The Top 20 Careers for 2020

A good job depends on a number of criteria, many of which are specific to the individual. We’ve discussed career values, personality and interest areas. While these factors are important, one must also take into consideration things like job growth and salary. When compiling the following list, only objective factors such as growth projections and salary* were taken into account. Although the jobs on this list aren’t for everyone, it’s a good place to start when deciding on a career path. Read on for our list of the top 20 careers for 2020.

 

The Top 20 Careers for 2020

The following careers are projected to experience higher than average growth in the next decade and all offered a median annual pay above $50,000 in 2018.

1. Physical Therapists

2018 Median Pay: $87,930 per year


Job Outlook (2018-2028): 22% growth

Physical therapists use exercises, hands-on therapy and equipment to help injured patients improve movement and manage pain. They work in clinics, hospitals and nursing homes. Because physical therapists often spend much of the day on their feet and may be required to help move patients, physical stamina is important. A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is required.

2. Nurse Practitioners

2018 Median Pay: $113,930

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 26%

Nurse practitioners perform many of the same duties as medical doctors. They perform exams, create patient care plans, analyze test results and diagnose health problems. They may work independently or in collaboration with medical doctors. In most states, nurse practitioners can prescribe medications. Nurse practitioners, also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), must earn at least a master’s degree from an accredited program. APRNs must also be licensed registered nurses in their state and pass a national certification exam.

3. Software Developers

2018 Median Pay: $105,590

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 21%

Software developers design, develop and analyze software to meet user needs. Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. Alternatively, systems software developers create systems that keep computers running properly. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field is the minimum requirement for most jobs.

4. Financial Managers

2018 Median Pay: $127,990

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 16%

Financial managers create financial reports, analyze reports to find ways to reduce costs, and help management make the right financial decisions. A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, plus five or more years of experience in a finance role are required for most positions.

5. Registered Nurses

2018 Median Pay: $71,730

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 12%

Registered nurses record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, and administer medications. They also operate and monitor medical equipment and help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results. Sixty percent of registered nurses work in hospitals. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing is required. Registered nurses must also be licensed. In order to become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing for more information.

6. Market Research Analysts

2018 Median Pay: $63,120

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 20%

Market research analysts forecast marketing and sales trends, collect data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions. Finally, they analyze data using statistical software and prepare reports to present to clients and management. A bachelor’s degree in marketing or related field is required for most positions. However, a master’s degree is generally required for leadership positions and those that require more technical research.

7. Computer Systems Analysts

2018 Median Pay: $88,740

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 9%

Computer systems analysts combine knowledge of business and IT to help an organization run more efficiently. One of the key duties of a computer systems analyst is creating a cost benefit analysis. This helps to determine whether or not installing or upgrading computer systems and infrastructure is worthwhile. Additionally, they oversee installation of new systems, conduct testing and train end users. A degree in computer science or related field is required.

8. Post-secondary Teachers, Health Specialties

2018 Median Pay: $78,470 (all post-secondary teachers)

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 11%

With the growing demand for healthcare workers, post secondary teachers in health specialties can expect plenty of job opportunities in the coming years. A post-secondary teacher’s job depends upon where they work. Some institutions focus more on teaching, while others place more emphasis on research. Post-secondary health teachers work at community colleges and universities. An advanced degree is required for faculty positions.

9. Occupational Therapists

2018 Median Pay: $84,270

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 18%

Occupational therapists help patients with activities of daily living such as eating, getting dressed and using necessary medical equipment. Although a master’s degree in occupational therapy is required, many therapists obtain a doctorate degree. Visit https://www.aota.org/ for more information.

10. Physician Assistants

2018 Median Pay: $108,610

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 31%

Physician Assistants (PAs) work with physicians to diagnose and treat patients. Their work is very similar to that of medical doctors. PAs examine patients, order tests, and prescribe medication. A master’s degree from an accredited program is required, in addition to a license. Visit http://www.arc-pa.org/ for a directory of accredited programs.

11. Statisticians and Mathematicians

2018 Median Pay: $88,190

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 30%

Statisticians and mathematicians design surveys and polls to collect data. They then analyze data to help solve problems in business, engineering and other fields. 40% of mathematicians and statisticians work for the federal government. A master’s degree in mathematics or statistics is required for most positions. Those interested in becoming a mathematician or statistician should begin taking advanced level math courses as early as possible.

12. Information Security Analysts

2018 Median Pay: $98,350

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 32%

Information security analysts monitor an organization’s network for security breaches, install software to protect sensitive data, and prepare reports on security breaches. They also develop security standards and best practices for a company and make recommendations for improved IT security. Information security analysts must be well versed in the latest in IT security trends and be able to help end users with security products and procedures. A degree in computer science or related field is required.

13. Postsecondary Teachers, Business

2018 Median Pay: $78,470

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 11%

Post-secondary business teachers may specialize in a variety of subject areas such as management, finance, or marketing. Many business instructors and professors obtain a few years of corporate work experience prior to teaching. This experience helps instructors and professors connect concepts to situations students might encounter once they graduate. A doctorate degree is required for most four year positions, while a master’s degree is usually sufficient for junior college jobs.

14. Veterinarians

2018 Median Pay: $93,830

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 18%

Veterinarians diagnose, treat and prescribe medications for animals. They also perform surgery, operate equipment and euthanize animals. Although a love of animals is a necessary characteristic for veterinarians, they must also be able to handle the stress of caring for sick pets and interacting compassionately with their owners. Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree is required.

15. Operations Research Analysts

2018 Median Pay: $83,390

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 26%

Operations research analysts identify and solve problems in a variety of fields including business and healthcare. They use statistical analysis, simulations, and predictive modeling to analyze information. Then, they use this information to develop potential solutions to organizational problems. Finally, they present their findings to management and help determine the most effective and efficient solutions. A degree in operations research, or other technical field such as engineering is required.

16. Respiratory Therapists

2018 Median Pay: $60,280

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 21%

Respiratory therapists help patients with breathing by using a variety of techniques and equipment. An associate’s degree is required, but many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. A license is required in all states except Alaska. 81% of respiratory therapists work in hospitals. Visit https://www.coarc.com/ to find an accredited program.

17. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

2018 Median Pay: $67,080

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 14%

Diagnostic medical sonographers prepare and maintain diagnostic equipment, prep patients for procedures, and operate equipment to capture images. They then analyze images and present findings to physicians. An associate’s degree or post-secondary certificate is required. Visit https://www.caahep.org/ for accredited programs.

18. Speech Language Pathologists

2018 Median Pay: $77,510

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 27%

Speech therapists diagnose and treat individuals with communication and swallowing disorders. They must create individualized treatment plans for each patient. A master’s degree in speech pathology is required and most states require SLP’s to be licensed. 40% of speech pathologists work in educational services. Visit https://www.asha.org/ for more information.

19. Dental Hygienists

2018 Median Pay: $74,820

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 11%

Dental hygienists clean teeth, apply sealants and fluoride, take x-rays and educate patients about oral hygiene. A three year associate’s degree in dental hygiene is required and all states require that dental hygienists be licensed. Visit https://www.ada.org/en/coda for a list of accredited programs.

20. Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers

2018 Median Pay: $78,470 (all postsecondary teachers)

Job Outlook (2018-2028): 11% (all postsecondary teachers)

Postsecondary nursing instructors work in universities and community or junior colleges. Instructors develop curriculum plans, assess student progress and advise students on the best courses to take. They may also conduct research, publish papers, apply for grants and oversee graduate students. A high demand for healthcare professionals means an increased need for nursing instructors. A master’s degree is required for community college positions while a doctorate is generally required for university jobs.

Not surprisingly, healthcare careers are featured heavily on our list of the top 20 careers for 2020. With an aging population, the demand for nurses, therapists and other healthcare workers will continue to grow. The IT industry also offers a number of great career opportunities. Don’t see any careers you like on the list? Don’t worry! There are plenty of career choices out there. Check out our Recommended Reading page for career planning books and visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook site for more career ideas.

*Projected growth and median pay from the Occupational Outlook Handbook

 

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