Best U.S. Industries for Employment

Which are the best industries to work in? Where are the hottest opportunities if you’re looking to start a career or considering a career change?

Here's an overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the top eight U.S. industries with the highest projected growth in employment opportunities through 2028. The overview includes the types of job available, required education and training, and salary information.

Healthcare and Social Assistance

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The healthcare service-providing industry has been growing consistently for the last 20 years and is predicted to maintain the highest growth in employment opportunities of all U.S. industries. The baby boomers are entering their senior years, increasing demand for healthcare and social assistance services. The BLS expects over 23 million Americans to be working in this industry by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Social service worker, home healthcare aide, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, doctor, and other healthcare specialist are typical jobs in this sector.

Education Requirements: Doctors, nurse practitioners, and social workers are a sample of professionals in this industry that require advanced degrees and additional professional training. There are also positions like nursing or medical aide that require a high school diploma and some non-degree training.

Salary Information: Doctors and surgeons can expect to earn a median annual income of about $208,000. Registered nurses, social workers, and psychologists make an average of $35/hour or $73,000+ per year. Nursing or medical aides, LPNs, and similar jobs are compensated at $14+/- per hour or $30,000 +/- a year.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is predicting that by 2028 there will be almost 3.4 million more jobs in the sector than there were in 2018, representing growth of almost 16%. Home healthcare services will be the fastest-growing category within the industry.

Educational Services

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The private educational services sector is expected to contain over 4,201,000 jobs by 2028, spurred by increasing requirements for future workers within a technologically advanced society.

Types of Jobs: Teacher, teaching assistant, tutor, special educator, counselor, speech therapist, administrator, physical plant staff, and support staff are some of the most common jobs in education.

Education Requirements: Teachers, counselors, administrators, and other professionals need a bachelor's or master’s degree. Vocational training or a high school diploma are required for support positions.

Salary Information: Median pay for teachers at the elementary and high school level was $57,980 and $60,320 respectively, while principals earned an average of $95,310. Teaching assistants earned an average of $26,970. 

Employment Opportunities and Growth: Educational services will experience strong growth over the next several years, with over 473,000 expected new jobs by 2028, an increase of 12%.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The construction sector is predicted to grow by almost 11%, with 807,500 new job openings by 2028: a drastic improvement from only 2% growth in jobs over the prior 10-year period. 

Construction

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The construction industry is expected to show a steady increase employment, with 8.096 million workers projected to be employed in the sector by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Most construction jobs are in the physical building field and are manual labor positions: carpenter, electrician, framer, sheet rocker, equipment operator, plumber, and welder. Management positions include titles like construction foreman, superintendent or supervisor, and field supervisor.

Education Requirements: For lower-paying, entry-level jobs, an apprenticeship, a high school degree, vocational training, or less is required. Years of experience and/or specialized training in a focused skill can qualify you for a higher-paying or supervisory position. An associate's or bachelor's degree in construction management can help candidates access a supervisor-level position.

Salary Information: Construction laborer and helper jobs are paid at an average hourly rate of about $17, while skilled craftsmen earn $25+ an hour. Construction managers earn an average of $45 per hour. 

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The construction sector is predicted to grow by almost 11%, with 807,500 new job openings by 2028: a drastic improvement from only 2% growth in jobs over the prior 10-year period. 

Leisure and Hospitality

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Growth in disposal income will lead to job increases in the leisure and hospitality sector, with over 23 million sector jobs expected to exist by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Typical jobs include cook, server, food preparation worker, food service manager, and lodging manager.

Education Requirements: For lower-paying, entry-level jobs, a high school degree, vocational training, or less is required. An associate's or bachelor's degree in hospitality management can help candidates access a supervisor-level position. However, the service industry has many different paths to grow a career.

Salary Information: Servers earn an average hourly wage of $10.45, though wages vary greatly by the amount of tip income and type of establishment. Lodging managers earn a median income of about $53,390, with food service managers averaging $54,240. 

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The leisure and hospitality industry is projected to grow by 9%, adding 1.556 million jobs over the next 10 years.

Professional and Business Services

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The professional and business services industry will experience significant growth as the economy continues to transition from manufacturing to service delivery. The BLS expects over 22.6 million jobs to exist in the sector by 2028. There is a broad spectrum of jobs that fall within this industry, ranging from scientific positions to management or support positions. 

Types of Jobs: Under professional, scientific, and technical services you will find job listings for architects, engineers, researchers, advertising professionals, and scientists. Business, administrative and management positions include accountants, human resource managers, training managers, sales managers, financial managers, and general and operations managers. Support employees may work within the outdoor maintenance, janitorial and security departments, or as administrative assistants.

Education Requirements: Most professional, scientific, managerial or financial positions require college, graduate, and sometimes post-graduate school. In addition, specific professional licenses are required to become an architect, auditor, engineer, doctor, or lawyer. Support service jobs like clerk, janitor, security guard, or groundskeeper need only a high school diploma or less.

Salary Information: High-end technical jobs, like architect or computer programmer, pay approximately $80,000+ annually. Top-performing employees have the potential to earn over $100,000 with appropriate experience and skills. The professional occupations in the industry, like lawyers, earn a median annual salary of around $121,000. Management analysts average $83,610. Basic service jobs can start at the state’s determined minimum wage or more per hour.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The BLS predicts employment professional and business services will grow by 8%, adding 1.66 million jobs by 2028.

Mining and Oil/Gas Extraction

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Loosening of regulations, further reliance on domestic natural resources, and discovery of mineral deposits in the U.S. are expected to fuel an expansion of job opportunities in the mining and oil/gas extraction industry. The BLS expects there to be 728, 000 jobs in the industry by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Truck driver, roustabout, petroleum engineer, equipment operator, and operations manager are typical positions in the sector.

Education Requirements: Engineering and some management jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Most trade workers will need a high school degree and receive on-the-job training. Truckers and equipment operators need commercial driver’s licenses.

Salary Information: Roustabouts earned a median income of $37,580 in 2018. Geological and petroleum technicians earned an average of $53,300, while petroleum engineers earned an average of $137,170.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: 44,600 new jobs are forecast by 2028, representing 6% growth from 2018.

Self-Employed (Non-Agricultural)

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The American dream of individuals working for themselves and escaping bosses has always been a goal for many workers. The trend toward the use of freelance labor and the desire of aging baby boomers to remain active in the labor market is expected to spur an increase in this type of work during the next several years. The BLS expects 9.45 million Americans to be in this category by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Common jobs for self-employment include driving services, writer, plumber, electrician, and other trades, consultant, doctor, lawyer, architect, psychologist, artist, web/graphic design, and elder and childcare workers.

Education Requirements: Vocational training leading to licensure is required for most trades. Professional fields like law and medicine require advanced degrees. Most other areas require little formal education, though certifications might be useful in attracting clients.

Salary Information: Income varies greatly among self-employed workers, given the diversity of roles and occupations in the sector. Some workers earn as little as minimum wage, while professionals like lawyers, psychologists and physicians might earn $200-$300 per hour.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The BLS expects this sector to expand by over 529,000 jobs by 2028, an increase of almost 6%.

Financial Activities

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The financial activities industry includes employment opportunities in real estate, banking, insurance, accounting, and investments. The BLS predicts significant growth due to increased retirement and financial planning by older workers, an increase in housing starts, and trends within the health insurance sector. The BLS expects that close to 8.85 million workers will be employed in this sector by 2028.

Types of Jobs: Most common jobs include insurance sales, customer service representative, accountant, auditor, bank teller, real estate sale, underwriter, financial products and services salesperson, and loan officer.

Education Requirements: Entry-level positions like customer service representative or bank teller require at least a high school degree. Accountant, financial planner, loan officer, and other higher-paying jobs in the industry require a bachelor’s degree or more.

Salary Information: Bank tellers and customer service representatives earn $14+ per hour. Salespersons in real estate have a median income of $50,300 and insurance salespersons generally earn $50,600 or more. Accountants average $70,500, and investment sales staff earn an average of $64,120.

Employment Opportunities and Growth: The BLS estimates that there will be 280,000 additional jobs in this industry by 2028, or about 3% growth. 

Source:  The Occupational Outlook Handbook, based on data gathered in May 2018.