Fastest-growing jobs in every state
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” That question often elicits charming responses from children: Maybe they love the family dog so much that they want to become a veterinarian, or have dreams of becoming a pop star just like their favorite singer. Few consider the practicality of their choice until later on. Parents and guidance counselors might urge kids to think about other factors, like the typical salary and the health of the industry. A high-paying career with lots of jobs available is a much safer bet than a long-shot career with dubious employment prospects.
One way to tell whether you’ll be able to find a job in your chosen career: Look at the growth rate for that industry in your area. To get a sense of which jobs are on the rise across the country, Stacker compiled a list of the fastest-growing jobs in each state, using data released in 2019 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics. The job with the highest employment growth rate from 2014 to 2018 was chosen for each state. Any vague groupings of jobs or jobs that had "all other" in the name were omitted from the list, as they do not reflect an accurate portrayal of one specific occupation.
To normalize differences in states with higher employed populations, jobs in states with less than 1 million people employed in total had to meet a minimum threshold of 500 workers per job in 2014; states that with over 1 million people employed had to meet a minimum threshold of 1,000 workers per job in 2014. Seven jobs on this list appeared twice and one job appeared three times.
Whether you’re actively seeking a new job or just curious about how the job market in your state is evolving, it’s undoubtedly an interesting read. Read on to find out which career path is growing the fastest in your state and discover which fast-growing job has a median salary of more than $100,000 in one state.
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Alabama: Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
- 2014 employment: 1,600 (2014–2018 growth rate: 174.4%)
- 2017 employment: 3,960 (2017–2018 growth rate: 10.9%)
- 2018 employment: 4,390 (Median salary: $30,550)
- Total employment in state: 1,857,530
This highly technical job requires the operation of specialized machinery in an industrial setting to make thermoplastic parts or other products. Nationwide, most of these workers produce plastic products, motor vehicle parts, or molded metals, and a sizeable percentage are actually employed by temporary staffing agencies.
Alaska: Child, family, and school social workers
- 2014 employment: 1,020 (2014–2018 growth rate: 45.1%)
- 2017 employment: 1,570 (2017–2018 growth rate: -5.7%)
- 2018 employment: 1,480 (Median salary: $47,110)
- Total employment in state: 324,970
Alaska has more than 3,000 children in foster care, but the state lacks the number of social workers needed to handle the caseload. That deficit has led to emotional burnout among employees of the Department of Child Protective Services. Despite the high growth of this field, the median salary of social workers is still well below the state average of $58,710.
Arizona: Cooks, short order
- 2014 employment: 1,200 (2014–2018 growth rate: 205.8%)
- 2017 employment: 1,540 (2017–2018 growth rate: 138.3%)
- 2018 employment: 3,670 (Median salary: $24,310)
- Total employment in state: 2,526,990
As Arizona cities like Phoenix develop a reputation for the burgeoning dining scene, cooking jobs appear to be growing. Despite the notoriously low wages, long hours, and grueling working conditions that have become notorious in the restaurant industry, the ranks of short-order cooks are swelling in Arizona.
Arkansas: Graduate teaching assistants
- 2014 employment: 1,170 (2014–2018 growth rate: 170.1%)
- 2017 employment: 3,140 (2017–2018 growth rate: 0.6%)
- 2018 employment: 3,160 (Median salary: $19,330)
- Total employment in state: 1,158,790
It’s no secret that academia is a difficult field, thanks to demanding schedules, high competition, and relatively low wages. However, 2019 saw a wave of graduate student workers unionizing to demand better treatment from their universities, and UC Berkeley student workers recently won a lawsuit arguing the university cut their hours to avoid paying tuition remission.
California: Personal care aides
- 2014 employment: 99,690 (2014–2018 growth rate: 460.1%)
- 2017 employment: 520,660 (2017–2018 growth rate: 7.2%)
- 2018 employment: 558,350 (Median salary: $24,550)
- Total employment in state: 15,119,730
The duties of a personal care aide range widely, from working with elderly patients in a retirement home to helping someone with a disability conquer household chores. As the baby boomer generation ages, the demand for home caregiver jobs is exploding. A 2019 study by PHI found that around 4.7 million home care jobs will need to be filled between 2018 and 2028. Assisted living positions are expected to grow by 1.2 million jobs in the next decade.
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Colorado: Information security analysts
- 2014 employment: 1,480 (2014–2018 growth rate: 142.6%)
- 2017 employment: 2,870 (2017–2018 growth rate: 25.1%)
- 2018 employment: 3,590 (Median salary: $98,090)
- Total employment in state: 2,367,780
Keeping their employer’s computer network and systems secure is the name of the game for information security analysts. Nationwide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this job will grow 32% through 2028, making the outlook even more attractive to prospective IT professionals.
Connecticut: Manicurists and pedicurists
- 2014 employment: 1,760 (2014–2018 growth rate: 105.1%)
- 2017 employment: 3,110 (2017–2018 growth rate: 16.1%)
- 2018 employment: 3,610 (Median salary: $24,230)
- Total employment in state: 1,646,510
Although the massive growth of manicurist and pedicurist jobs might initially seem like good news, some economists caution that “wealth work”—service jobs that cater to more affluent customers—could only deepen income inequality. These jobs are disproportionately filled by women, immigrants, and less-skilled employees.
Delaware: Personal care aides
- 2014 employment: 1,140 (2014–2018 growth rate: 332.5%)
- 2017 employment: 5,350 (2017–2018 growth rate: -7.9%)
- 2018 employment: 4,930 (Median salary: $23,220)
- Total employment in state: 424,330
The job market for personal care aides isn’t only growing in Delaware and California: According to an analysis by CareerBuilder, personal care aides were among the quickest-growing jobs in 49 of 50 states. However, personal care aides also make some of the lowest wages nationwide.
Florida: Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels
- 2014 employment: 1,340 (2014–2018 growth rate: 351.5%)
- 2017 employment: 5,650 (2017–2018 growth rate: 7.1%)
- 2018 employment: 6,050 (Median salary: $62,080)
- Total employment in state: 7,665,280
Florida is the #1 state in the nation in the recreational boating economy: That industry makes up $23.3 billion of the Sunshine State’s overall economy. As sales of freshwater fishing boats, personal watercraft, pontoon boats, wake sport boats, and cruisers are all increasing year over year, this industry will likely continue to grow.
Georgia: Medical secretaries
- 2014 employment: 7,730 (2014–2018 growth rate: 170.2%)
- 2017 employment: 17,680 (2017–2018 growth rate: 18.2%)
- 2018 employment: 20,890 (Median salary: $34,440)
- Total employment in state: 3,983,250
Doctor’s offices and hospitals require a vast amount of organization to function effectively—although patients rarely ever see that side of the operation. Medical secretaries play a key role in that effort, as they’re the ones who schedule appointments, bill patients, record medical charts, and compile reports behind the scenes. The medical industry also isn’t going anywhere, which makes this job more recession-proof than a general secretary position.
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