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11 Careers Expected to Grow the Fastest Through 2020

If you want to enter a field with plenty of job openings, here are some careers that should be doing a lot of hiring until the end of the decade.



By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2012

Top Jobs for 2020
Top Jobs for 2020

A major consideration you face when starting a degree or certificate program is whether or not jobs will be available in your field after graduation. But how can you know ahead of time which careers will be in demand? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates growth through 2020 for a wide variety of fields. Here are the top 11 jobs with the highest expected increase in job availability.

1. Personal care aides. Personal care aides assist clients with daily household tasks and provide them with companionship. They do not provide medical services; clients who require such services generally have healthcare or hospice workers to provide them.


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Expected growth through 2020: 71%

Degree requirements and advancement: No degree required. Many personal care aides go on to become nurses by earning a licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate or nursing degree.

2. Home health aides. Home health aides are similar to personal care aides, except they work under the direct supervision of a medical professional and provide basic healthcare services, such as taking and recording vital signs.

Expected growth through 2020: 69%
Degree requirements and advancement: No degree required. Like personal care aides, many home health aides go on to become nurses by earning a licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate or nursing degree.

3. Biomedical engineers. These professionals combine knowledge of engineering and medicine to create devices and procedures that solve healthcare problems. Biomedical engineering students typically focus on a particular track such as biomechanics, bioinstrumentation or medical optics.

Expected growth through 2020: 62%
Degree requirements and advancement: A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biomedical Engineering or equivalent degree is the minimum requirement to enter the field, and many biomedical engineers continue their education at the master’s or doctoral level.

4. Brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setter’s helpers. These workers help masonry craftsmen construct buildings, fences, walkways, walls and other structures out of block, brick and stone. They also help repair such structures if they become damaged.

Expected growth through 2020: 60%
Degree requirements and advancement: A masonry apprenticeship or vocational program allows helpers to become craftsmen. Some workers in this field choose to earn a business administration degree and start their own company, or take their love of construction to the next level by completing an engineering degree.

5. Carpenter’s helpers. Carpenter’s helpers assist carpenters with a variety of tasks on construction sites. This can include cleaning work areas, loading and unloading materials, digging and backfilling trenches, and similar work.

Expected growth through 2020: 56%
Degree requirements and advancement: A carpentry apprenticeship or vocational program allows helpers to become craftsmen. Some workers in this field choose to earn a business administration degree and start their own company, or take their love of building to the next level by completing an engineering degree.

6. Veterinary technologists and technicians. These professionals perform front-line animal care working under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They are generally responsible for a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including dental, postoperative and specialized nursing duties.

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Expected growth through 2020: 52%
Degree requirements and advancement: Veterinary technicians typically earn an Associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology. Veterinary technologists usually complete a Bachelor’s degree in the same field.

7. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers install steel bars, cable or mesh to increase the structural strength of concrete. The current drive to repair and replace aging infrastructure in the U.S. is the primary reason this occupation is growing so quickly.

Expected growth through 2020: 49%
Degree requirements and advancement: Reinforcing iron and rebar workers generally receive their training in apprenticeship programs. Some choose to earn a business administration degree and start their own company, or take their love of building to the next level by completing an engineering degree.

8. Physical therapist assistants. Under the direction of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants provide therapy such as exercise, electrical stimulation, massage, mechanical traction and ultrasound to patients. They may also supervise physical therapist aides.

Expected growth through 2020: 45%
Degree requirements and advancement: Physical therapist assistants typically earn an Associate’s degree in Physical Therapy from an accredited program. Licensure is also required in most states, which requires passing one or more exams.

9. Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitter’s helpers. These workers assist plumbing professionals with the installation, maintenance and repair of pipes. Most jobs in this field concern home plumbing and septic systems, but there are some that involve industrial work.

Expected growth through 2020: 45%
Degree requirements and advancement: A plumbing apprenticeship or vocational program allows helpers to become craftsmen. Some workers in this field choose to earn a business administration degree and start their own company, or take their love of building to the next level by completing an engineering degree.

10. Meeting, convention and event planners. These professionals plan and coordinate many different types of events, from business meetings to national political conventions. This often involves arranging transportation and lodging for attendees as well as managing the event itself.

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Expected growth through 2020: 44%
Degree requirements and advancement: A Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management or Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations can all qualify you to enter this field.

11. Diagnostic medical sonographers. Diagnostic medical sonographers help diagnose and treat ailments with machines that generate high-frequency sound waves. This technology has many applications, but is most common in the field of obstetrics.

Expected growth through 2020: 44%
Degree requirements and advancement: Earning a sonography degree is generally required to enter this field. An associate’s is enough to get started, while a bachelor’s can help you advance and/or land better jobs.


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