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fastest-growing job in each state

There are lots of jobs available in America right now. Unemployment is low, and many companies are looking to hire good people. Where, though, are the sectors that are growing and looking for more people to fill companies’ ranks? And how does the area of the country you live in impact what occupations you should explore if you’re considering changing careers or finding a new job that can better help you build your savings? For the third year in a row, SmartAsset has found the fastest-growing job in each state, so you can know what jobs are hot in your home state, or where you might need to move if you have a particular set of skills.

To look at this issue, we considered employment trends in all 50 states. We looked at the five-year percent change in employees in every occupation listed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2014 to 2018. For a full explanation of our data sources and how we put them together to come up with our final rankings, see the Data and Methodology section below.

This 2019 version is SmartAsset’s third time conducting this study. Check out the 2018 version here.

Key Findings

  • Get producing. The fastest-growing occupations in seven states were production occupations. The most impressive growth in this job category occurred in Arizona. From 2014 to 2018, the number of metal and plastic machine tool setters, operators and tenders in Arizona grew by 503%.
  • Georgia on my mind. Among the fastest-growing jobs in each state, the job with the highest percentage increase in employment is audio-visual and multimedia collection specialists in Georgia. That job in the Peach State has grown in employment numbers by about 686% from 2014 to 2018. Average earnings for these workers have increased by a little more than 1% in that period, however, from $56,990 to $57,790.
  • New top jobs nationwide. Photovoltaic installer is no longer the fastest-growing job nationwide. After ranking on top for the past two years, it falls to third this year. Animal breeder now ranks first, with a 95% increase in workers. There were 2,160 animal breeders nationwide in 2018, up from 1,110 in 2014. The second-fastest-growing job nationwide, personal care aide, also saw the largest total increase in workers. The number of personal care aides grew by 954,950 workers over the five-year period we analyzed, but it only ranks as the fastest-growing job in one state: California.

Production Occupations

Production occupations are this study’s fastest-growing occupations in the highest number of states – seven, including Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Wisconsin. This field encompassed several individual jobs. In Alabama, it meant jobs in molding, coremaking and casting machine setters, operators and tenders (in both plastic and metal). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there were 4,390 people working in this occupation in 2018, up approximately 174% from 1,600 people in 2014. Average earnings for a worker in this job were $33,950 in 2018, an increase of about 13% from $30,010 in 2014. In Indiana, it was engine and other machine assemblers, a job that saw around a 127% increase in employment.

Education, Training and Library Occupations

Education, training and library occupations were the fastest-growing occupations in five states. All of these jobs involve teaching and training others to teach and navigate resources. Some of the specific jobs include graduate teaching assistants in Idaho with a 338% increase in employment, adult and secondary education literacy teachers in Iowa with a 220% increase in employment and postsecondary physics teachers in Kansas with a 175% increase in employment. Graduate teaching assistants in Idaho were taking home average earnings of $29,730 in 2018, up by almost 70% from $17,530 in 2014. Literacy instructors in Iowa earned an average of $54,210 in 2018, which was an increase of about 28% from $42,350 in 2014. And postsecondary physics teachers in Kansas earned an average of $95,460 in 2018, up about 48% from their 2014 average earnings of $64,490. For those who are in the teaching profession or who would like to be, it could be helpful to check out the best places for teachers.

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

Another big growth area is computer and mathematical occupations. In Arkansas, statisticians have seen an approximately 171% growth in employment, and their average earnings increased by almost 39% between 2014 and 2018, from $55,180 to $76,630. In Colorado, meanwhile, employment for computer and information research scientists has grown by about 182%, and the average worker in this job earned $121,180 in 2018. Other jobs in this category include information security analysts – an occupation whose employment numbers grew by about 141% in Delaware – and software developers – an occupation whose employment numbers grew by about 187% in South Dakota. For those in this field or looking to enter this sector, be sure to check out the best cities for tech jobs.

Other Jobs

There are a number of other jobs where states have seen big growth in the past few years. In California, the market for personal care aides has grown by more than 450%. Florida has seen the employment of conservation scientists increase by about 386%, from an estimated 210 people working in this occupation in 2014 to more than 1,000 people working in the occupation in 2018. Average earnings for workers in that job, however, decreased by about 48%, from $78,210 in 2014 to $40,620 in 2018. Traffic technicians is the growth leader in Massachusetts, seeing an increase of about 460%, from an estimated 50 people working in the occupation in 2014 to about 280 people working in this job in 2018. Other interesting jobs to see growth include:

  • Epidemiologists in Minnesota, up more than 180%, 2014 – 2018
  • Real estate brokers in Missouri, up more than 300%, 2014 – 2018
  • Aerospace engineers in New Jersey, up more than 380%, 2014 – 2018

Wyoming saw the biggest growth in the number of people employed as insurance claims and policy processing clerks, which grew by about 146% over the time period we analyzed. Average earnings for an employee in that job grew only by about 6% between 2014 and 2018.

Data and Methodology

To find the fastest-growing occupation for each state and Washington, D.C., we looked at employment data from 2014 and compared it to 2018. We filtered out any occupation for which the standard error for the estimated number of people employed in the occupation was greater than 20. We also filtered out any occupation with “other” in the title. To rank the occupations, we considered the percentage change in people employed in each occupation from 2014 to 2018.

All data, including earnings data, comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tips for Retirement

  • Savvy saving. No matter what industry you work in, you’ll need to save for retirement. Maybe an expert can help you get your portfolio in better shape. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Take advantage of employer matches. If your job offers a 401(k) or similar workplace savings plan, make sure to take advantage of it. You can see what your 401(k) account might look like when you retire with our free calculator.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/artisteer

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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