America's Fastest-Growing Careers & Industries: Find a Job With a Bright Outlook

America's Fastest Growing Careers & IndustriesPicking a career path and going to school is a huge decision. Discovering the fastest-growing careers and industries in the country is a smart move. It can mean the difference between opening yourself up to almost unlimited potential versus graduating from college only to find limited opportunities in your chosen field.

The good news is that the top-growing careers in America are not clustered in one or two industries. They are quite spread out and diverse, which means that there are opportunities for people with a variety of backgrounds, interests, and professional goals. You can find opportunities in sectors like health care, information technology, business services, and the skilled trades. Some of the fastest-growing jobs are highly creative. Others are highly technical. Some are hands-on, while others are more introspective and interpersonal. So it is likely that you can keep true to yourself while still choosing a career field that is full of potential.

Take a moment to discover America's top five fastest-growing industries, top 10 fastest-growing careers, and 10 careers with a large number of future openings. Doing so could inspire you to take your career in a new direction—a direction that leads to a future filled with success!

(Job growth projections and total job openings are for the decade between 2016 and 2026.1 And the average hourly earnings provided are based on May 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.2)

Top 5 Fastest-Growing Industries

Top 5 Fastest-Growing IndustriesThere are many vibrant and robust industries found across the country that are experiencing substantial growth. They offer some of the best jobs and brightest futures for Americans.

Take a look at five of the fastest-growing industries in America to get a better idea of where you may want to focus your career training and job search efforts.

1. Health Care and Social Assistance

It is estimated that, from 2014 to 2024, total job growth within the health care and social assistance industry will be 21 percent. And, based on May 2017 data, the average hourly earnings across the sector are $26.44.3 The potential for good job opportunities and earnings is being fueled by the growing number of Americans who require health care and social assistance services. Just consider that:

  • By 2030, it is estimated that Americans aged 65 years and older will account for 20 percent of the country's population.4
  • Over 25 percent of all Americans and more than 33 percent of seniors have been diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions. Treatment of chronic conditions accounts for 66 percent of the health care budget in America.4
  • As of 2012, over 20 percent of Americans use government assistance programs each month.5

There is immense pressure on the health care and social assistance system. That means that the need for skilled professionals within the sector will continue increasing over the years in order to meet the demand for services from the population.

2. Construction

It is estimated that the construction industry will experience 12.9-percent growth in the number of jobs that are available from 2014 to 2024. And, based on May 2017 data, workers in the construction industry earn an average of $28.69 per hour.3 So there is definitely potential to find good job opportunities and earn great money.

That is largely due to the fact that, as of 2013, the U.S. has the second-biggest construction market in the world. Annual construction spending in the country exceeds $900 billion.6 New housing starts in July 2016 were 5.6 percent higher than in July 2015. And the total value of construction in July 2016 was over $1.1 billion, which is 1.5 percent higher than the previous year.5 That includes all private and public residential and non-residential construction.

Based on strong construction starts in 2016 and future job estimates, you could expect to find excellent opportunities to expand your career in this fast-growing sector.

3. Professional and Business Services

Small firms (i.e., those with fewer than 500 employees) make up a large part of the business climate in America. In fact, there are almost 31 million small businesses across the country. Collectively, they create about 65 percent of all new jobs. And they employ more than 47 percent of the private workforce.7

So it should really come as no surprise that the professional and business services sector is expecting jobs to grow in number by 9.9 percent from 2014 to 2024. And many of those jobs are well-paying. Just consider that employees in this sector earn an average hourly wage of $31.54, based on May 2017 data.3 Additionally, due to the size and scope of the industry, the job opportunities can be quite interesting and diverse.

4. Leisure and Hospitality

It is no wonder that the leisure and hospitality sector is expecting 6.4-percent job growth considering that the U.S. has a 15-percent share of global traveler spending. The country has a more than six-percent share of world travelers, which is second only to France. The large majority of the nation's visitors are coming from Canada and Mexico, and the most-visited states are New York, Florida, and California.8 Here are some additional facts that highlight the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the American economy. In 2015:9

  • Domestic and international travelers spent more than $945 billion in the U.S.
  • Over eight million jobs were directly supported by those expenditures, and seven million more were indirectly supported in other industries.
  • Traveler spending generated more than $230 billion in wages and salaries for American workers.
  • Federal, state, and local governments generated almost $150 billion in tax revenues from traveler spending.
  • American households would have to pay $1,192 more in annual taxes without the tax revenue that was generated from the travel and tourism sector.

Leisure and hospitality workers earn an average of $15.41 per hour, based on May 2017 data.3 However, the industry is comprised of many entry-level minimum-wage positions, so it is important to keep in mind that good earning opportunities still exist. For example, on average, casino gaming managers earn $40.99 an hour, lodging managers make $29.94 per hour, food service managers earn $28.35 an hour, and head chefs make $25.08 per hour.

5. Finance

The finance sector provides the backbone for the U.S. economy, which is the largest in the world. In 2014, the finance and insurance market contributed more than $1.2 trillion to the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The sector also directly employed more than six million people in 2015. Additionally, more than 25 percent of the world's Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the U.S., which is largely attributed to the country's robust and competitive financial services sector making it beneficial for corporations to operate here.10

So it is no wonder that the finance sector is anticipating jobs to grow in number by 6.4 percent from 2014 to 2024. And finance workers are some of the best-paid in the country. Based on May 2017 data, they earned an average of $32.91 per hour.3 If you want to join one of the country's most important and influential industries, then this could certainly be a great time for you to make your move.

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Careers

Top 10 Fastest-Growing CareersThe fastest-growing jobs in the country are found within a variety of industries and can appeal to all different kinds of people. Opportunities can be found in just about any field, from green energy to health care. So take a moment to explore 10 of the top-growing careers in the nation in order to find out which professions appeal to you.

1. Wind Turbine Technician

When it comes to growing careers, wind turbine technician definitely tops the list. That's because the wind energy industry is one of the fastest-growing alternative energy markets. In fact, from 2008 to 2018, wind power in the U.S. grew by more than 300 percent. So in 2017 alone, this industry accounted for about 105,500 jobs throughout America and Puerto Rico.11 And those numbers are expected to grow.

From 2009 to 2017, the average price of wind energy in the U.S. dropped by over 70 percent due to lower wind turbine prices, lower installation costs, and improved capacity.12 So more efficient pricing and operations are leading to an increase in the demand for wind energy. Growth has also been fueled by a production tax credit (PTC) that is due to remain in place until at least 2022. The U.S. Department of Energy is estimating that total installed wind capacity will increase by more than 565 percent from 2013 to 2050.13

Now is a great time for you to begin a career in which you can help create a greener world for future generations by reducing harmful emissions. And preparing to enter the wind energy sector doesn't take as long as you might expect. Most programs can be completed in one to two years. That's all the time you may need to prepare for a fun and meaningful career that is full of potential. You could soon be working on the leading edge of green technology by playing a part in installing, maintaining, and repairing wind turbines.

  • Job growth—96 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$27.88
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

2. Occupational Therapy Assistant or Aide

With health care being one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the nation, it likely doesn't come as a shock that the industry offers many excellent opportunities. Of the health-related growing careers, occupational therapy assistants and aides lead the group. And that is partly due to the fact that they help people retain and improve their mobility, which is highly important among an aging population. The work of an occupational therapy assistant or aide can allow a client to continue living at home instead of having to go into an extended care facility.

Occupational therapy assistants have a more hands-on role with patients than aides do. As an assistant, you may get to carry out tasks like teaching patients how to use their equipment, helping patients with their exercises and stretches, assisting children with developmental disabilities, and working with the occupational therapist to monitor patients' progress.

Occupational therapy aides have an important support role as well, but it is in more of an administrative capacity. You will likely work at the front desk and take on tasks related to insurance, billing, and scheduling. You could also be responsible for setting up treatment rooms and then helping patients get to and from those areas. Whether you want to be an aide or assistant, in two years or less, you could complete your training and be ready to take on a growing and important career.

  • Job growth—28 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$29.04 for assistants and $15.66 for aides
  • Typical education requirements—Diploma or associate degree

3. Physical Therapy Assistant or Aide

Physical therapy assistance is another one of the booming careers within the health care sector. Like those who work in occupational therapy, physical therapy professionals help people recover from injuries and illnesses so that they can improve their movement and reduce their pain. As a physical therapist assistant, you could expect to have more of a hands-on role that involves working with patients, whereas aides tend to work more behind the scenes.

Physical therapist assistants help patients complete their exercises and treatments. You would also observe their movements, monitor their progress, and report your findings back to the physical therapist. You may also offer treatments like massage to patients and provide patient education regarding activities outside of treatment. As an aide, you will likely take on more of a support role in which you prepare and clean treatment areas, wash linens, sterilize equipment, and handle front office procedures like scheduling appointments and billing insurance companies.

  • Job growth—30 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$27.77 for assistants and $13.70 for aides
  • Typical education requirements—Diploma or associate degree

4. Home Health Aide

Senior and elderly care is one of the fastest-growing career fields, and that is one of the biggest reasons why home health aides are in high demand. Home health aides are the people who take care of the day-to-day tasks in care homes and other nursing facilities that house seniors, the elderly, and adults with debilitating illnesses and disabilities. You could be responsible for helping your patients get dressed, eat their meals, and use the bathroom. Administering medication, checking vital signs, tidying rooms, arranging transportation, and keeping patients engaged with social activities are all potential responsibilities of home health aides as well.

You have a number of educational options to choose from in order to prepare to become a home health aide. Many people opt to take patient care technician programs in order to acquire the necessary skills. Nursing assistant or aide programs could also prepare you for this career path. And many of them take a year or less to complete. So it may not take long for you to begin making a positive impact for other people who are in need of compassionate care.

  • Job growth—47 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$12.18
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

5. Commercial Diver

Commercial diving is one of the fastest-growing jobs in America, and it is also one of the most fascinating and adventurous jobs. As a commercial diver, you will likely travel around the country—and even the world—getting to work in locations that the majority of Americans will never be able to see. You could work under water to complete tasks like building new construction, completing welding repairs, and retrieving underwater wreckage.

There are a few different types of divers. Two of the more common types are offshore and onshore divers. Offshore divers are the most common, and they typically work for oil and gas companies. As a result, the states with the highest rates of employment are Florida, California, and Texas.2 However, onshore divers work in freshwater locations like rivers and lakes. Two of the most common types of projects that they work on are bridges and dams.

Although it is not necessary in order to get started, many people who work as commercial divers have backgrounds in scuba diving. Depending on your diving background, you could complete a commercial diving program in less than a year. But you may need to complete at least some scuba diver training in order to qualify for a commercial diving program.

  • Job growth—11 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$28.59
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate

6. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners play an increasingly important role within the medical system, and that is why they are listed as having one of the fast-growing careers. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses (APRNs), and they often perform a lot of the same duties as doctors. Your responsibilities could include creating patient care plans, performing physical examinations, ordering diagnostic tests and analyzing the results, prescribing medications, and consulting with other medical professionals regarding patient care plans and treatments.

To become a nurse practitioner, you will require a high level of education and experience. Most nurse practitioners start out in the field as licensed practical nurses or registered nurses. You need to be a licensed RN in order to become a nurse practitioner, and you will also need to have a master's or doctorate degree. Once you get to that level, you can enjoy the excellent pay and job opportunities that come with being able to provide high-quality patient care.

  • Job growth—36 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$52.90
  • Typical education requirements—Master's degree

7. Physician Assistant

As the demand for health care increases, so do the demands for doctors' services. And doctors simply cannot keep up with those demands. That is why physician assistance has become one of the top-growing jobs. Physician assistants take on responsibilities related to examining, diagnosing, and treating patients, which means carrying out many of the same tasks that physicians do. In some communities where there are severe doctor shortages, physician assistants may be the only primary care providers.

Most physician assistants have worked in other areas of health care prior to advancing their careers. Although a bachelor's degree may be accepted in some circumstances, you will likely need to earn a master's degree in order to become a certified physician assistant. But meeting the experience and education requirements is definitely a worthwhile investment considering the amount of earning potential and job opportunities that it could open you up to.

  • Job growth—37 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$52.13
  • Typical education requirements—Bachelor's or master's degree

8. Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts help organizations operate more efficiently, productively, and profitably. They use mathematical, scientific, and statistical analysis in order to identify and solve an organization's problems. Operations research analysts require strong analytical, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills, and they often hold degrees in areas related to business administration, computer science, engineering, mathematics, or statistics.

Operations research analysis is listed as one of the fast-growing jobs because the position is valued among a variety of industries ranging from business and information technology to health care and manufacturing. In an increasingly competitive world, a growing number of companies want to achieve more efficient operations, and they turn to operations research analysts to help make that happen. You could be involved at almost any level of an organization in order to identify and analyze problems and develop effective solutions. You will likely find the work quite stimulating since no problem is ever the same.

  • Job growth—27 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$42.48
  • Typical education requirements—Bachelor's or master's degree

9. Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advising is one of the fastest-growing professions for a couple of reasons. The first is that the country's population is aging. More baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and that is driving a demand for personal financial planning services. The other reason is that more people are becoming aware of the importance of saving for retirement, but many of those people need professional help with choosing the right retirement savings plans. And they often turn to personal financial advisors for that help.

As a personal financial advisor, you will likely work with a variety of clients in order to identify their savings and investment goals so that you can help them set up plans that are in line with their needs. You will need strong knowledge of all of the different financial tools and products since you could be helping your clients with anything from reducing debt to purchasing real estate to saving for college. That said, you may also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as retirement planning or wealth management.

  • Job growth—15 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$58.54
  • Typical education requirements—Associate or bachelor's degree

10. Web Developer

Web developers and designers are both creative and technical professionals. And with the explosive growth of the Internet in recent years, it should be no surprise to find this position among the fastest-growing occupations. After all, when a company needs an appealing and impactful website, they typically seek the services of a web developer or designer.

As a web developer, you could find quite a few different employment options. For example, you could work for one employer who has a high-traffic, dynamic website that requires the focus of a dedicated designer. Or you could work for an agency that has many clients who require a variety of different web services. Or you could even go into business for yourself, find your own clients, and work on a freelance or contract basis. Enhancing your web design and development knowledge can help you pursue any of those options.

Along with possessing solid artistic and technical abilities, you could also benefit from developing people skills. That could help you better communicate with your clients in order to identify their needs and desires. And it could help you work with other team members, such as copywriters who may be providing the site's content. By strengthening your web design or development skills, you could play a part in helping shape the future of the Internet.

  • Job growth—15 percent
  • Average hourly pay—$36.34
  • Typical education requirements—Associate or bachelor's degree

10 Careers With a Large Number of Future Openings

10 Careers With a Large Number of Future OpeningsAlong with the fastest-growing careers detailed above, you may want to check out 10 more professional fields that are expecting a large number of future openings. They are considered booming careers because it is anticipated that they will have a combination of strong job growth and high employee replacement needs, which is largely due to workers retiring. So here are 10 more positions that are worth your consideration.

1. Registered Nurse

Registered nurses take on a critical role by providing direct patient care in a variety of different health care settings. Due to the immense number of expected job openings, you will likely find opportunities among employers ranging from hospitals and doctors' offices to schools and community health clinics. You can perform fulfilling and engaging work in unison with physicians and other medical professionals. And you may even choose to specialize in a specific area of interest, like addictions, labor and delivery, or rehabilitation.

  • Total job openings—438,100
  • Average hourly wage—$36.30
  • Typical education requirements—Associate or bachelor's degree

2. Nursing Assistant

With the growing demand for medical services throughout the country, the need for nursing assistants is increasing as well. You can position yourself among other nursing professionals who work hard to deliver high-quality care to patients. And it does not take long to prepare for entering the field. In a year or less, you could be ready to take on jobs that have you helping patients carry out their day-to-day activities and assisting nurses with other basic medical care tasks.

  • Total job openings—173,400
  • Average hourly wage—$14.22
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

3. Accountant

As the business world evolves, globalizes, and becomes more complex, the need for professional accountants becomes stronger. A growing economy, emerging international markets, and evolving tax laws and regulations mean that a lot of organizations are turning to accountants for help with ensuring that they are following laws, keeping accurate financial records, and paying taxes accordingly. And, as an accountant, you can set up efficient accounting practices in order to help an organization identify how to save and make money.

  • Total job openings—139,900
  • Average hourly wage—$37.89
  • Typical education requirements—Associate or bachelor's degree

4. Childcare Worker

If you love working with children, then this could be an opportune time to pursue a career as a childcare worker. The field is expecting a high number of openings, and you can likely prepare to enter the sector quickly since most career training programs are quite short. Along with opportunities in a variety of childcare facilities, you could also have the potential to go into business for yourself. Many people just like you choose to open home-based childcare businesses, and this can be especially ideal if you have your own small children at home. Either way, you could soon be offering important services to other parents and enjoying the love and laughter that comes with taking care of children.

  • Total job openings—84,300
  • Average hourly wage—$11.83
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

5. Truck Driver

Not everyone is cut out for a typical office job, and that may include you. The good news is that there are a lot of options for people who have no desire to work at a desk all day long. Truck driving is one of those options. As a commercial truck driver, you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with spending your days out on the open road hauling goods from one destination to another. The opportunities that you may find within the field can range from short hauls that have you driving within your city or region to long hauls that could require you to be on the road and away from home for several days at a time.

  • Total job openings—108,400
  • Average hourly wage—$21.91
  • Typical education requirements—Completion of CDL training

6. Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants have important jobs that help keep organizations running smoothly. They can be assigned a variety of tasks in the front office and behind the scenes. You could be responsible for supporting executives, managers, and other staff members at all levels of an organization. Answering phones, responding to emails, scheduling appointments, managing files, preparing reports, and supervising office staff are just a few examples of the many tasks that you could be responsible for completing. Administrative assistants are needed in almost any industry, but some of the largest employment opportunities are found with elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions, as well as government organizations.2

  • Average annual job openings—244,300 (not including jobs in the medical and legal sectors)
  • Average hourly wage—$18.28
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

7. Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse

10 Careers With a Large Number of Future OpeningsLicensed practical and vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work at a level in between nursing assistants and RNs. They support RNs and other health care professionals by carrying out important tasks like taking vital signs, collecting samples for lab work, and observing patients and maintaining their records. Like the other nursing professions, you could find job opportunities in settings like hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes.

  • Total job openings—88,900
  • Average hourly wage—$22.62
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

8. Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform essential support services in clinical settings in order to free up the doctors' and other health care providers' time so that they can focus on offering essential care. You may be responsible for handling administrative responsibilities like scheduling appointments, processing insurance forms, and updating patients' records. However, depending on your training and type of organization that you work for, you may also have clinical responsibilities such as measuring patients' vital signs, preparing patients for exams, and even assisting doctors with those exams.

  • Total job openings—183,900
  • Average hourly wage—$16.61
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

9. Software Developer

Software development is a field that offers both excellent job opportunities and earning potential. It is a profession that offers you the chance to develop both your creative and technical expertise. You can see the software development cycle through from start to finish—from identifying an organization's needs to creating software products to implementing and updating the software systems or applications that you have developed. You may choose to specialize in either applications or systems software development. And, depending on your specialty, you could find openings with organizations like computer systems designers, software publishers, and manufacturers. You may also find jobs within IT departments for large corporations or public organizations.

  • Total job openings—255,400 for applications developers and 47,100 for systems software developers
  • Average hourly wage—$54.81 for systems software developers and $51.96 for applications developers
  • Typical education requirement—Bachelor's degree

10. Automotive Service Technician

The skilled trades sector is well-known for having a lot of future job openings, and automotive service technology is one of the careers that tops the list. Using your hands, a variety of tools, and modern diagnostic equipment, you could be responsible for diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining a wide range of cars and trucks. It is important for you to have extensive knowledge of the different kinds of tools and equipment used in the field because today's vehicles are increasingly complex and often have several different types of electronics systems. By gaining professional repair skills, you could be ready to pursue job opportunities with vehicle dealerships and auto mechanic shops. Or you could join the roughly 10 percent of auto mechanics who run their own businesses.2

  • Total job openings—45,900
  • Average hourly wage—$21.02
  • Typical education requirements—Certificate or diploma

Start Preparing to Excel in a New Career

Are you feeling the excitement? The inspiring feeling that comes from knowing that there are a lot of options for fast-growing careers that can offer you incredible opportunities? Keep that feeling going by discovering the training possibilities that can help lead you to the new job that you want so badly. All you need to do is enter your zip code below to find out which programs are being offered at schools near you!

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, website last visited on December 12, 2018.

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on June 18, 2019.

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Industries at a Glance, website last visited on August 24, 2017.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), website last visited on December 13, 2016.

5 United States Census Bureau, website last visited on September 19, 2016.

6 Statista, Statistics and Facts about Construction in the U.S., website last visited on September 19, 2016.

7 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), "What's New With Small Business?," website last visited on November 27, 2019.

8 National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), "Fast Facts: United States Travel and Tourism Industry 2014," website last visited on September 19, 2016.

9 U.S. Travel Association, Research, website last visited on September 19, 2016.

10 SelectUSA, "The Financial Services Industry in the United States," website last visited on September 19, 2016.

11 American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), "Wind Facts at a Glance," website last visited on September 11, 2018.

12 U.S. Department of Energy, 2017 Wind Technologies Market Report, website last visited on October 11, 2018.

13 U.S. Department of Energy, website last visited on March 2, 2018.