to grow at a rate two-and-a-half times faster. This is because this type of engineering, which involves overseeing transportation, municipal and industrial infrastructure development, is the most closely linked with population growth. By 2018, there will be nearly 70,000 new positions in the U.S.
7. Market research analysts
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 70,100
Percentage increase: 28.1
Median income: $60,570
States with most jobs per capita: District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts
Market analysts work with large companies to provide insight into demographics and target audiences. Over the next decade, these individuals are expected to be in hot demand. According to the BLS, “Market research analysts, the larger specialty, will experience much faster than average job growth because competition between companies seeking to expand their market and sales of their products will generate a growing need for marketing professionals.” By 2018, there will be more than 70,000 new such positions. The job has a median income of more than $60,000 and only requires a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s or PhD. is helpful.
6. Computer systems analysts
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 108,100
Percentage increase: 20.3
Median income: $77,740
States with most jobs per capita: Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey
Computer systems analysts build and manage computer networks for companies for use in file sharing and inter-office communication. They also maintain web security within the network. This position, only 30-years-old, is expected to grow by 20 percent, adding nearly 110,000 jobs before the end of this decade. While an increasing number of businesses are requiring bachelor’s degrees, it is still very possible to get a job as a systems analyst with just a high school diploma and some certification. The median annual income, $77,740, is also one of the best salaries one can get without a college degree.
5. Physicians and surgeons
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 144,100
Percentage increase: 21.8
Median income: $94,000-$153,000
States with most jobs per capita: New Mexico, West Virginia, Wyoming
Some areas don’t have enough medical professionals, and the need for them will only increase as the population grows by several million each year. According to the BLS, “In addition to job openings from employment growth, openings will result from the need to replace the relatively high number of physicians and surgeons expected to retire over the 2008-18 decade.” The level of training required to become a licensed doctor or surgeon is one of the most difficult, but the potential payoff is high. Depending on whether they are neural surgeons or general practitioners, doctors’ salaries range widely, but they are without exception lucrative. Of the different kinds of doctors, the lowest median wage is $94,000.
4. Computer applications software engineers
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 175,100
Percentage increase: 34
Median income: 94,180
States with most jobs per capita: Washington, Colorado, Virginia
In the age of the mobile app and cloud computing, few positions are becoming as essential as software application developers. In 2008, 514,000 people worked in this position. By 2018, the BLS National Employment Matrix projects there will be 175,000 additional positions. According to the BLS’s description of the job prospects for software developers, “As a result of rapid employment growth over the 2008 to 2018 decade, job prospects for computer software engineers should be excellent. Those with practical experience and at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field should have the best opportunities.” Those willing to put in the time to get certified will be well compensated. The median annual income is nearly $100,000.
3. Management analysts
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 178,300
Percentage increase: 23.9
Median income: $78,160
States with most jobs per capita: Massachusetts, New York, Georgia
Management analysts act as consultants for businesses, aiding them in the process of navigating their industries, operating efficiently, and maintaining fluid inventory. According to the BLS, “Employment of management analysts is expected to grow by 24 percent, much faster than the average, over the 2008-18 decade, as industry and government increasingly rely on outside expertise to improve the performance of their organizations.” With more than 178,000 positions expected to be added by 2018 and a median annual income of nearly $80,000, management analysis is one of the most promising careers to pursue.
2. Accountants and auditors
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 279,400
Percentage increase: 21.6
Median income: $61,690
States with most jobs per capita: District of Columbia, Colorado, Delaware
There are very few business that do not make use of an accountant to manage their books, tax payments, and prepare financial statements. To date, there are more than a million accountants and auditors in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow by more than a quarter million. According to the BLS, “An increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws and corporate governance regulations, and increased accountability for protecting an organization's stakeholders will drive job growth.” Becoming a certified accountant requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field as well as certification. But accountants have a median annual income of more than $60,000, with the top tier making more than $100,000.
1. Registered nurses
Total new jobs (2008-2018): 581,500
Percentage increase: 22.2
Median income: $64,690
States with most jobs per capita: Rhode Island, South Dakota, Massachusetts
Registered nurses provide basic medical treatment, manage patient records, and are the primary providers of long-term care for patients. Like dental hygienists, registered nurses are not required to have medical licenses, but still earn healthy salaries. While the number of doctors and surgeons is expected to jump by 144,000 by 2018, the number of nurses is truly set to explode. According to the BLS, “Growth will be driven by technological advances in patient care, which permit a greater number of health problems to be treated, and by an increasing emphasis on preventive care. In addition, the number of older people, who are much more likely than younger people to need nursing care, is projected to grow rapidly.”