Hiring Growth for These 20 Jobs Has Exploded

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Even with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on many industries, some employers are still struggling to find workers in what had been the tightest labor market in 17 years. The competition for qualified applicants is even more fierce in high-demand industries.

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For example, the job market for healthcare careers remains robust amid an aging population that will need more health and medical care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows healthcare careers dominated the ranks of rapidly growing occupations. That’s no surprise, considering that the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to roughly double to 98.2 million between 2015 and 2060.

While some of the jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 — especially those in the hard-hit restaurant and oil and gas industries — prospects should brighten again once the pandemic is over.

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Last updated: Feb. 4, 2021

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20. Animal Caretakers

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 23%
  • 2019 median pay: $24,780 per year

Animal trainers teach animals numerous skills, ranging from obedience to assisting people with disabilities. Trainers also help animals become familiar with humans and respond to commands. Animal trainers don’t just work with common house and farm animals such as dogs and horses, but also with dolphins and other marine mammals.

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19. Cooks, Restaurant

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 23%
  • 2019 median pay: $27,790

This job category mainly includes assistant cooks and line cooks. Most of them work under chefs, head cooks or food service managers. In addition to cooking, they are also responsible for keeping kitchens clean and orderly before, during and after shifts.

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18. Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 24%
  • 2019 median pay: $45,270

Fire inspectors are in charge of making sure that buildings are up to code on federal, state and local fire codes. Inspectors visit buildings and look for fire hazards. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists specifically focus on outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas.

Learn: The Best Place To Work in Your State

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17. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 25%
  • 2019 median pay: $46,240

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are trained to help people who struggle with substance misuse disorders. They typically provide talk therapy or other forms of treatment and support to help clients recover from or change problem behaviors.

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16. Operations Research Analysts

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 25%
  • 2019 median pay: $84,810

Operations research analysts use mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems and improve decision-making. After identifying a problem, analysts collect relevant data, interview the people involved in the processes, and suggest different courses of action.

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15. Speech-Language Pathologists

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 25%
  • 2019 median pay: $79,120

Speech-language pathologists, also called speech therapists, help people with communication and swallowing disorders. Just like physicians, these pathologists assess, diagnose, treat and help to prevent disorders in children and adults. Causes often include stroke, brain injury and autism.

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14. Roustabouts, Oil and Gas

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 25%
  • 2019 median pay: $38,910

Roustabouts assemble and repair oil field equipment with hand and power tools. They might perform other tasks as needed. No special license or credential is required for this occupation, and most training is done on the job.

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13. Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 27%
  • 2019 median pay: $54,980

Rotary drill operations in the oil and gas industry are responsible for setting up and operating the drills necessary to remove underground oil and gas. They might also use drills to remove core samples for testing and exploration. No formal educational credential is required for this occupation, as much of it will be learned on the job.

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12. Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 31%
  • 2019 median pay: $46,990

Derrick operators assemble derrick equipment and work pumps that circulate mud or fluid through the drill hole. No formal credential is needed, as workers will get short-term on-the-job training.

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11. Data Scientists and Mathematical Science Occupations

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 31%
  • 2019 median pay: $94,280

Data scientists are hired to analyze data for actionable insights. This covers a variety of functions, including collecting and validating data for accuracy,  analyzing it to identify patterns and trends, and interpreting it to find solutions and opportunities. An estimated 88% of data scientists have at least a master’s degree, according to industry resource KDnuggets. Nearly half hold PhDs.


10. Information Security Analysts

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 31%
  • 2019 median pay: $99,730

Information security analysts plan and implement security measures to protect organizations’ computer networks and systems. Their duties and job opportunities are expanding amid an ongoing rise in cyber attacks. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Hiring managers typically prefer candidates with experience in a related occupation.

See: How the Coronavirus Is Devastating the Livelihood of Hourly Workers

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9. Physician Assistants

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 31%
  • 2019 median pay: $112,260

Physician assistants work in teams with doctors, surgeons and other healthcare workers to examine, diagnose and treat patients. Their specific duties varies by state, as does the level of supervision that might come from physicians or surgeons. These professionals typically need a master’s degree from an accredited program to land a job. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.

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8. Medical and Health Service Managers

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 32%
  • 2019 median pay: $100,980

As the job title suggests, medical and health services managers are responsible for coordinating medical and health services. Sometimes they manage an entire facility or medical practice; other times a specific clinical area or department. To be successful, medical and health services managers must stay on top of changes to healthcare laws, regulations and technologies.


7. Physical Therapist Assistants

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 33%
  • 2019 median pay: $58,790

Like physical therapist aides, PT assistants work with physical therapists to help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. All states require them to be licensed or certified.

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6. Home Health and Personal Care Aides

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 34%
  • 2019 median pay: $25,280

Home health aides and personal care aides assist people who have disabilities, are chronically ill, or have other cognitive impairments. Their responsibilities include assisting in the patient’s daily living activities, giving medication and checking the patient’s vital signs under the direction of another healthcare practitioner.

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5. Statisticians

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 35%
  • 2019 median pay: $91,160

As close cousins to mathematicians, statisticians perform many of the same tasks. These number crunchers also design surveys, questionnaires, experiments and opinion polls to collect data. More good news: working as a statistician is a historically low-stress and high-paying career.


4. Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 35%
  • 2019 median pay: $61,510

Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help patients develop, recover, maintain and sharpen the skills needed for living and working. Assistants need an associate degree from an accredited OT assistant program, and their practice is state regulated.

The relatively modest educational requirements and good pay could make this an attractive option for people considering a career switch.

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3. Solar Photovoltaic Installers

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 51%
  • 2019 median pay: $44,890

These professionals assemble, install and maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs and other structures to convert sunlight into electricity. Like other jobs in the solar industry, the future for these workers looks bright.

You don’t necessarily need an advanced degree to climb the career ladder in this field. PV installers require a high school diploma and typically receive on-the-job training. But the job outlook is particularly sunny for candidates who take photovoltaic training courses at technical schools or community colleges.


2. Nurse Practitioners

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 52%
  • 2019 median pay: $109,820

Nurse practitioners coordinate patient care and might also provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of their services varies from state to state. NPs must earn at least a master’s degree in their field. They must also hold a state license and pass a national certification exam.


1. Wind Turbine Service Technicians

  • Expected growth 2019-2029: 61%
  • 2019 median pay: $52,910

Wind turbine technicians, or windtechs for short, install, maintain and repair wind turbines. Most learn the ropes at technical schools and receive hands-on training on the ground and in the air. This a solid-paying pick for mechanically minded folks who aren’t afraid of heights. Working as a windtech is another high-paying job that only requires an associate degree.

The wind energy industry itself offers strong growth prospects. Wind generators accounted for 8% of the operating electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2016 — more than any other renewable energy source, including hydroelectricity. Moreover, wind has the potential to support more than 600,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance and supporting services by 2050, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy. So this isn’t a trend that’s going to blow over soon.

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Charlene Oldham contributed to the reporting for this article.