The 5 Best Fast-Growing Vocational Careers

Choosing a stable career isn’t simply about finding a job that aligns with your interests. You also need to exercise foresight and think about what kinds of professionals are in demand. When it comes to vocational careers, many of the fastest-growing professions are within the medical field, as the growing elderly population and increased access to health insurance are expected to spur more doctor visits. This will prompt hospitals to employ more medical professionals in order to keep up with the higher quantity of patients. While this is something you should keep in mind while choosing a vocational career path, there are plenty of other factors to consider, too. Think about how the job’s schedule and salary fits in with your lifestyle and, of course, how it fits in with your personal goals.

Increased access to health insurance is partly why the dental field is expected to see such rapid growth in the next 10 years. Health insurance will enable more and more individuals, particularly those who previously could not afford it, to seek dental care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 33% increase in the number of dental hygienist jobs available, which is considerably higher than the 11% growth expected across all careers. This is great news if you’re considering a career as a dental hygienist because it means finding a job in your field shouldn’t be too difficult, particularly if you already have some experience working as a dental assistant or hygienist. On top of the surge in demand, dental hygienists enjoy an average salary of over $70,000 per year, making them among the highest-paid vocational careers.

Advanced medical imaging technology is being used more frequently to diagnose all sorts of illnesses, leading to a dramatic rise in the employment of diagnostic medical sonographers. This field is expected to see a 46% boost in employment in the next decade — the highest of any vocational field we reviewed. That amounts to about 27,000 new jobs. This isn’t as much as some of the other vocational jobs on this list, but that’s because the field is still relatively small. However, if you’ve got an associate’s degree in the field and certification in one or more specialty areas, you stand a good chance at finding employment. Diagnostic medical sonographers are needed in many areas of medicine, from neurology to gynecology, so there’s a lot of flexibility with what you can do with a degree in this field. Most jobs are going to be located in hospitals, but positions are expected to open up in doctor’s offices and medical labs as this type of technology becomes more common.

Opportunities for medical laboratory technicians are expected to grow rapidly, with nearly 50,000 new jobs opening up by 2022. As with the other vocational careers on this list, much of the growth in this field is expected to occur in response to the increased availability of health insurance and the growing aging population. More hospital visits means more lab tests, which is where lab technicians come in. They use advanced medical technology to conduct tests on body fluids and tissue samples in order to diagnose a number of medical conditions. They then pass that information back to the doctors who ordered the tests. Most of these new jobs will be in hospitals, but doctor’s offices and independent medical laboratories will also be hiring medical lab technicians.

With an expected growth rate of 43% in the next 10 years, occupational therapy (OT) assistants earn the fourth spot on this list. Keep in mind, though, there are relatively few occupational therapy assistant positions currently available, so even this huge percentage of growth only amounts to about 12,900 new jobs. If this type of career is available in your area, however, it’s definitely worth checking out. OT assistants generally enjoy extremely flexible work schedules and work directly with patients to help them develop or redevelop important skills they need to resume their daily lives. OT assistants are found in all types of environments, from schools to nursing homes to home health care. Most assistants, however, are employed by occupational therapists and treat a wide variety of patients with all sorts of conditions.

Medical assistants will also experience an upswing in the number of available job opportunities. At 29%, this field is growing a bit more slowly than some of the other careers mentioned on this list. However, there are still plenty of positions available in this field if you’re interested. There are over half a million medical assistants currently working in the U.S. and, as some retire and more jobs open, newly trained assistants are going to be needed to fill these positions. As a member of this growing field, you regularly interact with patients and perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to assist doctors and nurses in providing care for patients. The starting salary is relatively low, but this is a great way to get your foot in the door and gain some experience that will come in handy if you decide to further your education for a more advanced position in the medical field.