The global economy is changing rapidly. As technology, mobile communication, and the emergence of machine learning portend the rise of automation, the labor landscape will continue to shift. The best jobs of the future will invariably be those that are either compatible with this rise in automation, or those that fill in gaps where the demand remains for meaningful human engagement or administration.
While many economists and labor experts warn of the coming hardships for those whose functions risk being supplanted by automation, others strike a more optimistic tone. For instance, Vox asserts that
As automation makes everyday products cheaper and more plentiful, people will increasingly shift their spending to goods and services where a connection to a human provider is seen as a key benefit.
This underscores the importance of pursuing a career that puts you in a position to seize on changes in the labor market, rather than fall victim to them. But which jobs are really future proof, and what do you have to do to land one of these essential jobs of the future?
Well, if you would like to start your search by looking directly at the college disciplines most likely to lead to future job security, check out our look at the 20 Best Degrees For the Future.
Otherwise, jump right into our look at these 20 future-proof jobs...
The best jobs for the future were first selected based on their compatibility with shifting trends in labor and automation. We have identified these career paths as among the likeliest to yield ongoing job security, high pay, and compatibility with emergent technologies.
Once we identified these career paths, we ranked each job based on the projected growth in raw job numbers between now and 2030. While we consider rate of growth (by percentage) a strong indicator of the future prospects for a selected career path, the sheer number of jobs created is both an indicator of the size of a given labor sector and the rate of growth. Therefore, the jobs listed below are listed in order of the number of jobs that will likely be created over the next decade.
For instance, a selective career path like cybersecurity offers a remarkable 33% rate of growth over that time. This surge will produce 47,100 new jobs. By contrast, while growing at a rate of 8%, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations, the field of homeland security is expected to grow by a substantial 409,500 jobs by 2030. As you will note, this is why homeland security appears above cybersecurity on our list below.Back to Top
Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers earned a median salary of $110,140 in 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a remarkable rate of 22% between now and 2030, with 409,500 jobs added.
Software development professionals perform an extremely wide range of design, assessment and testing functions in the fast-growth computer technology sector. As a software development professional, you can build mobile applications, create updates for computer operating systems, create networking administration solutions, and much more.
Software development is a great job for the future because your skills as a software professional can be applied in countless industries. Effective software development, testing, and quality assurance are in high demand in every sector of the economy. Even as automation becomes a more pervasive reality in these sectors, qualified software developers will be required to ensure that these systems are functioning optimally. This is why, among the jobs on our list, software development offers the most robust intersection of both job growth rate (22%) and raw job creation (409,500 jobs).
An online associate degree in game development can lead to a future-proof career as a software developer, computer programmer, or game designer, and can also serve as a solid stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in software development.
Protective Services professionals earned a median salary of $46,590 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 8% between now and 2030, with 286,400 jobs added across several law enforcement, corrections, and emergency services occupations.
Homeland security professionals perform an extremely wide range of functions in the areas of intelligence, cybersecurity, defense, counterterrorism, emergency management, and much more. Because homeland security implicates a massive set of overlapping agencies, there are countless professional pathways into this field and countless roles you could fill within.
Homeland security is a great job for the future because our defense, intelligence, and counter-terrorism needs continue to grow in scale and complexity. The numerous overlapping agencies and roles that comprise homeland security present an ongoing demand for qualified professionals with an extremely diverse array of skill sets including threat assessment, cybersecurity, data analysis, law enforcement, and much more. While technology comes to play an increasingly important role in helping to assure our national security, human operators and decision makers remain essential to the effectiveness of this technology.
Registered Nurses earned a median salary of $77,600 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 9% between now and 2030, with 276,800 jobs added.
Nurses have a nearly infinite list of responsibilities in the healthcare field, providing patient care, administration of medication, monitoring of vitals, therapeutic treatment, and much more. Nurses work in countless areas of healthcare from emergency services and public health clinics to outpatient surgical centers and as in-home care providers.
There is a constant demand for qualified healthcare providers with the compassion, stamina, and training to support a wide array of patient needs. Healthcare is a constantly expanding sector of the U.S. economy, which accounts for the 276,800 nursing jobs that are projected to emerge between now and 2030. One key reason is that nurses have the opportunity to serve on the frontlines in countless settings across the healthcare labor sector. As the healthcare sector continues its growth, the demand for nurses will remain high.
Top executives earned a median salary of $98,980 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 8% between now and 2030, with 209,500 jobs added.
Entrepreneurs are self-starting business owners, those who use leadership skills, sound business strategy, and effective organizational stewardship in order to start, grow, and lead successful businesses of every size.
Entrepreneurship is a great job for the future because your skills and knowledge will give you the power to succeed on your own terms. Whether you see yourself as a small-business owner, a real estate investor, or the eventual CEO of a Fortune 500 company, developing your talents as an entrepreneur can place you in the advantageous position of personal, professional, and financial independence. Use this position to move with agility as the labor economy shifts around you.
Medical and Health Services Managers earned a median salary of $101,230 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 32% between now and 2030, with 139,600 jobs added.
Healthcare administration professionals are responsible for overseeing the organizational management and operational stability of healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and mental health clinics. This is a critical leadership role that calls for the oversight of multiple intersecting departments, the delegation of responsibility, and sound financial stewardship.
The healthcare industry promises to be one of the most aggressive growth sectors in the coming decades. The advent and implementation of new healthcare information technology is continuously improving the reach and coordination of our broader healthcare system. However, the administration of healthcare remains an extremely complex and multi-layered undertaking. So even as our technology improves, the demand remains high for those with the leadership skills to integrate these expanding capabilities with human-based decision making.
Legal professionals earned a median salary of $82,430 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 9% between now and 2030, with 116,600 jobs added across all legal occupations.
Legal professionals who earn their Juris Doctor can work as licensed attorneys and even become judges, but many legal professionals serve in other critical areas like criminal justice, contract negotiation, legal assistance, and more.
Legal professionals are inherently necessary in a Constitutional democracy. This is because the nature of American jurisprudence demands legal interpretation, debate, and procedures. These are functions that only human beings can carry out. This is one sector where automated technology may offer improved opportunities for research and data collection, but in which human operators such as paralegals, legal assistants, and attorneys will always command importance.
Computer and information systems managers earned a median salary of $159,010 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 11% between now and 2030, with 52,700 jobs added.
Information technology professionals are charged with the storage, analysis, and security of data as well as oversight of the systems, networks, and databases used to collect and store this data.
Information technology is a great job for the future because it dovetails perfectly with the demands created by the rise in automation. Information technologists are in an ideal position to help develop, maintain, test, and improve the automated systems that are being used with increased frequency to drive core business functions like shipping, production, supply chain management, and more. IT professionals will play a central role in ensuring the effectiveness of this technology, which likely accounts for both the robust current pay rate and the strong job growth outlook.
Information security analysts earned a median salary of $102,600 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at an extremely robust rate of 33% between now and 2030, with 47,100 jobs added.
Cybersecurity professionals work with private companies, public non-profits, and government agencies to identify information security threats, spot vulnerabilities, prevent cyberterrorism, and help to prosecute bad actors.
Cybersecurity is a great job for the future because the need continues to grow rapidly for those with the knowledge and qualifications to protect companies, public institutions, financial entities, and world governments against cyber-attack. The rise in automation may suggest innovation and convenience, but it also implies growing vulnerability to threats from hackers, identity thieves, and other bad actors. Moreover, our growing global dependency on interdependent web-based networks means that we are more susceptible than ever to cyberterrorism. This is likely why the BLS forecasts a 33% rate of growth for this field—the most robust job growth rate by percentage on our list.
Accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $77,250 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 7% between now and 2030, with 96,000 jobs added.
Accounting professionals and auditors help conduct financial analysis, create financial reports, provide financial forecasts, and help organizations navigate areas like taxes, investments, payroll, and more.
Accounting is a great job for the future because the typical services offered by an accountant are required in virtually every sector of the economy. From large corporations and private households to public universities and massive utilities firms, accounting services are always in demand. This means that whether you work within such an organization or provide your services as part of a third-party accounting group, your skills as an accountant will typically lead to secure long-term working opportunities. Indeed, as automated technology becomes more adept at providing financial analysis and forecasting, accountants will be in greater demand to interpret and use the resulting data accordingly.
High School Teachers earned a median salary of $61,820 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 8% between now and 2030, with 78,200 jobs added.
Educators work at every level—from early childhood education through postsecondary and graduate education—to provide learners with curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. Educators may work as general educators, educational specialists in specific subject areas, and as job training professionals. Educators may also work as administrators, department heads, and contributors to the development of new learning technology and methodologies.
Education is a great job for the future because educational instruction, job training, and post-secondary research all continue to depend on human engagement and ingenuity. In the case of education, it is not just the healthy 8% rate of growth that bodes well for the future of the profession, but the sheer size of the workforce. With nearly 1 million teachers working just at the high school level, as of 2020, that rate of growth amounts to a substantial number of job openings over the next decade.
Construction managers earned a median salary of $98,890 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 11% between now and 2030, with 51,400 jobs added.
Construction managers typically provide organizational and operational oversight to construction teams and development firms. Construction managers will have a strong understanding of both architectural engineering and organizational leadership, and will delegate responsibilities while coordinating one or multiple ongoing building and development projects.
Construction management is a great job for the future because architectural development remains both a high-paying and distinctly human job. Even as more sophisticated computer technology figures into the process of construction development, the leadership, oversight, and coordination provided by qualified professionals will remain essential to the actual execution of construction projects.
Industrial engineers earned a median salary of $95,300 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 14% between now and 2030, with 40,000 jobs added.
Industrial engineers develop, maintain, test, and operate the systems used to facilitate manufacturing, production, and construction. As an industrial engineering professional, you will typically work in a leadership role, coordinating machinery, materials, data, and labor to produce the desired manufacturing or development output. Industrial engineers are an active part of production and development in countless industries both private and public.
Industrial engineering is a great job for the future because industrial engineering principles are at the root of countless other engineering subdisciplines. That makes the industrial engineering degree a great pathway into many different labor sectors including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and more. This gives you the flexibility to parlay your skills into high-growth areas, and to apply your skills to the administration, operation, maintenance or even construction of automated technology.
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned a median salary of $133,380 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 10% between now and 2030, with 31,800 jobs added.
Marketing professionals can work in a variety of media, including print, digital and mass media, and will be responsible for measuring, generating, and sustaining consumer interest in select goods and services. Marketing professionals work in nearly every sector of the economy, providing advertising, promotions, public relations, and communications services for private companies, retailers, public personalities, non-profit organizations, and more.
Marketing is a great job for the future because career opportunities in this field are often lucrative. Moreover, marketing professionals are often prepared for a wide range of advanced roles in market research, sales management, and public relations. Even as we come to rely more and more on machine-learning technology to gather and analyze customer data, marketing and advertising still include an important psychological component. Human professionals will always be required to interpret that data and make meaningful decisions accordingly.
Producers and directors earned a median salary of $79,000 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 24% between now and 2030, with 31,600 jobs added. While this job field includes producers and directors in other media like film and television, video game producers are a major catalyst in the robust growth of this job field.
Game designers may perform a wide variety of functions within the gaming industry, from graphic art contributions and software development to programming and overall production leadership. Game design is a highly collaborative undertaking, and game design professionals can serve a wide range of roles in producing games for home consoles, computers, mobile devices, and more.
Game design is a great job for the future because gaming is among the most rapidly growing commercial industries today. Moreover, a career in game design can take numerous forms whether you wish to work as a programmer, artists, writer, producer, or marketer. The gaming industry overlaps with countless other fields today including computer programming, mobile app design, educational gaming, and much more. This means that opportunities to apply your skills will remain varied and plentiful in the future.
Web Developers and Digital Designers earned a median salary of $77,200 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 13% between now and 2030, with 25,500 jobs added.
Digital media marketers provide analytical and promotional services aimed at helping online vendors better understand and connect with customers. Today, most businesses require an effective digital media strategy to attract and communicate with customers. Digital media marketers help to identify these customers and improve both outreach and engagement.
Digital media is a great job for the future because most professional sectors today rely on some form of digital media to communicate, advertise, and engage. Digital media professionals can gain employment as video editors, multimedia artists, videographers, copywriters, web designers, graphic designers, and much more. Indeed, job opportunities in digital media are projected to grow apace with the rapidly growing software, web development, and social media sectors.
Health education specialists and community health workers earned a median salary of $48,860 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 17% between now and 2030, with 21,100 jobs added.
Community health professionals work directly with individuals, families, and communities to provide outreach, education, and resources aimed at improving health behaviors. Through outreach, distribution of information, and direct engagement, community health professionals work to improve general health outcomes for at-risk populations.
Community health is a great job for the future because there is a growing practical need for better distribution of public health outreach, awareness, and resources. Moreover, this need can only be fulfilled by compassionate and engaged public health professionals. A community health career focuses on areas like policy, health promotion, infectious diseases, and access to healthcare. Communities throughout the United States and beyond have demonstrated considerable need in all of these areas. Consequently, the demand for professionals who can address this need is high.
Psychologists earned a median salary of $81,040 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 8% between now and 2030, with 13,500 jobs added.
Psychology professionals provide counsel, therapeutic treatment, pharmaceutical treatment, and research on subjects relating to human cognitive, emotional, and social processes, and behaviors. Psychologists may work in a variety of settings, either as sole practitioners, or members of broader healthcare teams. Psychologists may also work in settings such as schools, public health agencies, and mental health facilities.
Psychology is a great career for the future because psychology professionals can serve in a wide range of roles in areas like occupational analysis, recruitment, child welfare, psychosocial rehabilitation, and more. This versatility makes psychology an extremely promising profession, and one which can only be performed by humans.
Database administrators and architects earned a median salary of $98,860 in 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 8% between now and 2030, with 13,200 jobs added.
Data scientists provide data analysis, quantitative modeling, and financial forecasting to identify problems, create solutions, and make predictions. Because data has become an essential commodity in every sector of the economy, data scientists can apply these skills in an almost limitless array of private companies, non-profit groups, and government agencies.
Data science is a great job for the future because so many industries have become increasingly data-centered. Indeed, so much of the machine-learning that we employ today is driven by the collection and analysis of what we call “big data.” As a professional with the capacity to leverage this big data, you could apply your skills in various professional sectors, including business, healthcare, and social media.
Personal Financial Advisors earned a median salary of $94,170 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 5% between now and 2030, with 12,600 jobs added.
Personal financial advisors support individuals as they manage their assets, identify savings priorities, and plan for the future. Financial advisors can help individuals devise investment strategies, create college savings plans, make plans for retirement, and more.
Finance is a great job for the future because your skills can provide a pathway into countless fields, well-paying jobs, and secure career paths. Finance professionals are in high demand across a wide range of professional sectors. Abilities such as budget analysis, cost estimation, and market analysis make finance professionals highly employable regardless of the labor climate.
Graphic designers earned a median salary of $50,710 in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 3% between now and 2030, with 7,300 jobs added.
Graphic artists specialize in creating and expressing art through computer technology. This technology-mediated profession gives visual artists the ability to channel their talents into emergent creative industries including marketing, mass media, and entertainment as well as practical business sectors like retail, finance, and e-commerce.
Graphic arts is a great job for the future because there is a need across all sectors for skilled, innovative, and creative graphic arts professionals. Today, private companies, school districts, and government agencies all need graphic arts professionals. You could apply your skills in areas like web development, print advertising, publishing, journalism, and so much more. This need—and the associated need for humans with the ability to create thoughtful, novel, and interesting work—will likely keep the demand for graphic artists high well into the future.
And if your top priority is to land a job that is at once secure and flexible, check out the 20 Best Degrees for Working From Home.