Today's 20 Fastest-Growing Occupations

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health careFor the past two years, as job growth has gone from nonexistent to lackluster, workers and job seekers have been waiting to hear good news. Job seekers on all fronts want good news. Unemployed job seekers need to pay the bills and get back in the work force. Employed job hunters want to get out of dead-end jobs and earn competitive salaries. College students on the verge of graduating are eager to embark on a career and use the education they accumulated over the past four years.

The job seeker situation can be summarized in one word: frustrating.

The economy is recovering, but the recovery is slow. If you're in need of a new job, it's too slow. You can't wait several years until things are back to their pre-recession levels. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified 20 jobs that are expected to grow rapidly between now and 2018. These occupations are in high demand now and are expected to continue on this trajectory for the next decade.

Here are the 20 fastest-growing occupations between 2008 and 2018*:


1. Biomedical engineers

Percent change: 72 percent

Number of new jobs: 11,600

Annual median salary: $77,400

Why they're growing: As the population ages, demand for new health-care equipment designed by biomedical engineers will increase.


2. Network systems and data communications analysts

Percent change: 53 percent

Number of new jobs: 155,800

Annual median salary: $71,100

Why they're growing: Companies will continue to upgrade technology (such as networks) and will need to expand their IT workforce.


3. Home health aides

Percent change: 50 percent

Number of new jobs: 460,900

Annual median salary: $20,460

Why they're growing: As the population gets older and lives longer, home health aides will see a rise in demand.


4. Personal and home care aides

Percent change: 46 percent

Number of new jobs: 375,800

Annual median salary: $19,180

Why they're growing: The aging population will require more medical attention, often at home rather than in medical facilities.


5. Financial examiners

Percent change: 41 percent

Number of new jobs: 11,100

Annual median salary: $70,930

Why they're growing: Financial institutions are under increasing watch by the government and will continue to be for the next decade, which provides many new opportunities for financial examiners.


6. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists

Percent change: 40 percent

Number of new jobs: 44,200

Annual median salary: $72,590

Why they're growing: Advances in biotechnology have created new opportunities for medical scientists over the past two decades and are on track to continue.


7. Physician assistants

Percent change: 39 percent

Number of new jobs: 29,200

Annual median salary: $81,230

Why they're growing: Health-care facilities will use physician assistants to ease some responsibilities from physicians who are being given heavier workloads.


8. Skin care specialists

Percent change: 38 percent

Number of new jobs: 14,700

Annual median salary: $28,730

Why they're growing: Spas and other cosmetic centers are expanding at a fast pace and skin care specialists are some of their most in-demand employees.


9. Biochemists and biophysicists

Percent change: 37 percent

Number of new jobs: 8,700

Annual median salary: $82,840

Why they're growing: Continued advances in biotechnology create opportunities for new research and development careers.


10. Athletic trainers

Percent change: 37 percent

Number of new jobs: 6,000

Annual median salary: $39,640

Why they're growing: As Americans focus on preventative health care and organizations support these efforts, athletic trainers will see an increase in responsibilities and job opportunities.


11. Physical therapist aides

Percent change: 36 percent

Number of new jobs: 16,700

Annual median salary: $23,760

Why they're growing: In general, all physical therapy services will be in higher demand, and the need for aides will rise along with them.


12. Dental hygienists

Percent change: 36 percent

Number of new jobs: 62,900

Annual median salary: $66,570

Why they're growing: Due to the aging population and an increased emphasis on health care, dental health services will create more opportunities for dental hygienists.


13. Veterinary technologists and technicians

Percent change: 36 percent

Number of new jobs: 28,500

Annual median salary: $28,900

Why they're growing: The need for technologists and technicians will outpace qualified candidates who are graduating from institutions, creating an increased demand.


14. Dental assistants

Percent change: 36 percent

Number of new jobs: 105,600

Annual median salary: 32,380

Why they're growing: Due to an aging population and better preventative dental care habits for adults and children, dental assistants will see rapid growth in the coming decade.


15. Computer software engineers, applications

Percent change: 34 percent

Number of new jobs: 175,100

Annual median salary: $85,430

Why they're growing: Advances in technology and a continued reliance on computer networks ensure organizations of all industries will need software engineers.


16. Medical assistants

Percent change: 34 percent

Number of new jobs: 163,900

Annual median salary: $28,300

Why they're growing: Medical assistants will increasingly assume some health-care provider roles in order to alleviate the increasing demands of physicians.


17. Physical therapist assistants

Percent change: 33 percent

Number of new jobs: 21,200

Annual median salary: $46,140

Why they're growing: As the population ages, many people will turn to physical therapy for an increased quality of life.


18. Veterinarians

Percent change: 33 percent

Number of new jobs: 19,700

Annual median salary: $79,050

Why they're growing: Pet owners are willing to spend more money for the health and well being of their pets, thereby putting veterinarians in high demand.


19. Self-enrichment education teachers

Percent change: 32 percent

Number of new jobs: 81,300

Annual median salary: 35,720

Why they're growing: The types of coursework offered in this field are expected to broaden and create new positions for teachers.


20. Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation

Percent change: 31 percent

Number of new jobs: 80,800

Annual median salary: $48,890

Why they're growing: Compliance officers are one of the fastest growing occupations due to tighter restrictions and more scrutiny on financial institutions.


Next: Top 10 Growing Industries >>


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*Growth rates and salary information for all occupations based on data from the BLS.

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