The Best Jobs of the Future

Jobs of the Future

If you’re like many Americans, you’re probably getting by day to day, not really thinking about the future or where you’ll be in five years (much less the next decade). But as inflation takes hold, pushing the cost of living ever higher, perhaps it’s time to start thinking differently. While planning a career is no small feat, it doesn’t hurt to know where the jobs are going to be to help you decide your next move. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the next decade will present great opportunities for people hoping to earn a decent living in expanding professions that don’t require advanced degrees. Whether you enjoy helping others, working with computers or crunching numbers, MainStreet rounded up 10 exciting careers that offer above-average salaries, high projected growth and whose requirements are limited to a bachelor’s degree or on-the-job training. Whatever your passion, there’s something for everyone. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Registered Nurses

At 77 million strong, the population of aging baby boomers will certainly play a significant role in shaping the future of health care, increasing demand for registered nurses, says Roger J. Moncarz, branch chief of the Employment Projections Program at the Bureau. With 2.6 million jobs in 2008, registered nurses constituted the largest profession in health care that year, according the Bureau’s website, and will continue to do so in the future. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 581,500 jobs Median Wage: $62,450 annually Education Required: Associate degree Photo Credit: Getty Images

Accountants and Auditors

Keeping accurate records, paying taxes and ensuring firms are managed effectively are just a few of the daily tasks accountants and auditors encounter in their jobs. Public accountants may be tasked with advising corporations, governments or nonprofits on tax matters, while internal auditors inspect their assignments for “mismanagement, waste or fraud,” notes the BLS. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 279,400 jobs Median Wage: $59,430 annually  Education Required: Bachelor’s degree Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks

Depending on its size, auditing clerks (large companies) or bookkeepers (small businesses) handle the day-to-day accounting and money tasks (billing, invoices, etc.) of a business. Math nerds may find it’s the ultimate nine-to-five: This career offers standard hours, above-average pay and minimal training—a high school degree at most is required. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 212,400 jobs Median Wage: $32,510 annually Education Required: Moderate-term on-the-job training Photo Credit: Getty Images

Elementary School Teachers

Sure, public school teachers must be armed with a bachelor’s degree and a certificate of completion from an approved teacher education program, but anyone who enjoys fostering knowledge among young minds stands a good chance at landing one of these jobs in the next decade or so. According to the BLS website, prospects are best for teachers “in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts.” Projected Growth 2008-2018: 244,200 jobs Median Wage: $53,150 annually Education Required: Bachelor’s degree Photo Credit: Getty Images

Truck Drivers

With 3.2 million jobs in 2008, truck drivers, especially long-haul drivers (drivers who deliver goods over multi-day routes) are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the workforce as well as on the road. The BLS notes that these opportunities vary—nights on the road can be long and physically taxing, and quality equipment is never a given—but as the economy improves, industries such as grocery stores will likely offer drivers stable work in coming years. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 232,900 jobs Median Wage: $17.92 per hour Education Required: Short-term on-the-job training Photo Credit: Getty Images

Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

If you’ve got it together and thrive on being the go-to person for an office’s correspondence, research, presentations and more, you could make an excellent administrative assistant. The Bureau claims that these jobs are growing faster than the average, and with increasing automation in the office, they’ll be more easy to perform than ever before. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 204,400 jobs Median Wage: $29,050 annually Education Required: Related work experience Photo Credit: Getty Images

Computer Software Engineers

Computer-related professions are expected to grow wildly in the next decade, thanks to Americans’ growing reliance on technology, says Moncarz. Also, he adds, “the need to protect and secure networks and electronic data will provide excellent opportunities for jobs related to computer security.” So if you love developing software and checking to make sure it’s installed and running properly, the next decade could be your oyster. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 175,100 jobs Median Wage: $85,430 annually Education Required: Bachelor’s degree Photo Credit: Getty Images


The pay is good and work looks steady for carpenters in the coming years. Go-getters can opt to pursue certification as journeypersons (trader or craftsmen who have completed an apprenticeship), while others can narrow their specialty to scaffold building, pump work or high torque bolting, says the BLS website. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 165,400 jobs Median Wage: $18.72 per hour Education Required: Long-term on-the-job training Photo Credit: Getty Images

Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts

If working on the Web is your thing, consider a career in IT (Information Technology). In this profession, you’ll spend the day designing, testing and evaluating network systems and helping companies’ websites run more efficiently. Another perk: You may be able to work remotely, even from home. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 155,800 jobs Median Wage: $ 66,310 annually Education Required: Bachelor’s degree Photo Credit: Getty Images

Maintenance and Repair Workers

If “fixing faulty electrical switches, repairing air-conditioning motors and unclogging drains” is your forte, the next decade could be a lucrative one. Maintenance and repair workers are expected to enjoy a hiring boom between now and 2018, and those willing to get additional certification along with their on-the-job training are almost certain to be in demand, according to Moncarz. Projected Growth 2008-2018: 147,900 jobs Median Wage: $16.21 per hour Education Required: Moderate-term on-the-job training Photo Credit: Getty Images

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