The U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 10% in October 2009 and has since slowly improved, flirting with 8% earlier this month.Despite the downward trend, the rate is still more than double prerecession levels.
As the economy continues to recover and more people return to the workforce, many are trying to find the right career—one that is hiring and pays well.
See the best paying jobs of the future >
Knowing which jobs will be in high demand and pay the most is a good place to start. To serve as a guide, 24/7 Wall St. identified the best paying jobs of the future. These jobs will grow the most in the next decade, some as much as 60% by 2020. They also have median salaries that are close to double the national average of $34,450, and in some cases more.
Many of these occupations will be in highest demand because of changes in the nation’s population and in the way the country’s businesses operate. Last year, the first baby boomers turned 65. As this generation gets older, increasing medical needs will require more health care professionals. Of the 10 high-paying, high-growth occupations we reviewed, six are in the medical field.
Because most of these positions are in the medical field, many require at least a master’s degree, and in many cases a doctoral degree. However, four have less demanding educational requirements, including the three that are growing the most. A career as a sonographer, projected to grow 43.5% with a median salary of $64,380, typically just requires an associate’s degree.
24/7 Wall St. identified the best paying jobs that also will have the highest demand for new workers in the future based on the Bureau of labour Statistics’ National Employment Matrix, which forecasts job growth between 2010 and 2020 for the bureau’s more-than 1,000 listed jobs.
The Matrix was used to identify the professions that are going to grow the most as a percentage of 2010 employment figures by 2020. Of those, we then narrowed the list to jobs that also had a median annual income of at least $60,000 in 2010, 75% higher than the $34,450 national median average, and at least 5,000 positions. Using the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. also identified the states with the highest concentration of jobs as of May 2011.
These are the best paying jobs of the future.
Pct. increase: 33.1%
Total new jobs (2010-2020): 11,300
Median income: $94,990
States with the most jobs per capita:Hawaii, North Dakota, Montana
Optometrists specialize in the care of eyes and vision. Their responsibilities include diagnosing eye injuries and diseases, as well as prescribing glasses and contact lenses. In order to practice, they are required to have a Doctor of Optometry degree, presently awarded by just 20 accredited programs, and must be licensed by the National Boards in Optometry.
Those who meet these qualifications are often extremely well-compensated: the top 10% of optometrists earned in excess of $166,400. With vision problems becoming more frequent as people grow older, the number of optometrists is expected to rise by 33.1% between 2010 and 2020.
Pct. increase: 35.9%
Total new jobs (2010-2020): 22,000
Median income: $82,040
States with the most jobs per capita:Montana, Colorado, Iowa
In addition to pets, veterinarians tend to sick livestock, laboratory animals and other critters. The BLS projects that the number of veterinarians will increase by 22,000, or 35.9%, between 2010 and 2020. A rising national pet population, as well as the need for additional food supply inspection as the U.S. population grows, are among the reasons for the strong job growth.
To practice, veterinarians must obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, currently awarded by just 28 colleges nationwide, as well as a state licence.
Pct. increase: 36.4%
Total new jobs (2010-2020): 36,400
Median income: $76,700
States with the most jobs per capita:Massachusetts, California, Washington
Though the roles of medical scientists vary from job to job, all study biological systems to understand their effects on human health. Medical scientists often work for the federal government, at research universities or in the private sector.
By 2020, the number of medical scientists is projected to increase to more than 136,000, as the population of the United States grows and ages and the demand for prescription drugs rises. Educational requirements are quite high, with most positions asking for either a doctorate or a medical degree. The annual pay of the top 10% of medical scientists was $142,800.
Pct. increase: 37.7%
Total new jobs (2010-2020): 68,500
Median income: $68,250
States with the most jobs per capita: Michigan, Utah, Idaho
From 2010 to 2020, the number of dental hygienists is projected to rise by 37.7% to more than 250,000. Factors driving ncreased demand for this occupation include ongoing research linking oral health to general health, as well as an ageing population keeping more of its teeth.
Dental hygienists typically do not need a professional degree or previous work experience, though they often need an associate's degree and a licence. Typical job responsibilities include cleaning teeth and taking dental X-rays.
Pct. increase: 41.2%
Total new jobs (2010-2020): 116,600
Median income: $60,570
States with the most jobs per capita: Delaware, Massachusetts, New York
Market research analysts work in most industries, monitoring and forecasting marketing and sales trends, as well as collecting and analysing data on their companies' products or services.
To become a market research analyst, a bachelor's degree is typically required, though many analysts have a master's degree. Citing increases in the use of market research across all industries, the BLS projects the number of positions in the field will rise to almost 400,000 by 2020. Top-earning market research analysts made more than $111,440 annually.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.