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Career Digest: Jobs with the Fastest Growth

Updated on November 23, 2012

In spite of the high U.S. employment rate, there are job opportunities that are growing faster than others. In its publication, “Occupational Employment Projections to 2020”, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists 30 occupations with the fastest growth. BLS projects that overall employment will increase 14 percent by 2020 with approximately half a million new jobs added.

Registered nurses, retail salespersons, personal care aides and home health aides show the largest increase, with over 600,000 jobs added to each occupation in the next eight years. Home health aides and personal care aides have the highest percentage of growth change at 70 percent.

The 25-page report specifies the percentage of change; the number of jobs projected; and median salary. It also includes education and work experience needed for each of the occupational classifications. The top four jobs are summarized in this article.

Registered Nurses

The registered nursing occupational group will add 711,900 new nursing jobs by 2020. The reports states that “growth in this area is driven by increased spending on healthcare services by an aging population.”

According to the BLS, persons interested in becoming a registered nurse follow one of three education paths: a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses are also required to pass a national licensing exam.

The 2010 median salary for registered nurses was $64,690.

Retail Sales

The retail sales occupational group will grow by 12 percent, and add over 706,000 new retail jobs Retail sales workers don’t need a formal education, but many employers ask for a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers may provide on-the-job training, and workers in specialty retail may receive additional training.

The BLS reports that the 2010 median salary for retail sales was $20,670.

Personal Care Aides and Home Health Aides

Personal care aide and home health aide growth is fueled in part by an aging population that prefers to remain in their homes. The aides help disabled, ill or elderly peoples with activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. Depending on the employer, they may also perform light housekeeping duties. This group has the fastest growth rate at 70.5 percent, and 1,313,000 new jobs. According to the BLS, aides are typically lower paid than other health care jobs. The median wage for home health aides was $20,560 in 2010. The 2010 median wage for personal care aides was $19,640.

These positions do not have formal education requirements, but aides who work for certified home health or hospice companies may need formal training.

Job growth is projected in occupations such as teaching, sales, childcare, customer service and food preparation. The BLS provides occupational data for 749 occupations, but the report details the thirty jobs with either the fastest growth or most jobs added.

For a detailed look for careers that may interest you, download the report here.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Projections to 2020

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupations with the Largest Job Growth

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupation Outlook Handbook: Home Health and Personal Care Aides

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupation Outlook Handbook: Retail Sales Workers

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupation Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses


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