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Jobs projected to grow the most in the next decade
A nurse practioner in a mask putting on their gloves.
With the pace of work speeding up, and demands on workers and companies ever-changing, it’s no secret the jobs of the future will be quite different from today’s jobs, much less the jobs of the past. Although technology has been a significant factor in changing many workplaces in the United States, the tech industry is slated to grow slower than some other key industries.
Stacker compiled a list of 30 jobs expected to grow the most by 2031, using Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections data current as of Sept. 8, 2022. Jobs are ranked by the percentage difference between actual 2021 employment figures and projected employment figures for 2031. Ties are broken by a field’s number of overall projected jobs in 2031.
The health care sector is expected to experience a boom in the next decade. In fact, the top three fastest-growing industries—specialty hospitals, home health care services, and health care practitioner offices—all fall under its umbrella. Other industries that made the top 10 for the next decade include power communication line construction, electronic shopping, and financial investment.
It’s also worth noting that many of the jobs on this list virtually disappeared during the pandemic—jobs like ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers—so their expected growth may be due less to new opportunities by 2031 than the fact that there were so few of those jobs in 2021.
By 2030, experts also predict job seekers will need a whole new host of skills to impress their potential employers. Future skills include digital literacy, emotional and social intelligence, computational thinking, and cognitive flexibility. Taken together, these traits could signal both that top job applicants must be willing to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and that human value—like a warm bedside manner—can’t simply be replaced by automation.
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Said M // Shutterstock
#30. Roustabouts, oil and gas
Two roustabouts checking an oil pump.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +8,600 (23.0% change)
– 2021 employment: 37,300
– Projected 2031 employment: 45,900
– Projected annual job openings: 5,600
While the barrier to entry is very low, being a roustabout—a laborer without specific technical skills—requires a good deal of physical stamina. However, suppose you can withstand the physicality and long hours. In that case, you can have an exciting career dismantling machinery and doing other physical work on oil and gas drilling, refining, and distribution sites.
Senior Airman Greg Nash // U.S. Air Force
#29. Entertainment attendants and related workers, all other
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +1,100 (23.2% change)
– 2021 employment: 4,700
– Projected 2031 employment: 5,800
– Projected annual job openings: 1,500
Whether working with crowds at amusement parks or maintaining a bowling alley, entertainment attendants can enter the industry with no advanced degree and minimal experience. If you are a friendly person with the ability to handle large groups of people, you can enter this industry easily.
Semiglass // Shutterstock
#28. Operations research analysts
A worker cleaning an amusement park ride.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +24,200 (23.2% change)
– 2021 employment: 104,200
– Projected 2031 employment: 128,300
– Projected annual job openings: 10,300
Operations research analysts work with mathematical models and complex analytic methods to help companies produce top-notch solutions and solve problems. The demand for operations research analysts is already high in the biotech industry and is expected to increase: The job represents one of the six most in-demand biopharmaceutical careers. The median annual salary for an operations research analyst in the biopharma industry is $83,890.
Ness Kerton/AusAID // Flickr
#27. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +59,400 (24.1% change)
– 2021 employment: 246,700
– Projected 2031 employment: 306,100
– Projected annual job openings: 28,900
Postsecondary health specialties teachers instruct college-level courses on topics like dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine. Employment of postsecondary teachers will rise as enrollment at postsecondary schools is projected to increase, though some postsecondary instructors are expected to be employed only part-time. The average annual salary for a postsecondary health specialty teacher is $122,320.
Artur Didyk // Shutterstock
A classical ballerina performing in a theater.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +1,500 (24.5% change)
– 2021 employment: 6,200
– Projected 2031 employment: 7,700
– Projected annual job openings: 1,300
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many dancers had to look for creative ways to make money. For some, a change meant switching to administrative or consultation roles, while others were able to enjoy a less formal way of dance. Due to the proliferation of recording performances on video during the pandemic, the industry continues to grow an expected 27% from 2021 to 2031.
#25. Personal care and service workers, all other
A hair dresser working in a salon.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +26,000 (24.9% change)
– 2021 employment: 104,400
– Projected 2031 employment: 130,400
– Projected annual job openings: 22,600
The personal care industry is thriving now that the public is allowed back in salons and spas without restrictions. During the early days of the pandemic, salons saw an increase in sales after exploring technologies to book in-home visits and schedule storefront appointments. As a result of new service options and reviving demand, the personal care industry is slated to grow 14% between 2021 and 2031.
#24. Occupational therapy assistants
A home healthcare provider smiling at an elderly patient.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +11,000 (25.4% change)
– 2021 employment: 43,400
– Projected 2031 employment: 54,500
– Projected annual job openings: 8,700
The job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is very positive, and occupational therapy assistant jobs are expected to grow steadily for the foreseeable future. Those considering a career in occupational therapy can expect to work with people of all ages and have tremendous career flexibility, with opportunities to work with children, people with disabilities, students, or people with behavioral issues.
ALPA PROD // Shutterstock
#23. Home health and personal care aides
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +924,000 (25.4% change)
– 2021 employment: 3,636,900
– Projected 2031 employment: 4,560,900
– Projected annual job openings: 711,700
There is a significant shortage of home health care workers because of the pandemic. But the industry requires minimal on-the-job training, so it’s an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to change their career.
An epidemiologist using medical sample tubes.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +2,200 (25.8% change)
– 2021 employment: 8,600
– Projected 2031 employment: 10,900
– Projected annual job openings: 800
Epidemiologists are important workers during a pandemic because they study and determine the causes of a disease’s spread. Through online tech platforms, including websites where preliminary research can be quickly publicized, scientists can now communicate faster and share results across time zones.
#21. Software developers
A software developer working at a desktop computer.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +370,600 (26.0% change)
– 2021 employment: 1,425,900
– Projected 2031 employment: 1,796,500
– Projected annual job openings: 143,400
The pandemic increased software jobs and accessibility for those who want to learn how to program. This means there is a lot of job security in this field. Furthermore, with the increase in cyberattacks, software developers are in higher demand than ever to create security software.
Free stajler // Wikimedia Commons
#20. Physical therapist assistants
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +25,600 (26.5% change)
– 2021 employment: 96,500
– Projected 2031 employment: 122,100
– Projected annual job openings: 17,900
Physical therapist assistants are expected to be in higher demand as the U.S. population ages, requiring more services. Different from a physical therapist aide, a physical therapist assistant can provide physical therapy under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist and often participates in administrative activities like billing or risk management. Usually, a physical therapist uses an assistant to help implement treatment by working side-by-side with the patient.
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#19. Animal trainers
An animal trainer working with a dog.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +14,300 (27.1% change)
– 2021 employment: 52,900
– Projected 2031 employment: 67,200
– Projected annual job openings: 10,600
Support service animals help many people—even college students adjusting to campus life—but require a qualified animal trainer. With the proper training, service animals can help address Americans’ mental health needs. Trainers don’t need advanced degrees and can learn on the job or apprentice with an expert.
anatoliy_gleb // Shutterstock
#18. Solar photovoltaic installers
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +4,600 (27.2% change)
– 2021 employment: 17,100
– Projected 2031 employment: 21,700
– Projected annual job openings: 2,500
Solar photovoltaic installers assemble, install, and repair solar panel systems, which convert sunlight to electricity. As solar panels become increasingly popular around the country, installers are expected to be in high demand. The average solar photovoltaic installer earns an annual salary of about $39,240 annually.
Steve Pivnick // U.S. Air Force
#17. Physician assistants
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +38,400 (27.6% change)
– 2021 employment: 139,100
– Projected 2031 employment: 177,500
– Projected annual job openings: 12,700
Like other jobs in the health care sector, physician assistants will be increasingly needed as the U.S. population grows older and needs more medical attention. Unlike a medical assistant, a physician assistant can examine patients, offer a diagnosis, administer vaccinations, provide follow-up counseling, and prescribe medications. In some areas with a shortage of doctors, physician assistants can even serve as leading primary care providers.
Monthira // Shutterstock
A supply chain logistician looking at shipment containers while holding an iPad.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +54,100 (27.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 195,000
– Projected 2031 employment: 249,100
– Projected annual job openings: 24,800
The recent supply chain issues made it clear that more companies need help from logisticians. Understanding the life cycle of a product—from acquisition to distribution—helps an organization manage its supply chain.
Drazen Zigic // Shutterstock
#15. Medical and health services managers
A doctor meeting with medical managers dressed in business clothes.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +136,200 (28.3% change)
– 2021 employment: 480,700
– Projected 2031 employment: 616,900
– Projected annual job openings: 56,600
One of the most noticeable changes to the health care system since the pandemic began has been a sharp increase in telemedicine. As a result, health care providers are now accessible through multiple tech platforms, requiring more managers to handle the workload. While this job requires an advanced degree, there is much room for growth and earning potential.
New Africa // Shutterstock
#14. Taxi drivers
A taxi driver in their car.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +36,600 (28.5% change)
– 2021 employment: 128,500
– Projected 2031 employment: 165,100
– Projected annual job openings: 19,400
As elderly and disabled people become more numerous, especially in rural areas, they will need help getting around. In urban areas, too, people are choosing to own fewer cars, drive less, and more frequently get taxis or lifts from ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
Kirill Gorshkov // Shutterstock
A choreographer positioning a group of dancers.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +1,900 (29.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 6,300
– Projected 2031 employment: 8,100
– Projected annual job openings: 1,400
The pandemic forced performers to get creative: One famous choreographer even designed a Zoom performance when restrictions prevented in-person events. But now that people are returning to theaters, choreographers are in demand more than ever. As a result, dancing teams are relearning how to coordinate and perform in front of crowds, and choreography is the foundation of a great production.
#12. Animal caretakers
A caretaker walking a dog.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +86,900 (29.9% change)
– 2021 employment: 290,700
– Projected 2031 employment: 377,600
– Projected annual job openings: 70,400
One in 5 households adopted a cat or dog at the beginning of the pandemic, and many of those animals didn’t stay with them long-term. If caretakers help people looking for pets have a better understanding of what they’ll need to provide for their new companions, that will reduce the number of animals coming back to shelters in search of a real forever home. No advanced degree is needed for this job, which is one of the reasons it is projected to grow a lot in the next 10 years.
Elle Aon // Shutterstock
#11. Web developers
A web developer with two laptops and a separate monitor.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +28,900 (30.3% change)
– 2021 employment: 95,300
– Projected 2031 employment: 124,100
– Projected annual job openings: 11,000
E-commerce is more popular than ever, making web developers invaluable for businesses. Additionally, the increase in devices drives developers to create interfaces that work with all types of mobile phones, tablets, and laptops—as well as all the different browser apps.
#10. Umpires, referees, and other sports officials
An umpire cleaning home base.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +4,200 (31.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 13,200
– Projected 2031 employment: 17,400
– Projected annual job openings: 3,600
Team sports are essential to child development, so outdoor games continued to gain popularity even during the pandemic. Depending on the type of sport and classification, umpires and referees need moderate on-the-job training. A year of training is usually necessary to become an umpire or referee, but there are many options for employment.
U.S. Department of Agriculture // Wikimedia Commons
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +11,200 (32.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 34,200
– Projected 2031 employment: 45,300
– Projected annual job openings: 3,900
While statistician careers are expected to grow steadily in the next decade as data becomes increasingly available and computing power grows stronger, statistician jobs grew a whopping 70% in the past decade. The number of undergraduates majoring in statistics is rising, but experts are concerned that that still might not meet demand.
FrameStockFootages // Shutterstock
#8. Information security analysts
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +56,500 (34.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 163,000
– Projected 2031 employment: 219,500
– Projected annual job openings: 19,500
Information security analysts are responsible for preventing cyberattacks and security breaches and keeping software up to date. Today, the highest concentration of these analysts is in Washington D.C., followed by New York City and Minneapolis. The largest employers of information security analysts are computer systems design services, finance and insurance firms, and management companies.
#7. Athletes and sports competitors
An athlete swimming in a pool.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +5,700 (35.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 15,800
– Projected 2031 employment: 21,500
– Projected annual job openings: 2,900
Sports events were on pause for a long time during the early days of the pandemic, and they are still slow to return to pre-pandemic numbers. Competitors have to relearn team dynamics and adjust to new safety guidelines, but audiences are ready to embrace this form of entertainment once again.
ViDI Studio // Shutterstock
#6. Data scientists
A data scientist working on a laptop.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +40,500 (35.8% change)
– 2021 employment: 113,300
– Projected 2031 employment: 153,900
– Projected annual job openings: 13,500
Data science careers have a lot of income growth potential, which is one reason why so many newcomers flock to the industry. Individual contributors can earn a base salary of up to $200,000, and managers can reach $300,000 annually. But this job usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, or science and impeccable problem-solving skills.
Chef Ayabonga Gope // Wikimedia Commons
#5. Cooks, restaurant
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +459,900 (36.6% change)
– 2021 employment: 1,255,600
– Projected 2031 employment: 1,715,600
– Projected annual job openings: 274,000
The growth rate for restaurant cook employment is largely attributable to casual dining and eateries rather than full-service restaurants. Dining trends indicate more people are looking to eat on the go, especially after the pandemic shifted dine-in customers to takeout, even at fancier restaurants. In California alone, the number of chefs and head cooks is expected to increase by 14.3% from 2016 to 2026. The median annual salary for cooks in the state is currently $47,848.
ALPA PROD // Shutterstock
#4. Motion picture projectionists
A motion picture projectionist at work.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +800 (40.3% change)
– 2021 employment: 2,000
– Projected 2031 employment: 2,800
– Projected annual job openings: 700
Moviegoers didn’t get a lot of chances to watch their favorites on the big screen during the pandemic. But now restrictions are less intense, and customers are lining up at cinemas. That means many more opportunities are available for motion picture projectionists. Luckily, a projectionist can learn on the job; no degree or certification is necessary.
Dmitry Kalinovsky // Shutterstock
#3. Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers
Two lobby attendants and a bell.
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +25,600 (40.5% change)
– 2021 employment: 63,200
– Projected 2031 employment: 88,800
– Projected annual job openings: 24,100
As entertainment activities resume, workers are needed to handle the influx of customers. In addition, new types of experiences are drawing more people from their homes. For example, a museum in China created a game that allows visitors to go back in time, and the buzz is resulting in lots of new patrons. Ticket holders and ushers get to witness these miracles with minimal on-the-job training and no prior experience.
Siemens AG // Wikimedia Commons
#2. Wind turbine service technicians
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +4,900 (44.3% change)
– 2021 employment: 11,100
– Projected 2031 employment: 16,100
– Projected annual job openings: 1,900
Wind turbine service technicians install, inspect, maintain, and operate wind turbines. In 2016, the job was the fastest-growing of the decade, with employment projected to double by 2026. Job prospects are still very promising. Most wind turbine service technicians start their careers at a technical school or achieve an associate degree at a community college and earn an average annual salary of $52,260.
shopify Partners // Burst
#1. Nurse practitioners
– 2021-2031 projected employment change: +112,700 (45.7% change)
– 2021 employment: 246,700
– Projected 2031 employment: 359,400
– Projected annual job openings: 26,800
There is expected to be a high demand for all nurses as the baby boomer population continues to age and requires more medical care. Nurse practitioners are especially in demand for team-based models of care. While physicians’ offices employ the largest percentage of nurse practitioners, there is also a need at nursing homes, urgent care centers, home health organizations, and Veterans Affairs hospitals.