20 Fastest-Growing Careers (2022)

by Josh Howarth - April 11, 2022

This is our list of the 20 fastest-growing careers in the US in 2022.

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 one spot on this year’s fast-growing careers list?

Content

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. And in 2022, with a global pandemic still going, anything in healthcare or related technologies is in high demand.

The Top 20 Fastest-Growing Careers for 2022

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.

Career Median Pay in 2020 Growth Rate
Wind turbine service technician $56,230 per year

$27.03 / hour

68%
Nurse practitioner $114,510 / year

$ 55.05 / hour

52%
Solar photovoltaic installer $46,470 per year

$22.34 / hour

52%
Restaurant cook $ 29,530 / year

$14.20 / hour

49%
Occupational therapy assistant or aide $60,950 per year

$29.30 / hour

36%
Statistician $ 97,170 / year

$46.72 / hour

35%
Physical therapy assistant or aide $49,970 per year

$24.02 / hour

35%
Animal caretaker $ 28,380 / year

$13.65 / hour

34%
Information security analyst $103,590 / year

$49.80 / hour

33%
Home health and personal care aide $27,080 per year

$13.02 / hour

33%
Medical or health services manager $104,280 / year

$50.13 / hour

32%
Physician Assistant $115,390 / year

$55.48 / hour

31%
Epidemiologist $74,560 / year

$35.84 / hour

30%
Speech-language pathologist $80,480 / year

$38.69 / hour

29%
Genetics counselor $85,700 / year

$41.20 / hour

26%
Operations research analyst $86,200 / year

$41.44 / hour

25%
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors $47,660 / year

$22.91 / hour

23%
Software developer, quality assurance analyst, tester $110,140 / year

$52.95 per hour

22%
Physical therapist $91,010 / year

$43.75 / hour

21%
Occupational therapist $86,280 / year

$41.48 / hour

17%

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 2022’s Fastest-Growing Careers

So, what are these fast-growing careers, and the driving forces pushing them forward?

1. Wind Turbine Service Technician

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Over the past decade, U.S. 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.

2. Nurse Practitioner

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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.

3. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installer

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A single photovoltaic (PV) cell is usually thinner than four human hairs and typically produces about 1 or 2 watts of power. PV cells are sandwiched between protective glass or plastic to withstand harsh outdoor weather.

Solar photovoltaic installers assemble, implement and maintain these sophisticated energy-collection devices.

With continuing growth (especially in the commercial sector) and generally stable or lower prices, solar remains a healthy industry, even with short-term supply chain glitches and other problems.

PV installer training takes several months to a year. You can also enroll in a technical college certificate program, which also takes a few months to complete. Each has its benefits, and some people opt to do both.

4. Restaurant Cook

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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.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant or Aide

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Occupational therapy is about helping people of every age take part as fully as possible in the tasks and pastimes of daily life.

Occupational therapy interventions might include helping children with disabilities participate in school and social situations.

Occupational therapists and assistants also assist those recovering from injury to regain skills. They also support older adults undergoing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapy assistants and aides work with occupational therapists to help clients develop or recover the activities and experiences of daily living, such as dressing, driving, and working.

They guide clients through prescribed activities and exercises designed collaboratively with occupational therapists. Occupational therapy assistants also monitor and offer encouragement for individual clients' progress.

6. Statistician

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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."

7. Physical Therapy Assistant or Aide

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Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) offer physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

PTAs perform certain aspects of patient care, obtain treatment-related data, and work with the PT to adjust care as needed.

As the ones responsible for services provided by the PTA, physical therapists will examine each patient and create a treatment plan to improve their movement ability, reduce or manage pain, restore function, or prevent disability.

8. Animal Caretaker

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Animal caretakers offer animals in various settings the knowledge and care they need—whether that means helping homeless pets in a shelter, working with laboratory animals, assisting in a veterinarian's office, or something similar.

Some animal caretakers provide general care and companionship, while others have special or advanced training. So animal care offers a range of options for volunteering or professional careers.

Caretaking demand is on the rise in 2022 for domestic, agricultural, and wild species. The pandemic's isolating effects cause more and more people, especially those working or teaching children at home or seeking companionship from a non-human household member.

Of course, when people returned to their offices, they required dog walkers. Likewise, vets have had to hire more technicians, and many pet therapists, pet resorts, etc., have opened their doors for pet owners.

9. Information Security Analyst

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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.

10. Home Health and Personal Care Aide

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With the costs of senior living increasing and people living longer, many cannot afford retirement communities. Instead, they opt for “aging in place” by living in their homes or those of family members.

So it’s not surprising that home health and personal care aide jobs are increasing dramatically, even with no formal degree and minimal training.

While jobs in this category pay relatively little compared to those requiring degrees, they offer reliable, usually rewarding work to those wanting and needing it.

What’s more, most of those working at these jobs enjoy the rewards of providing companionship that might otherwise be absent as they help older people or those with disabilities continue with their lives.

Depending on their qualifications, home health and personal care aides do everything from laundry and grocery shopping to administering medications and monitoring vital signs.

11. Medical or Health Services Manager

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There is an increasing need for people to manage the many health care professionals, support staff, patients, and activities in hospitals, nursing homes, group practices and other facilities.

It takes a highly competent and well-organized individual to do all this. To motivate employees, a medical or health services manager must have impeccable:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Aptitudes
  • Interpersonal savvy
  • Leadership ability and training

In individual doctors’ offices or small practices, a manager might be the only non-medical worker. But in larger organizations, they likely will oversee numerous clerical or administrative staff. In the latter situation, managers often interview and hire (sometimes fire) these staffers. They also might determine salaries, assign work, train staff, or even give promotions.

To work in a hospital, most medical and health services managers should have at least a bachelor’s degree in health administration.

But a master’s degree in a discipline like public administration, business administration, or public health could offer greater career flexibility and more opportunities.

12. Physician Assistant

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The physician assistant (PA) profession is growing by leaps and bounds and extending its reach into new areas.

P.A.s provide general and specialized healthcare in clinics, doctors' offices and hospitals.

For instance, a P.A. might do anything from staffing a rural clinic to aiding in a surgical procedure. Moreover, additional education or certifications can lead to a broader range of career options, including specialized ones.

Appropriately credentialed PAs assist licensed MDs in areas like

  • Emergency medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Neonatology
  • Surgery
  • Occupational medicine
  • Urology
  • Critical care
  • Psychiatry
  • Dermatology

Where and how do you begin your path to PA certification? Hopeful PAs need qualifying bachelor's degrees for admission to a graduate program.

Some of these schools or programs accept bachelor's degrees from any subject; however, we recommend a degree in a relevant area, such as health science or nursing.

Undergraduate coursework should be in fields like biochemistry, organic chemistry, immunology, pathophysiology, genetics, and molecular or cellular biology for admission to a PA master's program. Many such programs also expect applicants to have prior healthcare experience.

13. Epidemiologist

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Epidemiology is the scientific, systematic, and data-driven study of the distribution and determinants (i.e., causes and risk factors) of health-related conditions and events affecting specific populations—whether a single neighborhood or school or an entire city, state, or country.

Sometimes, as we have seen with COVID-19, it can be the whole world.

Epidemiology also refers to studying ways to control health problems. So when disease outbreaks or other large-scale health threats develop, epidemiologists are usually the first to investigate.

They search for disease origins and causes, identify those at risk, and strive to find ways to control or stop the spread. Epidemiologists also research possible ways to prevent future recurrence of the issue.

Not all epidemiologists are physicians—although several are. But many veterinarians, laboratory scientists, disaster experts, and other health professionals also have epidemiological training.

Using statistical analysis, epidemiologists research essential questions to determine how a particular health problem was introduced by finding out who, what, when, where, and how the situation arose.

In 2022, we might assume that all epidemiologists are busy investigating pathogens like COVID-19 and those exposed. However, epidemiologists are also involved with environmental hazards, foodborne illnesses, non-infectious diseases, etc., that affect only certain communities.

14. Speech-Language Pathologist

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A speech-language pathologist (SLP) evaluates, diagnoses, and treats people with speech, language, or swallowing challenges.

SLPs work with many patient types, such as stroke victims relearning to speak, babies with swallowing concerns, those who communicate with a stutter, or children experiencing language delays.

SLPs, also called speech therapists, work in settings like rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and schools.

Some of SLPs’ other responsibilities might include:

  • Instructing future SLPs at colleges and universities
  • Managing agencies, clinics, or their own private practices
  • Researching human communication processes
  • Developing new methods and equipment to evaluate speech and language problems and developing more effective treatments
  • Studying behavioral patterns connected to communication disorders
  • Helping employees improve customer or client communication

Speech-language pathology offers the benefits of structured job expectations and the chance to take both traditional and creative avenues when helping clients improve their communication ability.

15. Genetics Counselor

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Genetics is about the role of individual genes and gene groupings in health and disease.

For instance, specific genetic changes have been linked to an increased risk of conceiving a child with a congenital disability, developmental disability, or an elevated risk for diseases like cancer or heart disease.

Genetic counselors help those considering genetic testing by investigating family health history to identify risks for specific disorders, interpreting information, and determining when and if testing is needed.

They also help people comprehend and prepare for the medical, mental health, and family-related implications of how genetics can contribute to disease.

Those seeking genetic counseling careers need bachelor's degrees with biochemistry, psychology, statistics, and genetics coursework.

They should also gain experience through volunteer work in patient advocacy, counseling, scientific lab, or healthcare. Next comes a master's degree from an accredited program. Program length varies but typically takes two years and requires certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).

Once certified, most genetic counselors see patients in a clinic or hospital setting.

They may focus on general care or specialize in one or more areas that include prenatal and preconception, cancer, cardiovascular, and others.

Besides counseling, genetic counselors communicate with laboratories about tests they offer, advocate with patients’ insurance companies, and share test results with patients.

Stable and Growing Careers for 2022 and Beyond

We don’t want to cut our 20 fast-growing careers list short, so here are five more careers or career groupings that warrant strong consideration by qualified job-seekers.

16. Operations Research Analyst

17. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

18. Software Developer, Quality Assurance Analyst, or Tester

19. Physical Therapist

20. Occupational Therapist

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-rankings 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.

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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.

Startups

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.

themuse-3-reasons-joining-a-fastgrowi...

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.

Conclusion

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.

And with the pandemic constantly reinventing itself, will brick and mortar learning continue? 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. And 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.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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