As Fast Company announced last week, Emsi and CareerBuilder have assembled new lists that reveal the most in-demand jobs for 2016. We considered several factors—including growth, wages, job ads, and number of new hires—to arrive at an elite few, which reside predominately in technology, health care, and management. The resulting careers are those that have the greatest gap between job openings and hires.
First, here is a look at the careers that typically require college education. Nothing surprising here. You’ll see nursing, software, and key business occupations like sales and marketing.
- Registered nurses
- Software developers, applications
- Marketing managers
- Sales managers
- Medical and health services managers
- Network and computer systems administrators
- Industrial engineers
- Computer systems analysts
- Web developers
- Financial managers
Next, we have a list of the top in-demand careers that don’t require a four-year degree, including some good health care and transportation careers to consider.
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Food service managers
- Computer user support specialists
- Insurance sales agents
- Medical records and health information technicians
- Surgical technologists
- Bus and truck mechanics
- Transportation, storage, and distributions managers
- Purchasing agents
- Medical secretaries
The Fast Company article focused on two careers: registered nurses (for degree-requiring jobs) and truck drivers (non-degree-requiring jobs). These are certainly compelling, but young folks might want to note a couple caveats. First, while the demand for registered nurses is nothing short of legendary, nursing schools turned away nearly 69,000 qualified applicants in 2014 (due partly to a faculty shortage), which means that aspiring nurses could face tough resistance getting in the door. As for truck drivers, the job’s grueling schedule might not be that attractive to many young grads, despite the good odds of landing a job.
But here are two high-demand occupations from our list worth a closer look: marketing managers, which typically require a bachelor’s degree, and surgical technologists, which require only a postsecondary non-degree ward. Both offer greater wages and more stable futures, so let’s run them through a couple scenarios on Find Your Calling.
Say you’re a high school student in North Carolina and, based on the fact that you’ve got strong persuasive and organization skills (plus you enjoy working with people), you’re interested in becoming a marketing manager.
The data shows that from 2014 to 2015 alone, the occupation has grown nearly 6% in your home state. That’s pretty good growth. And the average salary is $103K a year (though $65K a year is more realistic for those just getting started—still a tidy sum).
Who’s hiring? Job postings have been published by local companies such as Wells Fargo, SAS, and TEKsystems. As for education, universities in North Carolina that offer relevant marketing programs include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Appalachian State University, and East Carolina University, each offering very affordable tuition.
With all this information, you’ve got enough to start figuring out whether a marketing manager is what you really want to do, where you should go to school, and how much to budget for your education.
Now let’s say you’re just out of high school, you live in Texas, and the only thing you know is that you aren’t interested (or would prefer not to invest) in four years of school. Well, if you like solving problems, helping people, working with your hands, and paying attention to detail, then a career as a surgical technologist might be your dream job.
Surgical technologists make about $43K a year (more like $31K at the beginning) and have grown a decent 3% since 2014. HCA, Baylor Scott & White Health, and Texas Health Resources are among the companies posting for this position.
When planning your education, you should pay attention to the fact that while being a surgical technologist doesn’t necessary require a college degree (59% of technologists have only some college or just a high school diploma), a good number (41%) do have their associate’s degree.
Three community colleges and plenty of universities in Texas offer relevant degrees for becoming a surgical technician—most with tuition below $7,000.
The Bottom Line
Here’s our advice. Before settling on a potentially lifelong trajectory with your career, research all the angles. Is the job in high demand? Does it pay well? How good are the hiring prospects? Will you actually enjoy this job? Which schools offer the education you need to get there?
Find all the answers and more on Find Your Calling.