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Calling up the capable: Science-based jobs set to skyrocket by 2026

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By now it’s common knowledge: Many of the most promising career fields in the next decade will be driven by the medical needs of aging baby boomers.

Thanks to the whirlwind pace of the digital world and the automation that’s enabling it, jobs driven by technology will be the second-fastest-growing sector.

All in all, the next 10 years will be an excellent time for those wishing to capitalize on their interest and acumen in science.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment in the healthcare/social assistance sector will grow by nearly 4 million jobs between 2016 and 2026, representing nearly 14 percent of all positions in the U.S. at that time. Together with technical occupations, the sectors will generate nearly a fifth of all new jobs created by 2026. 

“The national priority in education can be summed up in a four-letter acronym: STEM,” writes Steve Lohr in the New York Times. “A country’s proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is vital in generating economic growth, advancing scientific innovation and creating good jobs.”

Looking ahead to the next five years, then, what specific positions are likely to bring science-minded young students and professionals the best chances for viable employment? Consider these 10 career areas slated to spike in demand over that time, according to the BLS.

  • Multiple healthcare positions. Specifically, the BLS points to the following 10 set to spike most in demand between 2016 and 2026: Home health aides (47 percent) and personal care aides (37 percent); physician assistants (37 percent); nurse practitioners (37 percent); physical therapists, assistants and aides (25, 31 and 29 percent, respectively); medical assistants (29 percent) and occupational therapy assistants (29 percent) and post-secondary health specialties teachers (26 percent).
  • Solar photovoltaic installers (105 percent) and wind turbine service technicians (96 percent). These specialists who put in and maintain green power sources were earning average salaries of $39,240 and $52,260 in 2016; and more than 23,000 of the first and 11,000 of the latter will be needed by 2026. Solar installers often start as electricians or construction workers, learn on the job and then become licensed by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Becoming a solar installer requires 18 hours of training, an entry-level test, 40 hours of advanced training and the passing of a certification exam. Becoming a turbine technician may require enrollment in a two-year program offering an associate degree in applied sciences.
  • Statisticians (33 percent). Nearly 50,000 statisticians will be needed nationwide by 2026 to interpret the influx of complex data that technology is enabling. Right now, their average salaries are around $80,000. “From medical studies to research experiments, from satellites continuously orbiting the globe to ubiquitous social network sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, from polling organizations to United Nations observers, data are being collected everywhere and all the time,” notes the Boston University website. “Knowledge in statistics provides you with the necessary tools and conceptual foundations in quantitative reasoning to extract information intelligently from this sea of data.”
  • Software developers (31 percent). The BLS reports nearly 1.1 million developers are needed by 2026, and they’re already earning an average $100,080 annually. Most in demand are those who can write instructions to computers using broadly applicable programming languages, with skilled coders commanding average salaries of up to $22,000 more per year, according to a recent report. The study determined half of all programming openings in the U.S. are derived from industries other than technology, including finance, manufacturing and health care. “For students looking to increase their potential income, few other skills open the door to as many well-paying careers,” it notes, adding that a whopping 49 percent of all U.S. jobs paying more than $58,000 now require some coding skills.
  • Mathematicians (29 percent). Some 4,000 mathematicians will be needed by 2026; they’re now earning a mean $105,810. Like statistician positions, that demand is related to the need for expert analysis of the copious amounts of digitally stored data now available to help inform businesses and other organizations.
  • Information security analysts (28 percent). More than 28,000 analysts will be needed in the future to help counter the growing cybercrime problem, and current salaries run around $98,600. Openings are especially prevalent near the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. "We're coming up on catastrophic conditions, if we're not already there, in the labor market in terms of the gap between companies unable to find or breed (internally) or have sufficient talent available to them to do what they want to do," David Foote of IT employment research firm Foote Partners recently told the Information Security Media Group.
  • Genetic counselors (28 percent). Some 3,900 genetic counselors will be needed by 2026 to help people identify health risks, investigate their family health history, interpret info and determine the need for testing. They typically work in or for hospitals and medical facilities, diagnostic laboratories, health maintenance organizations, nonprofits or government organizations. “The field is likely to continue evolving as it becomes increasingly possible to interrogate larger tracks of DNA and decipher what genetic variations might mean for rare inherited disorders and common complex diseases alike,” reports Elisabeth Pain on ScienceMag.org.
  • Operations research analysts (27 percent). These analysts gather information and statistics that help them advise managers about allocating resources, developing production schedules, managing supply chains, setting prices, etc. Some 145,000 of these professionals are needed by 2026, and they’re now earning an average $79,200. The best opportunities will be for those holding a master’s or PhD in operations research, management science or a related field, some experience in business and strong analytical skills, predicts Collegegrad.com.   
  • Psychologists: The BLS expects 32,500 new jobs to open up between 2014 and 2024, a growth rate of 19 percent. Median salary is $94,500. Growth factors include the aging population, the Mental Health Parity Act and the Affordable Care Act.

All in all, the next decade could be a rewarding time to be a scientist.

“STEM careers are truly ‘helping’ professions that build communities and transform nations,” states a recent article on SciencePioneers.org. “These professionals are in charge of solving the complex problems of today’s world and its future. They are working to find solutions for global warming, cancer, third world hunger, disappearing habitats and an interdependent world economy.”

Learn how Brewer Science is supporting STEM or contact one of our recruiting specialist at recruiting@brewerscience.com.

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Brewer Science
Brewer Science

Brewer Science is a global technology leader in developing and manufacturing innovative materials, and processes for the fabrication of semiconductors and microelectronic devices. In 1981, Brewer Science revolutionized lithography processes with its invention of Brewer Science® ARC® anti-reflective coatings. Today, we continue to expand our technology portfolio to include products that enable advanced lithography, 3-D integration, chemical and mechanical device protection, nanotechnology, and thin wafer handling. With its headquarters in Rolla, Missouri, Brewer Science supports customers throughout the world with a service and distribution network in North America, Europe and Asia.

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