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young professionals jobs 2021

For young professionals looking to kickstart their career, the current labor market offers many jobs, with companies taking steps to attract new workers into the fold. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset wanted to look at the past few years to see which types of jobs have big gains among young professionals between the ages of 25 and 34.

To do this, we compared the number of young people working various occupations in 2016 and 2020. For more details on how we found and analyzed our data, read the data and methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • It’s a bachelor’s market. Most of the jobs that saw the biggest growth among young professionals require a bachelor’s degree, but not any education beyond that. Only two jobs in the top 10 require a master’s degree: speech language pathologist and physician assistant.
  • STEM still is hot. Jobs involving STEM skills, which include science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are still hot among young people. Three jobs in the top 10 are directly related to STEM subjects. These are information security analysts, computer hardware engineers and computer and information systems managers. Other jobs near the top involving STEM skills are chemical engineers, computer systems analysts and aerospace engineers.

Image is a table by SmartAsset titled "Fastest-Growing Jobs for Young Professionals in the U.S."

1. Information Security Analysts

The job that has seen the most growth among young workers in the past four years is information security analysts, who work to protect information systems for companies. This job has grown by 153% among young workers since 2016, going from 15,000 employees to 38,000. The job has seen less growth generally, with total employment growing just 54% in that time.

2. Physician Assistants

Physician assistants work with doctors and other medical professionals to develop treatment plans for patients. It is one of two jobs in the top 10 of this list to require a master’s degree. The job has grown by 71% among young professions, going from 35,000 to 60,000. Furthermore, it is the job in the top 10 where young workers make up the biggest portion of the workforce, 43%.

3. Computer Hardware Engineers

In 2016, 17,000 young professionals worked as computer hardware engineers. By 2020 that had grown by 59% to 89,000. Overall, the occupation grew by just 29%, so it’s clear that young workers make up a big part of it.

4. Speech-Language Pathologists

This occupation saw a 47% increase in young professionals among its ranks between 2016 and 2020, which is a jump from 45,000 employees to 66,000 employees. The portion of the total profession made up of young people also jumped, from 28% to 34%.

5. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

In 2016 there were 112,000 young people working in the market research field. By 2020, that number had grown by 44% to 161,000. This tracks with the overall growth of workers in the field, which saw an increase of 45%.

6. Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

There has been a 42% increase in the number of young people working in corrections industry jobs between 2016 and 2020, which has jumped from 19,000 to 27,000. Young workers still make up a relatively small percentage of the total employment in the job, though (just 26%) but that could change soon, as the overall growth of the role was only 3%.

7. Public Relations Specialists

The number of young people working as public relations pros went from 32,000 in 2016 to 45,000 in 2020, a 41% leap. The industry overall grew by 20%.

8. Human Resources Managers

HR pros are responsible for employee relations at companies, and it is the only job in the top 10 of this study where there was not positive growth in terms of overall employment (remaining flat between 2016 and 2020). The number of young people working in these roles grew 39% from 44,000 to 61,000.

9. Computer and Information Systems Managers

This job has grown by 35% among young professionals since 2016, jumping from 95,000 employees to 128,000. That said, only 17% of workers in the occupation are between 25 and 34, the lowest percentage in the top 10 of this study.

10. Purchasing Managers

Purchasing managers round out our top 10, with a growth of 34% (jumping from 29,000 workers to 39,000) among young professionals between 2016 and 2020. That’s a significantly faster growth than the job overall, which saw only a 4% increase in jobs.

Data and Methodology

To find the fastest-growing jobs for young professionals, SmartAsset looked at employment data from 2016 and compared it to that from 2020. 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 2016. 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 2016 to 2020.

All data, including earnings data, comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment data is reported to the nearest thousand and growth is estimated based on that reporting.

Financial Planning Tips for Young Professionals

  • Even if you’re in your first job, it is not too early to get help managing your finances. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in 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.
  • Retirement may seem a long way away, but if you have access to a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), start using it right away — including taking advantage of any employer match available to you.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo Credit: © iStock/Antonio_Diaz

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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