Best Careers for the Future

What are the best careers for the future?

Rather than doing the usual “Top 10 Careers for the Future”, I’ve decided instead to look at several broad career fields and highlight the better performing careers in each field.

Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor or an engineer, so we’ll take a look at a number of careers and hopefully you’ll find one that works for you.

Each career listed will include median pay level and projected job growth from 2010 through 2020.  Source: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Employment Statistics


There are hundreds of fields within the healthcare industry, but let’s focus on the ones that have been around for a long time, are steady performers, and don’t require a multi-year stint in medical school to get started.

All are above the national averages in both income and job growth.

Registered Nurse.  Median income $64,690, 10 year job growth 26%
Pharmacist.  Median income $111,570, 10 year job growth 25%
Physical therapist.  Median income $ 76,310, 10 year job growth 39%
Occupational therapist.  Median income $72,320, 10 year job growth 33%
Dental Hygienist.  Median income $68,250, 10 year job growth 38%


It’s almost a given that engineers of nearly any stripe earn far above average income levels.

However job growth rates in some sectors, such as nuclear- and industrial-engineers are below average, sometimes well below.  Here are some of the engineering disciplines where income is high and future job growth is average or above.  Bio-medical is well above average.

Petroleum.  Median income $114,080 , 10 year job growth 17%
Civil.  Median income $77,560, 10 year job growth 19%
Environmental.  Median income $78,740, 10 year job growth 22%
Bio-medical.  Median income $81,540, 10 year job growth 68%


Career Ladder

What career has the growth potential that’s best for your interests?

Like engineering, the technology field is diverse.

And also like engineering, some areas are seeing lackluster job growth.  One such occupation is computer programmers, where future growth is projected to be well below the national average (which is why it isn’t listed below).

Here are the technology fields where both income and job growth are above average.

Computer and information research scientists.  Median income $100,660, 10 year job growth 19%
Network and computer systems administrators.  Median income $69,160, 10 year job growth 28%
Systems analyst.  Median income $77,740, 10 year job growth 22%
Software developers.  Median income $90,530, 10 year job growth 30%

The Skilled Trades

The skilled trades have the advantage that they don’t require a college degree, and the cost that involves.  Some are projected to grow faster than the overall job market (electrician and plumber), while elevator repair and installation is slower growing but pays well above many college related careers.

Auto mechanics and aviation mechanics are not on the list because future job growth is projected to be well below average.

Electrician.  Median income $48,250, 10 year job growth 23%
Plumber.  Median income $46,660, 10 year job growth 26%
Elevator repair and installation.  Median income $70,910, 10 year job growth 11%


Incomes are above average and growth is average, but education related jobs are consistent performers.

Teachers.  Median income $51,380, 10 year job growth 17%
College professors.  Median income $62,050, 10 year job growth 17%
School principals.  Median income $86,970, 10 year job growth 10%
School counselors.  Median income $53,380, 10 year job growth 19%


We may not think of having your own business as being a career but it’s increasingly common.

It may be the best solution to a job market in which promotions and traditional jobs are becoming difficult to find.  It’s also fast becoming the next career move for suddenly unemployed mid-career professionals who find themselves shut out of their lifelong occupations.

Entrepreneurship is difficult to generalize; it can be any type of business from a painting contractor to a factory owner.

The internet is creating millions of opportunities for business ventures by lowering the cost of entry, opening up access to unlimited markets and enabling small start-ups to offer many of the same products and services as large corporations.

The opportunities for both business ideas and income here are unlimited.


The sales field is broad, and can include everything from common sales areas like real estate, insurance and autos to more technical ones, such as pharmaceutical sales and manufacturers reps.

In general, job growth is on par with national averages and pay can vary (widely) depending on both personal abilities and the product line.

We may not often think of sales as a career, at least not in the traditional sense, but income and promotion potential can be substantial for those who have a natural ability to sell.  Good sales people often earn more money than salaried professionals.  Many top level executives start out in sales and rise to the top of the company based on their sales performance.


No one has an accurate crystal ball.  There’s no telling how the economy will change over the next decade.  But having an idea of what careers are expected to have growth can help you decide where you should steer your career or education.

Do you know any other careers that would do well?

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Published or updated December 28, 2012.


  1. Accounting seems to be doing well but can be awfully boring at times. Remember that you shouldn’t pick a job based solely on income unless you can deal with spending most of your life at a job you don’t care about just for the money.

    • The way I see it is you take those things you are passionate about and see where they cross in growth careers.

      Sitting at a job just for the money when you hate the work…it’s no good. But there are plenty of people out there that are interested in accounting and there are many fields within it as well (many CEO’s and CFO’s have accounting backgrounds).

  2. It is nice to know that my wife (RN) and I (teacher) are in the best careers. I was always an entrepreneur in one form or another. I restarted my entrepreneurial endeavors with my blog and this is probably not the end of it. I am less than 5 years away from retirement (again), but I still have a lot of (at least 35 years) years left.

  3. I really like how you broke down the different jobs into fields of work. It is much more useful than “10 Jobs That Are Going to Be Great But You Would Never Want to Have Them.” I’m a little surprised at the median computer salaries; I wonder if the incomes of the big computer magnates are included and skew the results? Or maybe I just live in a bad area for computer jobs…

  4. Besides sales all the named jobs are very skilled/trained…makes a lot of sense.

  5. I feel like a lot of careers will go away with the rapid advancement of technology, but new ones will appear. It’s kinda tricky these days to find what you love to do and what will be in demand in the future. If you’re currently looking for a job, I’d recommend turning to these folks
    for help.

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