Fastest-growing jobs from the last 10 years

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November 21, 2019

Fastest-growing jobs from the last 10 years

As the Great Recession drifted into the history books, officially ending in 2009, American workers in a wide swath of industries had reason to cheer. Consumers were opening their wallets again; for instance, U.S. auto sales increased by more than 67% from 2009 to 2017 and the home remodeling market grew more than 50% during the same period.

Meanwhile, the population was growing, thanks in part to immigrant arrivals, and it was aging. These trends created new demands in several sectors, especially for health-care workers.

Technological innovation was another big theme of the decade. Fitbit launched in 2009 and the iPad debuted the following year. E-commerce was on a tear, as is evidenced by the rise of Amazon in our daily lives. In fact, according to the 2019 Internet Retailer Top 1000 Report, consumers were spending $517 billion online with U.S. merchants by 2018, and 40% of Americans use Amazon for their online shopping. Many new technologies weren't as obvious to consumers as Fitbit or the iPad but all this development created new opportunities for workers in industries across the board.

Using May 2009 and May 2018 occupational data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Stacker compiled a list of 50 jobs that grew the most in the last 10 years and explained what these workers have been doing for the past decade. The jobs are ranked by their 10-year employment change, and any ties are broken by the total employment in 2018. Any occupations that listed "all other" in their names were omitted from the list because these are groupings of jobs and it is unclear which jobs are included in this grouping and how accurate the data is for each job.

Read on to see if your job was among those most in-demand over the past decade.

#50. Engine and other machine assemblers

- 10-year employment change: 41.43%
- 2009 employment: 34,080
- 2018 employment: 48,200
- Annual median wage in 2018: $44,380

Construction, extraction, and car manufacturing are among the industries that rely on machines like engines and turbines built by assemblers. These assembly skills were needed as companies ramped up output in the years following the recession—even as the threat of robot assembly workers loomed.


#49. Economists

- 10-year employment change: 41.72%
- 2009 employment: 13,160
- 2018 employment: 18,650
- Annual median wage in 2018: $104,340

Businesses and government agencies hire economists to analyze data and make forecasts about economic trends. Their number crunching and insights helped guide the country’s economic recovery, and leaders are looking to them today to understand the economic troubles, (like another recession) that could lie ahead.

#48. Rock splitters, quarry

- 10-year employment change: 41.98%
- 2009 employment: 3,430
- 2018 employment: 4,870
- Annual median wage in 2018: $34,750

Homeowners who installed countertops of granite, marble, slate, or other quarried stone during the remodeling boom of the past decade can thank rock splitters for removing their blocks from quarries. They do so using tools like jackhammers and wedges.

#47. Marketing managers

- 10-year employment change: 41.99%
- 2009 employment: 169,330
- 2018 employment: 240,440
- Annual median wage in 2018: $134,290

The continued growth of U.S. consumer spending has led to companies fighting for customer dollars. A share of that task has fallen on marketing managers who have a gamut of responsibilities that may include coordinating marketing efforts, identifying prospective customers, and developing pricing strategies.

#46. Training and development specialists

- 10-year employment change: 42.12%
- 2009 employment: 205,020
- 2018 employment: 291,380
- Annual median wage in 2018: $60,870

Training and development specialists create programs that build the skills and knowledge of employees. These initiatives have been critical as the labor market has tightened—particularly for attracting millennials to a specific workplace. Gallup found 59% of them say "opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job."

#45. Political scientists

- 10-year employment change: 42.57%
- 2009 employment: 3,970
- 2018 employment: 5,660
- Annual median wage in 2018: $117,570

Political scientists study topics like public opinion and the structure of governments, and their expertise has been used to help guide decision-making on increasingly significant public policies like health care and immigration. 2013 was an ominous year for the profession because a politician’s amendment to a spending bill restricted new political-science funding from the National Science Foundation. Luckily, for researchers that money was restored the following fiscal year.

#44. Interpreters and translators

- 10-year employment change: 42.85%
- 2009 employment: 40,000
- 2018 employment: 57,140
- Annual median wage in 2018: $49,930

As globalization and the number of immigrants to the U.S. grew over the decade, so did the need for interpreters and translators in places like boardrooms, schools, courtrooms, and hospitals. Though translator technology has improved, 90% of the machine translations in a 2017 contest against human translators reportedly came back “grammatically awkward,” highlighting the continuing need for workers in the field.


#43. Recreational vehicle service technicians

- 10-year employment change: 43.28%
- 2009 employment: 10,860
- 2018 employment: 15,560
- Annual median wage in 2018: $38,160

Sales of recreational vehicles (RVs) grew dramatically according to the RV Industry Organization, with RV shipments for 2018 totaling 483,672 units compared to 165,700 in 2009. Among other reasons, a desire to hit the open road for frequent weekend getaways that fit busy lifestyles and stay on it without breaking down spurred demand for service technicians.

#42. Directors, religious activities and education

- 10-year employment change: 44.09%
- 2009 employment: 15,060
- 2018 employment: 21,700
- Annual median wage in 2018: $40,810

In 2014, 53% of surveyed American adults told the Pew Research Center that religion was very important to them, and 24% said it was somewhat important. That translated into a large population to be served by directors, many of whom plan programs for religious education or activities of a denominational group and offer counseling.

#41. Subway and streetcar operators

- 10-year employment change: 46.28%
- 2009 employment: 6,050
- 2018 employment: 8,850
- Annual median wage in 2018: $68,170

NPR reported in 2010 that 35 light rail systems were operating in the U.S. Others have been planned and at least 13 metro areas have begun construction on their own system. New systems and other expanded lines presented fresh opportunities for rapid transit workers.

#40. Animal trainers

- 10-year employment change: 47.12%
- 2009 employment: 10,080
- 2018 employment: 14,830
- Annual median wage in 2018: $29,290

In 2016, the American Veterinary Medical Association found that around 38% of households nationwide owned one or more dogs, which was the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since they started keeping track in 1982. Animal trainers helped teach many of those family pets to live an obedient life while preparing other canines for more serious roles as service or therapy dogs.


#39. Physical therapist assistants

- 10-year employment change: 47.84%
- 2009 employment: 63,750
- 2018 employment: 94,250
- Annual median wage in 2018: $58,040

Physical therapist assistants help lighten the patient load of physical therapists. The need has been, and continues to be, great as an aging population seeks assistance with movement and pain issues.

#38. Mechanical door repairers

- 10-year employment change: 47.88%
- 2009 employment: 15,330
- 2018 employment: 22,670
- Annual median wage in 2018: $41,010

When garage doors break or need replacement, mechanical door repairers are the experts to call. Garage door replacement has been a satisfying expense because it has consistently had a high payback at resale, according to the 2019 Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report.


#37. Producers and directors

- 10-year employment change: 48.70%
- 2009 employment: 79,780
- 2018 employment: 118,630
- Annual median wage in 2018: $71,680

Streaming services gained momentum over the past decade. The demand for content on services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video—besides other entertainment outlets—has kept the phone ringing for more content, and thus more producers and directors to help create it.

#36. Physician assistants

- 10-year employment change: 49.17%
- 2009 employment: 76,900
- 2018 employment: 114,710
- Annual median wage in 2018: $108,610

As demand for physicians grew, physician assistants (PAs), who practice medicine, helped take up the slack. The PA workforce is expected to continue expanding as the number of PA educational programs grows from 229 in 2017 to a projected 291 by 2021 according to the 2017 Statistical Report of Certified PAs.

#35. Cooks, restaurant

- 10-year employment change: 49.17%
- 2009 employment: 898,820
- 2018 employment: 1,340,810
- Annual median wage in 2018: $26,530

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found Americans spent less money on food away from home during the Great Recession, but over time, restaurant spending rebounded as more eaters turned to the pros. In fact, The Motley Fool reported that “from 2015 to 2016, for the first time in history, Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.503 billion).”

#34. Self-enrichment education teachers

- 10-year employment change: 49.74%
- 2009 employment: 162,330
- 2018 employment: 243,080
- Annual median wage in 2018: $38,720

A 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 73% of surveyed American adults considered themselves lifelong learners and 25% had taken a course related to their personal interests or hobbies. Such curious minds were among the students seeking the tutelage of self-enrichment teachers for nonvocational or nonacademic subjects.

#33. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

- 10-year employment change: 49.91%
- 2009 employment: 133,070
- 2018 employment: 199,480
- Annual median wage in 2018: $97,370

The U.S. resident population grew from 306.77 million in 2009 to 327.17 million in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With an increased demand for health services like dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and therapy, it figures more professionals were needed to address health issues. Who trains them? Health specialties teachers.

#32. Nonfarm animal caretakers

- 10-year employment change: 50.42%
- 2009 employment: 132,860
- 2018 employment: 199,850
- Annual median wage in 2018: $23,760

While some animal caretakers are employed by animal shelters, zoos, and aquariums, others care for pets. Americans ante up in their dogs, cats, birds, fish, and even mice. U.S. pet owners spent a collective $72.56 billion on their pets in 2018, up from $45.53 billion in 2009 according to data from the American Pet Products Association. Some of that expenditure surely went to those who helped with tasks like feeding, grooming, boarding, and walking.


#31. Musical instrument repairers and tuners

- 10-year employment change: 51.43%
- 2009 employment: 5,580
- 2018 employment: 8,450
- Annual median wage in 2018: $36,330

An improving economy was music to the ears of retailers who sold musical instruments, according to IBISWorld, since those purchases are discretionary expenses. When percussion, stringed, reed, or wind instruments needed a tweak, or a piano sounded out of tune, musicians dialed up instrument repairers and tuners.

#30. Social work teachers, postsecondary

- 10-year employment change: 52.23%
- 2009 employment: 8,290
- 2018 employment: 12,620
- Annual median wage in 2018: $68,300

These instructors are the bright minds whose social work students also entered a growing field that offers help to a variety of populations. In 2016, the largest number of social workers had a speciality in helping children and families or students in schools, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That specialization is expected to grow, BLS reports, as are those related to health care as well as mental health and substance abuse.

#29. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

- 10-year employment change: 53.09%
- 2009 employment: 271,670
- 2018 employment: 415,890
- Annual median wage in 2018: $64,120

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) market index had quite a run over the decade. That has bode well for those who connect buyers and sellers in financial markets, including investment bankers and brokers, and their profession has grown accordingly.

#28. Epidemiologists

- 10-year employment change: 53.15%
- 2009 employment: 4,610
- 2018 employment: 7,060
- Annual median wage in 2018: $69,660

The workforce of these public health “disease detectives” who search for the cause of diseases and minimize harm during outbreaks had been in decline from 2004 to 2009 before going through a growth spurt in the past decade. This growth initially coincided with two factors: a strengthening economy and health-related initiatives supported by federal stimulus funding, according to the CDC.

#27. Riggers

- 10-year employment change: 57.55%
- 2009 employment: 13,310
- 2018 employment: 20,970
- Annual median wage in 2018: $50,370

An uptick in construction spending was a cause for celebration for riggers, who set up ropes, wires, and chains for construction projects. They also found work elsewhere, including arenas for live entertainment events.


#26. Social science research assistants

- 10-year employment change: 59.07%
- 2009 employment: 21,720
- 2018 employment: 34,550
- Annual median wage in 2018: $46,640

Social scientists like anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists rely on their assistants to help with laboratory analysis and conduct other social science research. Over the past decade, the rise of wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness monitors have created a bountiful harvest of data that assistants and their bosses can incorporate into their studies of human behavior.

#25. Food batchmakers

- 10-year employment change: 59.86%
- 2009 employment: 100,190
- 2018 employment: 160,160
- Annual median wage in 2018: $29,720

Food batchmakers operate equipment that blends ingredients to manufacture food products like candy and bakery items. Their mixers and other equipment stayed buzzing to help meet an increased demand for processed food. A 2015 study found that highly processed foods made up more than 60% of the calories in grocery purchases by Americans and a 2019 study by Northwestern University found that about 80% of Americans' total calorie consumption came from store-bought foods and beverages.

#24. Film and video editors

- 10-year employment change: 60.46%
- 2009 employment: 17,550
- 2018 employment: 28,160
- Annual median wage in 2018: $62,650

Film and video editors weren’t limited to working on motion pictures or television projects. New opportunities arose to create entertaining content for the internet and to work on video marketing efforts businesses could post on their websites and social media pages.

#23. Orthotists and prosthetists

- 10-year employment change: 61.43%
- 2009 employment: 5,470
- 2018 employment: 8,830
- Annual median wage in 2018: $69,120

Orthotists and prosthetists design and make medical supportive devices and fit patients for them. These workers helped soldiers who lost limbs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also served an aging population whose needs included orthotic devices to relieve foot pain.


#22. Makeup artists, theatrical and performance

- 10-year employment change: 62.69%
- 2009 employment: 1,930
- 2018 employment: 3,140
- Annual median wage in 2018: $64,250

The content explosion of the past decade produced such hits as the series “Game of Thrones” and the musical “Hamilton.” Makeup artists helped transform these actors and heighten their performances.

#21. Audio and video equipment technicians

- 10-year employment change: 64.84%
- 2009 employment: 46,070
- 2018 employment: 75,940
- Annual median wage in 2018: $43,770

Audio and video (AV) systems gained tremendous sophistication in recent years. With technicians at the controls, the equipment began playing a key role in the customer experience at stadiums, concerts, and conventions. Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, for instance, debuted a 5,100-square-foot scoreboard when it opened its doors in 2017.

#20. Aircraft cargo handling supervisors

- 10-year employment change: 66.11%
- 2009 employment: 5,370
- 2018 employment: 8,920
- Annual median wage in 2018: $48,610

Ground crews load and unload aircraft cargo and baggage, and supervisors manage their work. The number of items in need of lifting swelled as Americans increased their air travel and deepened their obsession with online shopping. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that on aggregate, its industry’s parcel volume more than doubled over the last decade.

#19. Logisticians

- 10-year employment change: 69.11%
- 2009 employment: 100,420
- 2018 employment: 169,820
- Annual median wage in 2018: $74,600

Logisticians focus on an organization’s supply chain. Several factors have increased the complexity involved in moving goods from suppliers to customers including globalization, additional sales channels, and customers’ expectations for speedy delivery.

#18. Occupational health and safety specialists

- 10-year employment change: 70.47%
- 2009 employment: 51,850
- 2018 employment: 88,390
- Annual median wage in 2018: $73,020

Ever-changing government regulations, a rising demand for healthy work environments, and company incentives to reduce workers’ compensation claims have boosted the need for these specialists. They help keep public and private workplaces safe and productive by ensuring all regulations are met (though they can’t help those who work from home).


#17. Operations research analysts

- 10-year employment change: 70.93%
- 2009 employment: 60,960
- 2018 employment: 104,200
- Annual median wage in 2018: $83,390

These analysts use advanced mathematical techniques like data mining, computer modeling, and statistical analysis to help organizations make decisions. Over the decade they gained even more sophisticated tools for their research. By working with these analysts, executives no longer need to rely on their gut alone to solve big problems like how to improve productivity and reduce costs. In fact, the BLS predicts that the workforce of operations research analysts is projected to grow 26% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.


#16. Chemical equipment operators and tenders

- 10-year employment change: 71.38%
- 2009 employment: 48,360
- 2018 employment: 82,880
- Annual median wage in 2018: $48,770

These folks operate equipment with enchanting names like devulcanizers and steam-jacketed kettles to control chemical changes or reactions when processing industrial or consumer products. The chemical industry serves a multitude of industries, including computing, construction, and telecommunications, and workers enjoyed the uptick in economic activity that followed the Great Recession.

#15. Astronomers

- 10-year employment change: 74.19%
- 2009 employment: 1,240
- 2018 employment: 2,160
- Annual median wage in 2018: $105,680

Astronomers continued to study astronomical phenomena during the decade to learn more about the universe and apply scientific knowledge to practical problems. New discoveries lay ahead as computing technologies improve and new telescopes like the LSST—which can image the entire visible sky every few nights—begin operations.

#14. Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

- 10-year employment change: 75.80%
- 2009 employment: 76,130
- 2018 employment: 133,840
- Annual median wage in 2018: $35,390

These workers set up, operate, or tendmore than one type of cutting or forming machine tool or robot. Many helped manufacture motor vehicle parts during a fruitful span; U.S. auto production grew from 5.6 million vehicles in 2009 to 11.3 million vehicles in 2017, according to the American Automotive Policy Council.


#13. Athletic trainers

- 10-year employment change: 76.21%
- 2009 employment: 15,260
- 2018 employment: 26,890
- Annual median wage in 2018: $47,510

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries. Many work for professional or collegiate teams, while others focus on protecting younger players. In 2015, 70% of U.S. public high schools had athletic training services compared to only 35% in 1994, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, though there’s still room to grow. Most are only on-call during games and competitions, leaving athletes at risk during practice time.


#12. Occupational health and safety technicians

- 10-year employment change: 78.95%
- 2009 employment: 10,070
- 2018 employment: 18,020
- Annual median wage in 2018: $50,780

These technicians collect data on work environments that occupational health while occupational safety specialists analyze—like air quality, noise levels, and the handling of hazardous waste—and implement programs to limit risks to workers. As with the specialists, technicians will benefit from the consumer demand and business imperative for safe and healthy workplaces.

#11. Concierges

- 10-year employment change: 83.15%
- 2009 employment: 20,470
- 2018 employment: 37,490
- Annual median wage in 2018: $30,400

Deloitte reports that from 2009 to 2017, U.S. hotel gross bookings grew from $116 billion to $185 billion. Hotel concierges likely benefited from the influx of patrons even as chains experimented with digital concierges. Meanwhile, busy bees needing help with personal services created opportunities for concierges employed by apartments and office buildings.

#10. Marriage and family therapists

- 10-year employment change: 83.44%
- 2009 employment: 26,450
- 2018 employment: 48,520
- Annual median wage in 2018: $50,090

These mental health professionals help patients manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy believes their field’s “prominence in the mental health field has increased because of its brief, solution-focused treatment, its family-centered approach, and its demonstrated effectiveness.”


#9. Statisticians

- 10-year employment change: 86.80%
- 2009 employment: 21,370
- 2018 employment: 39,920
- Annual median wage in 2018: $87,780

Statisticians use data to provide actionable information, and the amount of data that became available during the decade is mind-blowing. A 2016 IBM report said 90% of the data in the world at that point had been created in only the last two years. The data feast is expected to continue: The International Data Corporation predicts the amount of global data will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 by 2025.

#8. Massage therapists

- 10-year employment change: 88.05%
- 2009 employment: 55,920
- 2018 employment: 105,160
- Annual median wage in 2018: $41,420

Massages aren’t just luxuries for couples on romantic vacations. People also visit massage therapists hoping trained, talented hands can address medical needs like pain management, stress reduction, and injury rehabilitation—all issues an aging population struggles with.

#7. Residential advisors

- 10-year employment change: 89.21%
- 2009 employment: 57,280
- 2018 employment: 108,380
- Annual median wage in 2018: $27,860

Data from the National Center of Education Statistics found that college enrollment rate of 18- to 24-year-olds at four-year institutions ticked up slightly from 2010 (28%) to 2017 (30%). More resident advisors were needed to handle issues like counseling homesick students and mitigating roommate dysfunction. Others were employed elsewhere, such as by substance abuse facilities.

#6. Barbers

- 10-year employment change: 90.81%
- 2009 employment: 10,550
- 2018 employment: 20,130
- Annual median wage in 2018: $27,960

As the population grew, so did the number of heads in need of haircuts. Also, facial hair became trendy again, keeping barbershops brimming with men whose beards needed trimming.

#5. Manicurists and pedicurists

- 10-year employment change: 107.79%
- 2009 employment: 53,020
- 2018 employment: 110,170
- Annual median wage in 2018: $24,330

The number of nail salons doubled between 2006 and 2016, according to a UCLA Labor Center report, which cites U.S. Census figures. The center found industry innovations and a rise in immigrant entrepreneurship have made manis and pedis more affordable luxuries for low- and middle-income clients.

#4. Merchandise displayers and window trimmers

- 10-year employment change: 110.44%
- 2009 employment: 61,280
- 2018 employment: 128,960
- Annual median wage in 2018: $28,450

As retail stores competed for customers during the economic recovery, window and interior displays helped lure shoppers inside and engage them on the floor. A retail apocalypse has hit, however, and Coresights Research estimates that announced U.S. store closures could reach 12,000 by the end of 2019.

#3. Marine engineers and naval architects

- 10-year employment change: 115.37%
- 2009 employment: 5,270
- 2018 employment: 11,350
- Annual median wage in 2018: $92,560

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships including aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, and tankers. Among the fruits of their labor for the U.S. Navy were the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a littoral combat ship. Both large-scale projects were commissioned in 2017.


#2. Models

- 10-year employment change: 119.21%
- 2009 employment: 1,510
- 2018 employment: 3,310
- Annual median wage in 2018: $23,770

As marketing budgets stayed healthy, so did gigs for professional models who could help sell products. But models have a reason to frown: Employment of the talent is projected to decline 6% from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Virtual models like Imma pose a threat, and so do new methods marketers have to reach consumers, like social media and content marketing, which will reduce the need for large-scale ad campaigns featuring professional models.

#1. Financial examiners

- 10-year employment change: 124.91%
- 2009 employment: 26,050
- 2018 employment: 58,590
- Annual median wage in 2018: $80,180

Financial examiners help financial institutions comply with federal regulations. There were big, serious new rules to focus on in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, including those created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, that these financial examiners guided companies into implementing.

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