It should come as no surprise that a computer-related profession is the fastest-growing occupation among people ages 25 to 34. However, other jobs that have seen the significant growth among young workers in recent years aren’t limited to computers and technology. Instead, they run the gamut from health care workers to pilots and aviation engineers, and even writers and authors.
To find the occupations that are growing fastest among young professionals, we compared the number of young people (ages 25-34) working various jobs in 2017 to 2021. We ranked jobs according to the largest four-year percentage growth in young workers. For more details on how we found and analyzed our data, read the data and methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s second annual study on the fastest-growing jobs for young professionals. Read the 2021 version here.
- Master’s degrees are needed for three out of the 10 fast-growing jobs. While the majority of the professions in our top 10 only require a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree is needed to become an occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist and nurse practitioner, which rank as the second-, third- and seventh-fastest-growing jobs among workers 25 to 34 years old.
- Three jobs are losing popularity among young workers, fast. Three occupations saw drops of over 50% in the number of young professionals between 2017 and 2021: tax examiners/collectors and revenue agents (-50%), statisticians (-52%) and administrative service managers (-64%).
- Registered nurse is the job with the most young workers. More young professionals work as registered nurses than any other occupation we considered for our study. In 2021, there were 824,000 people between 25 to 34 years old working as registered nurses. That’s about 26% of all registered nurses. The second-most popular profession among young workers in terms of gross numbers? Elementary and middle school teachers (757,000 workers ages 25 to 34).
1. Computer Hardware Engineers
No occupation saw more growth among young professionals between 2017 and 2021 than computer hardware engineers, who research, develop and test computer systems and components. While there were 18,000 computer hardware engineers between 25 and 34 years old in 2017, that number grew 100% over the next four years and reached 36,000 by 2021. Overall, the field expanded by 10% during that same period.
2. Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. There were 59% more young professionals working as occupational therapists in 2021 than there were in 2017, the second-largest increase across our study. While 34,000 occupational therapists were between 25 and 34 years old in 2017, that number grew to 54,000 by 2021. In general, occupational therapy experienced an 11% growth in total employment during the same four-year stretch.
3. Speech-Language Pathologists
Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults. The occupation grew by 51% among young professionals between 2017 and 2021, going from 43,000 to 65,000. Overall, the field saw a 33% increase in total employment during the same four-year stretch.
4. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
In 2017, about 19,000 young professionals worked as aircraft pilots and flight engineers. By 2021, that number had increased 47% to 28,000. The occupation as a whole saw a 32% increase in total employment.
5. Credit Counselors and Loan Officers
While credit counselors advise and educate individuals or organizations on acquiring and managing debt, loan officers evaluate and recommend the approval of loan applications. There was a 42% increase in the number of young professionals employed as credit counselors and loan officers between 2017 and 2021, going from 88,000 to 125,000. Meanwhile, the total number of people employed as credit counselors and loan officers increased 25% in that time.
6. Purchasing Managers
Purchasing managers oversee the buying of products and services for organizations. In 2017, there were 41,000 purchasing managers between 25 and 34 years old. However, that number swelled to 57,000 over the next four years, an increase of 39%. Overall, the field had just a 13% increase in total employment between 2017 and 2021.
7. Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illness, either independently or as part of a health care team. The total number of nurse practitioners increased 35% between 2017 and 2021, going from 175,000 to 237,000. Meanwhile, there were 11,000 more young professionals working as nurse practitioners in 2021, a 31% increase from 2017.
8. Operations Research Analysts
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help solve complex problems. While the field experienced a 4% decline in total employment between 2017 and 2021, the number of young professionals working as operations research analysts increased 30% in that time, climbing from 27,000 to 35,000.
9. Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Electrical and electronics engineers design, test and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment. Between 2017 and 2021, the occupation saw an influx of 17,000 people ages 25 to 34, a 27% increase. Overall, the profession recorded a 5% increase in total employment during that four-year span.
10. Writers and Authors
About 15,000 or 26% more young professionals were working as writers and authors in 2021 than four years earlier. The total number of people working as writers and authors also increased between 2017 and 2021, growing by 15%.
Data and Methodology
To find the fastest-growing jobs for young professionals, SmartAsset looked at employment data from 2017 and 2021. We considered only occupations that require a bachelor’s or advanced degree and filtered out any occupation that employed fewer than 15,000 people between the ages of 25 and 34 in 2017. We also filtered out any occupation with “other” and “miscellaneous” in the title due to lack of specificity. To rank the occupations, we looked at the percentage change in young professionals employed in each occupation from 2017 to 2021.
All data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment data is reported to the nearest thousand and growth is estimated based on that reporting.
Personal Finance Tips for Young Professionals
- Get professional advice. As a young professional, you may want to work with a financial advisor to get help with setting goals, planning for retirement or saving for your first home. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Start saving early. The earlier you start saving for a financial goal, the better. That’s especially true for money that’s invested in the stock market. The longer money remains invested, the more compound interest can work in your favor. Use our investment and retirement calculators to see how saving early and often can add up over time.
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