Have you recently left jail or prison and are looking to train for a job? Or were you downsized because of Covid-19 and thinking about doing something you haven’t done before?
There are a number of fields that are expanding and will require substantial numbers of additional workers in the coming years. Many of these fastest growing jobs are in energy and health care. And most don’t require more than a high school diploma, if even that. Although applicants for health care positions often have to go through background checks, there’s a growing movement to hire people who have records in these positions.
Rapidly growing occupations
Here are some of the fastest growing jobs highlighted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Wind turbine service technicians
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 61%
- Median pay: $45,230 per year
People who do this type of work install, repair and maintain wind turbines. They work outdoors and often in very high places. Although they tend to work normal hours, wind turbine service technicians might need to be on call to handle emergencies.
States with the highest level of wind turbine service technicians are Texas, California, Minnesota, Iowa and Oregon.
Most people who do this job learn the trade at a community college or four-year university. WINDExchange – part of the U.S. government’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy – maintains a national directory of educational institutions that offer wind energy education and training programs.
Solar voltaic installers
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 51%
- Median pay: $46,470
These workers put together, install, troubleshoot and maintain solar panels that are on rooftops or as a part of other installations.
It’s possible to learn this trade at a community college or through an apprenticeship. To find an apprenticeship, go to simplyhired.com and search for “solar apprentice installer” or visit apprenticeship.gov and use the same search words.
Occupational therapy assistants and aides
- Growth Rate, 2019-2029: 32%
- Median pay: $62,940 per year for assistants, $30,180 per year for aides
Occupational therapy assistants and aides work in hospitals, nursing homes and occupational therapists’ offices. They help patients recover, improve, develop and maintain skills they need for daily life.
Assistants are usually required to have an associate’s degree from a community college or technical school program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which accredits more than 600 schools and has an online directory.
Aides receive on-the-job training that can last for a few days to a few weeks. In most cases, they only need a high-school diploma, but must have certain soft skills and knowledge.
Physical therapist assistants and aides
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 29%
- Median pay: $59,770 per year for assistants, $28,450 per year for aides
Physical therapist assistants and aides work in hospitals and physical therapists’ offices. They set up equipment and help care for patients who need to relearn how to move and manage pain after being injured or ill.
Physical therapist assistants are required by all states to have an associate degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Assistants must also be licensed or certified and pass an exam administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Physical therapist aides only need a high school diploma, receive on-the-job training and do not need to be licensed. They do, however, need a variety of soft and other skills.
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 31%
- Median pay: $47,920 per year
Derrick operators usually work on drilling rigs for the oil and gas industry. They erect, position and operate a derrick, which is the framework over an oil well that holds the drilling machinery. They also repair pumps and other equipment. A high school diploma is not usually required for this job, although derrick operators must have critical thinking and repairing skills, as well as mechanical and math knowledge and basic computer skills.
Rotary drill operators, oil and gas
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 27%
- Median pay: $53,820 per year
People who do this work operate and maintain drills that remove oil and gas from underground, as well as core samples drawn for testing. A high school diploma is not usually required, but rotary drill operators must have critical thinking and active listening skills, along with mechanical and math knowledge. See what rotary drill and derrick operators do in a YouTube video.
Roustabout, oil and gas
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 25%
- Median pay: $39,420 per year
Roustabouts work in oil fields and on offshore oil rigs, where they repair oil field equipment, assemble and disassemble pumps and engines and dig holes for oil derricks, among other duties. A high school diploma is not usually required for this job. But roustabouts must have critical thinking and decision making skills and basic computer skills. See what roustabouts do in a YouTube video.
Animal care and service workers
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 22%
- Median pay: $26,370 per year
There are positions for animal care and service workers in a variety of places, making it one of the fastest growing jobs. These places include veterinary clinics, kennels, aquariums, zoos, stables and animal shelters. Animal care and service workers feed the animals, clean up after them and sometimes train them. They learn the work on the job, but it helps if applicants have prior experience working with animals.
Community health workers
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 13%
- Median pay: $42,000 per year
Community health workers work for government, family service organizations, nonprofit organizations and hospitals. They conduct outreach programs, educate the community about healthcare services and ensure access to them, and provide social support. People who do this work need a high school diploma and knowledge of a particular medical condition, community or culture. And being able to speak a foreign language may be a plus in some locations.
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 10%
- Median pay: $27,250 per year
Cooks prepare and cook food in a variety of settings, including restaurants, hospitals, schools, private households, clubs and corporations.
Some cooks go to culinary school or participate in a community college or nonprofit organization culinary program, but most cooks learn their work on the job. The American Culinary Federation also offers apprenticeship programs.
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 8%
- Median pay: $64,610 per year for fire inspectors, 42,150 per year for forest fire inspectors
Fire inspectors may be one of two types. They can examine buildings to see if there are any fire hazards and that those buildings are up to code. Or they can inspect forests to assess the possibility of potential forest fires. Most people who do this job have a high school diploma or GED. They also have previous experience as a fire fighter, which would apply to some individuals who were formerly incarcerated in California or Oregon and maybe elsewhere.
Nursing assistants and orderlies
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 8%
- Median pay: $30,850 per year for nursing assistants, $30,030 per year for orderlies
Nursing assistants and orderlies work in hospitals and nursing homes. Nursing assistants serve meals, bathe patients and measure vital signs, among other duties. Orderlies change beddings, help patients get around and clean the facilities. While orderlies only need a high school diploma, nursing assistants in most states must complete a state-approved education program and a state exam. See what nursing assistances do in a careeronestop video.
EMTs and paramedics
- Growth rate, 2019-2029: 6%
- Median pay: $36,650 per year
EMTs and paramedics respond to emergencies, provide life support or first aid treatment, and make sure that patients are transported safely in an ambulance – or occasionally a helicopter – to a hospital’s emergency department. They must complete a training program that lasts between one and two years and pass a national exam. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed on a national level, and certain states have their own licensing requirements. Some states will not give licenses to applicants with a record.
Other examples of fastest growing jobs
In addition to the examples cited above, here are some more jobs that will require many more workers in the future and their job outlook from 2019 to 2029:
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors: 25% growth rate
Massage therapists: 21% growth rate
Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers and chauffeurs: 20% growth rate
Phlebotomists: 17% growth rate
Grounds maintenance workers: 10% growth rate
Food and beverage serving and related workers: 10% growth rate
Computer support specialists: 8% growth rate