Alternative energy sources and health care will provide some of the fastest-growing careers in the coming years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The top two sources of projected job growth for the decade from 2016 through 2026 are related to solar energy and wind energy, respectively—and both jobs are expected to grow at more than twice the rate of any other job in the nation.
Five of the next six jobs on the list are related to health care. The findings are based on research the BLS conducts and updates every couple of years.
Solar panel installers top the list with an expected growth rate of 105 percent, and wind turbine service technicians are close behind at 96 percent. In other words, these workforces are expected to approximately double during the projected time period due to expected growth in demands for alternative energy.
Solar panel installers earned a median annual income of $39,240 in 2016, according to the BLS, and the median income for wind turbine service technicians that year was $52,260.
Jobs in the health care field dominate the BLS's list of fastest-growing careers. Coming in third and fourth overall on the list are home health aides and personal care aides, expected to grow at rates of 47 percent and 39 percent, respectively. While the two jobs are very similar, home health aides may provide some basic medical care. Median annual income for the two jobs in 2016 were $22,600 and $21,920.
Fifth on the list are physician assistants, with a 2016 median annual income of $101,480 and an expected job-growth rate of 37 percent. They are followed at sixth by nurse practitioners, with a 2016 median annual income of $100,910 and an expected job-growth rate of 36 percent.
Other health care-related careers on the list include physical therapist assistants at eighth, physical therapist aides at 11th, medical assistants at 13th, genetic counselors at 14th, occupational therapy assistants at 15th, physical therapists at 17th, and massage therapists at 20th.
Other Fields or Industries
Some of the fastest-growing job opportunities outside of the alternative energy and health care industries are expected to be for statisticians and other mathematicians. Statisticians rank seventh on the list with an expected job growth rate of 34 percent, while mathematicians, in general, come in at 10th with a projected job growth rate of 30 percent. Multiple industries employ statisticians and mathematicians to help compile and interpret data. While the job titles are similar, statisticians specialize more in specific types of data and in probabilities. Statisticians earned a 2016 median annual income of $80,500, and mathematicians earned a median annual income of $105,810 that year, making it the highest-paying career on the list.
Coming in ninth on the list are software developers, earning a median annual income of $100,080 in 2016. Demand is projected to grow by 31 percent.
Other careers expected to see significant growth include bicycle mechanics at 12th on the list, information security analysts at 16th, operations research analysts at 18th, and forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists at 19th.
Choosing a Career
An occupation's inclusion on lists like this one is not reason enough to decide to pursue it. Do your homework and look at labor market information, including employment projections, to find out your chances of getting a job when you complete your training. Don't rely on that alone when making your final choice, though. An occupation, even one with a very bright future, must be suitable for you based on your interests, values, aptitude, personality type, and your feelings about the job duties and work environment. You can learn about yourself by doing a self-assessment and about the careers you are considering by reading job descriptions and conducting informational interviews.