Hottest Growth Fields for the 2010s

Start your search for a new career by first considering which fields are experiencing the fastest growth. During the past several decades virtually all the growth in the U.S. economy has been in the services sector, primarily those involving computers, automation, healthcare, business services and education. The manufacturing sector (i.e., companies making things like cars, appliances, etc) has either been flat or in decline. That trend will continue indefinitely.

In percentage terms, over the past decade, the fastest growing career fields are:

Computer and Data Processing Services     117%
Health Services     67%
Residential Care     57%
Management and Public Relations     45%
Personnel supply Service     43%
Equipment Rental and Leasing     43%
Museums, Botanical and Zoological Gardens     42%
Research and Testing Services     40%
Transportation Services     40%
Security and Commodity Brokers     69%

But that list gives a distorted picture of where the real opportunities are because the fields with the highest growth percentage don’t necessarily have the largest number of job openings. Looking at the fields that have seen the biggest growth in terms of new jobs presents a more useful picture:

Computer Engineers     108%
Computer Support Specialists     102%
Systems Analysts     94%
Database Administrators     77%
Desktop Publishing Specialists     73%
Paralegals and Legal Assistants     62%
Personal Care and Home Health Aides     58%
Medical Assistants     58%
Social and Human Service Assistants     53%
Physician Assistants     48%

Those looking for careers where they are most likely to command top dollar will want to take the search another step to careers that combine both the biggest growth in terms of actual projected demand coupled with the biggest anticipated shortage of prospective applicants preparing to fill them. That list is quite different from the prior two and may come as a shock to those who have been thinking that the traditional fields were on the way out.

  1. lawyers
  2. doctors
  3. mathematicians
  4. management analysts
  5. speech-language pathologists
  6. engineering managers
  7. radiologic technologists/technicians
  8. food service and lodging managers
  9. vocational education specialists/corporate trainers
  10. correction/probation officers

Finally, those who want to be in the catbird seat even within the hottest occupations will want to take their search even further by asking which specialties within each occupation are likely to be most in demand. Pulling back for a big picture of which industries have seen developments likely to lead to the most explosive growth, we come up with the following list:

  1. Gene-based therapies
  2. Wireless/satellite communications
  3. Consumer/home automation
  4. Corporate vocational re-training
  5. Elderly care
  6. Web-based commerce/publishing
  7. Human resources/recruitment
  8. Clean energy technologies
  9. Travel and food services
  10. Alternative healthcare/holistic medicine

By reflecting recent and anticipated changes in technologies and lifestyles, the list will help you pick the winning horses in the growth race. For example, given the rate at which wireless and satellite communications is replacing wired and land-based communications, one can expect that companies providing cellular and satellite services will outgrow companies selling tradtional phone services. If you are leaning toward business management as an occupation, you might want to seek jobs in the wireless communication industry over those in the traditional phone companies. By way of another example, the recent breakthrough in the mapping of the human genome makes it likely that gene therapy will be a hot growth niche within the rapidly growing healthcare field. If you have an interest in a medical profession, you might want to consider specializing in endocrinology in order to take advantage of the likely demand for physicians knowledgeable in gene therapies.

No one has a crystal ball, but you can keep the odds in your favor by factoring the big trends into your career strategies.