For many job hunters, the options look gloomy in every direction. But there are some sectors that are flourishing, and will continue to do so in coming years. In his book "Best Jobs for the 21st Century," Laurence Shatkin offers guidance to all career seekers, and lists the most fertile 400 jobs of the future.
Shatkin studied the Bureau of Labor Statistics' projected data for 2008 to 2018, and analyzed a job's predicted growth and openings, as well as its expected average annual salary. He crunched the numbers, and these are the top 10 jobs overall for the 21st century:
10. Dental Hygienists
Annual earnings: $68,250
Percent growth: 36.1
Annual openings: 9,840
Dentistry is a baby boomer industry, and there aren't enough young dentists to fill the gaps when those baby boomers retire. This may be bad news for getting a dentist appointment in the future, but it's great news for dental hygienists. More dental hygienists are needed to shoulder the extra work, and younger dentists are far more likely to hire a dental hygienist in general. If you have good hand-eye coordination, and a gentle-but-firm touch, then you can expect nary a pink slip on this career track.
9. Physical Therapists
Annual earnings: $76,310
Percent growth: 30.3
Annual openings: 7,860
Physical therapists treat individuals who struggle to move in some way, whether due to a chronic condition, an illness or an injury. As our society ages, there will be far more people in need of these services.
8. Medical Scientists (except Epidemiologists)
Annual earnings: $76,700
Percent growth: 40.4
Annual openings: 6,620
In universities and hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms, medical scientists are working to better human health. They are pioneering the next generation of drugs, vaccines and treatments that humanity desperately needs. With the biotech sector booming, and our understanding of genetics deepening everyday, more medical scientists are needed to develop, test and act on all that new knowledge.
7. Civil Engineers
Annual earnings: $77,560
Percent growth: 24.3
Annual openings: 11,460
Airports, bridges, roads, tunnels water supply systems -- you name it, and civil engineers build it. In the coming years, we will need more of all of the above as the population of the country continues to grow. Also, as President Obama frequently reminds the public, much of our current infrastructure is crumbling. So civil engineers will have to rebuild all of that too.
6. Registered Nurses
Annual earnings: $64,690
Percent growth: 22.2
Annual openings: 103,900
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has been sounding the alarm about an impending nurse shortage for years. Baby boomers make up a large percentage of nurses, and experts warned of inadequate care for them as they age and require more medical care.
But recently the number of young people, particularly young women, registering as nurses has surged. There should be plenty of openings for all of them in the next few years, plus some extra too.
5. Computer Systems Analysts
Annual earnings: $77,740
Percent growth: 20.3
Annual openings: 22,280
As organizations adopt increasingly advanced technologies, they will need more and more computer systems analysts to make them work, to design new kinds, and apply old ones to new frontiers.
4. Management Analysts
Annual earnings: $78,160
Percent growth: 23.9
Annual openings: 30,650
Management analysts (or management consultants) offer outsider advice to executives about how to improve their business. The business of management consulting, however, seems to need little advice itself. It's a core part of the consulting services sector, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers the second fastest growing industry in the U.S.
Management analysts help organizations stay competitive, and staying competitive is the mantra of the 21st century economy.
3. Software Developers, Systems Software
Annual earnings: $94,180
Percent growth: 30.4
Annual openings: 15,340
Systems software developers design the computer hardware, firmware and operating systems that allow us to do anything with computers and mobile devices. As long as people still use these tools, we will need people to make them function.
2. Physicians and Surgeons
Annual earnings: $165,279
Percent growth: 21.8
Annual openings: 26,050
Forty percent of practicing physicians are over 55 years old, according to a 2011 report by the Alliance for Health Reform. As baby boomer doctors retire, that gaping void will need filling. And as those baby boomers age, they will require more health care services, which will send demand soaring when supply is already tight.
1. Software Developers, Applications
Annual earnings: $87,790
Percent growth: 34
Annual openings: 21,840
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
Dickens' famous line, according to TechCrunch, summarizes the jobs situation in America today. Across most of this country, jobs are scarce and funds are tight. In Silicon Valley, on the other hand, employers are waging bidding wars over technical talent.
The market for software developers is red hot right now, and shows no sign of abating. There will always be demand for new applications, the things that allow us to play games, listen to music, write documents, and wander the web. Anyone who learns how to build them well will likely be sifting through job offers for years to come.
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