Health Care and Green Energy Dominate the Fastest-Growing Jobs of 2019

An engineer stands with a laptop next to wind turbines.
Getty Images

Climate change and an aging population are driving the demand for the fastest growing jobs in the U.S.

Solar panel installers and those who work on wind turbines can expect to see plenty of opportunities in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many occupations that are centered on the changing environment — like forest fire prevention specialists — are slated to see double-digit increases through 2026.

“We may be looking to make more investments in jobs around climate change,” said Indeed director of research Martha Gimbel, noting however, that new tariffs have negatively affected the job site’s listings for solar installers.

Since 2010, the share of the U.S. population over the age of 59 has increased 17% to more than one-fifth of the country, according to an analysis by The Penny Hoarder of U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That graying of America means more demand for health care services, Gimbel said.

Thinking of changing careers but haven’t got time for four years of college? Take a look at The Penny Hoarder’s Best Jobs of 2019 that Don’t Require a Degree.

But, taking a wider view, she said we are transitioning to more of a service economy in general. While health care occupations may be the fastest growing, others, such as bicycle mechanics, will see similar spikes over the next seven years.

“A lot of the things we’re buying are services now,” Gimbel said.

Taking an even broader view of the job market, occupations that pay the lowest, like home health aide, and those that offer much higher pay, like physician assistant, will grow much faster than jobs that fall in the middle of the pay spectrum.

But, if companies or individuals have a difficult time finding suitable workers for those low-paying jobs — for reasons that include harsher immigration laws — wages could rise along with employment, Gimbel said.

The 10 Fastest-Growing Jobs and How Much They Pay

The Labor Department in May updated its annual and hourly pay data to go along with the employment projections, so let’s take a look at how much you can actually make working in the 10 fastest-growing jobs.

1. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

A solar panel technician installs a solar array.
Solar Source technician Jason Breaux hands a solar array to a colleague. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Median annual pay: $42,680

Projected job growth: 104.9%

Solar photovoltaic installers spend their days climbing onto roofs and installing green-energy panels. The job requires physical strength and endurance, as well as willingness to learn the technical aspects of the solar panels and how they fit into the electrical grid.

Click here for information on how to get into this career.

2. Wind Turbine Service Technician

Median annual pay: $54,370

Projected job growth: 96.3%

Another job in the green energy sector slated to grow quickly in the coming years, wind turbine technician is more intense in terms of physical labor and on-the-job danger than that of solar installer. A short stint in technical schoolas little as six months — can have you prepared for this occupation.

The job is not for those who are afraid of heights.

3. Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Median annual pay: $24,200

Projected job growth: 47.3%

Retirement homes can be expensive and most people would prefer to age in place. So as the U.S. population gets older, the demand for in-home care — which is cheaper — is going to rise.

Work as a home health aide doesn’t pay the best, but as Gimbel said, the annual wages may rise faster than most careers as companies find difficulty staffing positions. You only need a high school diploma for this occupation, but working for companies that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements might require additional licensing.

4. Physician Assistants

Median annual pay: $108,610

Projected job growth: 37.3%

Physician assistants serve as the right hand to doctors or surgeons, and might even be primary health care workers in rural areas. This is the first job of the list that requires a Master’s degree and carries licensing requirements.

Click here for a list of accredited programs. You might want to cross reference it with our list of the best bang-for-your-buck colleges by state.

5. Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner examines a patient
Amber Watson, a nurse practitioner, examines Rosemary Holcomb of Redington Shores at a CVS MinuteClinic in Madeira Beach, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Median annual pay: $107,030

Projected job growth: 36.1%

Nurse practitioners can perform many of the health care services doctors can, and make six figures, without all that schooling and those residency requirements. The job is slated for double-digit growth due to the aging population. Meanwhile, the number of doctors is only expected to grow 13% for the same period, according to the BLS.

The job does require a Master’s degree.

6. Statistician

Median annual pay: $87,780

Projected job growth: 33.8%

We’ve written about the lucrative college majors coming along with the rise of big data and how to become a data scientist. A statistician is essentially the same thing, albeit the term is a little dated.

Statisticians find trends in data to help guide business decisions in just about every industry. Since this job requires lots of coding, a computer science minor will be helpful — and you’ll definitely want a Master’s degree to exceed in this field.

7. App Developer

Median annual pay: $103,620

Projected job growth: 30.7%

Don’t just think “mobile app” with this fast-growing occupation. Application developers are in demand in nearly every industry, from gaming and entertainment to health care to newspapers.

There are multiple paths to this career, including coding boot camps or just teaching yourself to code.

8. Mathematician

Median annual pay: $101,900

Projected job growth:  29.7%

Mathematician is another job that follows the big data trend. You can’t crunch data and statistics without math, right? Federal, state and local governments are the biggest employers of those on this career path, which can mean great benefits.

Typically, a mathematician will need a Master’s degree to land a job. The BLS suggests taking a computer science minor (spoiler: you’ll be doing a lot of coding in this occupation.)

9. Physical Therapist Aide

Median annual pay: $26,240

Projected job growth: 29.4%

Yet another health care career on this list, physical therapist aides get everything ready for the physical therapist to treat a patient.

The job requires only a high school diploma, but you can add up to $30,000 to your annual pay by getting an associate’s degree and becoming a physical therapy assistant rather than an aide.

10. Bicycle Mechanic

A man repairs a bicycle
Bicycle commuting to work is on the rise, creating more demand for bicycle mechanics. Getty Images

Median annual pay: $28,960

Projected job growth: 29.3%

In 2017, more than 890,000 Americans commuted by bicycle to work — a 28% increase since 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That means a lot of demand from folks who’d rather rotate the tires on their bikes than their cars.

There are multiple ways to learn bike repair without paying for classes. We talked to one guy who makes good money flipping bikes. He asked bike-store owners to use their tools to learn the trade. Bicycle co-ops are great places to pick up the knowhow and get an idea of the demand for services in your town.

Alex Mahadevan is a former data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.