Planning for a lucrative, sustaining career has always been challenging. Because it’s contingent on so many fluctuating variables, choosing the right career path can seem like a gamble on the future.
External factors like social and cultural climates, technological advances, economic conditions, and political and legal environments can all influence whether companies are hiring and what roles are in demand. Examples that demonstrate this might include a volatile political atmosphere, a fragile world economy, the rise of alternative fuels or energy sources, or an epidemic or pandemic.
With so many career options and potential for outside influences, how do you choose when what’s in demand today could potentially be obsolete in the future? Nearly every high school senior or first-year college student can relate to this conundrum.
This article will look at the current in-demand, high-paying careers as well as the fastest growing industries to explore what careers may potentially have the most longevity for the future.
Top high-paying careers for the future
How to monitor trends of fastest growing sectors and industries
Which four industries are set to grow most over the next decade
The importance of investing in your career emotionally and financially
What are the top career choices for the next 10 years?
To begin your research on the best career path for the future, it makes logical sense to start with the current most in-demand, high-paying careers of today. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a lot of earnings and employment data, including an Employment Projections and Occupational Outlook Handbook that provides a summary of employment projections as relates to recent, current, and future economic considerations.
The summary will give you a good overview of what careers are currently thriving, even amid external influences. Next, you can take a look at the fastest growing occupations by median pay.
Finally, drill down into the details of the job roles that interest you most by clicking the occupation titles. You’ll notice the fastest growing, highest paying occupations fall into four categories:
Business intelligence and analytics
Computer science and IT networking
This is important because multiple available role types in a growing industry suggest trending towards greater career longevity. It also means that should your chosen field at some point take a downturn, it may be possible for you to use your transferable skills to make a lateral career move into a related role.
Why you should monitor how growth sectors are trending
To better understand how external drivers are influencing high-growth industry sectors, you can research each sector in more detail through a variety of available sources including:
Reports by thought leadership consulting firms like Deloitte,Ernst & Young, and McKinsey & Company
Insights from business management schools and universities like Arizona State University and Harvard Business School
Academic articles such as those searchable in databases via Google Scholar
You don’t have to be an economist to care about economic and business growth trends, nor does your research need to be exhaustive to be useful. But you will likely find that any data that can influence a decision as important, and sometimes as overwhelming, as choosing your career path will be welcome and informative. Just following some basic trends of fast-growing sectors and industries that interest you can help you decide what field you may ultimately want to choose for your future career.
That said, let’s investigate why the following industries are projected to grow over the next decade, which roles are highest paying in each category, and what the outlook is for each.
Best careers for the future: 4 industry segments set to grow most over the next 10 years, and why
For the purposes of this collection of fastest-growing industry categories and their associated occupations, we will be referencing only those roles cited in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics's 2022 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Which healthcare professions are fastest growing and highest paying?
Fast growing and high paying healthcare professions include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapist assistants, caregivers, and medical/health services managers.
Healthcare professionals may work in a variety of medical and care facilities, including hospitals, physicians' offices, inpatient or outpatient clinics, group medical practices, and other healthcare settings. Most are full time employees.
Healthcare is expected to be the fastest growing industry over the next decade. Elements that may contribute to increased demand in the medical and healthcare spaces include caring for the aging baby-boom population; longer life expectancies; an increase in chronic conditions; and manufacture and sale of new healthcare products, apps, and software.
Around 56 thousand openings for medical and health services managers are projected each year over the next decade. Many of the openings are expected to result from backfilling workers who move into different occupations or retire.
It’s also worth mentioning there is discussion around the “Care Economy”—or the unformalized care provided by unpaid caregivers—creating new paid opportunities. The top proposed careers are medical transcriptionists; physical therapist aides; radiation therapists; respiratory therapists; occupational therapy assistants; athletic trainers; and medical equipment preparers.
Information / analytics
Which information / analytics professions are the fastest growing and highest paying?
What makes the information and analytics space so important are the coveted skills of architecting infrastructure and mastering data tools that can provide order to structured and unstructured Big Data.
For large, global companies to make use of raw customer data, that data needs to be accessible and manageable. This then allows the valuable business intelligence to be harvested using analytics, data mining, and data visualization to extract the insights that guide data-driven decisions for organizations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there should be a compound annual rate uptick of about 1.9% over the next decade for these roles.
Other professions in the information and analytics category include statisticians, mathematicians, artificial intelligence specialists, data scientists, data engineers, big data developers, data analysts, clinical data managers, information security analysts, business Intelligence analysts, market research analysts, and operations research analysts.
The top employers of information and analytics professionals are the federal government and scientific research and development companies. Mathematicians and statisticians may work with engineers, scientists, and other specialists. Insurance and health care companies also have deep data infrastructures that require information scientists.
Projected employment of information and analytics professionals varies by occupation. Employment growth for statisticians is expected to result from the increased and more widespread use of statistical analysis to inform business, healthcare, and policy decisions.
The amount of digitally stored data is expected to increase over the next decade as people and companies continue to conduct business online and use social media, smartphones, and other devices. As a result, the need will grow for statisticians to analyze the large amount of information and data collected. Statistical analyses can help companies improve their business processes, design and develop new products, and advertise products to prospective customers.
Second only to healthcare, data and AI are among the top fastest growing segments with an annual growth rate of about 41%.
Computer science / IT
Which computer science / IT professions are the fastest growing and highest paying?
Other peripheral roles might include global risk and compliance with a security focus.
Computer science, IT, and information security analysts typically work for computer companies, consulting firms, or business and financial companies.
Employment, specifically for information security analysts, is projected to grow 35% from 2021 to 2031, which is more rapid (over seven times faster) than the national average for ALL occupations.
On average, about 19 thousand openings for information security analysts are projected each year over the next decade. Why such steep growth? According to at least one analysis, the number of available cybersecurity experts must grow by 145% just to meet the current global market’s demands.
Another fast-growing segment in the computer science / IT space is engineering and cloud computing. With an annual growth rate of 33%, this segment is well positioned for growth over the next ten years.
Which supply chain professions are the fastest growing and highest paying?
Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, including how a product is acquired, allocated, and delivered.
Related occupations might include cost estimators; meeting, convention, and event planners; purchasing managers; buyers and purchasing agents; and quality control inspectors.
Logisticians work in nearly every industry. The job can be stressful because logistical work is fast-paced. Most logisticians work full time and during regular business hours.
Employment for logisticians is expected to grow 28% between 2021 and 2031, which equates to about 24,800 openings for logisticians projected each year.
Investing in your career emotionally and financially with the best careers for the future
There is no doubt that high-paying jobs with the potential for long-term security can be appealing. But when it comes to a career, there’s more to consider than just a salary. For the best chance of longevity, you should ideally like your job as well as being good at it.
Your career is one aspect of life that requires some commitment, whether that be time spent learning or training, working at your job, working with others, or being away from family, friends, and other personal pursuits.
You will want to weigh all your emotional and financial investments to understand the true cost of what you will be giving up versus gaining when choosing the best career path for you now and in the future.
Be aware that external factors—like social and cultural climates, technological advances, economic conditions, and political and legal environments—can all influence whether companies are hiring and what roles are in demand.
Research the highest-paying, fastest growing occupations from reputable sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Drill down into the details of job roles that interest you to learn more about education requirements, projected growth rate, median salary, and more.
Monitor high-growth sectors for trending patterns that can inform whether or when it may be time to make a career pivot.
Above all, choose a career that inspires you to go to work each day.