Job flexibility is becoming more valued by American workers. More than a third of professionals (and in the West, nearly half) said they would turn down a job offer that didn't offer a flexible working environment, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research. While 24% of people who work in an office said they love their jobs in a recent survey by Leadership IQ, fully 38% of mobile workers and a whopping 45% of telecommuting workers said so.

If flexibility is important to you, instead of just checking to see how much flexibility there is in any job you apply for or are offered, consider being more proactive and aiming for fields and careers that are currently growing rapidly and offer considerable flexibility, too.

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Where the flexible jobs are

The folks at FlexJobs have identified 11 occupations that have the highest expected growth between 2016 and 2026 and that also tend to feature significant flexibility. They used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that cited solar photovoltaic equipment installers and wind turbine service technicians as the two fastest-growing occupations, but alas, those job tend not to be too flexible.

Here, then, are a bunch of the next-fastest-growing jobs (in descending order of job growth rate) that do offer flexibility, along with their median 2016 salaries and a brief description of the job from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Occupation

2016 Median Salary

Projected Growth, 2016-2026

Description

Physician assistants

$101,480

37%

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Nurse practitioners

$100,910

36%

Nurse practitioners (NPs) serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They assess patients, determine the best way to improve or manage a patient's health, and discuss ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient's life.

Physical therapist assistants

$56,610

31%

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants are involved in the direct care of patients. 

Software developers, applications

$100,080

30%

Develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs. Analyze user needs and develop software solutions. Design software or customize software for client use with the aim of optimizing operational efficiency. May analyze and design databases within an application area, working individually or coordinating database development as part of a team.

Mathematicians

$105,810

29%

Mathematicians conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields. Solve problems in various fields using mathematical methods.

Medical assistants

$31,540

29%

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Occupational therapy assistants

$59,010

29%

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients.

Information security analysts

$92,600

28%

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases.

Genetic counselors

$74,120

28%

Genetic counselors assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. They provide information and support to other healthcare providers, or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions.

Operations research analysts

$79,200

27%

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

$99,360

26%

These teachers teach courses in health specialties, in fields such as dentistry, laboratory technology, medicine, pharmacy, public health, therapy, and veterinary medicine.

Data source: FlexJobs and BLS.gov. 

Impressively, nearly half of these positions sport median salaries of about $100,000 or more, and only one is below $50,000. Some, such as nurse practitioners, require considerable schooling and training, while others, such as medical assistants and physical therapy assistants, require less.

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Landing flexible jobs

If you're looking for a flexible job -- or, really, many other kinds of jobs -- you're in luck. Unemployment, which hit 10% in 2009, is now near 4.1%, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While many job seekers couldn't be too picky back in 2009, the situation is much improved now, and many employers are more willing to offer benefits and working conditions favored by workers.

You can prepare yourself by doing some research into which jobs that feature flexibility would be a good fit for you. The list above is a start, but there are plenty of others. Learn what kind of flexibility each contending occupation offers, too. Some might offer the ability to choose your own shifts, while others might let you work almost entirely from home -- perhaps even when you're very far away from the company. Freelance and contractor jobs also offer a lot of flexibility, as you can choose the projects you want to take on and can often choose when and how you complete them, as well.

Once you have appealing occupations in mind, you can take steps toward landing your dream job -- such as networking and beefing up your resume. You may, after all, need to get a new degree or certification under your belt.

If flexibility is valuable to you, don't assume that you can just stick it out in an inflexible job. You may not last as long at it as you think, and you may be unhappy at it, too. The number of people who report having quit a job due to lack of flexibility has nearly doubled, from 17% in 2014 to 32% in 2017, according to FlexJobs CEO Sarah Sutton Fell.

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