The 25 Best Jobs for the Next Decade

| TBS Staff

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Coming out of the recent recession, and looking forward to an uncertain future in an increasingly globalized and connected economic and political landscape, many Americans are anxious about their job prospects.

While some may choose to purely follow their passions, and some may inherit careers and business from their families, others are left asking: what do I do next?

Those who have lost their jobs through outsourcing, layoffs, or cutbacks are facing second — and even third — career choices, and possibly having to go back to school to get the necessary degrees. New college grads are struggling to find entry-level jobs that use their skills. Older workers are being talked into early retirement. Even those who are gainfully employed are seeking to get out of jobs that offer little in terms of salary advancement.

Some careers, however, show there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many of them reflect our fascination with, and our increasing dependence upon, technology. Some grow from the push for new, renewable energy sources, and some build further on our need for established energy sources. Others have to do with the changing demographics of our country, as the baby boomer generation continues to age. Regardless, there are plenty of available, lucrative, and rewarding career options on the table for determined American job seekers.

This list identifies and profiles 25 jobs representing a variety of industries that are not only thriving now, but are expected to grow the most throughout the next decade. We have taken our numbers from projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2016 to 2026.

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Fastest Growing Jobs for the Next Decade

true $39,240 Solar Photovoltaic Installers

The recent, strong global push for renewable and sustainable energy sources has resulted in a booming job market for skilled professionals in the field. Specifically, the demand for solar energy has established solar photovoltaic installers as the career field with the highest projected growth for the next decade, at an astonishing 105.3%.

Solar photovoltaic installers, to simplify a complicated job title, install solar panels and solar panel systems. Also known as PV installers, professionals in this field plan systems according to client needs, install systems on buildings, houses, in fields, and other locations, connect panels to electrical systems, trouble shoot and perform maintenance, and more.

To enter the profession, individuals typically need a higher school diploma or equivalent; most of the knowledge and skills needed are learned through on-the job training, which may last up to a year. While certification is not necessary, employers may prefer it. Individuals can earn certification through the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and Roof Integrated Solar Energy Inc. (RISE). Solar photovoltaic installers may be employed by plumbing or HVAC contractors, electrical contractors, utilities companies, hardware retailers, or may be self-employed.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $39,240
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 11,300
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 23,200
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent

$52,260 Wind Turbine Service Technicians

Stemming from the push for renewable energy, wind turbine service technicians are in high demand, with the profession projected to grow by 96.1% over the next decade. That demand results in a large number of job openings for qualified individuals seeking to enter the field.

Like solar photovoltaic installers, wind turbine service technicians are in the business of installing, maintaining, and repairing renewable energy systems. Individuals in this profession must possess a detailed knowledge of wind turbine systems and their operation. Wind turbine service technicians inspect and maintain wind turbines, ensuring their successful functioning, perform routine tests, replace worn or broken parts, collect and analyze data on systems, and service underground systems that convey energy from the turbines to collection facilities.

To become a wind turbine service technician, individuals must earn a minimum of a postsecondary non-degree award, such as a certificate or diploma in wind turbine maintenance, from a college or technical school. Additionally, individuals receive on-the-job training. Wind turbine service technicians work for electrical power and utilities companies, repair services, and technical services. Some are self-employed. Those in the field may need to work odd hours to service out-of-commission turbines in remote locations and bad weather. Employment for the profession is determined by location, with most wind turbine systems being established in windy, open areas, such as California, Texas, and Iowa.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $52,260
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 5,800
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 11,300
Educational Requirements Postsecondary non-degree award, plus on-the-job training

$22,600 Home Health Aides

Home health aides provide personalized, in-home assistance to individuals requiring extra help in daily activities. Though home health aides do not exclusively help senior citizens, the aging baby-boomer generation does make up a significant portion of the client base.

Home health aides serve anyone needing personal assistance at home with health related issues, including those with cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, and chronic illnesses. The duties of the job may involve assistance in tasks like dressing or bathing, meal preparation and planning, checking and recording a patient’s pulse, temperature, blood sugar, changing bandages, assistance with prosthetic limbs, and more.

The job requires some knowledge of basic health and care concepts, but it does not require extensive medical knowledge. Home health aides develop the knowledge and skills they need through on-the-job training. To enter the profession, individuals must have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, special training and certification may allow home health aides to assist with home medical equipment, and some states allow home health aides to administer medication. Home health aides may find employment with private or public agencies, community centers, and adult-day care centers.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $22,600
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 911,500
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 1,337,000
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent, as well as on-the-job training

$21,920 Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides, similar to home health aides, serve populations in need of extra assistance and care with their daily living requirements. However, the personal care aide profession places more emphasize on non-medical services.

Personal care aides gain most of the knowledge they need through on-the-job training. They serve individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, and other limiting health issues. Their duties include meal planning and preparation, dressing and bathing, housekeeping, arranging transportation or driving, and keeping their clients engaged. Personal care aides may find employment with private or public agencies, residential care facilities, and private households.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $21,920
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 2,016,100
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 2,770,100
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent, plus on-the-job training

$101,480 Physician Assistants

In the medical sciences, there is no shortage of demand for good help. Physician assistants can satisfy that need, with the profession projected for major growth in the next decade. Working alongside doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare workers, physician assistants perform a variety of duties in healthcare settings, such as reviewing and collecting information on the medical histories of patients, assessing treatment progress, and educating patients on care procedures. Though not doctors, physician assistants can, and often do, also perform exams, order and interpret tests, and give some forms of treatment.

Like doctors and surgeons, physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, and may pursue specializations, such as family care, psychiatry, emergency medicine, surgery, podiatry, and geriatric care. Physician assistants find employment in private care offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient care facilities, residential care facilities, and educational services. Physician assistants require extensive knowledge of the medical sciences, and must have a Master’s degree from an accredited program, such as a Master of Physical Therapy. Additionally, individuals must earn licensure by passing the Physical Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) fro the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Median Annual Wage 2016 $101,480
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 106,200
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 145,900
Educational Requirements Master’s degree, plus licensure

$100,910 Nurse Practitioners

Also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners provide advanced nursing services to a variety of patients. Similar to, though not as advanced as a doctor, nurse practitioners can act as primary or specialty care providers, assessing patient needs and prescribing care plans. The regular duties of the profession include performing physical exams, performing and analyzing tests, create care plans, prescribing and administering medication, and consulting with doctors and other medical professionals. Like doctors, nurse practitioners practice in specific areas of medicine, such as general medicine, pediatrics, or geriatrics.

Nurse practitioners must have advanced medical knowledge in order to practice, earned through a Master’s degree program in at least one specialized nursing role. Additionally, individuals must earn a registered nursing license in accordance with the state board, and have passed the national certification exam. Further education can aid in specialization. Nurse practitioners may find employment in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private clinics, and residential care facilities.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $100,910
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 155,500
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 211,500
Educational Requirements Master’s degree, plus national certification exam

See Also: The 30 Best Online Nursing Practitioner Master’s Programs

$80,500 Statisticians

Statisticians, like mathematicians, analyze and apply data in a wide variety of fields. Utilizing advanced knowledge of statistical interpretation, prediction, and mathematics, statisticians work with the government, research institutions, universities, finance and insurance companies, healthcare services, and consulting services.

Statisticians predict trends and outcomes, anticipate problems, trace problems to their source, and develop models of prediction. To perform these roles, statisticians must design experiments, surveys and polls, must apply mathematical and statistical principles, and possess creativity and critical thinking skills.

With organizations of all sorts and sizes relying on statisticians to aid in making key decisions, the field is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. To become a statistician, individuals need an advanced degree, with a Master’s degree at a minimum, and a Doctoral or professional degree preferred for some situations.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $80,500
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 37,200
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 49,600
Educational Requirements Master’s degree

$56,610 Physical Therapist Assistants

Physical therapist assistants, similar too physical therapist aides, play an important role in ensuring that physical therapy practices function smoothly and effectively serve their patients. However, physical therapist assistants play a more direct, clinical role in the field, working alongside and under direct supervision of physical therapists to help patients in the process of healing and rehabilitation.

The specific duties of physical therapist assistants vary by their area of practice, which can includes massage therapy, hydrotherapy, physical rehabilitation, or other areas. Regardless, their general duties include observing and recording patient status and information, aiding patients with exercise and other therapeutic activities, some forms of treatment, like massage or stretching, using various forms of therapeutic equipment, and education patients and family members on health maintenance. Physical therapist assistants may be employed at hospitals, residential care facilities, private physical therapy offices, or through government services.

To become a physical therapist assistant, individuals must have a minimum of an Associate degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. Individuals must be licensed by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapist assistants, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require additional certification or licensure.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $56,610
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 88,300
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 115,500
Educational Requirements Associate degree

$100,080 Software Developers–Applications

Since the rise of the personal computer, skilled software developers have been in high demand. With the development of smartphones, tablets, cloud-based computing, and more accessible computer technologies the demand for software developers who specialize in applications is expected to steadily increase.

Whether creating word processors or spreadsheets software for computers, productivity apps for busy professionals, learning apps for adults and children, or games for pure entertainment, applications software developers have plenty of unique jobs and projects to choose from. Regardless of their specific focus, all applications software developers analyze, design, and test applications, troubleshoot and recommend upgrades for clients and employers, documents aspects of their applications, and collaborate in design teams.

Applications software developers may work in a variety of professional settings, including application design firms, software publishers, financial or insurance companies, manufacturing companies, and corporations. To become an applications software developer, individuals must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as computer science or software engineering.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $100,080
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 831,300
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 1,084,600
Educational Requirements Bachelor’s degree

See Also: The 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Degree Programs

$105,810 Mathematicians

Individuals with a love for numbers and their functions may want to consider pursuing careers as mathematicians. Advanced knowledge and skills in mathematics can lead to lucrative, high paying jobs. Beyond crunching numbers, mathematicians play a valuable role in data analysis and prediction, solving and preventing problems for businesses as well as governments.

To enter the profession, individuals typically need a Master’s degree in mathematics. Mathematicians need to not only be able to understand the interplay of mathematical data, they need strong analytical skills, as well as strong communications skills in order to convey their findings to non-mathematical audiences.

The majority of mathematicians work for the federal government, while many others work in universities and colleges, public and private research applications, finance and insurance companies, and technical consulting services.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $105,810
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 3,100
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 4,000
Educational Requirements Master’s degree

See Also: The five Best Online Bachelor’s in Mathematics Degree Programs

$31,540 Medical Assistants

As the medical field continues to grow, so does the need for knowledgeable and skilled help. Medical assistants play a key role in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, private practices, and other healthcare facilities. The duties of the job typically include administrative tasks, such as record keeping, scheduling, and data entry. Medical assistants also perform basic healthcare duties, such as measuring vital signs, administering medication and injections, and preparing fluid samples.

Some medical assistants may specialize in administrative work, or clinical work, and also specific medical practices, such as cardiology, podiatry, or dentistry. Regardless, to become a medical assistant, individuals typically must hold a postsecondary non-degree award, such as a certificate or diploma. Medical assistants may also choose to pursue professional certification, such as Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), or National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA).

Median Annual Wage 2016 $31,540
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 634,400
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 819,000
Educational Requirements Postsecondary non-degree award

See Also: The 10 Best Online Medical Assisting Associate Degree Programs

$27,630 Bicycle Repairers

In recent years, bicycle riding has become increasingly popular. This rise in popularity can be attributed to a wide variety of factors, including rising gas prices, simplifying the daily commute, a need for increased fitness, environmental consciousness, or just sheer enjoyment. Regardless, the increase in bicycles and cyclists is creating an increase in demand for qualified and skilled professional bicycle repairers.

The demands of the job require that bicycle repairers be able to assess and solve maintenance issues of bikes. This can include installing and repairing tires and wheels, adjusting or repairing gear and brake mechanisms, assembling/disassembling and replacing parts, adjusting the bicycle to meet user needs, and more. Much of the requisite knowledge can be learned through on-the-job training.

Bicycle Repairers may find employment at bike shops, sporting goods stores, bike manufacturers, non-profit organizations, and other settings.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $27,630
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment:12.400
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 16,100
Educational Requirements High school diploma, on-the-job training

$25,680 Physical Therapist Aides

Physical therapist aides occupy supportive roles in physical therapy practices, including physical therapist offices, hospitals, doctor’s offices, residential care facilities, and government services. Though they do not perform any physical therapy tasks or services themselves, physical therapist aides support practices in functioning smoothly through a variety of duties. Physical therapist aides typically prepare and clean up therapy treatment areas, wash linens, help patients in moving between therapy areas, and perform clerical tasks.

Because the duties of a physical therapist aide do not require extensive knowledge of physical therapy, licensing, or certification, the field is relatively easy to enter, requiring a high school diploma or equivalent, and some on-the-job training. The specifics of the job are determined by the specific therapy practice, which can includes exercise, massage, hydrotherapy, or any other form of physical therapy. Physical therapist aides must be compassionate, patient, and have strong interpersonal skills, since they will be working directly with patients. They must also have decent physical stamina and dexterity, to keep up with the physical demands of the job.

Educational Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent, and on-the-job training

Median Annual Wage 2016 $25,680
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 52,000
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 67,100
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent, and on-the-job training

$59,010 Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistants, similar to aides, perform duties that ensure occupational therapy practices run smoothly and serve patients fully. However, occupational therapy assistants have greater responsibilities in occupational therapy settings, with clinical assistance roles. The profession requires a minimum of an Associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. Moreover, the profession is state regulated, and individuals must gain licensure through earning their degree, completing fieldwork, and passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.

As the name suggests, occupational therapy assistants help with therapeutic activities in occupational therapy settings, the specifics of which vary based on their specific area of practice. This can involve helping with stretching, as well as rehabilitative exercises, aiding children with developmental disabilities in socialization and coordination exercises, teaching patients to use special assistive equipment, and recording progress. Occupational therapy assistants play a vital role in administering therapeutic services to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, social service agencies, educational facilities, and more.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $59,010
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 39,300
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 50,700
Educational Requirements Associate degree, plus national certification

$92,600 Information Security Analyst

Nearly every facet of society today depends on the proper functioning of complex information systems. A significant part of this is the safety and security of our information, with steady demand for information security analysts who can ensure the safety of our information.

The field requires that information security analysts have a thorough knowledge of information systems, hardware, and software, as well as current knowledge of threats to data security, and protective measures. In addition to technical knowledge, individuals must have well-developed analytical and problem-solving skills, be detail oriented, and possess a certain amount of ingenuity.

To enter the field, individuals must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant area, such as information systems, information assurance, or computer science. A Master’s degree can provide more job opportunities, and higher salary potential. Additionally, individuals may earn optional professional certifications, including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA).

Information security analysts may find employment in a wide variety of settings, including major corporations, computer systems services, financial institutions and insurance companies, websites and tech companies, private information security assurance agencies, and more.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $92,600
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 100,000
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 128,500
Educational Requirements Bachelor’s degree

See Also: The 12 Best Online Bachelor’s in Information Assurance and Security Degree Programs

$74,120 Genetic Counselors

Genetic counselors, as the name suggests, assess risks and inherited conditions relating to genetics, and counsel clients on their findings. The information they provide is useful to patients as well as other healthcare providers. In particular, genetic counselors help individuals and families that are considering having children, through analyzing and predicting genetic complications, such as genetic disorders or birth defects.

As the medical field grows more advanced and intricate everyday, the career area of genetic counselors is expected to continue to grow steadily, applying new scientific data toward the betterment of people’s lives. Genetic counselors may find employment in areas such as hospitals, laboratories, and fertility clinics.

Individuals interested in becoming genetic counselors must have a minimum of a Master’s degree in genetic counseling or genetics, as well as certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $74,120
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 3,100
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 3,900
Educational Requirements Master’s degree

$79,200 Operations Research Analysts

In a perfect world, everything would go perfectly, and without any challenges or difficulty. The world, however, is not perfect, and that is where operations research analysts come in. Businesses, corporations, and governments all rely on operations research analysts to assess and solve logistical problems.

Operations research analysts combine analytical, communication, critical thinking, mathematical, and problem-solving skills in order to metaphorically (and sometimes literally) keep all of the trains running on time. The job includes gathering and analyzing data, running simulations and creating predictive models, creating memos and reports, utilizing databases, and advising managers and executives on the best courses of action.

The majority of operations research analysts work for financial institution or insurance companies, but plenty others work for professional or technical services companies, management companies, manufacturers, and the federal government, specifically in the Department of Defense. To enter the profession, individuals must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, which can be earned in a variety of areas, including operations research, business, analytics, management, or computer science. However, some employers may prefer a Master’s degree.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $79,200
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 114,000
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 145,300
Educational Requirements Bachelor’s degree

See Also: The 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration Degree Programs

$36,230 Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists

Every year, acres upon acres of forest are lost due to wildfires, particularly in the American west. Along with this is the loss of human and animal habitation and life. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists work to understand, prevent, predict, and quickly halt these destructive forces of nature. They must assess at-risk areas to anticipate emergency situations, utilizing data from current conditions, as well as records, must have extensive knowledge of public safety issues, communications, and regulations, and must be able to remain calm under severe pressure.

This career follows the occurrence of fires. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists find the highest levels of employment (and highest rate of pay) in the areas most at risk. To enter the field, individuals must have a high school diploma at a minimum, though a Bachelor’s degree, in areas such as fire science, is highly preferred.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $36,230
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 1,700
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 2,200
Educational Requirements Minimum of high school diploma; a Bachelor’s degree in fire science or related field is preferred

$99,360 Health Specialties Teachers–Postsecondary

Many people pursue careers in health specialties fields, such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, therapy, and veterinary sciences. To achieve these career goals, individuals need to earn the requisite educational qualifications. Because of this, the demand for qualified health specialties teachers at the postsecondary level is expected to continue to grow at a significant, steady rate.

Health specialties teachers typically find employment in settings like colleges, universities, junior colleges, and trade schools. In order to enter this career, an individual must have an extensive amount of knowledge in their field, with a Doctoral or professional degree to their name, as well as field-specific certification. The career requires that the teacher must be able to instruct others, in great depth, in the intricacies of their chosen field. Individuals with positions at universities will need to actively research and publish in their field, but may also become tenured.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $99,360
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 233,500
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 294,000
Educational Requirements Doctoral or professional degree

$48,130 Derrick Operators–Oil and Gas

Oil and gas, for the foreseeable future, continue to be major energy sources, and consequently, a major industry. Because of this, the demand for derrick operators is expected to grow.

Derrick operators manage all aspects of derricks, including erecting, operating, inspecting, and maintaining them, to ensure that oil drilling and collection goes smoothly. The job requires individuals to know the ins and outs of oil derricks, learned through on-the-job experience and training.

Derrick operators work in a wide variety of locations, and may need to travel regularly from jobsite to jobsite. Many oil derricks are stationed in remote locations, included offshore oil platforms, the Middle East, and far northern regions. Individuals in the profession typically live onsite for long periods, followed by period of extended leave.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $48,130
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 11,100
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 13,900
Educational Requirements On-the-job training

$85,400 Physical Therapists

Tying together the previous two entries on this list, physical therapists play a vital role in helping patients manage and overcome pain and physical limitations. Physical therapists may practice within a variety of specialty areas, including injury rehabilitation, massage therapy, geriatric care, operation rehabilitation, and more. Regardless, physical therapists serve those in need of various forms of physical therapy for treatment, rehabilitation, or prevention relating to disabilities, injuries, chronic conditions, or illnesses.

Duties of the profession include utilizing advanced knowledge of physical therapy to develop a plan of treatment, administering treatment with specialized techniques and equipment, diagnosing issues, reviewing medical records and notes from other doctors, and educating patients and their families. Physical therapists function as part of a healthcare team, overseeing patient care with the help of physical therapist assistants and aides, and often collaborating with other doctors and practitioners.

Physical therapists may be employed in a wide variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, home healthcare services, and residential care facilities. The field requires advanced knowledge, and to become a physical therapist, individuals must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, and must achieve licensure through passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Individuals may also choose to pursue advanced, specialized certification in a variety of areas, through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $85,400
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 239,800
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 299,800
Educational Requirements Doctoral degree, plus licensure

$28,330 Occupational Therapy Aides

Occupational therapy aides perform supportive and administrative roles in occupational therapy settings, ensuring that a practice runs smoothly and effectively serves the needs of patients. Occupational therapy aides work in a variety of environments, such as private therapist offices, hospitals, residential care facilities, social services, and educational services. The duties of the job include clerical tasks, like scheduling and answering emails or phone calls, arranging or providing patient transport, cleaning and preparing treatment sites and equipment, and helping with billing and insurance.

Because the duties of occupational therapy aides do not require extensive medical knowledge or board certification, the career can be entered with a high school diploma and some on-the-job training. For individuals interested in advancing in the occupational therapy field, this can provide an entry-level position with notable experience and exposure.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $28,330
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 7,500
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 9,300
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent; on-the-job training

$37,340 Roustabouts–Oil and Gas

Roustabouts work alongside rotary drill operators and derrick operators to ensure that oil drilling and collection goes smoothly and safely. The duties of roustabouts typically include basic maintenance roles, such as cleaning up spilled oil, checking and tightening connections on machines and pipes, dismantling and maintaining machinery and tools, locating leaks and other problems, guiding cranes into position, moving equipment, and building foundations for derricks. While roustabouts do not operate oil drills, their job supports the successful, safe functioning of drills and job sites.

To become a roustabout, individuals need only receive on-the-job training. The profession is physically demanding, and often requires prolonged period of work, in remote locations, extended hours. However, periods of work are followed by extended break periods.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $37,340
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 50,000
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 62,300
Educational Requirements No formal educational credential; on-the-job training

$32,710 Phlebotomists

Anyone who has been to the doctor in their lifetime has met a phlebotomist, even if they don’t recognize the name. Blood, vital to our healthy functioning, plays a major role in medicine, through blood tests, transfusions, donations, and research. The primary job of a phlebotomist is to draw blood for these services. This requires foundational knowledge in medicine, medical terminology, and medical practices, but does not require the advanced knowledge of a nurse or doctor.

To enter the profession, phlebotomists must earn a postsecondary non-degree award, such as a certificate or diploma, from a university, community college, vocational schools, or technical school. This can typically be earned in one year or less. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire phlebotomists with professional certification, such as from the National Center for Competency Testing, the National Phlebotomy Association, or the National Healthcareer Association. Phlebotomists may work in all sorts of medical practice settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, blood banks, and ambulatory healthcare services.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $32,710
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 122,700
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 152,600
Educational Requirements Postsecondary non-degree award, plus professional certification

$54,430 Rotary Drill Operators–Oil and Gas

The oil industry is massive, and big oil companies depend on the skills of rotary drill operators to harvest their product for refinement and sale. As the need for oil increases, so too does the need for qualified professionals working on the frontlines of the industry.

Rotary drill operators, like the name suggests, are trusted with the task of operating oil drills. The job includes a variety of responsibilities, such as erecting and dismantling drilling machinery, monitoring and maintaining the machines, overseeing drill rig crews, training crews, repairing the machines, and keeping records of drilling activities. While there is not a specific, formal educational background required for this profession, rotary drill operators must have thorough knowledge of their machines, strong technical aptitudes, and good critical thinking skills. Rotary drill operators enter the position after gaining experience in the field and on-the-job training.

Typically the job requires rotary drill operators to live on-site in remote drilling locations, such as offshore rigs or the Middle East, and to work long shifts, often at odd hours. The job comes with extended work periods, followed by extended break periods.

Median Annual Wage 2016 $54,430
Projected Growth, 2016–2026
  • 2016 Total Employment: 16,700
  • 2026 Projected Total Employment: 20,800
Educational Requirements No formal educational credential; on-the-job training

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