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May 12, 2021

The 5 fastest-growing health care jobs, according to the New York Times

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    Health care employment is projected to grow by about 2.4 million jobs between 2019 and 2029, according to the Labor Department, the New York Times reports—and five jobs in particular are poised for substantial growth.

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    For the list of in-demand health care jobs, the Times assessed data from the Labor Department, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and McKinsey & Company. The Times also incorporated findings from LinkedIn's recently published list of 15 "Jobs on the Rise," for which researchers assessed more than 15,000 job titles to identify the positions that have grown between 2019 and 2020. 

    According to the Labor Department, health care employment is projected to grow by about 15% between 2019 and 2029, far more quickly than the average for jobs overall. Much of that growth, according to BLS, is spurred by aging baby boomers, longer life spans, and a continued increase in the number of patients with chronic conditions.

    Amid that growth, here are the five jobs projected to grow substantially in the coming years:

    1. Nurse practitioners and registered nurses

      According to data from the Labor Department, overall employment growth for NPs is expected to surpass 50% between 2019 and 2029, driven primarily by an increased focus on preventive care and growing demand for care among aging populations.

      Relatedly, BLS projects that RNs—a distinct field of nursing, with different state licensure and education requirements—will also grow between 2019 and 2029, with roughly 11 million additional positions needed during that time frame to avoid a shortage.

      According to BLS, the average salary for RNs and NPs as of May 2020 was $75,330 and $111,680, respectively.

    2. Home health and personal care aides

      The Times reports that, based on Labor Department data, overall employment for home health and personal care aides is projected to increase by 34% between 2019 and 2029, driven primarily by a growing elderly population.

      Overall, according to the Labor Department, home health and personal care aides comprise the sixth-fastest growing occupation in the United States. However, pay remains low, at about $25,280 per year, the Times reports.

    3. Mental health specialists

      Another quickly growing field, according to Labor Department data, are counselors for substance misuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health care, projected to grow by 25% from 2019 to 2029.

      Citing LinkedIn data, the Times reports that mental health professionals are seeing job growth of nearly 24% year-over-year, with the fastest-growing positions being behavior therapists, mental health technicians, and psychotherapists.

      Salaries vary considerably in this field, the Times reports, with data indicating mental health counselors earn anywhere from $31,000 to $64,000 per year, and BLS data putting the median annual salary for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors at about $47,660 in May 2020.

    4. Massage therapists

      According to the Labor Department, massage therapist employment is anticipated to increased by 21% from 2019 to 2029, driven by a better understanding of the health benefits of massage therapy and the integration of this form of therapy into care plans. Overall, based on BLS data, the median annual salary for a massage therapist in May 2020 was $43,620.

    5. Respiratory therapists

      Employment for respiratory therapists—who treat patients with heart and lung issues, such as asthma, pneumonia, sleep apnea, and more—is projected to increased by 19% from 2019 to 2029, according to BLS data. The median salary for this position in May 2020 was $62,810 (Hannon, New York Times, 4/14).

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