Many people find their careers through a serendipitous mix of personal interest, opportunity, and chance, but some take a more strategic approach—deliberately seeking out education and training in those job sectors expected to grow. That sort of planning can pay off: while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 11.5 million jobs will be created in the U.S. between 2016 and 2026, many of these new positions will be in very specialized fields with rigorous qualifications.
At Stacker, we ranked the top 30 jobs that are expected to grow the fastest in the coming decade, based on BLS statistics and projections. Many on the list are in the medical and health field, ranging from phlebotomists to physical therapists. The energy sector is also expected to offer more employment opportunities, both in oil and gas as well as alternative sources like wind and solar. And unsurprisingly, the tech field is expected to hire many new software developers, information security experts, and other specialists. Check out our list of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S.—and see why skills, like tuning up a bike or tackling tough math problems, remain viable in today’s market.
Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining
2016 Employment: 41,400
2026 Projected Employment: 51,100
Growth Rate: 23.4%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $48,610
Service unit operators in the oil, gas, and mining industry are responsible for making sure oil or other natural resources are moving out smoothly from wells or mines. No formal education is required.
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas
2016 Employment: 16,700
2026 Projected Employment: 20,800
Growth Rate: 24.2%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $54,430
Another position in the oil industry, rotary drill operators use the powerful machines to remove oil, gas, or core samples. This role does not require formal education.
Roustabouts, Oil and Gas
2016 Employment: 50,000
2026 Projected Employment: 62,300
Growth Rate: 24.5%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $37,340
Like similar positions on the list, no formal education is required for roustabouts, an industry-specific term for those who assemble and fix oil field equipment.
Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas
2016 Employment: 11,100
2026 Projected Employment: 13,900
Growth Rate: 25.7%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $48,130
The trend of opportunities in the energy industry continues. Derrick operators are tasked with running the equipment that circulates mud through oil well drill holes, and requires no formal education.
Wind Turbine Service Technicians
2016 Employment: 5,800
2026 Projected Employment: 11,300
Growth Rate: 96.1%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $52,260
Although jobs in fossil fuels are frequent on our list, it’s the roles in clean energy that are growing the fastest. Responsible for the installation and maintenance of powerful turbines, these wind-power specialists usually pick up their trade at a technical school.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
2016 Employment: 11,300
2026 Projected Employment: 23,200
Growth Rate: 105.3%
Median Annual Wage (2016): $39,240
As more individuals and business look to the sun for power, solar photovoltaic installers—the technicians involved with implementing solar energy systems—ranked highest on our list. They’re generally required to have a high school diploma; some learn their trade at a technical school while others receive training on the job.
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