Business Administration

The 7 Fastest-Growing Job Markets—And the Degrees Required to Work in Them

The 7 Fastest-Growing Job Markets—And the Degrees Required to Work in Them
The jobs featured below are estimated to grow between 31 and 63 percent through 2028. Image from Unsplash
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Mairead Kelly October 25, 2019

Automation by algorithm got you down? Fortunately, new industries are on the rise—and hiring.

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What do blacksmiths, silent film actors, and door-to-door vacuum salespeople have in common? All went extinct at some point in history. Blacksmiths, for one, were absorbed into the car manufacturing industry as Henry Ford rolled out his assembly line. Silent films transformed into “talkies” when sound technology caught up to the sophistication of the camera, and audiences didn’t hate it. Folks hawking vacuums door-to-door were beaten out first by big box stores, then online retailers. It probably didn’t help that somewhere in between, people stopped welcoming strangers on their lawns.

Change is constant, be it technological advancement, outsourced labor, or a shift in consumer tastes. When industries come and go, the jobs we associate with them tend to mirror that movement.

The 7 Fastest-Growing Job Markets—And the Degrees Required to Work in Them

As the world (and especially technology) shifts and develops faster than ever, how can you avoid landing in a field that ends up on the endangered career list? By looking at industries where the future of work is bright, and knowing which qualifications you’ll need to be competitive in them.

To do this, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the fastest-growing occupations, which projects job growth across hundreds of professions across the U.S. The jobs featured below are estimated to grow between 31 and 63 percent through 2028. With the right education and training in any one of them, you’ll set yourself up for ample career opportunities into the next decade.

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1. Mathematician or statistician

Get this, data geeks. Employment for mathematicians and statisticians is projected to grow 31 percent by 2028, and you can thank the Internet and the increasing availability of data for it. Research from the International Data Corporation indicates the amount of data generated every year after 2025 will be ten times greater than the data created in 2016.

Given the research, it’s not so surprising that LinkedIn listed statistical analysis and data mining as the top two skills companies needed most in 2018.

Those thinking about taking their math education past an undergraduate level are in good company. According to a Georgetown University study, 50.7 percent of students who complete bachelor’s degrees in statistics and decision sciences go on to get advanced degrees for employment across a wide range of quantitative industries.

Common graduate degrees include a Master’s in Data Analytics, Master’s in Quantitative Finance, and a Master’s in Business Analytics, among others.

2. Physician assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) are becoming increasingly sought-after in the healthcare field, with an estimated 31 percent growth in employment by 2028. Several factors play into this demand, including a national physician shortage that experts predict may continue into 2032.

PAs are also a solution for budget-conscious healthcare providers since employing them costs less in overhead compared to physicians, even when the quality of care and patient outcomes between the two occupations are similar.

Because the word “assistant” is in the job title, it can be easy to assume that physician assistants don’t need a high level of training. But they do. PAs need a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Master of Clinical Health Services (MCHS), or a related degree from an accredited institution. Essentially, it adds up to roughly six years of rigorous education, including an undergraduate program focused on a related field of study. Many students also work as a Registered Nurse (RN), an EMT, or a paramedic before starting a PA program since most programs require applicants to have at least a few years of healthcare work experience.

3. Information security analyst

From the 2016 data breach of 500 million Yahoo users to Target’s 2013 credit card hacks, organizations of all types have ample reason to keep their information protected. According to Cisco’s 2019 Annual Cybersecurity Report, the total volume of cyber-attacks has increased almost four-fold between January 2016 and October 2017. Add to that a significant shortage of qualified candidates, and it’s only rational that information security analyst jobs are set to grow 32 percent into 2028.

Information security analysts typically need at least the technical know-how of bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, programming, or a related field.

Some employers prefer applicants who’ve earned an MBA with a specialization in information systems, which combines graduate-level business education with training on the different types of information systems. Many information systems MBA programs can be completed in one to two years of full-time study, while part-time programs generally take two to three years. Accelerated programs are also available and can take less than a year to complete.

4. Occupational therapy assistant

Those entering the field of occupational therapy will not only be able to help people rebuild their abilities to perform daily tasks, but they’ll also have the promise of job security. According to BLS, the overall employment occupational therapy assistants and aides will grow 33 percent in the next decade. One reason for the growth is an aging baby boomer generation, which the U.S. Census Bureau equated to a demographic of 75.4 million in 2015. The development of occupational science in the 1980s has also helped validate the benefits of occupational therapy and its direct influence on patients’ health and well-being.

Occupational therapy assistants typically need an associate’s degree from an accredited program, as well as a degree of supervised training to gain hands-on work experience before starting in the profession. Many states also require prospective assistants to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.

Later on, those interested in advancing their careers may consider becoming a licensed occupational therapist, which depending on the state, may require a Master of Occupational Therapy degree.

5. Home health or personal care aide

Regardless of a longer life expectancy than the generation before them, the aging baby boomer population is shifting the job market for all kinds of healthcare occupations, including home health and personal care aides. Employment for the profession is projected to grow 37 percent in the next decade, as baby boomers become increasingly associated with greater susceptibility to disease, the loss of functional capacity, and an expanded need for daily assistance.

Those entering the field typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though home health and personal care aids seeking advanced opportunities in the field will need additional education and training. A common way to do so is through a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, which typically lasts one to two years and trains students to provide primary nursing care.

6. Wind turbine service technician

BLS lists wind turbine technician or “wind tech” as the second-fastest growing occupation through 2028, with a calculated 57 percent increase in employment. A significant reason for wind expansion is that its the renewable energy source that can best compete with fossil fuel power plants.

Wind turbines also don’t pose a risk to public health outcomes—except maybe annoyance, when critics are concerned—which contrasts the severe public health hazards of coal and natural gas. Add in wind and solar power’s plummeting costs, and it’s clear only that the future of energy is here.

Most wind techs learn their trade by attending a two-year technical or certificate program in wind energy technology, although some may choose to earn an associate’s degree in wind energy or a related field. From here, employers usually provide on-the-job training related to the specific wind turbines they will maintain and service.

7. Solar photovoltaic installer

A 2017 report from the International Energy Agency went as far as to predict that solar generation will increase 16-fold by 2040, thanks in part to a global push for clean energy sources to address climate change.

It’s also due to a new class of solar panels called perovskites, which are flexible and easy to produce, and can be attached virtually anywhere. Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, install, and maintain them, and can expect employment in their field to grow 63 percent into 2028.

Most employers require PV installers to possess a high school diploma, though some entering the field may take courses at local community colleges or trade schools, or learn about safety, installation, and system design through apprenticeships.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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