The job market is shifting in major ways as older Americans demand more services and Millennials continue to spend more money on smartphones and apps. Careers that address these and other business concerns are expected to have the best opportunities in 2016.
You can find a rewarding career whether you’re just getting started or feel like it’s a time for a career change. Our list looks at the most in-demand jobs and skills so you can prepare for a career with a healthy future.
As you would when compiling any good career suggestions list, we started with a lot of research to create this list of positions that are expected to pay well and have ample opportunities. Start here to learn more and make a smart decision about what’s next in your journey.
1. Physician Assistant
The U.S. healthcare sector is changing dramatically as the population ages and we face a growing number of people with complex care needs. A declining rate in the number of new physicians is also creating an environment where each office needs more help.
Physician assistant (PA) is one of the best careers positioned to fill the gap. Next year, there is expected to be a 27 percent increase in the number of positions available throughout the U.S. and jobs are forecast to maintain an average salary of $111,376 per year.
PAs provide many of the day-to-day services that a doctor performs, allowing physicians to focus on patients with urgent or unique care needs. Depending on where you practice, a PA program and license could also allow you to make diagnoses and write prescriptions.
The Affordable Care Act and other legislation are starting to expand insurance coverage to new areas and individuals. As more people gain access to services from doctor’s offices, the PA career will play a larger role in the current state of U.S. health.
2. Database Administrator
One of the biggest buzzphrases of 2015 was “big data.” This covers the collection of information and its analysis so businesses can make better decisions about products and services. Nearly every sector of business is turning to big data for their future planning.
All of that success requires a database of information to run properly. At the heart of it will be a database administrator (DBA). After obtaining the proper degree, DBAs manage databases and ensure information is properly constructed and listed.
Increased needs for data governance, the practice of making sure information in a database is clean and usable, is the main reason predictions forecast DBA positions will grow by 28.6 percent next year. You can expect a median salary of nearly $70,000, though many companies offer DBAs packages that include profit sharing, bonuses and commissions.
As the need grows, individuals should be able to demand an even higher salary by learning programming languages and system supports that include PL/SQL, Oracle, UNIX, and Linux.
3. Network Systems Administrator and Data Communications Analyst
As businesses add new technologies, they need more staff to help manage devices and apps. Network systems administrators or data communications analysts keep everything running and help employees run new software. Network management is among the most in-demand job skills of this year, and we expect that to continue in 2016.
This position specializes in connecting everything to a company network as well as wider Internet access so that products and services continue to operate and make money. The great news for the American workforce is that some of these jobs seek a two-year degree program, so you can enter the field quickly.
Businesses place an emphasis on real-world experience, including degree programs taught by field experts. In 2016, projections forecast these professions will grow by more than 50 percent and the average salary of $60,000 is likely to increase. Bonuses are common in this profession, and most companies offer a robust benefits package as well.
If you’re considering a new career or leaving a job you didn’t enjoy, this could be a welcome path for you. Many network systems administrators and data communications analysts report high levels of job satisfaction.
4. Personal and Home Care Aides
The number of people who need personal and home care is growing but the number of family members who can provide this care is shrinking. That creates a significant demand for personal and home care aides, with The Boston Globe saying the number of these positions will grow by 50.6 percent next year.
These positions earn between $16,603 and $33,079 each year because some positions only require on-the-job training. The best way to land on the higher end of that spectrum is to find a degree program that gives you specific training for more complex medical tasks.
For home care aids, general nursing assistance certifications can boost your pay by $2,000 on average, while a licensed practical nurse certification will raise pay by roughly $16,000 higher than the national average.
Enrolling in an LVN/LPN (Licensed vocational nurse / licensed practical nurse) training program gives these aides a better chance of working in complex-care scenarios. Many complex scenarios that a licensed practitioner can handle include caring for patients with mental and severe physical disabilities or older adults with memory concerns such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Personal and home positions are also a top way to start your career in nursing. Many people turn these introductory degrees into careers as registered nurses, medical assistants, case managers and nurses who work with specific diseases.
5. Veterinary Technologist or Technician
The family pet has become a family member, so more veterinary offices are opening around the U.S. They need help handling all of the new critters and their health concerns, creating a big opening for veterinarian technologists and technicians.
Vet techs are responsible for general intake of animals as well as assisting with diagnosis. Your most common work would be:
- Running blood work
- Taking X-rays and dental scans
- Giving pets their vaccinations
The average salary for these vet techs is around $29,000, and the majority of those who reported their salary report high levels of job satisfaction. A safe estimate is that the number of positions will grow by more than 40 percent in 2016. Programs such as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Veterinary Technology Degree are required, and further study can boost salaries.
Veterinarian technologists have a strong basis in animal healthcare. This leads many to transition into associate veterinarian roles that pay an average of $70,000 per year.
6. Construction Manager
Monster.com has picked the construction industry as the top field for hiring opportunities in 2016. It expects hiring to thrive as more real estate is used for apartments and office buildings as the economy starts to pick up. The national average salary for a construction manager is nearly $77,500 and can reach higher after a few years on the job. Construction managers typically require an associate’s degree, where they learn how to manage people, materials, and project timelines.
Construction managers are sometimes referred to as project managers because they control nearly every aspect of a construction project. Your responsibilities will include preparing budgets and job timetables, determining the appropriate construction methods, and managing workers.
As managers gain more experience, they often start working directly with architects and engineers to solve job site problems. You’ll also learn about local and federal legal requirements for employees and building safety, which will require continuing education programs.
Managers are also responsible for obtaining any required permits for the multiple projects their construction company is running at any given time. Degree programs will prepare workers for a variety of careers, starting with framers and drywall installers, then moving to management opportunities. Building inspectors often start on this path and then advance through continuing education, so a robust degree program can give you a strong start.
7. Software Engineer
There are more than 100,000 current openings for software engineers, and the average salary is just above $98,000 according to Glassdoor. Companies use software engineers to ensure their software works properly and integrates well with their systems as well as their customers’ systems. A programmer may create the code that software or apps use, but engineers ensure it works properly in the real world.
Software engineers need a degree in computer sciences or information systems and will have to seek proper certifications relevant to their field and the state where they live. Part of that training will include lessons on how to analyze customer needs and test systems to ensure they meet those concerns. A successful career often requires learning multiple computer programming languages and new technologies such as application program interfaces.
Jumpstarting your career in software engineering can be done with Information Technology Diploma and Information Technology Associate of Applied Science programs such as those offered by Vista College.
8. Human Resources Managers
When looking at job openings all around the world, the Emirates 24/7 news service found human resources managers are going to be one of the hottest jobs in 2016. This field is maintaining a healthy growth rate, and as the economy improves, more positions are expected to become available.
The average HR manager earns $97,808 and there are thousands of openings for these positions each month. These positions are long term and offer significant career growth opportunities because you can either develop within your organization or gain the experience larger organizations seek.
HR management is one of the most in-demand job skills because every company of significant size needs it. These managers work in the daily operations of business by planning and directing employees. You’ll also play a role in choosing employee benefits and hiring those who can best help your company.
As a human resources manager you’ll also be making significant decisions about the future of your company:
- For small companies, you can expect to work in almost every area of operations.
- In larger companies, many human resources managers specialize in employee areas such as hiring, determining compensation, problem resolution, and developing strategies for long-term growth.
Vista College offers a Business Management Human Resources Associate of Applied Science Degree program that can be completed in as few as 90 weeks. Most companies require this type of education and will help you capitalize on a career path that is expected to continue its growth past 2016.
9. Business Development Manager
Business development managers top the most in-demand jobs of 2016 — their second year at the top of these lists — because of the growth in both need and pay. The national salary average of these managers has reached $111,213 annually, up from $94,907 at the beginning of last year. The number of openings has declined somewhat, though Forbes magazine lists it as one of toughest jobs for companies to fill next year.
Business development managers are required to run the day-to-day operations of a business while also coordinating communication between business units. You may hear this position referred to as a general manager or operations manager, which reflects what the individual job requires.
Development managers help human resources departments deliver the training and education employees need. Development managers also play a large role in reaching out to customers to make sure they’re happy and customer service is running smoothly.
The Business Management Associate of Applied Science program from Vista College is one of the options you have to receive training that can start a business development management career. We teach people how to work in the business environment of today and the future.
In a degree program, you’ll also learn how to identify the hiring areas your business needs to grow. This gap-analysis also teaches people how to evaluate future needs based on industry trends and the equipment or software you’re using.
10. Dental Hygienist
Another field that remains in demand is the dental hygienist. Registered dental hygienists make an average of $82,000 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job demand to rise much faster than the national average through 2022.
Dental hygienists operate in a parallel way to physician assistants, doing many of the more common patient activities and freeing up other professionals to focus on rare cases or emergencies.
Today, dental hygienists may:
- Clean patients’ teeth
- Perform exams that test for oral diseases
- Prep patients for intensive dental work
- Provide patient education
You likely spent more time with a dental hygienist than your dentist during your most recent visit to a dentist’s office.
Dental hygienists need an associate degree such as the Dental Assistant Associate of Applied Science or Dental Assistant Diploma in order to find work. Every state requires you to have a dental hygienist license, though specific requirements will vary by state.
This is turning out to be a great career move because our aging population needs more medical care. And, as dental care and procedures improve, hygienists will play a larger role in the regular care and maintenance of our teeth.
Get Ready for a Smart Career Move
These are 10 of the most in-demand jobs 2016 will see. Healthcare, technology, and business management are expected to maintain their top spots in the most in-demand job skills next year, and for many more years, because of the benefit they provide to businesses, employees, and customers.
When you think of charting a new career path in 2016, try out one of these amazing options for quick success and plenty of opportunity.