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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—and the most recent projections, which use models based on historical data through 2019, don’t take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—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 2020, according to BLS, was above the median household income in the U.S., which was $68,703 in 2019. 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 4%.)


Median salary in 2020: $111,030
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 18% (much faster than average)

Actuaries typically work for insurance companies and are responsible for evaluating risk. Actuaries 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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Industrial Engineer

Median salary in 2020: $88,950
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 10% (much 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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Data Scientist

Median salary in 2020: $98,230
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 31% (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—and, 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 Systems (IS) Manager

Median salary in 2020: $151,150
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 10% (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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Information Security Analyst

Median salary in 2020: $103,590
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 31% (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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Financial Manager

Median salary in 2020: $134,180
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 15% (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 financial weaknesses or risks; developing solutions to eliminate those weaknesses or risks; performing financial research; creating financial projections and reports; preparing financial statements; setting financial goals; providing suggestions for how the company or client can hit those financial 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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Registered Nurse (RN)

Median salary in 2020: $75,330
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 7% (faster than average)

Registered nurses (also called RNs) provide medical care and support to patients in a variety of settings (including hospitals, doctor’s offices, surgery centers, nursing care facilities, schools, or patients’ homes) and across specialties (such as emergency care, pediatrics, or oncology). Depending on where they work, their area of specialization, and their patients’ needs, nurses may manage a wide variety of patient-related tasks, from monitoring vital signs to administering medication to assisting with surgeries. They also take medical histories, update medical records, monitor equipment, and teach and communicate with patients.

To launch a career as an RN, you’ll need to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass a licensing exam before you can start working and seeing patients.

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Physician Assistant (PA)

Median salary in 2020: $115,390
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029:
31% (much faster than average)

A physician assistant (also known as a PA) is a licensed medical professional who provides routine patient care. Just like a medical doctor (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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Sales Engineer

Median salary in 2020: $108,830
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 6% (faster than average)

As the title suggests, sales engineers hold a hybrid role that incorporates elements of both sales and engineering. Sales engineers typically work for companies that sell complex technology products or services to clients. Sales engineers work with the client to evaluate their systems and develop custom solutions to fit each client’s individual needs. They play a role in presenting and pitching to clients; closing and renewing deals; installing software or equipment; and providing support once the technology is in use.

Because sales engineers need an in-depth knowledge of science, technology, and engineering principles in order to successfully do their job, candidates typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering to get their foot in the door (although some opportunities will require a master’s degree).

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Technical Writer

Median salary in 2020: $74,650
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 7% (faster than average)

Technical writers take complex technical ideas and translate them into language people can easily read and understand—whether that’s in the form of journal articles, educational materials, video scripts, tutorials, instruction manuals, or FAQ pages. That means they need to interact with the people designing and creating the relevant products or equipment, for example, in order to understand the ins and outs of what they’re writing about and determine what kind of documentation is necessary. Their audience might be colleagues within their own organization, clients, customers, or the general public.

Technical writers often hold degrees in English, communications, or a related field. In order to succeed as a technical writer, you’ll also need a deep understanding of computer science, engineering, medicine, or whichever specific technical field you’re writing about (in some cases, that might come in the form of a degree or prior work experience in that field).

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Software Developer

Median salary in 2020: $110,140
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 22% (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.

The most important thing you’ll need to succeed as a software developer is coding skills. So, whether you learn to code through a degree program, a coding bootcamp, or by teaching yourself, 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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Marketing Manager

Median salary in 2020: $141,490
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 6% (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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Human Resources (HR) Manager

Median salary in 2020: $121,220
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 6% (faster than average)

Human resources managers (more commonly known as HR managers) are responsible for managing everything related to the employees within an organization.

Depending on the needs of the company, HR managers may handle a variety of employee-related tasks, including recruiting, employee onboarding and training, and overseeing benefits administration. HR managers may also manage employee complaints and spearhead initiatives aimed at improving company culture (like team-building activities or company wellness programs).

Most HR manager jobs require a bachelor’s degree—although some companies will hire candidates with excellent people and logistics skills (HR managers deal with a lot of paperwork!) even if they don’t have a degree. Keep in mind that, in order to land this kind of salary, you’ll need to gain experience and work your way up to a more senior position.

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Database Administrator

Median salary in 2020: $98,860
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 10% (much 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 2020: $118,430
Projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029: 9% (much 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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