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The Fastest-Growing Jobs of the Next Decade

Are you a student on your way to campus, unsure of what to choose as a major? Are you looking for a better job? Well, you're hardly alone. With over 7% of the American workforce unemployed, you're bound to have competition wherever you look -- but with the right planning, you might be able to hitch your wagon to one of America's hottest jobs. Let's take a look at where the jobs will be by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projections:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

It's a rather uneven batch of opportunities -- several of these fields are rather low-paying, but then you've got health care and education, which can offer excellent job security if you find the right opportunity. Let's drill down a little bit to see what the salary ranges look like for these fields:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

For comparison purposes, the poverty level for a family of four in the United States is $23,550 -- $11,490 if you're working for yourself. If you want to get ahead in life, the fastest-growing foodservice jobs are probably not good ideas, and neither are many of the lowest-paying jobs on the list. Let's run through all the higher-paying jobs, from $30,000 per year on up, and break down just how many new jobs each particular profession is expected to gain in the next seven years or so:


2010 Employment

Projected New Jobs (2020)

Growth Rate

Median Salary (2010)

Physicians / Surgeons





Registered Nurses





Accountants / Auditors





Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives





Elementary School Teachers (not Special Education)





Office Supervisors





Postsecondary Teachers





Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses










Heavy Truck Drivers





Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks





Medical Secretaries





Customer Service Representatives





Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Interested in keeping others healthy? You've got nearly 1.3 million potential high-paying jobs to compete for by 2020, most of which are in the nursing field. If you like crunching numbers, you'll have over 400,000 new opportunities to earn a living doing that by 2020. There'll be over half a million new teaching jobs, too, if these projections are accurate.

If you're looking to invest in the growth of health care employment, here are several of the largest publicly traded hospital companies, including revenues, profit margins, and P/E ratios. All are sure to hire briskly to keep up with the aging population of America, and that means more income -- at least in theory, anyway.


Trailing-12-Month Revenue 

Profit Margin


HCA Holdings (NYSE: HCA  )

$33.4 billion



LifePoint Hospitals (NASDAQ: LPNT  )

$3.5 billion



Health Management (UNKNOWN: HMA.DL  )

$5.9 billion



Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH  )

$13.0 billion



Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC  )

$9.4 billion



Source: Yahoo! Finance. N/A = not applicable because of negative earnings.

However, before you jump right into these hot career paths (or investments), consider this for a moment:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Even the best-laid plans and projections can go astray. In the case of these projections from roughly a decade ago, such plans can go astray in the direction of several million fewer employees. Will health care and education be the next big mistakes on the BLS' ledger? We'll have to find out in a few years.

What macro trend was Warren Buffett referring to when he said, "this is the tapeworm that's eating at American competitiveness"? Find out in our free report: "What's Really Eating at America's Competitiveness." You'll also discover an idea to profit as companies work to eradicate this efficiency-sucking tapeworm. Just click here for free, immediate access.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 2:20 PM, JH4O wrote:

    I always hear engineering and science trained people are needed.

    I guess this writer assumes we will get these as we need them from other countries or they will no longer be needed in America's service only society.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 6:41 PM, XMFBiggles wrote:

    @ JH40 -

    This writer assumes nothing. This writer is simply reporting on projections published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are the jobs that BLS expects will have the largest increase in total employment by 2020.

    - Writer

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 7:05 PM, KUBLOTNIK wrote:

    i work in transportation in texas. the rail and truck corridor from to laredo is booming. many rail jobs and trucking jobs. and people doing freelance work too. if you want to really work and not lay off with 'hangnail' every other day then come to texas.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 9:36 PM, sirlanse wrote:

    How about adding the average college debt next to the average wage for the jobs?

    Comparing Physician to Truck Driver would make the Driver look much smarter. Some guessimates on how many years it takes them to pay off the debt would be too much to expect.

    If engineers are so important, why doesn't the govt stop giving loans to Pre-Law students and double the Pell grants to STEM students? Why don't companies PAY engineers better?

  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2013, at 12:14 AM, roger142 wrote:

    The pay scales for Doctors and Surgeons looked a lot low. Unless they're counted as Residents twice.

    What we need to see is more manufacturing jobs paying $40k a year, but college graduates don't want to work in a factory, and companies don't want to train high school graduates.

    Please keep in mind in 1941 the average public high school only went thru the eleventh grade, and in 1943 America had factories full of 24 year old women building reliable high quality military aircraft by the thousands. Then in 1946 they built refrigerators.

    The American industrial machine is broken.

  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2013, at 7:59 AM, GuessingFool wrote:

    I agree with JH40... Don't tell me that no one ever heard of science and engineering.!?

  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2013, at 11:26 AM, steve19776y5ree wrote:

    Well around here were i live the job market is flooded with RN's there ever were and most just out of school and cant find a job!! And the ones that do dont get a lot of hours becouse there so many of them.. Sad

  • Report this Comment On August 25, 2013, at 10:06 AM, southernshark wrote:

    Shush Steve19776.... we can't tell people that health care is just another education bubble. We have to fill those nursing schools and issue those student loans.

    As others have noted, the real suckers above are the doctors. You can't just look at their student loans, which will be huge, you also have to consider the 10 years of schooling which resulted in a whole decade of lost earning. The truck driver, on the other hand, can start their career right away after a shorting training course.

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