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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

15 High-Paying Jobs That’ll Be in Demand for Years to Come

two people in dark green scrubs in a hospital, looking down and smiling
Bailey Zelena; Solskin/Getty Images

You want to pursue a career in a field you’re excited about. But if you’re like most people, you also want to go down a path that’s going to provide lucrative opportunities—not just right now but for years (or decades!) to come—and that means choosing a high-paying job that’s in demand today and will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

But how do you know what types of jobs are going to provide those opportunities—both today and five or 10 years down the line? Fortunately, you don’t have to guess. Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases employment projections for growth both overall and for each individual occupation over a period of 10 years. Nothing is ever certain, but the BLS growth predictions can give you a good sense of the long-term trajectory of a huge range of roles.

Let’s take a look at 15 high-paying jobs that are poised for serious growth over the next decade. For the purposes of this list, we’ve defined “high-paying” as jobs whose median pay in 2021, according to BLS, was above the median household income in the U.S., which was $70,784 in 2021. And “poised for serious growth” means BLS has projected this occupation will grow “faster than average” or “much faster than average” over the next 10 years. (For reference, the average growth rate for all occupations is 5.3%.)

Nurse practitioner

Median salary in 2021: $120,680
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
45.7% (much faster than average)

Nurse practitioners deliver advanced nursing care—so advanced you may have had an appointment with one in place of a medical doctor (MD). NPs can work with doctors or independently to examine, diagnose, provide guidance to, and treat patients. Nurse practitioners can also prescribe medication and order laboratory and other tests for patients. They can work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient facilities, and schools.

To become a nurse practitioner, you’ll first need to become a licensed registered nurse (RN) and then obtain a master’s degree and a nurse practitioner’s certification. Nurse practitioners often get certified in specific areas of focus, like emergency medicine, pediatrics, or psychiatry. The requirements are steep—and understandably so given the responsibilities of the role—but according to BLS, nurse practitioners will be the No. 1 most in-demand job in the next decade.

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Data scientist

Median salary in 2021: $100,910
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
35.8% (much faster than average)

Data scientists create the frameworks that allow companies to collect, organize, and analyze data—and then leverage that data to make better decisions for their business. Depending on business needs, the job can include everything from running data experiments, implementing statistical models and algorithms, developing data products, and optimizing frameworks to increase efficacy and drive better business outcomes.

Data science is a highly technical, data-heavy role—as such, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, statistics, math, engineering, or a related field is typically a job requirement (and many companies prefer their data scientists hold an advanced degree).

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Information security analyst

Median salary in 2021: $102,600
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
35% (much faster than average)

Information security analysts are responsible for keeping a company’s information safe and secure—a top priority for most companies at a time when so much sensitive information is shared and stored digitally. Information security analysts are responsible for everything from researching and testing security solutions, evaluating a company’s current digital security processes, identifying and fixing vulnerabilities, managing security threats or breaches, and developing and implementing security solutions and technologies (such as by overseeing the installation of firewalls and the use of data encryption).

Information security analysts need to know the ins and outs of all things cybersecurity and typically hold a bachelor’s degree (or higher!) in a technology-related field, such as computer science.

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Web developers

Median salary in 2021: $77,030
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 30.3% (much faster than average)

Web developers create and maintain websites and web apps and they fall into three categories:

  • Front-end web developers focus on the look of the site and anything that visitors might see or interact with.
  • Back-end web developers deal with the behind-the-scenes tech that makes everything work seamlessly.
  • Full-stack web developers work on both the front- and back-ends of the site.

Regardless of which type of developer you become, you’ll need to learn how to code. You’ll also need strong communication skills to interact with anyone you’re building a website for and make sure everyone involved is on the same page. For front-end work, some design knowledge is also helpful. Some employers will hire web developers who have been to a bootcamp and/or have strong portfolios of work, while others may want to see a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar field.

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Physician assistant (PA)

Median salary in 2021: $121,530
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
28% (much faster than average)

A physician assistant (also known as a PA) is a licensed medical professional who provides routine patient care. Just like an MD, a physician assistant can examine, diagnose, and treat patients; prescribe medication; and develop treatment plans. But unlike doctors, who work independently, PAs must be supervised by an MD. PAs can work in a variety of settings (including doctors’ offices and hospitals) and within different specialties (from primary care to surgery).

A career as a physician assistant starts with a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, followed by a master’s degree program (often called “PA school”), a national certification exam, and licensing (requirements vary by state).

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Software developer

Median salary in 2021: $109,020
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 25% (much faster than average)

Software developers (also known as software engineers) design, code, test, and develop software, whether that’s an enterprise software solution serving a giant corporation or a consumer-facing mobile app used by individuals. Whereas web developers focus on websites and apps, software developers can work on all kinds of programs and features online or off. 

The most important thing you’ll need to succeed as a software developer is coding skills. So whether you learn to code through a comp sci degree, a coding bootcamp, or self instruction, for most gigs, it doesn’t really matter; as long as you have the skills—and can prove it during a technical interview—you should be able to land a job.

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Median salary in 2021: $105,900
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 21% (much faster than average)

Actuaries typically work for insurance companies and are responsible for evaluating risk. They use math, data, and statistics to determine whether their employer should issue a policy to a potential customer—whether that’s an individual or a business—and, if they determine a policy should be issued, what the premium should be. Actuaries make evaluations regarding health, life, automobile, homeowners, medical malpractice, and workers’ compensation insurance, as well as retirement benefits and other investments.

A degree in actuarial science (which focuses on using math and statistical modeling to assess risk) or a related field (such as math or statistics) is a must. Plus, actuaries need to pass a series of rigorous exams over the course of several years in order to be certified to do the job by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

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Financial manager

Median salary in 2021: $131,710
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
17% (much faster than average)

As the title implies, financial managers are responsible for managing an organization’s finances. Financial managers may be employed directly by a company or they may work for a consulting firm, where they tackle financial management for the firm’s clients. Depending on the company or client’s needs, a financial manager may be responsible for a variety of finance-related tasks, including identifying weaknesses or risks; developing solutions to eliminate those weaknesses or risks; performing research; creating projections and reports; preparing financial statements; setting goals; providing suggestions for how the company or client can hit those goals; and suggesting ways to reduce costs, increase profits, or expand into new markets.

Financial management requires an in-depth knowledge of business finance—which they might’ve gained as accountants or financial analysts, for example—and candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, or a related field to get started.

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Information systems (IS) manager

Median salary in 2021: $159,010
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
16% (much faster than average)

Information systems managers (also known as IS managers) are responsible for designing and, yes, managing the information systems within an organization. They typically hold a senior-level role within a company’s information technology (IT) department and are tasked with evaluating a company’s current technology, staying up-to-date on available upgrades and best practices, developing an information systems strategy or plan, making recommendations on everything from hardware to software to security, and overseeing a team to implement their plans and recommendations. So for instance, an IS manager might weigh the costs and benefits of a new piece of software, pitch their recommendation to executives or other decision makers, get it installed efficiently across the organization, and oversee maintenance and security for it going forward.

IS managers need a deep understanding of information systems and, as such, they typically hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a tech-related field (like computer science or information technology).

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Social and community service managers

Median salary in 2021: $74,000
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 12% (much faster than average)

Social and community service managers organize and oversee programs that support public health and well-being. For example, a program might focus on increasing COVID vaccination rates in an area or providing job training for veterans. They might be involved with conducting research to find out what programs are needed in a community, pitching said programs to obtain approval and funding, coordinating all the necessary resources, implementing the program, and doing outreach to increase awareness of the program. Social and community service managers primarily work for nonprofits, social service organizations, and government departments and they can work in a variety of settings like offices, schools, hospitals and clinics, and shelters.

To become a community service manager you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in social work, public policy, public health, or a related field, and for some positions you might need a master’s degree that’s directly related to the kinds of programs you’ll be responsible for.

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Management analysts

Median salary in 2021: $93,000
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 11% (much faster than average)

Sometimes called management consultants, management analysts evaluate organizations and make recommendations to improve their processes, efficiency, and profits. They might be responsible for gathering information about a company, team, or department; interviewing employees, customers, and clients; analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data; drafting proposals; and pitching possible solutions for an organization’s issues. Management consultants can work for the company they’re evaluating, but more often, they work for an outside firm called a management consultancy or as independent contractors.

To become a management consultant, you’ll almost always need a bachelor’s degree and possibly a master’s degree. Management consulting firms often have highly structured recruiting programs on college and business school campuses and new hires will often learn on the job from more senior consultants.

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Industrial engineer

Median salary in 2021: $93,500
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
10.2% (faster than average)

Industrial engineers are in the business of optimization and efficiency. They use math, statistics, science, and engineering principles to evaluate people, systems, and processes within a business—including supply chains, operations, finance, and machinery or equipment. Their goal is to figure out the most effective way to integrate the systems and processes needed to create a product or service. They ensure businesses keep costs low and productivity high and hit organizational goals (for example, shipping a new product by a certain deadline or optimizing shipping and delivery operations).

In order to succeed as an industrial engineer, a bachelor’s in industrial engineering or a related field is a must—and many industrial engineers go on to pursue advanced degrees.

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Marketing manager

Median salary in 2021: $135,030
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
9.9% (faster than average)

Marketing managers are responsible for getting the word out about a product, service, event, brand, etc.—and convincing customers that it’s worth purchasing, attending, following, etc. Some marketing managers are generalists while others specialize in one type of marketing (such as content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, e-commerce, or search engine optimization and marketing)—and lead the charge in developing, implementing, and optimizing strategies and campaigns to increase awareness, connect with customers, and drive sales or other conversions.

Most marketing managers have a degree in marketing or a related field. At a smaller company, you might be a generalist who’s expected to handle several or all aspects of marketing while working on a tiny team or even solo. But many mid-sized and larger companies look to hire specialized marketers—so the more skills you can gain in a specific area of marketing, the more likely you’ll be to land a high-paying opportunity. 

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Database administrator

Median salary in 2021: $96,710
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031:
8.1% ( faster than average)

Database administrators are responsible for maintaining a company’s database systems and ensuring that the information stored on them is easily, quickly, and securely accessible. Depending on the database, this may include optimizing data collection, storage, and organization; backing up systems; identifying problems or inconsistencies within the database and developing solutions; creating new databases and transferring data into them; overseeing user permissions; and designing and implementing security measures.

Understanding databases, how they work, and how to manage and optimize them is a must for database administrators—so most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or a related field.

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Public relations (PR) manager

Median salary in 2021: $119,860
Projected growth rate between 2021 and 2031: 8% (faster than average)

Public relations managers (also known as PR managers) work to shape the way a person, company, or product is perceived by the public, whether that’s building buzz around a new product launch, getting press coverage for a new book, or building positive brand sentiment for a corporation. PR managers accomplish these goals using a variety of strategies, including building and maintaining media relationships, writing press releases, and running “damage control” to minimize the impact of negative press.

PR managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, marketing, or a related field—but experience building interest and driving positive press can open doors, even for candidates without a degree. 

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