The Occupations Expected to Grow the Most (and Least) by 2026

3 min read

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has some neat data available online that shows how employment in different occupations is expected to change by 2026.

In total, the Bureau tracks 819 unique occupations. For each occupation, they have 2016 employment numbers, projected 2026 employment numbers, and the 2017 median annual wage.

I decided to dig into this data to find out how the occupational landscape in the U.S. is expected to change over the coming years.

Top 20 Most Common Occupations

The bar chart below shows how employment for the 20 most common occupations in 2016 is expected to change by 2026:

Employment for the two most common occupations (retail salespersons and cashiers) is expected to remain pretty stagnant from 2016 to 2026. Conversely, employment for the third most common occupation (food prep/fast food workers) is expected to jump by a whopping 17%.

In addition, employment for occupations in the healthcare industry is expected to rise significantly as well. This includes personal care aides (+39%), registered nurses (+15%), and nursing assistants (+11%).

Top 20 Occupations with Highest Expected Growth

The bar chart below shows the 20 occupations with the highest expected percent growth from 2016 to 2026:

Many of the occupations with high expected growth are in the tech or the healthcare industry:

Tech/math/engineering occupations with high expected growth:

  • Statisticians (+33%)
  • Software developers (+30%)
  • Mathematicians (+29%)
  • Information security analysts (+28%)
  • Operations research analysts (+27%)

Healthcare occupations with high expected growth:

  • Home health aides (+47%)
  • Personal care aides (+38%)
  • Physician assistants (+37%)
  • Nurse practitioners (+36%)
  • Physical therapist assistants (+31%)
  • Physical therapist aides (+29%)
  • Medical assistants (+29%)
  • Occupational therapy assistants (+29%)
  • Physical therapists (+28%)
  • Massage therapists (+26%)

Top 20 Occupations with Highest Expected Decline

The bar chart below shows the 20 occupations with the highest expected percent decline from 2016 to 2026:

Many of these occupations are prime candidates for being replaced by automation and robots.

Projected Growth of the Top 20 Highest Paying Occupations

The table below shows the projected employment growth for the top 20 highest paying occupations as of 2017:

The only occupation with an expected decline in employment is Chief executives. The occupations with the highest expected growth include oral and maxillofacial surgeons (+19.1%), orthodontists (+19.3%), prosthodontists (+19.1%), and dentists (+19.4%).

Feel free to dig into the data further at the Bureau of Labor Statistics site.


Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.

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