When you imagine your ideal job, what do you see? Maybe you envision conquering challenging software problems at a trendy tech firm full of fun perks. Or perhaps you dream of watching your architectural sketches become sweeping structures of steel, concrete and glass.
The ideal job might differ from person to person, but most can agree on a few key characteristics: it should offer good pay, have potential for growth in its field and be in demand by employers. Meanwhile, employers also need to keep an eye on job trends to better inform their hiring practices.
With that in mind, we compiled our lists of the best jobs of 2020, defining “best” as job titles with the highest number of postings per one million jobs and offering the highest pay (using a baseline salary of $75,000), combined with consistent growth in share of postings from 2016-2019.
Tech jobs are abundant, but other industries make appearances
The best jobs of 2020 span a range of industries: from tech to business to health care and architecture. Interestingly, the list opens and closes with two very different “architect” roles: “Software Architect” ranks first on our list, while the traditional “Architect” position comes in at No. 25.
A Software Architect acts as a designer and developer, communicating and working with clients, businesses and software engineers to design, execute and revise software solutions. Following this, at No. 2 on our list, is Full Stack Developer: a position coveted for the broad coding skill set and knowledge of all stages of software development its hires bring.
Seven of the top 10 jobs on the list are also tech roles, including Development Operations Engineer (No. 5), Electrical Engineer (No. 6), Java Developer (No. 7), Data Scientist (No. 8) and IT Security Specialist (No. 9).
Job trends often mirror larger economic trends, and the strong showing from information technology (IT) jobs reflects market growth: As our world becomes increasingly digital-dependent, these roles are increasingly in-demand across industries. What’s more, while demand is growing, tech jobs are also getting harder to fill, due to the strong labor market and a shortage of foreign workers on limited visa programs. In response, tech companies are beginning to hire non-traditional candidates, such as those with liberal arts degrees or no degree at all.
Beyond tech jobs, we see Real Estate Agent ranking third on the list, along with quite a few health care roles, such as Dentist (No. 4); Veterinarian (No. 14); Internal Medicine Physician (No. 22); and Primary Care Physician (No. 24). Professional and business services roles also have a good showing, evidenced by the appearance of Sales Director (No. 10); Finance Manager (No. 13); and Human Resources (HR) Business Partner (No. 21) on the list.
Health care and professional services are other booming sectors. In fact, while the health care industry is the largest employer in the U.S., it’s growing faster than demand can keep up, with many fields facing a shortage of qualified workers. Meanwhile, the professional and business services industry has been steadily adding positions since the early 1990s, partially due to expansions in temporary and employment services — two largely recession-proof fields.
When accounting for salary, healthcare leads the pack
We were curious to see what would happen if we only ranked the jobs on this list by their highest average base salary. Would the same jobs come out on top — or would things look a little different?
We find that on this list, the top three jobs with the highest salaries belong to health care roles: “Dentist” places first, with an average salary of $184,586, followed by Internal Medicine Physician in second and Primary Care Physician in third. Healthcare roles are highly specialized and require many years of school in addition to an undergraduate degree, so it makes sense these roles have the highest average salaries. Tech roles still appear within the top five jobs by average salary, with Software Architect appearing fourth on this list and Data Engineer in fifth place. This isn’t surprising either, as the tech industry is growing rapidly and large tech companies in particular are influencing all areas of our lives.
Tech (and real estate) roles see highest growth in job postings
We also wanted to see which jobs would rank highest if we only looked at their percentage growth in job postings from 2016 to 2019. Could this give us a glimpse into the future of work?
When we rank it this way, Full Stack Developer comes in first, with a whopping 162% growth in the number of job postings over the last three years. As every part of life becomes more technologically focused, it’s unsurprising that the top five roles are all tech positions, save for Real Estate Agent — which places second, with a 157% growth in job postings over the last three years.
The housing market has steadily grown stronger since the housing crisis of 2008, and rising demand among millennials, a low unemployment rate and a strong economy has resulted in a seller’s market, driving the need for more agents. It doesn’t hurt that selling real estate, for many people, meets the criteria of a perfect job: flexible hours, limited training for licensure and the opportunity for huge commissions.
To sum it up…
For job seekers with the skills and experience that align to the jobs on this list, strongly consider these roles when evaluating your career prospects. However, those who lack the background shouldn’t despair. Consider seeking training and development for in-demand, growing and well-paid roles, especially in the tech sector.
If you’re an employer with these job openings, you will need to distinguish yourself to attract top talent, as these roles are popular and growing. Besides offering a high salary, be sure to also include details in your job descriptions that make you stand out to applicants, such as company benefits and perks.