Afraid You’re Losing Out on Top Jobs? Tech & Healthcare Lead 2017

Whether you’re an experienced professional looking for a new challenge or a younger worker seeking a burgeoning field, most career changers are considering jumping into top jobs in hot and growing industries.

The technology and healthcare sectors are leading the charge. Both fields are hot and will be for decades to come. But while tech and health care jobs are plentiful, there’s a lot to consider. Job descriptions, qualifications, and salaries are all over the board.

There are two keys for a successful career transition: research and self-knowledge. You may already bring skills and education to the table, but how do your current qualifications transfer to a growing fields? Or do you need more targeted education or training to land an interview? How important is pay scale? These are just some of the questions you will need to ask yourself as you take your career journey.

Before Diving Into a New Career, Get Context

When you’re considering following a career trend in your own work life, there’s a lot to consider.  You’ll need to have a firm grasp of top jobs in demand — and what training you may need. The employment model has changed since the Great Recession. Trending fields have embraced technology, responded to marketplace demands, and are now off-the-charts hot. But understand that there’s a wide range of pay grades and education required in top fields, so you’re not going to be a fit for every trendy job.

Before making your move, understand your skills and aim for a job you can realistically transition into. Be true to yourself and your situation. Consider your interest in the field, your family and child-care situation, mental and financial costs, and, if you’re currently working, do you have options to transition within your company. Your employer may be able to reimburse for classes or training that help modernize their workforce.

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Ultimately, it’s important to know yourself and prepare thoroughly for any career transition. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon. And make sure your decisions are based on solid research.

Top Jobs & Hot Industries in 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides up-to-date and respected information about top jobs in terms of industry growth and viability. Not surprisingly, technology and healthcare are forecast to see the greatest job growth from 2014 to 2024. Software provides the gateway to our data-driven world. And Baby Boomers — the oldest turned 70 in 2016 — will require more health care services in the coming years.

In the technology sector, computer systems analysts, who had a median annual wage of $87,220 in 2016, are expected to see the greatest job growth, 20.9 percent, from 2014 to 2024. Close behind are software developers, with 18.8 percent growth but a stronger median annual salary ($100,080). These jobs often require advanced degrees.

Conversely, in the medical field, jobs in greatest demand are lower-paid, care positions, which makes sense given the shift to an older patient demographic and greater life expectancy. These positions generally do not require four-year degrees. Home health aides, with a median annual salary of $22,600, are expected to experience 38.1 percent job growth. Personal care aides are similar at $21,920 and 25.9 percent growth. Next in line were medical assistants at $31,540 and 23.5 percent growth and medical secretaries, $33,730 and 20.5 percent.

Registered nurses, however, combine excellent demand (16 percent growth from 2014 to 2024), a large number of positions and comfortable wages ($68,450 in 2016) — compensation more than twice that of health aides due to the requirements of a four-year degree and rigorous, ongoing training. Of all the trending jobs in the BLS projections, registered nurses will offer the third-most positions in 2024, nearly 3.2 million. Only much-lower-paid positions in retail and food preparation will offer more jobs.

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Outside of technology and healthcare, market research analysts and marketing specialists satisfy the need for a good salary ($62,560) and promise for job growth (18.6 percent).

Ongoing Learning is Key in the Modern Workforce

The key to continuing to succeed in your work life is to expect and embrace ongoing change. Education, experience and training are increasingly vital in today’s employment landscape. Employers expect their hires to be nimble and willing to continue to study, learn, and become expert in new areas over time.

In a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 83 million people worked in jobs that required an average or above average level of preparation, up from 49 million in 1980 — a 68 percent increase, more than double the 31 percent rise in employment in positions requiring a below-average level of job preparation.

The Pew survey dug up some other illuminating findings about technology and the value of communication skills in today’s job world. For instance, jobs that require average or above-average social skills, such as interpersonal, management and communication skills, grew 83 percent. Those that require higher levels of analytical skills, such as critical thinking and computer skills, grew 77 percent.

Whatever field you choose to pursue, first understand your skills and aim for a job you can realistically transition into. You may have to update your education or training, but in the end, those workers willing to learn and be nimble will have the most success in their field.