20 Fastest-Growing Careers (2024)
This is our list of the 20 fastest-growing careers in the US in 2024.
As you might expect, the most sought-after careers evolve due to factors like new technologies, consumer demand, and economic trends. As many of today's professors tell their students, "You need to prepare for the jobs that don't exist yet".
We’ll see evidence of that phenomenon here, as we consider the 20 fastest-growing careers right now. A few years ago, who would have thought that a wind turbine service technician would take the number two spot on this year’s fast-growing careers list?
- Fast-Growing Occupations: Our Data And Analysis
- The Top 20 Fastest-Growing Careers For 2024
- A Closer Look At 2024’s Fastest-Growing Careers
- Stable Vs. Fast-Growing Careers: Differences
- Permanent Vs. Short-Term Or Contract Work
- Entertainment Industry Workers
- Short-Term, Sporadic, Or Gig Employment
Fast-Growing Occupations: Our Data and Analysis
The growth and expansion of the fastest-growing career categories are determined mainly by a combination of increased demand for people to develop new technologies and those capable of doing "work computers can't do". It could mean anything from caregivers of various kinds to data analysts to artists and other creatives.
The Top 20 Fastest-Growing Careers for 2024
The table below shows the fastest-growing careers for the 2020s, based primarily on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. While reading through the list, if you would like to visit the BLS information page on a particular career or career grouping, click on the linked listing in the table below.
Note: in some cases, we have grouped similar careers into single rankings.
|Rank||Career||Median Pay||Growth Rate|
|#1||Nurse practitioner||$125,900 per year||45.7%|
|#2||Wind turbine service technician||$57,320 per year||44.3%|
|#3||Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers||$24,440 per year*||40.5%|
|#4||Motion picture projectionists||$29,350 per year*||40.3%|
|#5||Restaurant cook||$30,910 per year||36.6%|
|#6||Data scientists||$103,500 per year||35.8%|
|#7||Athletes and sports competitors||$94,270 per year||35.7%|
|#8||Information security analyst||$102,600 per year*||34.7%|
|#9||Statistician||$96,280 per year*||32.7%|
|#10||Umpires, referees, and other sports officials||$36,010 per year||31.7%|
|#11||Web developers||$78,300 per year*||30.3%|
|#12||Animal caretaker||$29,790 per year||29.9%|
|#13||Choreographer||$42,700 per year||29.7%|
|#14||Taxi drivers||$37,540 per year*||28.5%|
|#15||Medical or health services manager||$101,340 per year*||28.3%|
|#16||Logistician||$77,030 per year*||27.7%|
|#17||Physician Assistant||$121,530 per year*
|#18||Solar photovoltaic installer||$45,230 per year||27.2%|
|#19||Animal caretakers||$29,790 per year||27.1%|
|#20||Physical therapy assistant or aide||$57,240 per year||26.5%|
*2021 median pay figures; all other figures are 2022 median pay
Sources for the above data include Indeed.com, Visual Capitalist, and Mint (intuit.com). Rankings, projected 10-year growth rate and median annual income figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A Closer Look at 2024’s Fastest-Growing Careers
So, what are these fast-growing careers, and the driving forces pushing them forward?
1. Nurse Practitioner
Unlike aspiring RNs, students in undergraduate BSN programs complete general education coursework and study advanced clinical knowledge and skills for nurses, such as diagnosing, managing, and prescribing medications and other patient treatments.
A rigorous graduate-level nurse practitioner education then augments the foundational knowledge gained as undergraduates before becoming certified.
Once certified, nurse practitioners can work as generalists, often in primary care clinics or similar settings like community centers or college campuses.
They can also choose specialties like gerontology (caring for elders), nephrology (kidney care), or pediatrics through courses in the given area.
Nurse practitioners are not medical doctors; instead, they combine medical and nursing expertise to assist other medical professionals and their patients better.
2. Wind Turbine Service Technician
Over the past decade, US wind power capacity has grown a whopping 15% per year, with the wind now being the most prominent U.S. source of renewable energy.
And since wind speeds tend to increase at higher altitudes, turbine towers have gotten taller to capture even more power. Of course, this means a greater need for the skills and talents of well-trained wind turbine service technicians.
These folks learn their skills through a growing number of technical school programs tailored to wind turbine maintenance. After completing a 2-year program, most employers offer additional on-the-job training for at least 12 months.
"Wind technicians" install, inspect, maintain, operate, and repair wind turbines. Once fully trained, they can diagnose and fix problems that might otherwise keep the turbine from running correctly or shutting down altogether.
3. Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers
As of 2023, there are an estimated 68,320 US job openings within this sector. That number is expected to grow year-over-year, reaching 88,800 by 2031.
Total employment predictably took a hit in 2020, dropping to just under 96,000 from over 138,000 a year earlier. Yet by 2029, employment is set to reach new heights, surpassing 140,000.
California (11,760), Texas, (7,730), New York (6,930), Florida (6,220), and North Carolina (4,490) are hubs for employment in this field.
4. Motion picture projectionists
After a steady decline over the last two decades, demand for motion picture projectionists is on the rise.
In fact, the number of projected new jobs over the next decade (1,200) makes up over 70% of total motion picture projection jobs in 2020 (around 1,700).
California and New Jersey are currently amongst the top US employers.
Although the medium-term prospects look promising, this career carries a concerning automation risk.
5. Restaurant Cook
Celebrity chefs have existed for over two centuries; however, they made their biggest splash with niche cable networks like TVFN (today's Food Network) and similar channels starting in the 1990s.
So it's no wonder that more and more people aspire to careers in food preparation.
Still, getting a start in the restaurant industry isn't easy, and if you walk in off the street, you'll be lucky to start by bussing tables or washing dishes. And those happen to be excellent beginning jobs since they offer a broad overview of how restaurants operate.
Ordinarily, the next step for most future restaurant cooks is finding the right culinary school and narrowing your specialty (cuisine, restaurant type, etc.).
After graduation, you should grow your network if you're looking for jobs with increasing levels of responsibility.
Your goal at this point might be landing a sous chef job. For those wanting to settle down, becoming a restaurant cook could also mean helping build the reputation of a popular local diner or something similar.
6. Data scientists
Demand for data scientists is predicted to grow 3x faster than the average occupation through 2030.
This increased demand is in tune with the growing amount of available data.
In the space of 10 years, the volume of data created skyrocketed from 2 zettabytes in 2010 to an estimated 64.2 zettabytes in 2020. As of 2023, this figure stands at around 120 zettabytes. By 2025, it’s likely to surpass 180 zettabytes.
As a result, executives are placing increased focus on the recruitment of data professionals.
7. Athletes and sports competitors
Unlike many other occupations, professional athletes have little to worry about in terms of automation risk.
Careers in athletics and sports are relatively short. As such, the vast majority of new job openings come as a result of high employee turnover.
Injuries are common and can sometimes impact earning potential. However, top athletes have virtually no ceiling on their wages.
8. Information Security Analyst
Today, virtually all companies need information security analysts — especially those in computer systems design and related services, finance and insurance, and information.
Information security analysts protect companies' and organizations' computer systems and data from cyberattacks. They recommend and install anti-virus, anti-malware, and other protective software. They also monitor computer networks for possible breaches and respond to cyberattacks.
Information security analysts usually need a computer science-related bachelor's degree.
Some employers also prefer an MBA in information systems. Industry-standard certifications are highly recommended, as they can help build credentials and keep them up-to-date, which is essential in this field.
Common career paths for information security analysts include
- Network architect
- Systems manager
- Information researcher
- Software developer
- Network administrator
Without a doubt, there will be more roles for this profession in the coming years.
There are strict requirements for becoming a statistician: entry-level positions require bachelor's degrees, while those wishing to develop and hone their professional skills should consider pursuing master's or doctoral-level degrees.
Statisticians collect and analyze data for patterns that explain behavior or "describe the world as it is."
Statisticians participate in survey development and data collection from start to finish, ensuring the data's validity and usefulness. These analysts are employed by both the private and public sectors.
Overall, statisticians work on a wide variety of industry issues, including economic analysis, inventory control, health concerns, and television demographics.
By working holistically with data-gathering projects, statisticians keep their research questions at the forefront, staying focused on the data until they are confident about making their findings available and accessible to the public.
Statistics professor Jon Anderson (University of Minnesota-Morris) points out, "Statistics focuses on making sense of complex data and using those insights to make smart choices."
10. Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials
Alongside a growing demand for more athletes, naturally, comes an increased demand for sports officials.
However, unlike athletes, referees face greater automation risk. Technological advancements have resulted in more AI within sports officiating in recent years.
Work hours can vary greatly depending on sport and level of competition. Many in this line of work officiate part-time or seasonally.
Between 2021 and 2031, over 4,000 job openings are likely to exist within this sector.
Stable and Growing Careers for 2024 and Beyond
We don’t want to cut our 20 fast-growing careers list short, so here are 10 more careers or career groupings that warrant strong consideration by qualified job-seekers.
11. Web developers
12. Animal caretakers
14. Taxi drivers
15. Medical and health services managers
17. Physician assistants
18. Solar photovoltaic installers
19. Animal trainers
20. Physical therapist assistants
Stable vs. Fast-Growing Careers: Differences
The table above shows a combination of median pay and growth rates.
However, it does not reflect flourishing but stable career categories (e.g., registered nurses or optometrists, physicians, veterinarians, phlebotomists, and cartographers) with little to no growth projected for the current decade.
Nonetheless, established jobs like these have value in their stability, especially during uncertain times, like the early 2020s.
Moreover, some of the listed positions are fast-growing and stable, like software developers and physician assistants.
These jobs have been around long enough to have an established presence in the job market, yet it's easy to understand why demand keeps growing in these professions.
Permanent vs. Short-Term or Contract Work
The BLS undoubtedly faces some challenges when determining how much those in a given career category earn annually, much less how their careers will fare over the coming decade.
After all, relatively few occupations have fixed earnings brackets, much less uniformity across different employers.
For several job categories, future trajectories are (as most have always been) harder to predict than more traditional "9 to 5" employment. This section looks at some of those categories.
Entertainment Industry Workers
Entertainment workers, from lobby attendants to actors and professional athletes, have become indispensable perhaps more so today than ever before.
Along with the fast-growing careers listed and discussed above, various entertainment-related jobs also hold top spots in the BLS figures. They are not included in the above list, though, since their positions are not duplicated elsewhere (as are those in our list).
But how long would an actor, director, editor, etc., need or want to continue working on the same film or television project? How long would a professional athlete want or be able to maintain optimal performance levels?
Unless it’s a beloved television personality like Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather with a regular news program or a renowned athlete like Michael Jordan who takes a managerial position in a sport where he excelled, our answer would be “not long”.
So how do these typically short-term and contract jobs compare with permanent, ongoing work, primarily as they affect how the BLS ranks fast-growing occupations? As with all career categories, they must average or estimate what someone earned on various projects over a decade (or other measured duration).
For the Bureau's part, workers in these related industries report their income in the same ways as those in more standardized careers. However, their reporting is on a smaller or more regional scale for those in entertainment. This could help explain why some career-ranking sources might leave out occupations like these altogether.
Moreover, most low-wage entertainment workers, like movie projectionists and cinema lobby attendants, help staff the movie exhibition tier only long enough to sustain themselves to their next career stage. So, could they actually be considered entertainment industry workers? We believe so. After all, where would the industry be without them?
Short-Term, Sporadic, or Gig Employment
One career cluster that can be especially hard to grasp is BLS category 47-5010: Derrick, Rotary Drill, and Service Unit Operators.
However, we learned that this occupational group is on the rise only after reviewing Intuit Mint's list: 20 Fastest-Growing Jobs of the Next Decade. They rank derrick operators, rotary drill operators, and roustabouts at 12th, 13th, and 14th respectively.
Still, today's oil rig work represents a changing mix of permanent employment (usually done in weeklong or multi-week intervals) and gig work.
The latter, typically associated with freelancing, is something oil and other extraction companies see as potentially advantageous for their bottom line.
According to EKT Interactive Oil & Gas Training, "the oil and gas industry is sure to see an acceleration of this due to the challenging hiring environment. As a result, employers have cut to the bone, to the tune of over 125,000 workers globally".
Although these employers have been given several cautions, many see this direction as their future. It is not only the oil industry, either.
With "the great resignation", the maturation of the gig economy became apparent. Remote work is now "a thing".
We don't just mean continuing a job at home, but rather, looking for something as good, if not better than one in a traditional workplace. We suppose the issue of benefits will soon be on the agendas of the younger generations as they remake today's work environments.
Fast-growing companies, especially startups, offer promising futures but also carry risks.
Therefore, they often appeal to younger generations (i.e., Millennials and Gen Z) since many haven't yet started families, purchased homes, or developed health conditions.
With rent likely being their most significant expense, these young people could readily get in on the ground floor of something big.
Or not. Startups are just that: new enterprises trying to get a foot in the door. So, of course, the risk associated with startups is more palpable for those who have settled down.
For example, many baby boomers (1946-1964) are leery of possibly losing their retirement nest egg or paying for health care down the road, and quite a few Gen-Xers (1965-1980) still have mortgages to pay and kids in college or struggling with post-college employment.
But if you're at the appropriate life and career stage, there can be many pros to joining a startup.
So if you're wondering whether a particular startup would be a good choice for you, weigh the pros and cons, do further research, and ask the prospective employer any lingering questions you might have.
To paraphrase a TV commercial from the 1990s, it's not your parents' job market anymore. Yes, of course, we will always need traditional jobs, like those in medicine, health care, and other vital areas.
But jobs for humans already involve guiding and monitoring robots for everything from vetting resumes to performing surgical procedures. And while teachers and professors might continue working with students, what and how they do that might shift from
- Local or regional to global learning.
- The classroom to online homeschooling and self-study.
- Liberal arts to STEM or business electives.
Given the events of the pandemic, will brick-and-mortar learning continue in the future? Will experiential, on-demand (”just-in-time”), or other new learning options become more prevalent?
No one has ever been able to predict the future, not even the BLS. Numerical data can be deceptive if it's read as anything other than speculation. So perhaps examining the recent past for patterns that either appeal to or horrify us is the best way to guide ourselves into the unknown.