Tools for Service Providers

High Demand Careers of the Next Five Years

The national unemployment rate has hovered around eight percent for over five years while the unemployment rate for military spouses is reported to be a staggering twenty-six percent during that same time period. That number doesn't include working spouses who are considered underemployed because their jobs are not in their chosen field or pay less than their career or education level. With that said, many employers are still having difficulty filling high-demand positions, the majority of which require little to no post-secondary education. Businesses report that it is increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates to fill their positions and even more so, the candidates who are qualified are demanding higher pay than companies are willing to offer.

To help rectify the unemployment/underemployment issue, military spouses may consider more portable career paths, choosing professions that are in high demand and projected to have the most growth over the next decade. So what are these fast growing occupations and where can you find them? From 2010 to 2020, the Healthcare and Social Assistance sector is projected to grow by 5.6 million jobs. Occupations such as personal care aides, home health aides, physical therapist assistants and registered nurses are included in this sector. Likewise, professional and business services such as retail trade or meeting, convention and event planners are projected to grow by 3.8 million jobs.

When researching career paths, keep in mind that a high demand career doesn't always equate to a high paying career. The fastest growing occupation is personal care aide, which requires less than a high school diploma for an entry level position. However, the median salary for this occupation is $20,170. In comparison, the third fastest growing occupation in the United States is biomedical engineer, which requires a bachelor's degree for an entry level position and has a median salary of $81,540.

While many occupations are bouncing back from the recession and experiencing growth, it is also worth noting the occupations that are facing a diminishing job pool. The two major labor sectors losing jobs are manufacturing and federal government employment. The Postal Service is projected to lose 182,000 jobs over the next seven years with federal non-defense government jobs expected to shrink by 122,000. The largest manufacturing decline is expected to be in apparel knitting mills, where 92,000 jobs are expected to disappear.

Every decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data on topics such as growing industries and professions and their estimated job growth. The BLS projections are the nation's most widely used career information resource. State workforce agencies use this data to prepare state and area projections used by policymakers and officials to make decisions about education and training policy, funding and program offerings. This information is also used by high school and college students, those changing careers, and career development and guidance specialist for assistance in making career choices. The BLS statistics below list the top five occupations (number of open positions) broken down by education level with their median salary ranges. As you are considering career paths, or are looking to change careers, you may find the following information useful:

High School Graduates

Office Clerks


Customer Service Representatives


Childcare Workers


Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Drivers


Administrative Supervisors (First Line)



Associate's Degree

With an associate's degree, seven of the top ten job categories with the most projected openings fall in the medical field. The top five are:

Registered Nurses


General/ Operations Managers


Preschool Teachers


Construction Managers


Dental Hygienists



Bachelor's Degree

The occupations projected to have the most openings for job seekers with a bachelor's degree include:

Elementary School Teachers (except Special Ed)


Accountants and Auditors


Secondary School Teachers (except Special Ed/Career Ed)


Management Analysts


Middle School Teachers (except Special Ed, Career/Tech Ed)



Advanced Degree

The occupations with the most openings for Master's degree and higher education include:

Postsecondary Teachers


Physicians and Surgeons






Educational, Guidance and Vocational Counselors



Many of the high demand occupations listed in the categories above require certifications and/or licensure that may not easily transfer from state to state. These include teachers, nurses, dental hygienists, physical therapists and counselors. Many military spouses are licensed or certified in one or more states but find it difficult to transfer their professional licenses to a new state after a permanent change of station move. Twenty-seven states have now passed pro-military spouse license portability measures, but spouses need to be aware that it may be difficult to continue their chosen career path if they move to a state that doesn't provide portability. Current information on license portability status can be found by visiting the Military Spouse License Portability State Status link.

Researching high demand occupations is one of the criteria military spouses may want to consider when evaluating career path choices. Interests, skills, values, education and work-life balance are other considerations that might also be weighed in the career choice decision process. For assistance with career exploration, education and training or licensing options, career readiness or career connections, please contact the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Career Counselors at 800-342-9647. 


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