Whether you're preparing to enter the job market for the first time, or you're looking to change careers, it's important to think about what kinds of jobs offer the best opportunities, such as positions that are in-demand now and are likely to stay that way into the foreseeable future (and beyond). Explore a selection of high-demand occupations, each of which has the potential to be a lucrative lifelong career.
Wind Turbine Technicians
With investment in and reliance on renewable energy on the increase, wind farms are being installed and used in more locations now than ever before. This increase in windmill usage will lead to a need for more trained installation, maintenance, and repair professionals who know how to work with wind turbines. That's why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the demand for wind turbine service technicians is expected to increase by more than 68 percent between 2020 and 2030.
Solar Panel Installers
Wind energy isn't the only energy-related career path that's experiencing an increase in usage and demand. According to BLS, demand for solar voltaic installers is expected to grow by more than 52 percent between 2020 and 2030. These jobs are for people who install, maintain, and service solar panels on homes and commercial buildings, as well as on solar farms. This growth is expected due to the continued growth of solar energy as a commercial and residential power source.
Nursing is always an in-demand occupation. Not only is the number of nurses needed in the U.S. workforce poised to continue increasing, but nursing turnover is also higher than ordinary. Citing burnout related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many nurses are choosing to exit the profession, leaving behind massive demand. According to the World Health Organization, 5.9 million new nurses are needed by 2030 in order to prevent a worldwide nursing shortage. This need exists across economic boundaries, with shortages possible in underdeveloped, developing, and developed countries.
In the United States, the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to increase by more than 50 percent between 2020 and 2030, according to BLS. This is partially due to a shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs) and an aging population. It's also related to the increasingly common practice of reducing the number of physicians in medical practices, then assigning nurse practitioners to handle routine examinations and treatments rather than doctors. This approach to patient care provides expense control for medical practices while sustaining an appropriate level of care for patients.
Physical Therapy Assistants
Nurses and nurse practitioners are not the only in-demand professionals in the medical field. According to BLS, the demand for physical therapy assistants (PTAs) is particularly high. They predict a more than 35 percent increase in this occupation between 2020 and 2030. They work under the guidance of a physical therapist, providing hands-on patient care to those in need of physical therapy (PT). They often work in PT practices or nursing homes. The increase in demand for this occupation may be related to the size of the aging population and the increase in life expectancy.
Animal Care Workers
Healthcare workers who care for human patients aren't the only ones experiencing high demand for their skills. Job opportunities for animal care workers are also on the rise. BLS expects to see around a 30% increase in animal care and service workers between 2020 and 2030. These workers include veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants who work at veterinary clinics and animal hospitals, as well as animal caretakers who work in pet healthcare settings. Some may also work in boarding, animal training, or grooming businesses.
IT Security Analysts
With data breaches, hacking, and phishing on the rise, so is the demand for skilled information technology (IT) professionals who have a high level of expertise in data security. BLS expects that demand for IT security analysts will grow by more than 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. This is a specialized aspect of the overall IT profession. Some people who do this kind of work are computer forensics professionals, while others seek to boost the security of company systems to prevent data theft and breaches.
Data Science/Business Analytics
IT security isn't the only rapidly growing aspect of the technology sector. With the growth of the software as a service (SAAS) model for IT systems and the ability of companies to capture and analyze big data in real-time, there is a spike in demand for workers who specialize in business analytics. BLS indicates that the demand for data scientists will grow by more than 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. This bodes well for statisticians, database developers and administrators, and those with expertise in mathematical modeling.
Demand is always strong and steady for engineers. Robotics engineering is one of the most rapidly growing, in-demand engineering fields. With so many manufacturers looking to automate processes, demand for industrial robotics applications is very high. Robotics engineers aren't limited to industrial automation; this field is the intersection of technology and engineering. The sky, quite literally, is the limit for people with this type of expertise, as evidenced by 2021s adventures in civilian space travel. Working in robotics engineering requires expertise in both mechanical and electronics engineering; some schools offer a degree program specific to robotics engineering.
Changes in consumer behavior are causing the demand for delivery drivers to increase in unprecedented ways. While BLS predicts only a 12 percent growth in delivery drivers between 2020 and 2030, their data focuses specifically on employees. It doesn't account for the sharp rise in the number of independent contractors who drive for meal delivery services or work as personal shoppers who pick out groceries for customers and then take them to their homes, as well as those who drive for rideshare services. Even post-pandemic, consumer demand for home delivery is expected to stay very high. The demand for delivery drivers will follow suit.
Local delivery drivers aren't the only vehicle operators in high demand. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), as of late 2021, there are 80,000 more open jobs for truck drivers than there are people currently seeking to work as truck drivers. ATA warns that this shortage could double to 160,000 by 2030. The truck driver shortage is believed to be related to a variety of factors, including increased freight related to online shopping, the difficult lifestyle faced by over-the-road (OTR) drivers, a challenging regulatory environment, an aging workforce, and difficulty recruiting new drivers. Demand is extremely high for individuals who have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and a willingness to drive long hauls.
Law enforcement is an example of a profession that isn't experiencing significant growth, yet is facing high demand due to a staffing shortage. The number of law enforcement jobs in the U.S. is only expected to expand by around seven percent between 2020 and 2030, but demand is high because police forces are finding it difficult to recruit enough new officers and other law enforcement workers to replace those who are retiring or otherwise leaving the occupation. As a result, it's a great time for people interested in this type of work to enter the field. These jobs are usually with local, state, or federal government agencies, so they offer a high degree of job security and affordable employee benefits.
Find Your Perfect Career
The options above are just a few career fields that are either growing rapidly or experiencing a high level of demand for another reason. They are great career options to consider, but only if you actually find them to be interesting. You're going to spend a lot of time at work throughout your career, so it's important not only to choose a career field in which you can reasonably expect to secure gainful employment, but also to select an occupation in which you will enjoy working. Use this list as a starting point to keep exploring more career fields until you figure out what's right for you. That way, you'll be able to make a fully informed decision about what path to take as you launch your career or go through a mid-career change.