Return to The Money Mentor Blog

9 of the fastest-growing professions to help you choose a career path

health care professional nurse practitioner
March 14, 2017

By Maggie Jenkins

Whether you’re just starting college, getting ready to enter the workforce or simply looking to make a career change, it can be tough to figure out how to choose a career path.

So, where to begin?

For starters, there’s more to a choosing a career path than simply finding something you want to do. It’s also about finding the right combination of work you enjoy and considerations like education requirements, how much it pays and job availability.

We dug around the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent reports to give you a jumping off point. Check out these careers that pay well and are also among the fastest-growing professions to help you maximize your earning potential while ensuring job security for the long haul.

Fast-growing professions in health care

Registered Nurse

  • Median annual salary: $67,490
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree or diploma from approved nursing program
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 16%
  • If you like helping people and aren’t squeamish, nursing could be a good career for you. Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about health-related issues, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families. What’s more, an additional 430,000 RN jobs are expected to be added over the next eight years.

Nurse Practitioner

  • Median annual salary: $98,190
  • Typical education: Master’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 31%
  • Already an RN? Consider maximizing your earning potential by leveling-up to become a nurse practitioner (NP). NPs can work independently and provide a lot of the same care as doctors, like writing prescriptions or performing checkups. The profession’s huge projected growth is thanks to health care legislation, a bigger emphasis on preventative care, and a higher demand for health care services from the aging baby boom population (who are living longer and more active lives than previous generations).

Physical Therapist

  • Media annual salary: $80,020
  • Typical education: Doctoral degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 34%
  • There are those aging and active baby boomers again, driving the need for more physical therapists. Plus, as more and more medical advances are made, more and more people are surviving traumas and thus, need rehabilitative services. Don’t want to get an advanced degree? Physical therapist assistants are also in high demand and make a median salary of $55,170 per year, with only an associate’s degree required in most cases.

Fast-growing professions in technology

App Developer

  • Median annual salary: $98,260
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 17%
  • The ever-expanding world of mobile technology shows no signs of slowing down, so new apps of all kinds are going to remain in high demand. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or another related field is a standard requirement, but a master's degree can give you a leg up on the competition.

Computer Systems Analyst

  • Median annual salary: $85,800
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 21%
  • In short, computer systems analysts bring business and IT together by understanding the needs (and limitations) of both worlds. A bachelor's degree in IT or another computer-related field is typical, but it’s important to note that some companies look for analysts with business or liberal arts degrees and a flair for IT or programming.

Web Developer

  • Median annual salary: $64,970
  • Typical education: Associate’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 27%
  • Looking to break into the tech field? This is a great place to start, thanks to the proliferation of ecommerce and mobile devices. Web developers design and create websites and are responsible for a site’s technical aspects. Down the road, this career also can be a great launching pad into the more lucrative world of app development.

Other fast-growing professions

Personal Financial Advisor

  • Median annual salary: $89,160
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 30%
  • Hey, you’re reading Alliant’s Money Mentor blog, which means you’re already interested in personal finance, right? So why not look at becoming a personal financial advisor? The aging population and rising life expectancy isn’t just a boon for health care careers, it’s also a boon for financial services careers. You can start with a bachelor’s degree, but also keep in mind that a master’s degree and certification can help take you even further.

Cartographer/Photogrammetrist

  • Median annual salary: $61,880 per year 
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 29%
  • Cartography sounds like something you learned about in fifth grade social studies, but it’s actually becoming an ever more important part of government planning. Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and charts for things like regional planning, education and emergency response. It’s a career that pays well, and the job prospects are excellent.

Wind Turbine Service Technician

  • Median annual salary: $51,051
  • Typical education: Associate’s degree
  • Projected job growth through 2024: 108%
  • You read that right: 108% job growth over the next eight years, making wind turbine service technician hands-down the fastest-growing profession in the country. Wind-powered energy is growing exponentially every year, so more technicians will be needed to install and maintain new turbines. Training programs and degrees that focus on wind and other renewable energy systems are also popping up all over the country to help keep up with the demand.

Maggie Jenkins is the PR and Social Media Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a sports journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a six-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.