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Top 10 Best Jobs of the Future: 2015

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Since the unemployment rate dipped to 5% in October, it should be easy to find a great job, right? Well, most of us know that there are jobs and then there are jobs, like in the ’90s, that paid pretty well. For long-term job seekers or those just starting out, this list of Best Jobs of the Future might give searchers an edge.

As in last year’s 10 Best Jobs of the Future, ThinkAdvisor used Kiplinger and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find some of America’s most promising careers. Kiplinger said it narrowed a list of 784 occupations to 10 choices “by focusing on fields that not only have been adding to their ranks over the past decade but also are projected to continue to expand well into the next decade.” In addition, they focused on “jobs with strong hiring demand in recent months.”

Pay, of course, is a major factor, and all of these jobs pay well above salaries for the average job. And one bonus, Kiplinger said, is that “most of the jobs require just an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.”

One difference in this years’s list is that stress was no longer a factor used to rate jobs, according to Stacy Rapacon, online editor for Kiplinger. That led to changes in the Top 10, with only four jobs from last year’s list making the cut this year.

(Check out Top 10 Best Jobs of the Future: 2014.)

One of those that fell out was financial advisor, which Rapacon said still ranked highly at No. 37 this year. The metrics for the job are strong, Rapacon said, with the historical growth rate from 2004 to 2014 at 11.8%, more than double the average occupation. Growth is expected to be 19.2% over the next decade and median salary is $74,000, compared with $41,000 for all jobs.

This year, Rapacon said, “We wanted to highlight a wider range of jobs. The aging population and technology are drivers of growth for many of the jobs on the list.”

These 10 jobs are ranked by their projected job growth through 2024. Registered Nurse

10. Registered Nurse

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 16.6% (All jobs: 11.1%)

Total number of jobs: 2.7 million

Job growth, 2004-2014: 15.8% (All jobs: 5.2%)

Median annual salary: $66,060 (All jobs: $41,683)

Typical education: Associate’s degree

“This frequently shows up on these lists,” Rapacon says. “The aging population is a driver of future prospects” for this occupation.

Health Services Manager

9. Health Services Manager

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 18.1%

Total number of jobs: 318,703

Job growth, 2004-2014: 19.8%

Median annual salary: $89,835

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

“As doctors and hospitals transfer records from paper to computers the need for people who manage the process is increasing,” Rapacon says.

Speech-Language Pathologist

8. Speech-Language Pathologist

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 18.9%

Total number of jobs: 134,677

Job growth, 2004-2014: 19.5%

Median annual salary: $70,512

Typical education: Master’s degree

“As the population ages, more people need help recovering from problems like strokes,” Rapacon says. “On the other end of the spectrum, there is greater attention to helping children with problems such as stuttering.” 

Community Service Manager

7. Community Service Manager

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 19.7%

Total number of jobs: 143,332

Job growth, 2004-2014: 24.7%

Median annual salary: $60,528

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

“As boomers age, the number of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities is growing making the need for community services mangers rise,” Rapacon says.

Computer Systems Analyst

6. Computer Systems Analyst

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 23.3%

Total number of jobs: 554,524

Job growth, 2004-2014: 23.4%

Median annual salary: $80,059

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

“As everything, even coffeemakers, becomes more and more computerized, you need more people who can design these programs and manage them,” Rapacon noted. “The growth in this job has slowed as normalization has occurred, but it’s still strong.”

App Developer

5. App Developer

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 23.4%

Total number of jobs: 691,295

Job growth, 2004-2014: 26.6%

Median annual salary: $92,081

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

“The huge growth in mobile devices drives this job,” Rapacon said. “With everybody doing everything from their smartphones, tablets and now their smart watches, app developers will be in demand.”

Nurse Practitioner

4. Nurse Practitioner

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 26.4%

Total number of jobs: 118,473

Job growth, 2004-2014: 29.0%

Median annual salary: $92,768

Typical education: Master’s degree

“The fact that a nurse practitioners must have a master’s degree and can handle tasks traditionally performed by doctors means they stand to earn a lot more than RNs,” Rapacon said. “The increasing number of medical facilities allows nurse practitioners to work all over.” 

Physical Therapist

3. Physical Therapist

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 27.2%

Total number of jobs: 213,900

Job growth, 2004-2014: 34.1%

Median annual salary: $80,433

Typical education: Doctorate degree

“Again, the aging population is driving the need. Also, people are more often surviving accidents and need physical therapy. People are surviving accidents more often and need physical therapy to recover,” Rapacon said.

Information Security Analyst 

2. Information Security Analyst

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 32.7%

Total number of jobs: 82,400

Job growth, 2004-2014: 31.7%

Median annual salary: $88,587

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

“Unfortunately, there are a lot more hackers out there increasing the need for businesses and individuals to secure all the information that’s out there,” Rapacon said. 

Medical Sonographer

1. Medical Sonographer

Projected job growth, 2014-2024: 34.3%

Total number of jobs: 60,815

Job growth, 2004-2014: 38.0%

Median annual salary: $66,560

Typical education: Associate’s degree

“When most people think of sonograms they think of pregnancy and those first pictures of the baby,” Rapacon said. “But sonography is being used more and more by doctors for other procedures that are less invasive” than older procedures.

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