The skills and knowledge you need to succeed in the fastest-growing jobs in America

Nurse practitioner

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its employment projections for 2018-2028. Healthcare jobs were among the fastest growing-jobs.

  • Certain skills and knowledge can give you an advantage in occupations that are likely to see a lot of employment growth over the next decade.
  • We used data from the US Labor Department to find common skills and knowledge areas that have high importance in the fastest-growing jobs.
  • Customer and personal service knowledge, active listening, and critical thinking were among the top skills on the list.
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If you are looking to grow your skills or wondering what to study, you may want to focus on subjects that could help you land jobs that are likely to grow quickly in the next few years.

Every two years, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases employment projections, estimating how employment in various occupations is likely to grow over the next decade. The most recent projections include a list of the fastest-growing occupations based on the estimated employment change between 2018 and 2028. To determine what changes in occupational employment may look like over 10 years, the BLS used various resources like historical data and scholarly papers.

According to the BLS, two of the broad occupational groups that will be quickly growing are healthcare support, with an expected increase in employment of 18.2%, followed by personal care and services, where employment is projected to grow by 17.4%. Jobs that are predicted to grow within these occupation categories include various kinds of healthcare aides, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.

To get a sense of what skills are most important to the fastest-growing jobs, we used the Labor Department's Occupational Information Network (O*NET) importance scales regarding skills and knowledge. Based on surveys of employers and workers, these scores range from 0 to 100, where a higher score indicates a more important skill or knowledge area for a particular job.

We looked at the top three skills and knowledge areas for each of the 15 jobs with the highest projected employment growth between 2018 and 2028. Occasionally, there were ties among the top three most important skills and knowledge areas.

For the fastest-growing occupations, there was some overlap in the kinds of skills and knowledge areas that are important to fulfilling job responsibilities. Active listening was the most frequently listed skill among the top three in the 15 fastest-growing jobs, while understanding English and psychology were the top knowledge fields.

It's worth noting that these skills are non-technological ones - O*NET has a separate technology skills section. Although it may be important to have a background in various technology applications, it is interesting to see which social or conceptual skills employees and workers find important in order to succeed in their jobs.

Read on to find out the 15 projected fast-growing jobs between 2018 and 2028, along with their growth rate, average salary in 2018, top skills and knowledge areas, and job description according to O*NET.

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15. Application software developers

15. Application software developers

Occupation description according to O*NET: Develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 25.6%

Average annual salary: $103,620

Top knowledge areas: Computers and electronics, engineering and technology, and English language

Top skills: Programming, systems analysis, and systems evaluation

14. Operations research analysts

14. Operations research analysts

Occupation description according to O*NET: Formulate and apply mathematical modeling and other optimizing methods to develop and interpret information that assists management with decision making, policy formulation, or other managerial functions.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 25.6%

Average annual salary: $83,390

Top knowledge areas: Mathematics, English language, computers and electronics

Top skills: Mathematics, complex problem solving, and critical thinking

13. Mathematicians

13. Mathematicians

Occupation description according to O*NET: Conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 26.0%

Average annual salary: $101,900

Top knowledge areas: Mathematics, computers and electronics, and English language

Top skills: Mathematics, complex problem solving, critical thinking and reading comprehension

12. Genetic counselors

12. Genetic counselors

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 27.0%

Average annual salary: $80,370

Top knowledge areas: Biology, psychology, and medicine and dentistry

Top skills: Reading comprehension, active listening, and complex problem solving

11. Physical therapist assistants

11. Physical therapist assistants

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 27.1%

Average annual salary: $58,040

Top knowledge areas: Customer and personal service, English language, and medicine and dentistry

Top skills: Active listening, monitoring, social perceptiveness, and speaking

10. Speech-language pathologists

10. Speech-language pathologists

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assess and treat persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 27.3%

Average annual salary: $77,510

Top knowledge areas: English language, psychology, customer and personal service, and education and training

Top skills: Active listening, critical thinking, learning strategies, reading comprehension, social perceptiveness, and speaking

9. Nurse practitioners

9. Nurse practitioners

Occupation description according to O*NET: Diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a healthcare team.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 28.2%

Average annual salary: $107,030

Top knowledge areas: Medicine and dentistry, psychology, customer and personal service, English language, and therapy and counseling

Top skills: Active learning, active listening, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and social perceptiveness

8. Statisticians

8. Statisticians

Occupation description according to O*NET: Develop or apply mathematical or statistical theory and methods to collect, organize, interpret, and summarize numerical data to provide usable information.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 30.7%

Average annual salary: $87,780

Top knowledge areas: Mathematics, English language, and computers and electronics

Top skills: Mathematics, critical thinking, and reading comprehension

7. Physician assistants

 7. Physician assistants

Occupation description according to O*NET: Provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 31.1%

Average annual salary: $108,610

Top knowledge areas: Medicine and dentistry, biology, psychology

Top skills: Active listening, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and speaking

6. Information security analysts

6. Information security analysts

Occupation description according to O*NET: Plan, implement, upgrade, or monitor security measures for the protection of computer networks and information.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 31.6%

Average annual salary: $98,350

Top knowledge areas: Computers and electronics, English language, administration and management

Top skills: Reading comprehension, critical thinking, active listening, and complex problem solving

5. Occupational therapy assistants

5. Occupational therapy assistants

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 33.1%

Average annual salary: $60,220

Top knowledge areas: Customer and personal service, English language, and psychology

Top skills: Active listening, speaking, reading comprehension, social perceptiveness, time management, and writing

4. Personal care aides

4. Personal care aides

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assist the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities with daily living activities at the person's home or in a care facility.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 36.4%

Average annual salary: $24,020

Top knowledge areas: Customer and personal service, English language, psychology

Top skills: Service orientation, social perceptiveness, active listening

3. Home health aides

3. Home health aides

Occupation description according to O*NET: Provide routine individualized healthcare such as changing bandages and dressing wounds, and applying topical medications to the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities at the patient's home or in a care facility.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 36.6%

Average annual salary: $24,200

Top knowledge areas: Customer and personal service, English language, psychology, and public safety and security

Top skills: Active listening, service orientation, social perceptiveness

2. Wind turbine service technicians

2. Wind turbine service technicians

Occupation description according to O*NET: Inspect, diagnose, adjust, or repair wind turbines. Perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic malfunctions.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 56.9%

Average annual salary: $54,370

Top knowledge areas: Mechanical, computers and electronics, engineering and technology

Top skills: Repairing, troubleshooting, equipment maintenance

1. Solar photovoltaic installers

1. Solar photovoltaic installers

Occupation description according to O*NET: Assemble, install, or maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessment and schematics.

Expected growth rate between 2018 and 2028: 63.3%

Average annual salary: $42,680

Top knowledge areas: Mechanical, building and construction, English language

Top skills: Installation, active listening, critical thinking

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