During periods of economic slowdown or recession, health care jobs have fared better than the rest of the economy. During the 2008 recession, health care jobs faced fewer layoffs compared to other jobs. Not all health care jobs are created equal, however. Over the next 10 years, some health care jobs will grow at faster rates than others. We’ve used the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (Updated September 2022) data to rank the fastest growing jobs in health care.
Over the next 10 years, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and Physician’s Assistants can expect the fastest growth rate of all health care jobs. The number of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwife and nurse practitioner jobs will increase by 40% by 2031. Physicians assistants, the second fastest growing health care job, will see a 20% increase by 2031. For both professions, the BLS cites the demographic and policy changes as reasons for growth. As the Baby Boom generation ages, they will face more health problems and require more health care. While previous generations relied on physicians for primary care, the United States faces a shortage in the number of physicians. As a result, policy makers are turning to APRNs and physician's assistants.
Home Health Aides and personal care aides can expect the largest total increase in jobs, nearly 1 million new jobs by 2031. Between 2021 and 2031, the BLS projects the number of home health aides and personal care aides to increase by 25%, an increase from 3,636,000 to 4,560,900. The BLS cites a growing aging population as well as a shift in long-term care settings as reasons for job growth. Long-term care is shifting away from institutional settings, such as nursing homes, to home or community-based settings.
The number of medical transcriptionist jobs will decrease by 7%: One job to not pursue is medical transcription—medical transcriptionist jobs are the only health care jobs the BLS projects to decrease over the next 10 years. Medical transcriptionists turn notes and documents for medical professionals into text, but much of their profession is being automated by technology
1. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs): Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
Median Annual Salary: $123,780
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 40%
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are nurses who have completed graduate-level training, either a masters or a doctorate. They have a greater scope of practice—the tasks that they’re allowed to perform—than registered nurses with bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. The United States faces a shortage of physicians, which has led policy makers to encourage a greater use of nurse practitioners and other APRNs. Not only are APRNs the fastest growing health care job, they are the fastest growing job overall in the United States. By 2031, the BLS predicts that there will be 157,100 new nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife and nurse practitioner (NP) jobs in the United States.
2. Physician Assistants
Median Annual Salary: $121,530
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 28%
Physician assistants (PA) have job responsibilities similar to those required of nurse practitioners. For example, they are responsible for diagnosing patients, ordering and interpreting tests, and prescribing medication or treatment. However, their education and training is different. Unlike NPs, PAs are trained using a medical model, whereas NPs are trained using a nursing model. PAs, like NPs, can expect a high growth rate because Americans face a shortage in medical personnel, especially physicians and surgeons. The BLS estimates number of physician assistants will increase from 139,100 to 177,500, an increase of 38,400 jobs.
3. Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Median Annual Salary: $29,430
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 25%
Home health aides provide services to patients at home. Their responsibilities include doing vital signs checkups, providing meals, maintaining schedules, arranging appointments with doctors, etc. They also perform personal care such as dressing, bathing and dishwashing. Demographic shifts are one reason for the rapid increase in the number of home health aide jobs. As the Baby Boom generation enters retirement and requires home care, they will need more home health aides. The BLS estimates the number of home health aides and personal care aides will increase from 3.6 million to 4.6 million by 2031.
3. Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
Median Annual Salary: $61,520
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 25%
Occupational therapy assistants and aides help occupational therapists treat patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Their main responsibilities are scheduling appointments, helping occupational therapists, preparing equipment, taking patients from one room to another and teaching how to use equipment. The demand for occupational therapy assistants comes on the tails of an increase in demand for occupational therapy. Occupational therapists play a role in prevention, especially with older populations. Policy makers therefore put more of an emphasis on occupational therapy. The BLS estimates the number of occupational therapy assistants and aides will increase by 11,500 jobs by 2031.
5. Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
Median Annual Salary: $49,180
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 24%
Physical therapy aides work with physical therapists. They look after the patients who are recovering from injuries by providing stretching, light exercise and massage. According to the BLS, demand for physical therapy will increase in response to the health needs of people entering older age groups, particularly the large baby-boom generation. This group is staying more active later in life than previous generations did. However, many in the Baby Boom generation also are entering the prime age for heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries, increasing the demand for physical therapy needed for rehabilitation.
6. Speech-Language Pathologists
Median Annual Salary: $79,060
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 21%
Speech-language pathologists can expect about 14,000 job openings each year over the next 10 years, according to the BLS. Typically, speech-language pathologists—also known as speech therapists—help assess and treat people who have speech or language disorders. As the baby-boom population grows older, they can experience strokes and other ailments that may require care from a speech-language pathologist. The number of speech-language pathologist jobs will increase by 34,000 jobs by 2031, from 159,800 to 193,900.
7. Massage Therapists
Median Annual Salary: $46,910
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 20%
Massage therapists treat problems like body pain and injuries, reduce stress and improve blood circulation. They do this by altering the patient's body muscles through massage—applying pressure and manipulating their clients’ muscles and joints. The BLS cites an increasing understanding and acceptance of massage as a means to treat pain and improve general well being. Between 2021 and 2031, they predict the number of massage therapist jobs will increase by 29,900 from 149,900 to 179,900.
7. Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Median Annual Salary: $36,850
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 20%
The BLS estimates that the number of veterinary technologist and technician jobs will increase by 20% over the next 10 years, from 122,800 to 146,900 jobs. Vet techs do laboratory work and provide imaging services for pets. The growth in vet tech jobs comes with an increase in the number of households with pets and, in turn, an increase in spending on pets.
Median Annual Salary: $100,370
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 19%
Veterinarians care for animals—they diagnose, research and treat medical issues experienced by pets and livestock. The BLS predicts that the number of veterinarians will increase from 86,300 to 103,100 between 2021 and 2023. They attribute increases in pet spending as well as an aging pet population as some of the reasons for employment growth for veterinarians.
9. Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
Median Annual Salary: $29,780
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 19%
Veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers help scientists and veterinarians care for animals. They often work in laboratories or animal hospitals. The BLS predicts the number of veterinary assistants and animal caretakers will increase by 20,000 jobs, an increase from 103,500 to 123,500. They attribute the growth to an increase in pet-related consumer spending.
10. Genetic Counselor
Median Annual Salary: $80,150
2021-2031 Growth Rate: 18%
Between 2021 and 2031, the BLS projects that the number of genetic counselors will increase by 18%. Unlike other health care professions, the increased number of jobs is not a result of a demographic shift. Instead, the BLS attributes the increase to technological innovations that require genetic counselors to conduct analyses. Although the percentage increase in jobs is large, the actual number of new jobs will be small: only 500 new jobs over the next decade.
Projected Jobs, 2031
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars
Orthotists and Prosthetists
Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Dietitians and Nutritionists
EMTs and Paramedics
Medical Records Specialists
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Radiologic and MRI Technologists
Surgical Assistants and Technologists
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians
Physicians and Surgeons
This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.