The Best and Worst Careers in 2021

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to find new ways to work. We turned our dining rooms into home offices, changed careers after ours were shuttered. The job market in 2021 was about building on the priorities and realities that emerged last year.

And 2021 showed us which career fields could provide long-term stability in terms of job availability and pay — and the others that are on the downslide — giving those starting out or transitioning in their careers a clear direction and a path to follow.

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So just what were some of the hot, and not-so-hot – jobs of 2021? The projected job growth from 2020-30 and the annual median pay are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The Best Jobs of 2021

Some of the highest-growth jobs of 2021 involved data, medical and technology professions.


Projected Job Growth: 33%

Median Pay: $93,290

Businesses, hospitals, the government and other organizations are storing extensive data to help them in operations and planning. Statisticians are key to interpreting data and helping to implement the results as part of a long-term planning strategy.

Information Security Analyst

Projected Job Growth: 33%

Median Pay: $103,590

The stockpiling of all this data has led to the need to keep it safe. Information security analysts plan and implement ways to protect an organizations computer network and other systems — a crucial job in the wake of a growing number of cyberattacks.

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Projected Job Growth: 30%

Median Pay: $76,270

Disruptions in the supply chain over the past several months have put how we move goods from point A to point B under the microscope. A logistician is responsible for managing a product’s life cycle through the supply chain, which includes the acquisition, allocation and delivery of the item.

“These experts can find problems in the transportation of goods and find solutions or even alternatives when supply chains are disrupted,” said Richard Latimer, the CEO of Veritas Buyers. “Many people are looking for these jobs and skills with the disruption of the supply chains in 2021. … It is probably one of the most valuable skills a person could have.”

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Marketing Manager

Projected Job Growth: 10%

Median Pay: $141,490

Marketing products and services in an increasingly competitive online world requires a strategy to reach potential customers.

“As a result of the pandemic, companies that didn’t have a strong online presence before needed one to survive. As a result, the digital marketing market became a hive of job opportunities for candidates with digital strategy and brand management skills,” said Cindy Deuser, human resources director at Thrive, an internet marketing agency.

Physical Therapist

Projected Job Growth: 21%

Median Pay: $91,010

For many COVID-19 survivors, physical therapy became a key part of their recovery in 2021. With weakness and deconditioning affecting many COVID-19 patients, physical therapists work with them on strength, balance and other issues.

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Web Developer

Projected Job Growth: 13%

Median Pay: $77,200

As of August 2021, there were 1.88 billion websites, per Statista — and the number keeps growing. Web developers work on the back end of a website, doing the technical stuff needed to get a site up and running, or on the front end, which what people see. The growth in the number of websites undoubtedly is linked to the number of businesses formed since the start of the pandemic. Americans filed the paperwork to start 4.3 million business last year, The New York Times reported. And it isn’t slowing down. In October 2021, more than 432,101 applications were filed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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The Worst Jobs of 2021

With the shift away from the traditional workplace – and the continued growth in technology — it’s no surprise some of these jobs are dropping in numbers.

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Projected Job Growth: -7%

Median Pay: $40,990

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says jobs in this category are declining because technology has made it easier for employees of many companies to prepare their own documents – something a secretary traditionally did — without assistance. Medical secretaries will remain in demand, however, as a mirror of the growth in the healthcare industry, per the BLS.

Data Entry Keyers

Projected Job Growth: -22%

Median Pay: $34,440

People who work in data entry use both typing skills and voice recordings for inputting data into a computer. Data entry isn’t limited to just one field; rather, people can work in finance, healthcare, transportation and more industries.

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Nuclear Engineers

Projected Job Growth: -8%

Median Pay: $116,140

Nuclear engineers research and develop ways nuclear energy can be of benefit. However, there is less of a need for nuclear engineers as utilities are shifting to cheaper natural gas as well as renewable energy, the BLS reports.

Claims Adjusters

Projected Job Growth: -3%

Median Pay: $68,270

People who work as claims adjusters and with related job titles inspect properties with a pending insurance claim, such as cars. The number of jobs is expected to decline as enhanced computer software evaluates some photos of damaged property to determine claims to be paid.

Masonry Workers

Projected Job Growth: -2%

Median Pay: $47,710

While jobs in the construction sector remain strong, changes in building technology have made masonry workers less necessary. Masons install stone and brick, but innovations such as prefabricated panels and thin bricks are reducing the demand for these professionals, the BLS reports.

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Postal Workers

Projected Job Growth: -9%

Median Pay: $51,150

The drop in the amount of mail we send, fueled by email and electronic bill pay, means the postal service needs fewer people to sort and deliver mail and sell stamps. The post office also has improved new mail sorting technology and turned toward mailboxes in a cluster, which cuts down on door-to-door delivery.

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About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a communications degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor at daily newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor — and more. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still weighing whether to take the plunge into selling homes — or just writing about selling homes.
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