America is officially on the rebound, adding 243,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 20 million new jobs are expected to materialize between 2010 and 2020, but some fields are expanding far more than others, the BLS reported recently.
Anything health-care related is soaring, thanks to aging baby boomers. And while experts tell us again and again that Americans need to be highly skilled to succeed in the new economy, many of these jobs need just a high school diploma, if that.
Here are the top 11 occupations that will be adding the most jobs in the coming decade:
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 262,000
Median salary: $19,300
Qualifications: Educational requirements vary by state, from less than a high school diploma to a college degree in early childhood education. But all child care workers should have a lot of physical energy and stamina, and mental energy and stamina too.
The country is realizing how critical early childhood is to a person's development. Schools and local governments are focusing on early childhood education, and a few states are considering universal preschool programs. They'll need a lot of caregivers for all of those kids.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 392,000
Median salary: $24,000
Qualifications: May require a high school diploma or equivalent. To work in a nursing care facility, nursing aides must complete state-approved training. Patience, attention to detail, and a kind and loving nature are pluses for this work.
Nursing aides take care of patients at the most basic, human level: feeding, bathing, moving, dressing, and grooming them. On Jan. 1 of this year, the oldest members of the baby boomer generation hit their 65th birthday. From that start date, an average of 10,000 baby boomers a day are expected to retire until 2030, reports the Pew Research Center. By 2050, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. A lot of those aging people will need to be fed, bathed, moved, dressed and groomed.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 319,000
Median annual earnings: $45,700
Qualifications: To get on the tenure track at a four-year college you'll need to spend the better part of a decade toiling over a Ph.D. But for certain disciplines, like the arts, part-time positions, and teaching jobs at two-year colleges, a master's degree may suffice. To work as a postsecondary teacher, you should probably also get a kick out of inspiring the next generation.
As more kids go to college over the next decade, they need more teachers to teach them.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 319,000
Median Wage: $23,000
Qualifications: As long as you're at least 18 and have the muscle, most employers will let you simply pick up the skills on the job. Good coordination and balance a must.
Many firms are contracting out their warehousing work, leading to growth in the warehousing and storage industry. Like most jobs that require little formal training, there's a lot of turnover, which means a lot of openings.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 330,000
Median Wage: $37,800
Qualifications: A driver's license, and a commercial driver's license if the truck is really big. Truck drivers should be responsible and able to work with little supervision, and can't ever have been convicted of a felony involving driving or drugs.
The more the economy grows, the more people buy stuff, and more stuff needs to be trucked.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 338,000
Median Wage: $30,500
Qualifications: Usually a high school diploma, and increasingly an associate or bachelor's degree. Since you're spending your days dealing with customers, applicants should have great communication and listening skills, and ideally a soothing speaking voice.
Pretty much every company cares about customer service, and they're caring about it more and more. Customer service is being outsourced less, and while the Internet has taken jobs away from some customer service reps, it has also created other positions for those helping customers use it.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 398,000
Median Wage: $18,000
Qualifications: Applicants don't need a high school diploma, but they should have a tidy appearance and good rapport with customers.
Fast food restaurants have the price and speed advantage to keep drawing customers, and with more healthy options, the fat-content-conscious are joining in the party.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 490,000
Median Wage: $26,600
Qualifications: Usually a high school diploma or equivalent, basic computer skills, and the ability to write well and work in a team.
Technology is killing a lot of specialized administrative positions, and consolidating many of them onto the to-do list of the general office clerk.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 607,000 and 706,000, respectively
Median Wage: $19,600 and $20,600
Qualifications: Aides don't need a high school diploma, and are usually trained on the job. But home health aides who work for an agency that receives funds from Medicare or Medicaid must complete a training program. Applicants should have a caring and upbeat disposition, and the tact to work in someone's private home.
As baby boomers age, many more retirees will be needing assistance in their homes or living communities.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2010: 707,000
Median wage: $20,700
Qualifications: Preference for applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. Good communication skills, and the tact and patience to handle hard-to-please customers.
Retail is the future of the U.S. economy, many experts say. The retail sector bounced back quickly after the recession, and dollar stores have continued to spread coast to coast. Wages are low, and turnover high, but retail has evergreen opportunities, despite the rising popularity of online shopping.
Jobs added between 2010 and 2010: 712,000
Median wage: $64,700
Qualifications: Usually an associate degree or a bachelor's degree, and must complete a national licensing examination. Should be caring, sympathetic people, with the emotional stability to handle the emotional instability of others.
In 2011, health care added an average of 27,000 jobs per month, and by 2020, the supply of registered nurses is expected to be 29 percent below what's needed, according to the Center for Health Workforce Studies report.
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