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Considering Changing Your Career? Be Aware Of 20 Occupations With The Fastest Growth And 20 Occupations With The Fastest Decline.
January 5th, 2010 by Tatiana Varenik  Posted in Career Advice, Job News, Job Search, Unemployment

I want your resumeIn today’s economy many companies are forced to lay off employees in order to maintain profitability.  Whether you suddenly find yourself unemployed, or you are no longer satisfied with your current job, a change in your career path may be just what you need to make a fresh start. It is a difficult decision which takes time and money. That is why when thinking about making a career change, it is important to consider career skills, job satisfaction, salary and some other points. It is also important to make sure the career you choose will be in demand a few years from now.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2008-18 employment projections where presented twenty occupations with the fastest growth and twenty occupations with the fastest decline.

Twenty occupations with the fastest growth:
  1. Biomedical engineers
  2. Network systems and data communications analysts
  3. Home health aides
  4. Personal and home care aides
  5. Financial examiners
  6. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists
  7. Physician assistants
  8. Skin care specialists
  9. Postsecondary vocational award
  10. Biochemists and biophysicists
  11. Athletic trainers
  12. Physical therapist aides
  13. Dental hygienists
  14. Dental assistants
  15. Computer software engineers, applications
  16. Medical assistants
  17. Physical therapist assistants
  18. Veterinarians
  19. Self-enrichment education teachers
  20. Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation.
As you can see, half are related to healthcare. Healthcare is experiencing rapid growth, due in large part to the aging of the baby-boom generation, which will require more medical care.

Network systems and data communications analysts are projected to be the second fastest growing occupation in the economy. Demand for these workers will increase as organizations continue to upgrade their information technology capacity and incorporate the newest technologies.

Twenty occupations with the fastest decline:
  1. Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders
  2. Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders
  3. Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders
  4. Shoe machine operators and tenders
  5. Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers
  6. Sewing machine operators
  7. Semiconductor processors
  8. Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders
  9. Postal Service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators
  10. Fabric menders, except garment
  11. Wellhead pumpers
  12. Fabric and apparel patternmakers
  13. Drilling and boring machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  14. Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  15. Order clerks
  16. Coil winders, tapers, and finishers
  17. Photographic processing machine operators
  18. File clerks
  19. Derrick operators, oil and gas
  20. Desktop publishers
Fifteen of the twenty occupations with the fastest decline are either production occupations or office and administrative support occupations, both of which are adversely affected by increasing plant and factory automation or the implementation of office technology, reducing the need for workers in those occupations. For example, the duties of administrative assistants involve a great deal of personal interaction that cannot be automated, whereas the duties of file clerks adding, locating, and removing business records can be automated or performed by other workers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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  • Healthcare Recruiter

    @ Anita Legsdin : The Physical Therapy Aide position only requires a high school diploma and at best a vocational degree. The Physical Therapy Assistant is a licensed healthcare professional. Must be licensed in any state in which that the position is available. The position requires an AA degree, which is usually a two year program.

  • @Been There: Excellent post! Your recommendations are exactly what I tell people. I would also add that positions requiring expertise with writing and speaking English and an in-depth understanding the US, in general, would be very good to explore.

    Additionally, I have a few additional notes and observations. Pardon me if they seem too simplistic.

    1. These statistics are compiled by the US federal government and are published in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The "Handbook" is written by government employees, most of whom have never worked in any of the positions or industries about which they write. Their information is, for the most part, compiled from secondary or tertiary sources so may or may not be correct or complete. Additionally, since this information IS published by the government, to some extent it could be politically motivated. Just a thought. I have no idea if it is but, in my experience, the government doesn't work for the citizens, it works for the businesses and unions that got the politicians where they wanted to be. I think that's something to keep in mind.

    2. Growth is a relative term. For those not too facile with numbers, growth is often expressed in terms of a rate, which is a change in some number (e.g., the number of a particular role employed in a particular industry) relative to a period of time, usually one year. For example, a 10% annual growth rate, assuming you start with 100 workers, say programming, in a particular field, means that over the the course of a year, 10 programmers might be added to that field, for a total of 110 programmers by the end of the year. The lower the initial number of workers in any particular field, the fewer workers will be added to that field. This means that just because a field is growing fast doesn't mean that it will employ gobs of workers.

    3, You can look at the list of the fastest-growing occupations and see that most of them can be grouped under technical & scientific (more technical than scientific) and medical.

    4. As you further analyze the fastest growing positions, you'll see that many of them are for "assistant" positions, a.k.a. low-paying positions. We can all thank Congress for this.

    5. Those with experience in scientific and technical areas - as several above me have noted - understand about the issues with H1B visas and how, as payback to companies for political donations, Congressmen have allowed corporations to abuse the program to outsource once-lucrative professions for US citizens to the country with the cheapest labor.

    6. No profession is immune. Accounting, law, ITservices, software development, engineering, and medical services such as radiology are all being outsourced, with many going to India. There's no end in sight.

    7. As almost a corollary to my third and fourth points, simply because a particular industry or profession is growing quickly and/or employs throngs of people, that doesn't translate into employment for U.S. citizens.

    8. A profession considered fast-growing will have tons of people flocking to it, like computer science was the "hot" major in college in the early-to-mid 1970s. Unfortunately, what's considered hot by the general public, the government, and universities is already passé. People need to be scanning scientific literature and business literature to determine what really IS hot and what will be hot.

    Universities have to develop programs and curricula, plus hire people to teach courses. All that takes time and money, so universities have to pump people into these programs to recoup their investment and to make enough money to continue funding the effort and the school. That the school teaches from an out-dated curriculum matters not to the school.

    Therefore there are two tidbits here. First, people might think about taking a contrarian view and not try to land a spot in a high-flying area that everyone "knows" is in great demand. As I said, by the time "everyone knows", it's too late. It might make more sense to investigate other areas where steady demand exists, but aren't considered "sexy", like energy.

  • dater

    I agree technical jobs are a thing of the past in the US. I recently was wfr'd from my job at a fortune 500 company where I worked for 29.5 years. I am too young to qualify for retirement and too young to touch my pension,401k w/o the government penalyzing me. I still have kidgs in college who depend on my salary. If the job can be done remotely big business will send it there no matter the cost to the US economy. We will soon be the 3rd world country and then the jobs will come back but the damage will have been done. I'm trying to figure out what do I do next ? Take a quick course in vet tech, dental assistance, pharmacy tech? I know my salary will be half of what I used to make but it will be something. Any ideas?

  • Outsourced Project Manager

    I totally agree with @ferd dong and @been there. I do not understand why the story of the outsourced IT worker is never told. Things are improving? Give me a break! I am a PMP-certified project manager with 15+ years experience, and the past 2 years since my layoff (my first, I guess I was lucky) have been a living nightmare. I have burned through all my savings and retirement, and haven't a clue what to do. I attend a networking meeting each week and there are 30+ PM's in my exact position, sitting on the sidelines for many months that are growing into YEARS of unemployment. The most frustrating thing is seeing so many great people are on the bench, professionals losing everything, while many lucky (and many not-so-talented) workers are untouched. Obviously we need to think up other career choices, but what? I love my work in IT and I'm damn good at it too. I want to deliver real value to businesses using a non-stupid approach (real workers you can tap on the shoulder) and toss this international experiment.

  • Been There

    I agree with Ferd.

    I have a Computer Science Bachelors from a Tier1 University and a Masters in MIS from a Top 20 University, coupled with over 10 years of experience at well known Global Technology company.

    Though as has already been pointed out, massive outsourcing, offshoring, and H1B visa have devastated much of that IT marketplace.

    I began years ago at a helpdesk for a Fortune 50 firm, and as they outsourced it, I shifted to Software Engineering / Development which was offshored to India, then on to Systems Engineer before that was outsourced to IBM which sent the job to India.

    After that, I returned to programming briefly before those jobs were sent to China, India and Brazil respectively.

    So I became an IT Project Manager until that job was outsourced. That led to Computer Security roles, and yes, you guessed it, the job was outsourced.

    Landed an IT Business Analyst role for a while which eventually they brought in an H1B visa holder to do, and which I trained. I stayed with the company as a LAN/WAN network systems and telecom analyst and a year later the whole unit was outsourced.

    If you want to be on the run for the rest of your life looking over your shoulder and interviewing for jobs every 6-18 months, then IT is for you!

    Be warned that while it's easy to land jobs when you're young in this field, just try raising a family while job after job is being outsourced/offshored.

    The latest trend eliminating IT jobs is called cloud computing. It's a massacre in the IT world with jobs going to Brazil, Russia, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, Central America, just about anywhere with cheap labor.

    Today companies use lawyer, architects, engineers, finance, accountants and designers half-way around the world and just need 1 in the U.S. to rubber stamp documents.

    Look for jobs where you have to be in the U.S. to do, it's not as easy to bring in an H1B to take your job. My advice is look into healthcare. Yes, nurses are brought in from the Philippines, but that's a small country producing a small number of nurses.

    China and India produce engineers and computer types by the millions, their capacity is much higher than ours and they're a lot less expensive.

    If you're set on engineering, go civil for local projects building bridges, etc.

    Become a dentist, optometrist, veterinarian, or other field where you have to be physically present with the client.

    By 2020 offshoring, outsourcing, and H1B will increase more than 537%. Maybe the BLS should mention that!

  • ferd dong

    In my experience, at least in the Southeast where I live, I must disagree about "fastest growth" careers number 2 (Network systems and data communications analysts) and number 15 (Computer software engineers, applications). Both of these are heavily out-sourced. They may bounce back after employers realize that they've made a mistake, but by then the damage is done - the businesses are already hurt and the talent pool has already left the area. Information Technology and Computer Programming careers are following the same path that ruined Engineering as a career, and like Engineering it will not recover.

  • Upendra Topiwala

    What about the Pharmaceutical Industry...? Especially in the R&D...? with all the mega mergers, I am surprised this was not mentioned..?

  • Paul

    I would also recommend Niche Engineering/Technician roles like Fire Syatems Designers (NICET qualified in USA) & Fire and Life Safety Specialists among the next 10 yrs have a huge demand-supply gap. Even in this recession , they are in demand though slalries have taken a hit of 20-30% than in 1-2 yrs before.
    Hope it helps.

  • Anita Legsdin

    What's the difference between a "physical therapist aide" (occupation #12) and a "physical therapist assistant" (occupation #17)?

  • Jamie Lugo

    I have also seen that Environmental Engineering is going to be a hot ticket in the Bureau Projections as well.

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