Special Report

America's Fastest Growing Jobs

After the recession wiped out millions of jobs, the American labor market has at least partially recovered. So far this year, the United States has added roughly 1.6 million jobs. And in the 10 years through 2022, the BLS estimates that employment will grow by over 15 million jobs, or by 11%.

Some jobs are expected to better capitalize on economic, demographic, and workplace trends than others. For example, industrial-organizational psychologists are expected to grow 53.4%, the fastest in the nation, and occupations in the health sector are also anticipated to disproportionately grow. Based on estimated employment figures and projections for 2012 and 2022 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for more than 1,000 occupations, 24/7 Wall St. identified the fastest growing jobs in America.

Click here to see the 10 fastest growing jobs.

The jobs with the largest expected growth are often those that benefit from America’s changing demographics. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the BLS, noted that the effects of an aging population, which has access to Medicare, “combined with innovations that provide new treatments” has led to increases in health care spending. In turn, more spending creates “a high demand for jobs to provide these services,” he added.

In fact, the average of all health support occupations is expected to grow 28% by 2022. Six jobs within the top 10 are in the health care sector.

Some of the fastest growing jobs are expected to receive a boost from economic trends. For example, the BLS expects that a continued economic rebound will lead to greater demand for construction and renovations. While construction laborers and helpers are expected to grow 25%, jobs such as masons’ helpers are expected to grow at a considerably higher rate of 45%.

Government and private sector initiatives are also expected to contribute to growth in specific occupations. New federal health care legislation is expected to increase access to health care and, in turn, to the scale of the health care industry. Meanwhile, mechanical insulators are expected to benefit from an increased focus on environmental sustainability.

Most of the occupations with the highest estimated growth rates are not especially large. Only two occupations, home health aides and personal care aides, are estimated to be among the larger jobs by number of people employed in 2022.

There does not appear to be wage or educational trends among the jobs with the largest growth rates. These occupations all have various levels of median wage as well as differing educational requirements.

To determine the jobs with the highest forecast rate of employment growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed BLS Employment Projections program data for 2012 and 2022. In order to qualify, occupations needed to reference a specific job rather than a broader classification. Figures from the BLS for 2012 represent estimates, while figures for 2022 represent forecasts and may be revised. Further information on each occupation came from the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These are the fastest growing jobs in America.

10. Physical Therapist Assistants
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 41.0%
> Number employed, 2012: 71,400
> Number employed, 2022: 100,700
> Median annual income: $52,160
> Educational qualification: Associate’s degree

Physical therapist assistants work for physical therapists to facilitate patient treatment. The profession is expected to be among the fastest growing occupations in America. Typically, their job includes observing, stretching, monitoring, and educating the patients. According to the BLS, demand for physical therapy in general is expected to rise due to the greater needs of America’s aging population. Aging baby boomers may require more rehabilitation services as they grow old. Additionally, health conditions that are increasingly affecting the population, such as obesity and diabetes, are expected to require greater rehabilitation services.

9. Genetic Counselors
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 41.2%
> Number employed, 2012: 2,100
> Number employed, 2022: 3,000
> Median annual income: $56,800
> Educational qualification: Master’s degree

The BLS estimates a 41.2% growth in the number of genetic counselors between 2012 and 2022, more than double the rate of other health care practitioners. This growth is largely due to technological advancements in lab testing and genomics. Such development will allow genetic counselors to more accurately assess “individual or family risks for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders or birth defects,” the BLS noted. And yet, the field will remain relatively small. With only 2,100 people working as genetic counselors as of 2012, the extremely fast growth will result in just 900 new jobs.

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8. Occupational Therapy Assistants
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 42.6%
> Number employed, 2012: 30,300
> Number employed, 2022: 43,200
> Median annual income: $53,240
> Educational qualification: Associate’s degree

Like other medical related occupations, the demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to rise the population ages. As baby boomers become more prone to stroke or arthritis, they will require treatment from an increased number of occupational therapy assistants. Therapy assistants help their patients recover and maintain the skills needed for daily living. Additionally, occupational therapists assistants will be required to meet continued demand for the care of children and adults with disabilities. The BLS expects the growing demand will result in a nearly 43% job growth, well above the national job growth rate of 10.8%.

7. Masons’ Helpers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 43.0%
> Number employed, 2012: 24,400
> Number employed, 2022: 34,900
> Median annual income: $28,220
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

Mason’s helpers provide assistance to lead masons, who make plans, read blueprints, and lay out foundation patterns. As of 2012, there were only 24,400 people working as masons’ helpers. However, the BLS forecasts that a post-recession rebound in construction will result in a large increase in new schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other buildings. This new construction will require a large number of workers with training in building fences, walkways, and walls. The BLS estimates that the need for onsite mason helpers should grow by 43% between 2012 and 2022, almost twice the growth rate of construction sector employment as a whole. Despite the expected construction boom, the construction sector, including mason’s helpers, is highly dependent on cyclical factors.

6. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.0%
> Number employed, 2012: 58,800
> Number employed, 2022: 85,900
> Median annual income: $65,860
> Educational qualification: Associate’s degree

Diagnostic medical sonographers provide medical imaging of the human body’s organs and tissues. Like other health occupations, demand for diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to grow rapidly. As a large segment of the population ages and the health care industry grows, the need for diagnostic services will expand. Developments in medical imaging technology will make procedures less expensive and invasive, resulting in increased demand. The employment of medical sonographers is anticipated to grow by about 27,000, or 46%.

5. Interpreters and Translators
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.1%
> Number employed, 2012: 63,600
> Number employed, 2022: 92,900
> Median annual income: $45,430
> Educational qualification: Bachelor’s degree

The BLS pointed to increased globalization and greater diversity within the United States as the primary driver of growth for the profession. Although computers have greatly increased the efficiency and productivity of interpreters and translators, technology cannot provide the specific nuances of human translation. Demand will likely remain strong for frequently translated languages, but most growth will likely be due to greater need for translators in American Sign Language and emerging market languages. According to the BLS, “growing international trade and broadening global ties” will create new jobs for interpreters and translators.

4. Mechanical Insulation Workers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.7%
> Number employed, 2012: 28,900
> Number employed, 2022: 42,400
> Median annual income: $39,170
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

While the BLS forecasts above average growth in construction employment, the estimated growth rate of mechanical insulation workers is projected to be more-than twice that, at 47%. Unlike other types of insulators, mechanical insulation workers require greater specialty given the challenges of applying insulation to pipes and ducts in all types of buildings. Increased emphasis on energy efficiency will result in growing demand for mechanical insulation workers instead of non-mechanical insulation workers.

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3. Home Health Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.5%
> Number employed, 2012: 875,100
> Number employed, 2022: 1,299,300
> Median annual income: $20,820
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

An aging population will likely result in a greater need for home health aides, who provide individualized daily client care. The number of such aides is expected to grow by over 48% in the 10 years from 2012 and become one of the most commonly-held jobs by 2022. Home health aides typically work for a medical institution and keep a record of services performed and the client’s conditions, in addition to providing home care and companionship. For elderly clients, home health care is increasingly popular because it offers a “less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals,” the BLS notes.

2. Personal Care Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.8%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,190,600
> Number employed, 2022: 1,771,400
> Median annual income: $19,190
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

Similar to home health aides, personal care aides provide individualized home health services to elderly clients living at home. However, personal care aids are restricted to providing only basic medical services and will often work in conjunction with nurses or social workers. The BLS expects that over 580,000 jobs for personal care aides will be created in the decade through 2022, the most out of any of America’s fastest growing jobs. Yet, the median annual wage for personal care aids was just $19,910 as of 2012, well below the nationwide median of $34,750 for all occupations.

1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 53.4%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,600
> Number employed, 2022: 2,500
> Median annual income: $83,580
> Educational qualification: Master’s degree

Industrial organizational psychologists are anticipated to be the fastest growing job in the U.S. in the 10 years through 2022. The BLS estimates that in the 10-year period through 2022, employment of industrial-organizational psychologists will rise more than 53%, dramatically higher than the growth rates for all jobs and for other psychologist professions. The use of psychology is expected to increase across the nation as individuals and institutions look for help in solving or managing problems. Industrial-organizational psychologists address issues relating to workplace productivity, organizational developments, and employee screening. Becoming an industrial-organizational psychologist typically requires a master’s degree, as well as an internship or residency. Despite the forecast growth rate, the actual number of jobs expected to be added is very small — just 900 by 2022.

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