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The Most In-Demand Jobs in an Uncertain Economy

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In a volatile economy, it pays to have a high-demand job.

While interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve have managed to cool inflation without causing widespread unemployment so far, there’s still no guarantee that we’ll avoid a recession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes data on the most in-demand jobs in terms of employment numbers and projected growth rates. In this study, we examined employment and job openings trends from BLS to find the most in-demand jobs in 2023 for long-term job security — even in a tough economy.

Key Findings

  • The most in-demand jobs in 2023 with the highest employment are in health care, finance, technology, and the service industry. 
  • Of these jobs, the highest-paying are mostly tech and finance roles that require specialized skills and a bachelor’s or more advanced degree. 
  • The highest paying of the in-demand tech jobs are computer and information systems managers, software developers, and information security analysts. 
  • The most in-demand jobs with the highest satisfaction rate are animal caretakers, management analysts, and medical and health services managers.

The Most In-Demand Jobs

BLS maintains a database of over 800 jobs in its Occupation Finder. We consulted its Employment Projections database to find the projected growth rate and projected number of new positions between 2022 and 2032 in each occupation. 

Then, we filtered for jobs projected to have a much faster than average growth rate (defined at 10.5% or above) and to add 50,000 or more new jobs between 2022 and 2032. We ended up with a list of 18 high-demand jobs.

The most in-demand jobs — defined as the jobs with the highest employment in 2022 that are projected to grow the most by 2032 — are a mix of high-paying health care, tech, and finance jobs, as well as lower-paying service jobs:

The Most In-Demand High-Paying Jobs

To identify the most in-demand jobs with the most earning potential, we reordered our original list of 18 occupations according to BLS wage data for median annual wages. These five professions emerged as the most financially lucrative: 

  • Computer and information systems managers: $164,070
  • Financial managers: $139,790
  • Software developers: $127,260
  • Nurse practitioners: $121,610
  • Information security analysts: $112,000

For reference, the U.S. median annual earnings was $56,929 in 2022, according to Census Bureau data.

>>MORE: See the highest-paying jobs in the U.S.

The Most In-Demand Jobs With the Highest Satisfaction Rate

Of course, earning potential is just one way to determine whether a job is rewarding. For a different vantage point, we applied job satisfaction data from the BLS 2018 National Longitudinal Survey to our initial ranking. 

The survey asked respondents to rate their job dissatisfaction on a scale from one to four, with one defined as “like it very much” and four defined as “dislike it very much.” We averaged answers for each job across respondents. The following professions rate as the most in-demand jobs with the lowest employee dissatisfaction rate: 

  • Animal caretakers: 1.45
  • Management analysts:1.51
  • Medical and health services managers: 1.59
  • Computer and information systems managers: 1.63
  • Medical assistants: 1.64

Of high-demand jobs on our initial list that had enough survey responses for an average job dissatisfaction score, these positions had the highest job dissatisfaction, ranked in order from most dissatisfaction to least:

  • Industrial machinery mechanics: 2.3
  • Software developers: 1.97
  • Computer systems analysts: 1.91
  • Light truck drivers: 1.85
  • Financial managers: 1.81

The average job dissatisfaction score across all respondents in the survey was 1.69. Note: Not every job had a reported job dissatisfaction score from the 2018 survey. We filtered out job dissatisfaction scores where fewer than ten survey respondents gave a rating.

The Most In-Demand Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

Finally, we referenced the entry-level education requirements from BLS’s Occupation Finder to identify the most in-demand jobs that don’t require a college degree. Here are the highest-paying, along with median annual wages for each:

  • Industrial machinery mechanics: $59,830
  • Light truck drivers: $40,410
  • Medical assistants: $38,270
  • Home health and personal care aides: $30,180
  • Animal caretakers: $29,530

>>MORE: 15 Surprising Jobs You Can Get Without a College Degree

Will a Tough Labor Market Impact the Most In-Demand Jobs?

While the BLS projections cover eight years or so, layoffs, particularly in the tech industry, have recently generated headlines. 

Sam Kuhn, economic data analyst at Appcast, attributes tech companies’ short-term restructuring in part to the effect of interest rate increases on tech company valuations.

But “while the current job market for tech jobs may seem gloomy, I would focus on long vs. short trends in the labor market and try to make a more data-driven choice about your future career,” says Kuhn. 

For instance, despite layoffs, the information industry gained 435,000 jobs between April 2020 and March 2023, Kuhn notes. 

“The long term trend is that labor demand for tech skills like programming, math, and statistics will only grow,” he adds. “The current job market may seem tumultuous, but the long-term outcomes for many of these careers seem promising.”

>>MORE: The Most Important Skills for a Job in Tech

How to Get an In-Demand Job in a Tough Market

Students searching for in-demand jobs in tech should consider broadening their search beyond employers like Google and Meta. Smaller companies are still interested in hiring top tech talent, Kuhn says.

You can also consider working in a technical role at a non-tech company. 

“Whether you go into the tech industry is not as important as the need to invest in tech skills, which are going to be more widely used across all industries,” says Liz Wilke, principal economist at Gusto.

Graduating students looking to work in tech should network to make connections at the companies where they’d like to work, she advises. Also, post projects on GitHub to showcase your skills to potential employers, Wilke says.

Take classes on machine learning and AI, core programming languages, and newer languages while in school, says Chris Murdock, co-founder and chief sourcing officer at IQTalent.

“Once you’re employed, always stay up to date on the new languages and trends,” he says.

Furthering your studies could bolster your chances in the labor market, given many in-demand jobs require a bachelor’s or advanced degree. However, nothing is guaranteed, Kuhn says.

“Think deeply about [your] set of skills and how those match against a future career,” Kuhn says. “If you are interested in pursuing a career in data science for example, a master’s or [doctorate] is helpful, but it’s not required.” 

Online learning opportunities can be a way to gain new skills without taking on debt.

You can also pursue freelance work to boost your personal portfolio and secure a full-time role, Wilke says.

Finding the Right Job for You

Labor market trends can help you assess the level of job security that different careers could afford, but they’re just one data point among many when choosing a career.

“While forecasts can be valuable, the choice of one’s career is highly personal and is the result of hard work and determination,” says Kuhn. “Ultimately making a decision is not just about the labor market, but about striving to achieve personal goals that match a career.” 

If you’re not interested in a fast-growing, in-demand industry, “look to [invest] in cross-industry skills that will allow [you] to specialize in a function (marketer, programmer, communications/PR, etc.) rather than an industry,” Wilke says. 

Building transferable job skills can also help you change industries if you desire or the macroenvironment changes.

How to Use Forage to Land an In-Demand Job in 2023

An increasing number of college students are majoring in business, health, and computer science fields, as we explored in a previous study. These majors align with the fields of some of the most in-demand jobs, like software developers, management analysts, medical assistants, financial managers, medical and health services managers, and nurse practitioners.

Forage’s free job simulations are one way to supplement your studies with real-world experience and practice skills required for in-demand jobs. Here is a selection of Forage job simulations relevant to some of the highest paying, most in-demand jobs.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

  • Job description: Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.
  • Median annual wage: $164,070
  • Skills required: Project management, IT infrastructure management, network administration, computer programming
  • Forage programs: Cognizant Agile Methodology, JPMorgan Chase Agile
working at Accenture

Accenture Project Management

Learn the benefits of and practice various project management methodologies with this free job simulation from Accenture.

Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Presentation skills, strategic analysis, communication, skills assessment

Financial Manager

  • Job description: Financial managers create financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.
  • Median annual wage: $139,790
  • Skills required: Financial analysis, financial modeling, accounting, forecasting
  • Forage programs: PwC Digital Assurance, JPMorgan Global Finance and Business Management

KPMG Career Catalyst: Tax

Step into the shoes of a KPMG tax employee and build practical tax accounting skills with this free Forage course.

Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

Skills you’ll build: Excel modeling, manipulating data, tax research, critical thinking, technical writing

Software Developer

Building with Cisco logo on the side

Cisco Introduction to Software Engineering

Build the technical skills you need to launch a career as a software engineer.

Avg. Time: 4.5 to 5 hours

Skills you’ll build: React, Git, networking design thinking

Information Security Analyst

NYC AIG office, working at AIG

AIG Cybersecurity

Explore a potential career in cybersecurity with this free Forage course from AIG and the New York Jobs CEO Council.

Avg. Time: 3 hours

Skills you’ll build: Vulnerability triage, security advisory, Python, solution architecture

Medical and Health Services Manager

thermo fisher scientific logo

Thermo Fisher Genetic Sciences

Get a glimpse into a career in genetic sciences with Thermo Fisher by analyzing COVID-19 PCR test result data.

Avg. Time: 2-3 Hours

Skills you’ll build: Data analysis, sensitivity, specificity, cycle thresholds, limit of detection

Personal Financial Adviser

Working at JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Investment Banking

Explore a day-in-the-life as an investment banker at JPM with this free Forage job simulation.

Avg. Time: 5 hours

Skills you’ll build: Company analysis, discounted cash flow, business valuation

Data Scientist

BCG logo on building

BCG Data Science

Analyze data and create a model to predict churn at BCG in this free job simulation.

Avg. Time: 5-6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Data analysis, data visualization, mathematical modeling, model evaluation

Computer Systems Analyst

  • Job description: Computer systems analysts improve organizational efficiency by designing and improving computer systems.
  • Median annual wage: $102,240
  • Skills required: IT management, data modeling, hardware configuration
  • Forage programs: KPMG Data Analytics, Commonwealth Bank Tech Explorer

PwC Technology Consulting

Prepare for a discovery session with a client, develop user stories, and relay a process for solution implementation in this free job simulation.

Avg. Time: 5 hours

Skills you’ll build: Business analytical thinking, software development lifecycle, Excel

Management Analyst

  • Job description: Management analysts recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.
  • Median annual wage: $95,290
  • Skills required: Data analysis, financial analysis, change management, budget management
  • Forage programs: Accenture Strategy Consulting
BCG logo on building

BCG Strategy Consulting

Explore a day-in-the-life as a strategy consultant at BCG with this free Forage job simulation.

Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Market research, client communication, Excel, Powerpoint, critical thinking

Market Research Analyst

Lululemon Omnichannel Marketing

Learn how to build an integrated marketing plan with this free job simulation from Lululemon.

Avg. Time: 2 to 2.5 hours

Skills you’ll build: Market research, digital transformation, strategic thinking

For more free job simulations, check out Forage’s full course catalog.

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Jenna Bellassai is the Lead Data Reporter at Forage. She previously was a Senior Data Scientist at Guru, where she transformed and analyzed data to improve search ranking algorithms.

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