In a job market characterized by high unemployment rates and a gap between workers' skills and job openings, a lot of people are trying to scope out the fields that will have the greatest number of job openings in the future.
According to a compilation of the hottest career fields in this decade by 24/7 Wall St.com, studying to become an actuary could provide one of the best chances of landing a position that also pays well.
Though there were only 21,700 actuaries in the United States as of 2010, there will be 18,900 new job openings in this field through the end of the decade. Only about a third of those openings will be derived from growth in the field, with the bulk of openings coming from attrition. The median annual pay of $87,650 is better than accountants and auditors, whose median income is $61,690, and budget analysts, whose median income is $68,200.
To find the best prospective fields, 24/7 Wall Street looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on more than 1,000 occupations.
In addition to excluding jobs with median pay below $30,000, the analysis excluded jobs employing fewer than 20,000 people as of 2010 in order to represent jobs that will clearly provide opportunity for many individuals in the future. From there, it ranked the professions based on the number of job openings projected between 2010 and 2020 as a percentage of the 2010 head count in that specific field.
Using those criteria, the top 10 list included some blue-collar jobs such as glaziers and pest control workers, as well as professional positions like statisticians. The jobs ranged from those needing just a high school diploma and paying about $30,000 to professions requiring postgraduate degrees that pay more than $100,000 a year.