Special Report

America's 25 Fastest Growing Jobs

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25. Physical therapists
> 2018-2028 projected employment change: +21.9% (247,700 to 301,900)
> Typical education needed for entry: Doctoral or professional degree
> Median annual wage: $89,440

Physical therapists work with injured or ill patients in places like clinics or hospitals to help improve movement or reduce pain. Demand for physical therapists is projected to climb rapidly in the coming years as the baby boom generation ages and is more likely than previous generations to remain active into old age. The rising prevalence of chronic conditions like diabetes in obesity in the overall population will also drive up demand for physical therapy services as many with these conditions need assistance to remain mobile.

The number of Americans working as physical therapists is projected to climb by 21.9% from 2018 to 2028.

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24. Cooks, restaurant
> 2018-2028 projected employment change: +21.9% (1.4 million to 1.7 million)
> Typical education needed for entry: No formal educational credential
> Median annual wage: $27,790

Restaurant cooks is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S. Between 2018 and 2028, the number of people working as restaurant cooks is projected to increase from 1.4 million to 1.7 million, a 21.9% climb. The increase will, according to the BLS, be driven by growing consumer demand for high-quality, healthful food options. The profession is one of only a few on this list that does not typically have any formal education requirements.

It is important to note that restaurants have been hit hard by the COVID-19 recession and that future growth estimates that account for the virus’s effect may not be as optimistic.

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23. Massage therapists
> 2018-2028 projected employment change: +22.2% (159,800 to 195,200)
> Typical education needed for entry: Postsecondary nondegree award
> Median annual wage: $42,820

Massage therapists can work in a wide range of places, including spas, clinics, doctors’ offices, fitness centers, and hotels. Growing demand for massage services will drive employment growth in the occupation in the coming years. The number of people working as massage therapists is projected to grow by 22.2% between 2018 and 2028.

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22. Marriage and family therapists
> 2018-2028 projected employment change: +22.3% (55,300 to 67,700)
> Typical education needed for entry: Master’s degree
> Median annual wage: $49,610

Demand for marriage and family therapists will be growing in the coming years due in large part to increasing use of integrated care — a treatment method that involves a team of specialists, such as mental health counselors and substance abuse counselors, working together to address patients’ issues. As of 2018, there were 55,300 marriage and family therapists working in the U.S. That number is projected to climb to 67,700 by 2028, an increase of 22.3%.

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21. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors
> 2018-2028 projected employment change: +22.5% (304,500 to 373,100)
> Typical education needed for entry: Bachelor’s degree
> Median annual wage: $46,240

As of 2018, there were 304,500 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the United States. By 2028, there will likely be 373,100, a 22.5% increase. The rise will likely be driven by three primary factors. First, drug offenders are increasingly being sentenced to treatment programs rather than jail time to treat underlying addiction issues and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Second, these workers will be needed for ongoing treatment of military veterans. Finally, the opioid epidemic is leading to a surge in drug addiction in the United States.