Training for the Future: The Most In-Demand Jobs

This list has jobs that are expected to pay well and grow substantially in this decade, according to federal data.
Dec 15, 2021
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Whether you’re planning for college or thinking about retraining, consider setting your sights on jobs that will be most in demand in the future. Not the sci-fi “hotel concierge on Mars” future, but the next-decade future.

The best jobs for the future are ones that are expected to grow and pay well between now and 2030. The most in-demand jobs on this list come from data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook — a guide that includes information on work, training and education, earnings and future job prospects for hundreds of different occupations.

This list includes jobs with an annual projected growth rate that’s much faster than average and a high projected number of new positions (50,000 or more).

We included jobs with median pay that starts at $34,000 a year — ones that provide, at minimum, a subsistence wage for an individual. The availability of training programs and employment — as well as wages — will largely depend on where you live, along with your education level and other demographic factors.

Here’s what jobs will be in demand in the future:

In-demand jobs that pay $80,000 or more

Postsecondary health specialties teachers

Median pay: $99,090 per year, but wages will vary by institution type.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 58,900.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 24%.

Job description: Postsecondary teachers instruct students beyond high school. They work in public and private colleges and universities, as well as professional schools and community colleges. While postsecondary teachers in health specialties are in demand, not all postsecondary teaching jobs have a projected increase.

Minimum education required: Doctoral or professional degree.

Working conditions: Adjunct (part time) or full time; on-site at colleges and universities; tenure may take up to seven years to achieve.

Training needed: Bachelor’s degree at a four-year undergraduate school followed by a master’s degree program and a Ph.D. program; in health specialities, hands-on work experience is also important.

Medical and health services managers

Median pay: $104,280 per year, or $50.13 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 51,800.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 32%.

Job description: Medical and health services managers plan and coordinate business activities of health care providers.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree, but master’s degrees are common.

Working conditions: Typically full time; on-site at health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and group medical practices.

Training needed: Complete a degree from a four-year college in majors such as health administration, nursing or public policy and social services; usually managers have work experience in an administrative or clinical role in a health care facility.

Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers

Median pay: $110,140 per year, or $52.95 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 189,200.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 22%.

Job description: Software developers design apps and programs while software quality assurance analysts and testers identify issues and defects with apps and programs.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree, but some employers prefer developers with a master’s degree.

Working conditions: Full-time hours; on-site or remote; usually working within a team; work is available in tech for companies that design computer systems and software, as well as other fields that require computer software including manufacturing and insurance.

Training needed: At least four years of college majoring in computer and information technology or a related field such as engineering or mathematics; experience in computer programming is needed.

Nurse practitioners

Median pay: $111,680 per year, or $53.69 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 11,490.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 52%.

Job description: Nurse practitioners coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialized health care including evaluation, diagnosis and prescription of a treatment plan.

Minimum education required: Master’s degree.

Working conditions: Full-time hours; on-site in health care facilities, such as hospitals, physician’s offices and clinics.

Training needed: Master’s degree in one of the advanced practice registered nurses, or APRN, roles: certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner. Typical APRN programs prefer nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but there may be “bridge programs” for registered nurses with an associate degree in nursing. In addition, nurse practitioners must be licensed in their state and pass a national certification exam.

Financial managers

Median pay: $134,180 per year, or $64.51 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 64,200.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 17%.

Job description: Financial managers create financial reports, do business forecasting, direct investment and contribute to making financial decisions for a company.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree.

Working conditions: Full time with long hours; work in many related industries including banks, investment firms and insurance companies.

Training needed: At least four years of college in business, economics or a related field and five years of experience in a financial position such as accountant or financial analyst.

In-demand jobs that pay $60,000 to $79,999

Market research analysts and marketing specialists

Median pay: $65,810 per year, or $31.64 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 96,000.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 22%.

Job description: Market research analysts monitor marketing and sales trends, analyze data on consumers and industry trends, and measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree, but sometimes a master’s degree.

Working conditions: Full time with potential for long hours, in a variety of industries including finance and insurance, wholesale trade and publishing.

Training needed: At least a four-year degree typically in market research, business, communications or social science; some positions require a master's degree in marketing research, statistics and marketing or business administration; certification is voluntary, but is offered by the Marketing Research Association.

Logisticians

Median pay: $76,270 per year, or $36.67 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 24,500.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 30%.

Job description: Logisticians manage an organization’s supply chain, which includes directing allocation of products and maintaining relationships with suppliers and clients.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree or, in some cases, an associate degree.

Working conditions: Full time and fast paced; on-site or remote; in multiple industries that provide goods.

Training needed: Four-year or two-year college training in logistics and supply chain management, business or a related field; certification is not required, but logisticians can become certified through the Association for Supply Chain Management or International Society of Logistics.

In-demand jobs that pay $40,000 to $59,999

Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors

Median pay: $40,510 per year, or $19.48 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 69,100.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 39%.

Job description: Fitness training and instructors teach exercise techniques to groups and/or individuals.

Minimum education required: High school diploma or equivalent is typical. Certification may be required.

Working conditions: Part-time or full-time hours; in gyms, health clubs and yoga studios, among other recreation centers and private homes.

Training needed: Varies by specialty, but employers typically prefer to hire instructors who are certified; trainers with associate or bachelor’s degrees usually studied recreation and fitness or health care; the National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits certifying organizations in fitness and wellness.

Tutors and teachers and instructors

Median pay: $40,590.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 60,200.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 16%.

Job description: Providing academic instruction and feedback to individual, or groups of, students in specific or a variety of subjects.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree.

Working conditions: Part time or full time; typically on-site; work is with a tutoring company, traditional classroom setting or in students' homes.

Training needed: Bachelor’s degrees in education and/or specific subject matters; master’s degrees may be required depending on the state or type of school (public or private).

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors

Median pay: $47,660 per year, or $22.91 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 41,000.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 23%.

Job description: These counselors provide evaluation and treatment and advise individuals with alcohol or drug addiction and abuse, or other mental and behavioral problems.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree and, often, a master’s degree.

Working conditions: Full time and may require evening, night or weekend work, especially when intervening in crisis situations; this work is highly stressful; on-site or remote; work is in a variety of settings including mental health centers, substance abuse centers, hospitals and community health centers, prisons and private practices.

Training needed: At least a four-year degree in psychology, clinical social work, mental health counseling or similar; a master’s degree may be required in certain states or settings; counselors must be licensed through state regulating boards, which can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Industrial machinery mechanics

Median pay: $54,920 per year, or $26.40 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 56,300.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 19%.

Job description: Industrial machinery mechanics install, maintain and repair factory equipment and machinery.

Minimum education required: High school diploma.

Working conditions: Full-time hours and overtime is common, as is on-call work during nights and weekends; on-site in manufacturing facilities; subject to safety and protection protocols.

Training needed: On-the-job training that may include apprenticeship work.

In-demand jobs that pay $34,000 to $39,999

Passenger vehicle drivers, except transit and intercity bus drivers

Median pay: $34,670 per year, or $16.67 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 134,800.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 25%.

Job description: Passenger vehicle drivers operate buses, taxis, vans and other transportation vehicles that carry people.

Minimum education required: None required.

Working conditions: Full-time or part-time hours; schedules will vary, but could include weekends, evenings and early mornings; school bus drivers work when school is in session; some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

Training needed: Must meet training and licensing requirements, which includes a clean driving record, as well as physical requirements; on-the-job training is common; drivers — including all bus drivers — will need a commercial driver’s license, or a CDL.

Medical assistants

Median pay: $35,850 per year, or $17.23 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 104,400.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 18%.

Job description: Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, including assisting with examinations, preparing blood samples, measuring vital signs and recording patient history.

Minimum education required: Postsecondary certificate or high school diploma.

Working conditions: Full-time hours that may include evenings, weekends and holidays; on-site in health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and group medical practices.

Training needed: Short-term or two-year programs to achieve a certificate or associate degree; some employers may hire medical assistants with a high school diploma and provide on-the-job training.

Social and human service assistants

Median pay: $35,960 per year, or $17.29 per hour.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 59,100.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 17%.

Job description: Social and human service assistants provide client services and support for families across multiple fields including psychology, health care, elder care, rehabilitation and social work. That work includes determining a treatment plan, researching services and helping clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs.

Minimum education required: At least a high school diploma, but often a certificate or an associate degree.

Working conditions: Full-time hours; on-site work with possible travel around communities; typically work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes and shelters.

Training needed: Requirements will vary, but typical entrants may have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training; certificate or associate degree holders usually studied human services, gerontology or social or behavioral sciences; bachelor’s degree holders who enter this field may have studied social science, psychology or public policy and social services; valid driver’s license and clear criminal background check are often needed.

Coaches and scouts

Median pay: $36,330.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 45,100.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 26%.

Job description: Coaches instruct amateur or professional athletes while scouts look for new players and evaluate potential for their success at the college, amateur or professional level. There is often overlap between the two positions.

Minimum education required: Bachelor’s degree.

Working conditions: Irregular, and often long, working hours including evenings, weekends and holidays during the sports season; frequent travel to sporting events; high schools typically hire administrators or faculty members for coaching jobs but sometimes hire outside the school.

Training needed: Coaches typically have a four-year degree in recreation and fitness fields such as kinesiology, sports medicine or physical education; scouts often have a four-year degree in marketing or sports management; must have extensive knowledge of the game they are coaching or scouting for, as well as experience playing the game; coaches are often required to be trained in CPR and first aid.

Self-enrichment teachers

Median pay: $39,960.

Annual projected number of new jobs: 79,200.

Projected employment growth from 2020-2030: 24%.

Job description: Self-enrichment teachers instruct in areas of recreation or self enrichment, such as music, instrument, art, dance, scuba diving and driving.

Minimum education required: High school diploma or equivalent.

Working conditions: Part-time hours are common and may depend on students’ other obligations, such as school; some work at schools, gyms, studios or community education organizations.

Training needed: High school diploma or equivalent is usually required, but all other education levels will vary by the teacher’s experience; knowledge and skill in the area of self-enrichment is essential.

How to pay for education and training for future jobs

For all jobs that require more than a high school diploma to enter, you’ll likely need some level of postsecondary education. The type of education you’ll need will depend entirely on the field you plan to enter and may range anywhere from a certificate to a Ph.D. These programs vary in cost.

  • Short-term certificate programs: Short-term programs at bootcamps, trade schools and community colleges are rarely eligible for federal financial aid. Due to the length of time it takes to complete a program, they can be less expensive than traditional college programs, but they may be more costly than certificate or associate degree programs at community colleges. You’ll usually pay out of pocket to cover costs and aren’t eligible for need-based aid programs like the federal Pell Grant.

  • Trade school certificate programs: Certificate programs at trade schools are eligible for federal student aid only if the school is eligible for what is known as Title IV funding. The Department of Education’s College Scorecard has a section on training programs that includes schools that accept Pell Grants.

  • Two-year certificate and associate degree programs at community colleges: Certificate and degree programs at community colleges are typically covered by federal financial aid. You’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to qualify.

  • Four-year bachelor’s degrees: The cost of attendance at any four-year institution will depend largely on whether it’s a public or a private college or university. Compare college costs and other financial aid data using the College Scorecard. Most students (62%, according to The Institute of College Access and Success) require student loans to complete a college degree. Submit the FAFSA to find out if you’re eligible for free aid, like the Pell Grant, and access federal student loans. Consider federal loans before turning to private student loans; federal loans offer more options for repayment and opportunities for forgiveness.

  • Master’s, professional and Ph.D. programs: These programs, available at colleges and universities, are typically the most expensive. However, some programs offer free tuition and/or housing in exchange for teaching classes. If you need loans, you may be eligible for unsubsidized federal student loans, which are subject to limits. You are also eligible for federal direct graduate PLUS loans, which have no limits beyond the cost of attendance minus other aid; however, this leads some students to take on more debt than they can handle. Private student loans for graduate work are also an option and have similar parameters to graduate PLUS loans.

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