31 High-Demand Jobs in 2020 for Almost Every Type of Person
By Crystal Lee
| Last Updated December 15, 2020
Exploring high-demand jobs is a good move for anyone trying to decide on a career path. After all, if you look through the careers in demand in 2020 and find one that draws on your interests and passions, your future could be one of unlimited potential. And since in-demand jobs can be found in a wide variety of industries, from hospitality and health care to technology and the skilled trades, you have plenty of career options to consider.
And things are looking good for job seekers in America. Unemployment rates are low, and job opportunities are expanding. A survey by ManpowerGroup found that employers in 12 different industry sectors expected to hire new staff in the first quarter of 2021; a full 21 percent of employers planned to add to their payrolls during that time.
But, specifically, what jobs are in high demand, you ask? We've identified the top jobs in demand overall based on the largest occupational change; that is, the largest number of projected new job openings. We've also broken down the list of most needed jobs by sector—starting with the skilled trades—so that you can easily see which careers might match your particular interests. In total, we've detailed 31 of the best careers for 2020.
Of course, before you can launch yourself into any career, you need to find the appropriate training. That's why we've included a list of the most in-demand degrees that employers are looking for. If you're on the fence about what you should study or what field you should pursue, looking through the list of majors that are in highest demand might help you decide.
- The most in-demand degrees in 2020
- Top 10 jobs in demand overall
- Other high-demand jobs in 2020, divided by sector:
- How to change careers
The Most In-Demand Degrees in 2020
According to the most recent report available from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI), employers who planned to hire in 2018-2019 said that the following majors were the most in-demand at their companies. (The percentage represents the number of respondents who indicated they would hire at least one grad from each subject area.)
- Computer science: 61 percent
- Business: 56 percent
- Engineering: 54 percent
- Communications (including public relations and advertising): 52 percent
- Arts, humanities, and liberal arts: 47 percent
- Data analytics: 45 percent
- Science: 45 percent
- Education: 39 percent
- Social science: 36 percent
- Health science: 30 percent
- Agriculture and natural resources: 29 percent
Top 10 Jobs in Demand Overall
The most in-demand jobs run the gamut from health-related jobs to service positions to computer science careers. What they all have in common is a huge number of openings that need to be filled. The top jobs in demand in 2020 include:
1. Personal care aide
At the top of the list of highest-demand jobs is personal care aide. As the population ages, hundreds of thousands of these aides are needed to help people with daily living tasks like bathing, brushing teeth, or using the bathroom. Personal care aides also handle light housekeeping tasks like preparing meals, washing dishes, and changing sheets. There are no formal educational requirements, but training as a patient care technician can be helpful. It's important to be compassionate, dependable, and trustworthy.
- Total new job openings: 881,000
- Average salary: $26,440
2. Fast food preparation and serving worker
This is one of those careers that will always be in demand as long as people continue to lead busy lives and opt for the convenience of take-out meals or quick-service restaurants. These workers greet customers, take orders, get beverages, heat food items, and process payments. They also answer questions about menu items and keep work areas clean. You'll need good communication and customer service skills for this job.
- Total new job openings: 640,100
- Average salary: $23,250
3. Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nursing consistently ranks among the most in-demand careers every year. RNs evaluate patient symptoms, run diagnostic tests, administer medications and treatments, and teach patients how to manage illness. Nurses typically work in hospitals, doctors' offices, or specialized clinics. All registered nurses must be licensed; you'll need to graduate from an approved nursing program first.
- Total new job openings: 371,500
- Average salary: $77,460
4. Home health aide
Like personal care aides, home health aides help people with daily living tasks and general housekeeping duties. The difference is that home health aides can also provide basic health services such as checking vital signs, administering medication, or helping with simple exercises (under the supervision of a nurse). Getting training as a patient care technician is a good foundation for this career. Those that work for a certified home health or hospice agency must pass a standardized test to be certified.
- Total new job openings: 304,800
- Average salary: $26,440
5. Restaurant cook
Eating out continues to be a popular activity. So all kinds of new and existing restaurants are often on the lookout for new hires to place in their commercial kitchens.
- Total new job openings: 299,000
- Average salary: $28,700
6. Applications software developer
The rapidly expanding need for new apps on mobile devices makes application software development one of the best careers to get into in 2020. These professionals create, test, and fix the software that people use, which could be anything from simple mobile games to complex accounting programs. You'll need good analytical and problem-solving skills to succeed in this job.
- Total new job openings: 241,500
- Average salary: $111,620
7. Waiter or waitress
Full-service restaurants will continue to need waiters and waitresses who can serve food and drinks and ensure that patrons have a pleasant dining experience. That could mean offering menu suggestions to people with allergies or recommending a wine to go with a customer's meal. Many servers earn a large portion of their compensation through tips.
- Total new job openings: 170,200
- Average salary: $26,800
8. General manager
Plenty of businesses need general managers to formulate policies and oversee daily operations, so it's not surprising that these are high-demand careers. These executives are responsible for developing strategy, creating budgets, and scheduling staff. You'll need strong leadership abilities to take advantage of the opportunities in this field. Many general managers have advanced degrees such as an MBA.
- Total new job openings: 165,000 (for all general and operations managers)
- Average salary: $123,030
Keeping stores, schools, hospitals, and other public buildings in good condition will require the services of a huge number of janitors in the years ahead. These workers wash windows and floors, clean restrooms, and sweep sidewalks. Some also make minor repairs to heating or plumbing systems. Those who run their own contracting businesses will likely find many opportunities.
- Total new job openings: 159,800
- Average salary: $30,010
10. Medical assistant
As health care facilities multiply and expand, so will the demand for medical assistants. These professionals perform a range of clinical and administrative tasks, from cleaning wounds and collecting specimens to updating patient records and processing insurance claims. Getting certified and becoming familiar with electronic health records software will boost your job prospects.
- Total new job openings: 154,900
- Average salary: $35,720
Skilled Trade Jobs in High Demand
The skilled trades are a critical part of the nation's workforce. A huge number of tradespeople are approaching retirement age even as the economy improves and industries like construction and maintenance show more strength—which means there is a big need for new workers in the skilled trades. In-demand jobs in this sector include:
1. Heavy truck driver
Most of the freight in the U.S. gets transported by truck, so plenty of heavy truck drivers are needed to move goods from one place to another. Maneuvering big rigs through crowded streets takes special know-how; you'll need a commercial driver's license and some specialized training. Being a trucker is physically demanding work that requires being away from home for long stretches of time, but if you relish life on the road, this is one of the best trade jobs you can get.
- Total new job openings: 99,700
- Average salary: $46,850
Carpentry is a key part of many different aspects of construction, which is why it's among the trades in demand. Carpenters can do anything from framing walls and setting concrete forms to building bridges and installing cabinets. Sometimes they also direct the work of laborers and other helpers. Growth in the construction and home renovation fields should boost demand for carpenters over the next few years.
- Total new job openings: 80,100
- Average salary: $52,850
Electricians have the highest-paying trade jobs on this list. That could be because they're responsible for keeping the lights on and the electrical systems functioning. These skilled workers install, repair, and maintain electrical wiring and equipment in businesses, factories, and homes. In most states, you'll have to pass an exam and be licensed in order to work in this field.
- Total new job openings: 74,100
- Average salary: $60,370
If you can keep the water flowing, you can expect to find a lot of opportunities. Plumbers install and maintain the piping systems that bring water to (and carry waste away from) houses, offices, hospitals, factories, and other buildings. Most of these professionals gain their skills through apprenticeships, although many start out by attending a technical or trade school. Jobs in this field are projected to grow much faster than average between 2016 and 2026.
- Total new job openings: 68,200
- Average salary: $59,800
Technology and Computer Science Careers in Demand
The world increasingly relies on computer technology for getting work done and staying connected, which means professionals in this field often find themselves in high demand. One computer-related career even made the top 10 list of most in-demand careers, but there are others with plenty of positions waiting to be filled. If you're wondering what careers are in demand in the high-tech industry, check out these examples:
1. Computer user support specialist
Also known as help desk technicians, these specialists field calls from computer users who are experiencing technical trouble. The role involves listening closely to a caller's description of the problem in order to diagnose the problem and provide help. Communication skills are crucial in this job—you have to be able to describe technical issues in a way that a non-technical person can understand.
- Total new job openings: 70,900
- Average salary: $56,550
2. Computer systems analyst
Computer systems analysts examine a business's information systems and procedures with an eye to helping the company use technology more efficiently and effectively. They incorporate new information technology to solve business problems. Analysts with a background in business may find better prospects; the health care industry is also looking for computer systems analysts as companies move towards electronic medical records and e-prescribing.
- Total new job openings: 56,000
- Average salary: $96,160
3. Information technology (IT) manager
Planning and directing the computer-related functions of a business is the main role of IT managers. They often supervise and coordinate the work of other professionals, such as computer systems analysts and computer user support specialists. As businesses seek out better cybersecurity and the healthcare industry in particular implements more information technology, IT managers will continue to make the list of in-demand careers.
- Total new job openings: 46,800 (for all computer and information systems managers)
- Average salary: $156,390
4. Systems software developer
Consumer electronics like computers, phones, and tablets don't run without operating systems created by systems software developers. As products like appliances and cars require more sophisticated computer systems, these professionals will see growing opportunities. Mathematical analysis skills can be helpful in this field.
- Total new job openings: 42,600
- Average salary: $111,620
Business and Administration Jobs That Are in High Demand
Business-related skills are increasingly valued in a wide range of careers. In fact, the CERI survey found that business was among the top three majors that employers are looking for. Advanced training is not always necessary: Some of the positions listed here don't even require a bachelor's degree. Jobs in demand in the business and administration sector include:
1. Market research analyst
Understanding consumer behavior can help companies craft effective marketing strategies, which is why market research analysts are on the list of in-demand jobs. They research consumer demographics and buying habits to figure out what products people want to buy and how companies can effectively position those products in the marketplace. You need good analytical skills and a solid grasp of math and statistics to make it in this field.
- Total new job openings: 139,200
- Average salary: $71,570
2. Management analyst
Management analysts examine a company's finances and procedures to root out inefficiencies and find ways to become more competitive. As more and more organizations seek to cut costs and operate more efficiently, these analysts will find themselves in greater demand. Courses in business management, accounting, or marketing may help you take advantage of the opportunities in this field, though some employers prefer candidates with an MBA.
- Total new job openings: 118,300
- Average salary: $95,560
3. Financial manager
Analyzing and protecting the financial health of a business is the primary task of financial managers. They study market trends and look for ways to increase profits and expand operations. They also oversee investments and advise senior company personnel about the best ways to manage cash and mitigate risk. A degree in economics, finance, accounting, or business administration is typically required.
- Total new job openings: 104,700
- Average salary: $147,530
4. Medical secretary
Maintaining medical charts, scheduling appointments, and billing patients are some typical tasks of medical secretaries. Employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than average between 2016 and 2026 as the aging population requires more medical services. Part of the job involves handling confidential patient information, so you need good interpersonal skills and a high degree of integrity.
- Total new job openings: 96,400
- Average salary: $38,090
As governments enact new financial laws and regulations, accountants will be increasingly needed to help companies comply with the new rules. Accountants document the financial operations of a business in order to help it run efficiently. They prepare financial statements, calculate taxes owed, and maintain accurate records. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can lead to more opportunities.
- Total new job openings: 90,700 (for all accountants and auditors)
- Average salary: $79,520
Receptionists are generally the first point of contact between customers and companies. They answer phone calls, schedule appointments, welcome clients, and direct visitors to specific destinations. Customer service skills are paramount in this career; you need to be courteous and helpful when dealing with the public.
- Total new job openings: 59,300
- Average salary: $31,250
Health Services Jobs With Growing Demand
With an aging population that increasingly requires help to stay healthy, it's no surprise that many of the careers in high demand are in the health services sector. You may have noticed that three of the top five most in-demand jobs in 2020 overall came from this field, but there are many more health-related jobs in need of large numbers of workers. Here's a look at what jobs are in demand in this growing industry:
1. Nursing assistant
Hospitals and long-term care facilities rely on nursing assistants to help provide basic patient care. These assistants are often the main caregivers in nursing homes, which means the demand for their services will continue to grow. They might measure vital signs, serve meals, or help move patients from beds to wheelchairs. You must complete an approved program and pass an exam to work in this field.
- Total new job openings: 135,400
- Average salary: $30,720
2. Licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN)
These nurses are on the front lines of patient care. Under the supervision of doctors or registered nurses, LPNs and LVNs might collect patient histories, insert catheters, change bandages, or run basic lab tests. The need for LPNs and LVNs is especially pronounced in home care organizations and long-term care facilities; focusing on rural and other underserved areas can yield plenty of opportunities.
- Total new job openings: 78,100
- Average salary: $48,500
3. Medical and health services manager
Every facility that provides clinical services needs medical and health services managers to plan, direct, and coordinate those services. These high-level managers are responsible for setting department policies and goals, preparing budgets, and recruiting and supervising staff. They should see increased demand for their services as the baby boomers get older and more people move into nursing homes.
- Total new job openings: 71,600
- Average salary: $115,160
4. Physical therapist
Those who focus on helping injured people improve their mobility and relieve their pain will find their services more and more in demand. Physical therapists use stretches and therapeutic exercises that are designed to increase patients' movement and help them recover from surgery or injury. Some choose to specialize in areas like sports injuries, orthopedics, or geriatrics.
- Total new job openings: 54,200
- Average salary: $90,170
5. Dental assistant
Taking x-rays, sterilizing instruments, and teaching people how to take care of their teeth are all in a day's work for dental assistants. They prepare and organize dental tools and hand them to the dentist during procedures. Demand for these workers is expected to grow as many dentists offload more routine tasks to assistants. Some states have no formal educational requirements; in others, dental assistants must complete an accredited program and pass an exam.
- Total new job openings: 38,700
- Average salary: $41,170
Hospitality Jobs That Are in Demand
If you want to help people enjoy their free time, you may find a ton of opportunities. In fact, in the ManpowerGroup survey, the leisure and hospitality sector was first among 12 national industry sectors in terms of job opportunities, with 33 percent of companies in that area planning to hire new workers during the first quarter of 2021. In addition to restaurant cook, some of the careers that are in demand in the hospitality field include:
1. Food preparation worker
Typical tasks for food preparation workers include peeling vegetables, slicing protein selections, and mixing salad ingredients. These workers take directions from cooks and chefs and make sure all the components of a meal are ready when they're needed. As consumers increasingly demand more labor-intensive meals made from scratch, more food prep workers will be needed to help out in the kitchen.
- Total new job openings: 69,100
- Average salary: $25,820
2. Food service manager
Restaurants, cafeterias, and banquet halls often have new positions open up for people who have experience overseeing food prep and service.
- Total new job openings: 38,500
- Average salary: $59,820
How to Change Careers
Just because you start out on one career path doesn't mean you're stuck on it for eternity. Even if you have one of the most sought-after jobs out there, you may eventually find that it's just not for you. People decide to change careers for a whole host of reasons. For example, maybe your vocational goals have changed, you've discovered new interests, or you want a more flexible schedule. Bottom line, it's never too late to make a change.
So if you're thinking about striking out in a new direction, here are a few tips:
- Think about why you want to leave. What is it about your current job that leaves you dissatisfied? It's important to pinpoint whether you are unhappy with the type of work you're doing or the company you're working for. Maybe your problem is with your boss, not your whole industry. Or maybe your personal values have shifted to the point that it's time to look for something dramatically different.
- Assess your abilities. What skills do you have that would be assets in other types of roles? If you're stumped, try reading over the job description for your current position to see what types of skills you use every day. Can you think critically, communicate effectively, or work well on a team? Plenty of companies value employees with those kinds of abilities. Chances are that you bring a lot more to the table than you realize.
- Research potential new careers. And don't limit yourself to online searches. The best way to find out what a job is really like is to talk to someone who has it. Reach out to your network of contacts and try to set up informational interviews with people who do the kind of work you're interested in. If possible, arrange to shadow someone at work so you can get a realistic perspective on what's involved.
- Overhaul your resume. If you've worked for many years in one industry but are trying to make the leap to another, your CV will need some serious revisions. You will probably want to craft a functional resume, which emphasizes your skills, rather than a traditional chronological resume, which focuses on your work history. Make sure to include details about any projects you've done that demonstrate your qualifications.
- Don't resign in haste. It's always easier to find a job when you already have a job. Hiring managers get suspicious when they see gaps on a resume, so it's a good idea to stay put until you line up a new position. Remember: You should be moving toward something, not just escaping something.
Shape Your Future
Plenty of high-demand jobs are waiting for people like you to fill them. Do you have the training you need to fulfill your vocational goals? Career colleges and trade schools offer convenient job-focused training that can prepare you for a wide range of satisfying occupations. Enter your zip code into the school finder below to find programs in your area!