30 fast-growing, high-paying jobs that will dominate the digital workplace — and the skills you'll need to get them

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Technology is becoming ever more important in the digital workplace of the 21st century.
  • Using data from the Department of Labour, we found 30 high-paying, fast-growing jobs that rely on skills and knowledge from the STEM disciplines.

The 21st century workplace is increasingly dominated by technology, and jobs that rely on a mastery of those machines are likely to become more important – and lucrative.

We assembled a list of fast-growing, high-paying jobs that are set to dominate the emerging digital workplace through 2026.

The Department of Labour’s O*NET Online occupational database includes survey-based measures of several work characteristics for the nearly 1,000 occupations tracked by the database.

To get a sense of what jobs will thrive in the emerging digital workplace, we looked at nine skills, knowledge areas, and work-style characteristics that reflect the growing importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM): mathematics, science,engineering and technology, computers and electronics, programming,innovation,analytical thinking, general design, and technology design. If you have an interest or talent in any of the above, then congratulations, your work future is looking bright.

The O*NET database assigns importance scores to each job between 0 and 100 for each of these characteristics, with 0 indicating that the job doesn’t have that characteristic at all, and 100 suggesting that the characteristic is a major part of the job.

We averaged together the importance scores of the above skills to get an overall STEM score for each occupation. Because we are interested in high-paying, fast-growing jobs, we ranked those occupations with above-average annual salaries and growth prospects.

Specifically, we looked at occupations with an average salary in 2018 above the overall average of $US51,960, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program, and a projected employment growth rate between 2016 and 2026 above the projected total employment growth rate of 7.4%, according to the Bureau’s most recent employment projections data.

Here are the 30 jobs with above-average salaries and growth prospects with the highest STEM scores, along with descriptions of what each of the occupations entail from O*NET:


30. Postsecondary atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences instructors teach courses in these scientific fields

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Average 2018 annual salary: $US101,890

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 9.5%

STEM score: 55.1

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 94
  2. Innovation: 87
  3. Science: 78


O*NET description page»


29. Computer and information systems managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer programming

Wikimedia Commons/Rick Naystatt

Average 2018 annual salary: $US152,860

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 12.0%

STEM score: 55.6

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 94
  2. Analytical thinking: 81
  3. Innovation: 68


O*NET description page»


28. Statisticians develop or apply mathematical or statistical theory and methods to collect, organise, interpret, and summarize numerical data to provide usable information

Average 2018 annual salary: $US92,600

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 33.8%

STEM score: 56.2

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Mathematics: 97
  2. Analytical thinking: 94
  3. Computers and electronics: 76


O*NET description page»


27. Industrial engineers design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes

Average 2018 annual salary: $US91,630

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 9.7%

STEM score: 56.4

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 86
  2. Analytical thinking: 86
  3. Innovation: 79


O*NET description page»


26. Web developers design, create, and modify websites

Average 2018 annual salary: $US75,580

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 15.0%

STEM score: 56.8

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 85
  2. Analytical thinking: 79
  3. Programming: 78


O*NET description page»


25. Hydrologists research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters

Average 2018 annual salary: $US82,790

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 9.9%

STEM score: 56.9

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 88
  2. Engineering and technology: 75
  3. Science: 72


O*NET description page»


24. Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth

Average 2018 annual salary: $US107,800

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 14.0%

STEM score: 57.1

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 90
  2. Science: 78
  3. Innovation: 73


O*NET description page»


22 (tie). Surveyors make measurements and determine property boundaries

Average 2018 annual salary: $US66,440

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 11.2%

STEM score: 57.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 87
  2. Engineering and technology: 75
  3. Mathematics: 75


O*NET description page»


22 (tie). Postsecondary architecture instructors teach courses in architecture and architectural design

Average 2018 annual salary: $US99,320

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 10.6%

STEM score: 57.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 92
  2. Design: 91
  3. Innovation: 85


O*NET description page»


21. Systems software developers research, design, develop, and test operating-systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software

Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Average 2018 annual salary: $US114,000

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 11.1%

STEM score: 57.9

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 97
  2. Analytical thinking: 89
  3. Innovation: 78


O*NET description page»


20. Civil engineering technicians apply theory and principles of civil engineering in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of structures and facilities

Average 2018 annual salary: $US54,670

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.8%

STEM score: 58.4

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 87
  2. Design: 79
  3. Analytical thinking: 77


O*NET description page»


19. Postsecondary physics teachers teach courses in physics

Average 2018 annual salary: $US103,830

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 10.0%

STEM score: 59.2

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 98
  2. Innovation: 95
  3. Computers and electronics: 77


O*NET description page»


18. Environmental engineers research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards

Average 2018 annual salary: $US92,640

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.3%

STEM score: 59.8

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 91
  2. Engineering and technology: 88
  3. Design: 75


O*NET description page»


16 (tie). Petroleum engineers devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production

Christian Lagerek/Shutterstock

Average 2018 annual salary: $US156,370

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 15.2%

STEM score: 60.4

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 95
  2. Analytical thinking: 88
  3. Innovation: 76


O*NET description page»


16 (tie). Postsecondary computer science instructors teach courses in that field

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLo7CoiKIto#t=32

Average 2018 annual salary: $US96,200

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.1%

STEM score: 60.4

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 87
  2. Analytical thinking: 86
  3. Innovation: 81


O*NET description page»


15. Operations research analysts formulate and apply mathematical modelling and other optimising methods to develop and interpret information that assists management with decision making

Sarah Kimmorley/Business Insider Australia

Average 2018 annual salary: $US88,350

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 27.4%

STEM score: 60.8

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 100
  2. Mathematics: 88
  3. Innovation: 84


O*NET description page»


14. Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms

Average 2018 annual salary: $US105,940

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 11.5%

STEM score: 60.9

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Science: 91
  2. Analytical thinking: 91
  3. Innovation: 83


O*NET description page»


13. Computer-controlled-machine-tool programmers develop the means to control machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools

Average 2018 annual salary: $US56,300

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 16.3%

STEM score: 61.0

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Programming: 78
  2. Computers and electronics: 78
  3. Analytical thinking: 77


O*NET description page»


12. Electrical engineers research, design, develop, test, or supervise the manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment, components, or systems

Average 2018 annual salary: $US101,600

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.6%

STEM score: 62.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 91
  2. Analytical thinking: 86
  3. Computers and electronics: 82


O*NET description page»


11. Astronomers observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena

GMTO Corporation

Average 2018 annual salary: $US111,090

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 10.0%

STEM score: 62.9

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 96
  2. Innovation: 87
  3. Computers and electronics: 84


O*NET description page»


10. Civil engineers perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures, and facilities

Average 2018 annual salary: $US93,720

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 10.6%

STEM score: 63.0

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 90
  2. Design: 81
  3. Analytical thinking: 78


O*NET description page»


9. Mathematicians conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques

Average 2018 annual salary: $US104,870

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 29.7%

STEM score: 63.1

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Mathematics: 100
  2. Analytical thinking: 98
  3. Innovation: 87


O*NET description page»


8. Mining and geological engineers conduct sub-surface surveys to identify the characteristics of potential land or mining development sites

Average 2018 annual salary: $US98,420

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.2%

STEM score: 63.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 94
  2. Engineering and technology: 87
  3. Mathematics: 69


O*NET description page»


7. Computer and information research scientists conduct research into fundamental components of that field

Spencer Platt/Getty

Average 2018 annual salary: $US123,850

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 19.2%

STEM score: 64.3

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 90
  2. Analytical thinking: 79
  3. Innovation: 77


O*NET description page»


6. Postsecondary engineering teachers teach courses pertaining to the application of physical laws and principles of engineering

Average 2018 annual salary: $US113,680

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 14.6%

STEM score: 66.9

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 96
  2. Innovation: 91
  3. Engineering and technology: 90


O*NET description page»


5. Agricultural engineers apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems

Average 2018 annual salary: $US79,090

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.2%

STEM score: 68.1

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 91
  2. Analytical thinking: 87
  3. Design: 85


O*NET description page»


4. Applications software developers create and modify general computer applications software

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Average 2018 annual salary: $US108,080

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 30.7%

STEM score: 70.2

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Computers and electronics: 99
  2. Analytical thinking: 96
  3. Innovation: 84


O*NET description page»


3. Physicists conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories

Average 2018 annual salary: $US125,280

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 14.5%

STEM score: 72.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Analytical thinking: 93
  2. Science: 88
  3. Mathematics: 85


O*NET description page»


2. Chemical engineers design chemical plant equipment and devise processes for manufacturing chemicals and products

Average 2018 annual salary: $US114,470

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 7.5%

STEM score: 73.6

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 100
  2. Analytical thinking: 97
  3. Design: 82


O*NET description page»


1. Mechanical engineers perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Average 2018 annual salary: $US92,800

Projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026: 8.8%

STEM score: 75.7

Top three STEM areas:

  1. Engineering and technology: 97
  2. Analytical thinking: 95
  3. Innovation: 91


O*NET description page»


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