Three career fields that show promise in 2017

Unemployment is down, but some career fields are booming: Nursing, Physical Therapy, and Statistician are all areas with high forecast growth and solid earning potential. It might be time to change your career.


WASHINGTON, January 13, 2017 — With the birth of the new year, many Americans are starting to chip away at their new year’s resolutions. Those who have added “finding a new job” to their list of things to accomplish in 2017 will be pleased to know that unemployment is nearly the lowest it’s been since the recession of 2008: 4.7 percent. There are more jobs out there than in almost a decade.

Now might be a good time to explore the possibility of not just a new job, but a new career. Seeking out a new career can be a daunting undertaking. In a volatile job market, it’s difficult to predict which industries will grow and which occupations will be in demand.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic Modeling Specialists International, CareerBuilder and other organizations have conducted studies that shed light on industries with a projected abundance of job opportunities. For those who are contemplating a new career field, consider the following list of industries that show exceptional promise for growth in 2017.

The Medical Field

Nurses have been in high demand for several years, and that demand remains strong. This is partly because aging members of the huge Baby Boomer generation are beginning to require more and more medical care.

According to the American Nurses Association, 53 percent of registered nurses (RNs) are older than 50. A study by CareerBuilder and EMSI indicated that 62 percent of nurses are considering retirement within the next three years. With an array of career opportunities within nursing including such occupations as nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner and nurse midwife, nursing tops the list for opportunities in the medical field.

RNs, who can be licensed with either a bachelor’s or associate degree, earn a median salary above $66,000 per year. However, almost half of employers now require a bachelor’s degree. Specialized careers in nursing require either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but the mean salary of advanced practice RNs is about $110,000 per year.

For those who lack a university education but still have a desire to work in the medical field, consider other technical and vocational schools that offer programs such as medical transcriptionist training, medical billing and coding training and even practical programs like ACLS recertification. Vocational careers in medicine, although often overlooked, still fill a critical niche within the industry.   

Technical and vocational schools also offer programs such as medical transcriptionist training, medical billing and coding training and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. Vocational careers in medicine, although often overlooked, fill a critical niche within the industry.

Technical Fields

Occupational therapists help people to recover from physical limitations and regain their ability to perform daily tasks through the redevelopment of fine motor skills. They rely on assistants to provide support as they implement rehabilitation programs.

OT assistants sometimes carry out rehabilitation programs themselves, working under the supervision of therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapy assisting will experience a 43 percent growth rate between 2014 and 2024. OT assistants require an associate’s degree and sometimes a professional license in order to practice.

Physical therapists help patients to recover from injuries and medical conditions that have limited their physical mobility. They assist in the rehabilitation process and even help patients to manage their pain. While this career requires a professional degree, the demand for physical therapy will see 34 percent growth between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS.

Like occupational therapy assisting, physical therapy assisting is also a growing field, with a projected 41 percent increase in hiring, according to the same study. The role of a physical therapy assistant in relation to the physical therapist is similar to that of an occupational therapy assistant in relation to the occupational therapist. Furthermore, they require similar levels of education.

Opportunities in Data Analysis

Almost every company or organization in just about every industry is interested in what data can tell them about how to increase revenue and improve efficiency. In light of this, it is little wonder there is a growing demand for people who can crunch numbers. Statisticians are expected to see 34 percent job growth in the next ten years. The job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and often a master’s, but statisticians can work in a variety of fields with little or no industry experience.

While statisticians analyze data, software architects develop the data analysis technologies that are used to not only analyze data, but store, organize and retrieve it. The skill set required in this line of work and the predicted rate of demand growth is almost the same as for statisticians. Not all software architects have college degrees, but most employers now require at least a bachelor’s degree, and many have master’s degrees.

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