Top 10 Industries That Make America Great

Which are the best industries to work in? Where are the best opportunities if you’re looking to start a career or considering a career change? What industries make America a great place to work? Here's an overview of the top 10 US industries with the most projected growth in employment opportunities through 2024, including the types of jobs available, required education and training, and salary information for each industry.

1
Healthcare and Social Assistance

Health care workers
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The health care service-providing industry has been consistently growing for the last 20 years, and is predicted to continue to have the highest growth in employment opportunities out of all the industries in the United States. The baby boomers are entering their senior years, increasing the demand for healthcare and social assistance services.

Types of Jobs:  
Social service workers, home healthcare aides, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, doctors, and other healthcare specialists are typical jobs in this sector.

Education Requirements:
Doctors, registered nurses, and social workers are a sample of professionals in this industry that require advanced degrees, and additional professional training. There are also positions like nursing or medical aides which require a high school diploma and some non-degree training.

Salary Information:
Doctors and other professionals with medical degrees can expect to make approximately $100+/hour or $210,000+ annually. Registered nurses, social workers, and psychologists make an average of $28/hour or $60,000+ per year.  Nursing or medical aides, LPNs, and similar jobs are compensated at $15+/- per hour or $30,000 +/- a year.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is predicting that by 2024 there will be 3.7 million more jobs than there were in 2014, growth of almost 20%. Home healthcare services will be the fastest growing category within the industry.

2
Construction

Construction workers
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The construction industry is expected to show a steady increase in job openings between 2014 and 2024, with 6.9 million available jobs.

Types of Jobs:
Most construction jobs are in the physical building field and are manual labor positions: carpenters, electricians, framers, sheet rockers, equipment operators, plumbers, and welders. Management positions include titles like construction foremen, superintendents or supervisors, and field supervisors.

Education Requirements:
For lower paying, entry-level jobs, an apprenticeship, a high school degree, vocational training, or less is required. Years of experience and/or specialized training in a focused skill can qualify you for a higher paying or supervisory position. An associate's or bachelor's degree in construction management can help candidates access a supervisor level position.

Salary Information:
Manual labor construction worker jobs are paid at an hourly rate of about $17 per hour, while skilled craftsmen earn $25 hour and more. If you qualify for a supervisor position, you can earn $40 per hour or more. Review a list of the top 10 best-paid construction jobs.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The construction sector is predicted to show some of the highest growth with 800,000 new job openings by 2024, a drastic improvement from the almost 850,000 job decrease in the prior 10-year period.

3
Educational Services

Teacher in classroom
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The educational services sector expected to contain over 3,756,000 jobs by 2024, spurred by increasing requirements for future workers within a technologically advanced society.

Types of Jobs:
Teachers, teaching assistants, tutors, special educators, counselors, speech therapists, administrators, physical plant staff, and support staff are some of the most common jobs in education.

Education Requirements:
Teachers, counselors, administrators, and other professionals need a bachelor's or master’s degree. Vocational training or a high school diploma is required for support positions.

Salary Information:
Median pay for teachers at the elementary and high school level ranges from $54,000 to $57,000, while administrators earned an average of $92,000. Teaching assistants earned an average of $26,500.  

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
Educational services will experience strong growth over the next several years with over 338,000 expected new jobs by 2024.

4
Professional and Business Services

Architect drafting blueprints
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The professional and business services industry will experience significant growth as the economy continues to transition from manufacturing to service delivery. There is a broad spectrum of jobs that fall within this industry, ranging from scientific positions to management or supportive positions.  

Types of Jobs:
Under professional, scientific, and technical services you will find job listings for architects, engineers, researchers, advertising professionals, and scientists. Business, administrative and management positions include accountants, human resource managers, training managers, sales managers, financial managers, and general and operations managers. Supportive employees may work within the outdoor maintenance, janitorial and security departments, or as administrative assistants.

Education Requirements:
Most professional, scientific, managerial or financial positions require college, graduate, and sometimes post-graduate school. In addition, specific professional licenses are required to become an architect, auditor, engineer, doctor, or lawyer. Supportive service jobs like clerks, janitors, security guards, or groundskeepers need only a high school diploma or less.

Salary Information:
High-end technical jobs, like architects or computer coders, pay approximately $53,000+ annually. Top performing employees have the potential to earn over $100,000 with appropriate experience and skills. The professional occupations in the industry, like lawyers, earn a higher starting annual salary of around $130,000. Department managers can make $60,000 or more. Basic service jobs can start at the state’s determined minimum wage or more per hour.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
In 2014, there were over 19 million jobs in the professional and business services industry. The BLS predicts employment will grow by almost 10 percent, adding 1.9 million jobs over the next ten years.

5
Mining and Oil/Gas Extraction

Technician in boiler room
danchooalex / E+ / Getty Images

Loosening of regulations, further reliance on domestic natural resources,  and discovery of mineral deposits in the U.S. is expected to fuel an expansion of job opportunities in the mining and oil/gas extraction industry.

Types of Jobs:
Truck drivers, roustabouts, petroleum engineers, equipment operators, and operations managers are typical positions in the sector.

Education Requirements:
Engineering and some management jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Most trade workers will need a high school degree and receive on the job training. Truckers and equipment operators need commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).

Salary Information:
Roustabouts earn from $36,000 to $57,000 per year. The average wage for the industry as a whole is $63,000. Management earns an average of $143,000 while engineers receive $132,000.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
Over 80,000 new jobs are forecast by 2024, representing almost 10 percent growth from 2014.

6
Self-Employed (Non-Agricultural)

Woman with backpack and phone
Leonardo Patrizi / E+ / Getty Images

The American dream of individuals to work for themselves and escape bosses has always been a goal for many workers. The trend towards the use of freelance labor and the desire of aging baby boomers to remain active in the labor market are expected to spur an increase in this type of work during the next several years.

Types of Jobs:
Common jobs for self-employment include driving services, writer, plumber, electrician and other trades, consultant, doctor, lawyer, architect, psychologist, artist, web/graphic design, and elder and childcare workers.

Education Requirements:
Vocational training leading to licensure is required for most trades. Professional areas like law and medicine require advanced degrees. Most other areas require little formal education, though certifications might be useful in attracting clients.

Salary Information:
According to Payscale, income varies greatly among self-employed workers, given the diversity of roles and occupations in the sector. Some workers earn as little as minimum wage while professionals like lawyers, psychologists and physicians might earn $200 - $300 per hour.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The BLS expects this sector to expand by over 579,000 jobs by 2024, an increase of about 7 percent.

7
Leisure and Hospitality

Hotel lobby
Robert Benson / Getty Images

The leisure and hospitality sector is one of the largest sources of employment for Americans in diverse sectors like the arts, entertainment, recreation, food services, and lodging. High levels of growth are expected as automation and technology shorten weekly work schedules and increase the demand for leisure activities.

Types of Jobs:
Performers, servers, resort staff, ticket takers, producers, directors, hotel workers, cooks, camp staff, restaurant/hotel managers, fitness center staff, and athletes are considered employees in this sector.

Education Requirements:
A high school degree is a requirement for most entry-level jobs with management positions usually requiring a bachelor's degree or more.

Salary Information:
Many of the entry-level jobs are hourly, with pay ranging from $9 - $12 an hour or $20,000 - $25,000 annually. Successful actors, musicians, and singers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Fitness trainers, gaming supervisors at casinos, and other managers can earn $50,000 or more.  

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The BLS estimates the number of jobs in this supersector will grow by over 941,000 by the year 2024, or over 6 percent.

8
Financial Activities

Financial Charts
kokouu / E+ / Getty Images

The financial activities industry includes employment opportunities in real estate, banking, insurance, accounting, and investments. The BLS predicts significant growth due to increased retirement and financial planning by older workers, an increase in housing starts, and trends within the health insurance sector.

Types of Jobs:
Most common jobs include insurance sales, customer service representatives, accountants, auditors, bank tellers, real estate sales, underwriters, financial products and services salespersons, and loan officers.

Education Requirements:
Entry level positions like customer service representative or bank teller require at least a high school degree. Accountants, financial planners, loan officers, and other higher paying jobs in the industry require a bachelor’s degree or more.

Salary Information:
Bank tellers and customer service representatives earn $12+ per hour. Salespersons in real estate and insurance generally earn $40,000 or more.  Accountants average $80,000 and investment sales staff often earn $100,000 or more.  

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The BLS estimates that there will be 507,000 additional jobs in this industry by 2024 or over 6 percent growth. This is a noteworthy improvement since employment opportunities declined between 2004 - 2014 after the financial crisis. 

9
Wholesale Trade

Warehouse with boxes
Alistair Berg / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The wholesale industry is made up of businesses that buy large quantities of merchandise directly from the manufacturer and then sell it to smaller companies, retail stores, or factories that will use the product to make another product. The BLS expects substantial growth in this sector as the overall economy expands.

Types of Jobs:
Common jobs include laborers, truck drivers, salespersons, freight handlers, customer service representatives, and clerks.

Education Requirements:
A high school degree is all that is required for laborer, customer service and clerical jobs in a warehouse. Salespersons or sales engineers promoting technical or scientific products will usually have a bachelor's degree.

Salary Information:
Salespersons average between $76,000 and $98,000. Laborers earn an average of $28,000 and clerks average $32,000. Truck drivers earned from $43,000 to $60,000 depending on the sector.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
According to the BLS, there will be growth of 325,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024, an increase of over 5 percent.

10
Retail Trade

Woman on phone in store
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The retail trade industry encompasses direct marketing of products to consumers through brick and mortar stores as well as online entities. Expansion of income will continue to fuel growth in the sector, primarily in the online component.

Types of Jobs:
Common jobs in the retail industry include salespersons, customer service representatives, cashiers, buyers, pharmacy technicians, order fillers, shipping/trafficking clerks, department supervisors, store managers, and truck drivers.

Education Requirements:
A high school degree is all that is required for sales, customer service, and clerical jobs. Buyers and store managers often have bachelor's degrees.

Salary Information:
Retail salespersons earn an average of $22,000, and buyers earn an average of $59,000. First-line supervisors earned an average of $38,000. Sales managers earned an average of $81,000.

Employment Opportunities and Growth:
The retail trade industry job pool will increase by about 760,000 jobs by 2024 or about 5 percent.

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Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, Employment by Major Industry Sector, and National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, and Payscale.com.