This month, students will return to campus with COVID-19 still raging and an unemployment rate of more than 11%, or, in other words, a job market where one in nine candidates cannot find work.
Pre-pandemic, the economy was booming, with historically low unemployment and all-time stock market highs. In the ensuing weeks, Wall Street suffered its worst single-day drop since 1987. While markets seem to be coming back, the competition for jobs will be tremendous over the next two to three years. It will be imperative to study areas that have labor market value in a post-COVID-19 world.
So, what careers offer the most opportunity? It’s obvious to start in health care, where the number of registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is expected to grow by 12% in the next decade, adding nearly 400,000 jobs. Nursing is an excellent career path, with a median salary of $35 per hour and a bachelor’s degree requirement. If you choose to pursue advanced degrees, physician assistants are going to be in high demand. An additional 37,000 PA jobs are expected by 2028, with an average salary of $54 per hour. Other health care careers that require a master’s degree — nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners — are expected to jump 26% by 2028. With a median salary of $56 per hour, these jobs provide a comfortable lifestyle.
These careers were in high demand before the pandemic and, with the advent of team-based health care and telemedicine, we can expect them to continue rising.
Another industry with terrific demand is logistics, including the supply chain. We should expect more medicine and other products to be manufactured and distributed in the United States.
Commercial drivers are in desperate demand, as nearly 100,000 new drivers will be needed by 2028; this career only requires a postsecondary certificate. At $45,000 per year, the median pay is a pathway to the middle class. With a bachelor’s degree in logistics, one can expect a salary of around $75,000 per year, with steady growth of 5% in available jobs over the next eight years. Americans will keep shopping online, and package distribution and delivery will become just as important to brick-and-mortar stores as the in-person experience.
What about considering a career in construction? According to the Association of General Contractors, 60% of the industry has at least six months’ backlog of projects, and more than 80% of contractors expect their revenues to increase or hold steady in the next year. Seventy-five percent are confident 2021 will bring significant new opportunities.
A labor shortage remains a concern, with 32% of contractors planning to hire more workers in the next six months. Considering the construction industry builds essential projects, from hospitals to shelters and testing facilities, skilled workers will remain critical to support and, ultimately, defeat the pandemic.
These are a few careers that college students may want to consider. There are others that likely will take off in the 2020s. IT administrators, artificial intelligence officers and digital marketing managers area among skilled positions that employers are expected to place a premium on.
There is a massive potential for a long-awaited infrastructure bill to repair our nation’s aged bridges, roads and transit. A $1 billion program could create up to 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, per Construct Connect, a massive contractor database.
– Ryan Blythe. the founder of Georgia Trade School.
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