Climate change and an aging population are driving the demand for the fastest growing jobs in the U.S.
Solar panel installers and those who work on wind turbines can expect to see plenty of opportunities in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many occupations that are centered on the changing environment — like forest fire prevention specialists — are slated to see double-digit increases through 2026.
“We may be looking to make more investments in jobs around climate change,” said Indeed director of research Martha Gimbel, noting however, that new tariffs have negatively affected the job site’s listings for solar installers.
Since 2010, the share of the U.S. population over the age of 59 has increased 17% to more than one-fifth of the country, according to an analysis by Codetic of U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That graying of America means more demand for health care services, Gimbel said.
But, taking a wider view, she said we are transitioning to more of a service economy in general. While health care occupations may be the fastest growing, others, such as bicycle mechanics, will see similar spikes over the next seven years.
“A lot of the things we’re buying are services now,” Gimbel said.
Taking an even broader view of the job market, occupations that pay the lowest, like home health aide, and those that offer much higher pay, like physician assistant, will grow much faster than jobs that fall in the middle of the pay spectrum.
But, if companies or individuals have a difficult time finding suitable workers for those low-paying jobs — for reasons that include harsher immigration laws — wages could rise along with employment, Gimbel said.
The 10 Fastest-Growing Jobs and How Much They Pay
The Labor Department in May updated its annual and hourly pay data to go along with the employment projections, so let’s take a look at how much you can actually make working in the 10 fastest-growing jobs.
1. Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Median annual pay: $42,680
Projected job growth: 104.9%
Solar photovoltaic installers spend their days climbing onto roofs and installing green-energy panels. The job requires physical strength and endurance, as well as willingness to learn the technical aspects of the solar panels and how they fit into the electrical grid.
Click here for information on how to get into this career.
2. Wind Turbine Service Technician
Median annual pay: $54,370
Projected job growth: 96.3%
Another job in the green energy sector slated to grow quickly in the coming years, wind turbine technician is more intense in terms of physical labor and on-the-job danger than that of solar installer. A short stint in technical school — as little as six months — can have you prepared for this occupation.
The job is not for those who are afraid of heights.
3. Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides
Median annual pay: $24,200
Projected job growth: 47.3%
Retirement homes can be expensive and most people would prefer to age in place. So as the U.S. population gets older, the demand for in-home care — which is cheaper — is going to rise.
Work as a home health aide doesn’t pay the best, but as Gimbel said, the annual wages may rise faster than most careers as companies find difficulty staffing positions. You only need a high school diploma for this occupation, but working for companies that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements might require additional licensing.
4. Physician Assistants
Median annual pay: $108,610
Projected job growth: 37.3%
Physician assistants serve as the right hand to doctors or surgeons, and might even be primary health care workers in rural areas. This is the first job of the list that requires a Master’s degree and carries licensing requirements.
Click here for a list of accredited programs. You might want to cross reference it with our list of the best bang-for-your-buck colleges by state.
5. Nurse Practitioner
Median annual pay: $107,030
Projected job growth: 36.1%
Nurse practitioners can perform many of the health care services doctors can, and make six figures, without all that schooling and those residency requirements. The job is slated for double-digit growth due to the aging population. Meanwhile, the number of doctors is only expected to grow 13% for the same period, according to the BLS.
The job does require a Master’s degree.
Median annual pay: $87,780
Projected job growth: 33.8%
We’ve written about the lucrative college majors coming along with the rise of big data and how to become a data scientist. A statistician is essentially the same thing, albeit the term is a little dated.
Statisticians find trends in data to help guide business decisions in just about every industry. Since this job requires lots of coding, a computer science minor will be helpful — and you’ll definitely want a Master’s degree to exceed in this field.
7. App Developer
Median annual pay: $103,620
Projected job growth: 30.7%
Don’t just think “mobile app” with this fast-growing occupation. Application developers are in demand in nearly every industry, from gaming and entertainment to health care to newspapers.
There are multiple paths to this career, including coding boot camps or just teaching yourself to code.
Median annual pay: $101,900
Projected job growth: 29.7%
Mathematician is another job that follows the big data trend. You can’t crunch data and statistics without math, right? Federal, state and local governments are the biggest employers of those on this career path, which can mean great benefits.
Typically, a mathematician will need a Master’s degree to land a job. The BLS suggests taking a computer science minor (spoiler: you’ll be doing a lot of coding in this occupation.)
9. Physical Therapist Aide
Median annual pay: $26,240
Projected job growth: 29.4%
Yet another health care career on this list, physical therapist aides get everything ready for the physical therapist to treat a patient.
The job requires only a high school diploma, but you can add up to $30,000 to your annual pay by getting an associate’s degree and becoming a physical therapy assistant rather than an aide.
10. Bicycle Mechanic
Median annual pay: $28,960
Projected job growth: 29.3%
In 2017, more than 890,000 Americans commuted by bicycle to work — a 28% increase since 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That means a lot of demand from folks who’d rather rotate the tires on their bikes than their cars.
There are multiple ways to learn bike repair without paying for classes. We talked to one guy who makes good money flipping bikes. He asked bike-store owners to use their tools to learn the trade. Bicycle co-ops are great places to pick up the knowhow and get an idea of the demand for services in your town.
Alex Mahadevan is a former data journalist at Codetic.