A recent report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the U.S. will add roughly 20 million new jobs by the year 2020 – a nearly 14% annual rate of growth in new jobs over the next decade. Given a historic growth rate of 6% over the last century, 14% is an astounding number. However, just a handful of job sectors will account for more than 50% of all new jobs created. Estimates indicate that careers in healthcare, construction, professional and business services, and social assistance alone will account for over 10 million of the 20 million news job created.

In addition to 20 million new job openings, another 30 million jobs will be created over the same period as workers retire and leave the labor force. What’s more interesting is of the top five fastest-growing occupations of 2020, many don’t even require a college degree. Notwithstanding, earning a college degree or higher is a good predictor of a workers future career success. Even though several of the top careers of 2020 don’t require degrees, many of the “driver” careers do. Driver careers are those careers in high-skill sectors of the local economy that support economic growth – and these careers are increasingly requiring advanced training and higher education.

According to the Brookings Institution – a well-known D.C. firm devoted to independent research and analysis – roughly 30% of adult workers, 25 years and older, have a bachelor’s degree – with a smaller percentage holding a graduate degree. Employers of the future will increasingly seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This will be particularly true among high demand careers in competitive job markets. It’s estimated that in many markets where high demand jobs will be created, an upwards of 60% of workers will hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Given the strong correlation between higher education and economic growth, some experts have been bold enough to claim that the growth of the U.S. economy through 2020 and beyond will be tied directly to the level of education achieved by its workforce. Studies also suggest that regions with a well-educated work force – with respect to job market demand – will experience economic growth, while those with poorly educated or undereducated labor may see economic decline.

So what type of education will put you at the top of the pack in 2020? Well, we turned to some of the top employers to answer this question. According to a recent survey produced by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies are looking for graduates with degrees in accounting, engineering, computer science, business and economics. Ironically, while most employers are looking for grads with the aforementioned skills, most college students are enrolled in history, education, history, and social science majors (lower demand areas).

According to a top management consulting firm, by 2020 demand for college grads with relevant skill sets will outpace supply by nearly 1.5 million. Good news for those with in-demand skill sets – who will be able to demand higher premiums for their services – but bad news for the under-educated – who may struggle to find employment in America’s top job markets. Now that you understand the value of education, as it relates to future job opportunities, let’s take a look at those job sectors that are expected to be among the fastest-growing by 2020.

Data Mining and Analysis

The future is all about information. For those who know how to find it, those who understand it and those who know how to use it, great career opportunities are in store. The age of data has just begun, and by all accounts is expected to keep on growing through 2020 and beyond. Companies are looking for new and innovative ways to get their hands on more information about their customers and competitors, analyze it, and hopefully gain insights that will provide them with a strategic advantage in the market place. Within the field of data mining and analysis, two of the most in-demand careers (not surprisingly) will be marketing and market research.

Counseling and Therapy

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the demand for marriage and family therapists will grow by over 40% through 2020 – and this is only one example of the many occupations within this field. While mental health used to take a back seat to physical health, not anymore. People are waking up and taking note of importance of mental health as it relates to having a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Computer Techology and Engineering

Computer programming and web development has quickly become a commodity item. As such, many computer programming and software development jobs have moved overseas where skills are strong and costs are low. Notwithstanding, there is a growing demand in the United States for highly skilled computer experts who understand computer systems and computer networking. Today, high speed computer networks are required by companies in most fields – and the trend is not going to change any time soon. Through 2020 there will be strong demand for computer technologists, engineers and networking specialists who can help companies tie their computer networks together and establish a competitive advantage in technology.


Research and innovation are the keys to new breakthroughs and developments in technology, medicine, manufacturing, and many other fields. Through 2020 there will be particularly strong demand for professionals with advanced research skills in engineering, chemistry, math, biology, biotechnology, and other sciences.

Veterinary Medicine

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for veterinarians will increase by over 35% through 2020. This demand will be driven by improved veterinary medical services as well as an insatiable consumer demand for pets, pet services and pet products. Students considering a career in veterinary medicine can look forward to working a fun industry with new growth and business opportunities right around the corner.

Healthcare and Medicine

It goes without saying that healthcare has and always will be a major industry. But with a ever aging group of baby boomers – looking to extend and enhance the quality of life – the timing has never been better to launch a career or business in this industry. Jobs within healthcare cover the gamut. While many jobs within healthcare are lower paying, you’ll also find some of the highest paying jobs in healthcare as well. Career opportunities in healthcare are broad and offer a variety of specialties to choose from. Through 2020 demand is predicted to be strongest for dentists, nurses, physician specialists, optometrists, physical therapists, and audiologists.

Environmental Science

As populations worldwide continue to grow, we’re required to find new ways to use and maximize the limited resources that are available to use – especially natural resources. Entrepreneurs, governments and businesses are seeking new technologies to help heat and cool buildings, conserve water, control pollution, produce food, improve infrastructure and thwart global warming. Careers in environmental science and green energy will continue to grow over the next decade.

Finance and Investments

As tax law become ever convoluted, new risk-reducing regulation in traditional banking opens doors for private-equity firms, and money management becomes increasingly complex, the demand for experts in corporate finance, tax accounting, investments and personal financial planning will grow. In fact, the financial crisis of the last decade and the vilification of many within the finance industry, lead students during that time to seek employment in other industries. Consequently, students seeking careers in finance should be able to find good job prospect due to previous shortages.

Business Management and Administration

Effective management is the key to success in an ever global and competitive economy. This is probably why top managers demand some of the highest compensation packages of any professionals. Managers of the past simply had to understand basic finance, management, and economics within a limited geographic scope. Today with the advent of the Internet, digital technology, social media and a myriad of ever evolving communication mediums, managers must be dynamic, with the ability to adapt and change their company’s direction on a moments notice. In addition, managers of the future must be well versed and stay up to date on the latest technologies affecting their industry. Business managers and administrators will be in high demand through 2020 and beyond.

Entrepreneurship and Small Business

While traditional businesses in retail, automotive, healthcare and professional services will continue to grow and support millions of jobs nationwide, the opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs will be greater than ever through 2020. Technology start-ups will continue to bring new consumer products and business services to market, but entrepreneurs and small businesses who can find new and innovative ways to meet customer needs will drive growth and career opportunities.