10 jobs with bright salary outlooks

Only about 15% of workers have strong wages and wage growth

Relatively few workers today enjoy both strong wages and wage growth that beats inflation, according to a recent study by Indeed.

Researchers from Indeed used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor to identify "opportunity jobs." These positions saw salary growth of more than 25.3% from 2004 to 2014 and had an average salary in 2014 of at least $57,700, which was the inflation-adjusted median household income in 2000.

Only 170 jobs met the criteria to be named an opportunity job—out of 800 occupations considered by Indeed researchers. About three-quarters of opportunity jobs require applicants to hold a college degree.

"If you want a career path that is leading to high incomes and raises year after year, which psychologically really matters to people, that overwhelmingly requires a college degree," said report author Tara Sinclair, Indeed's chief economist.

Many of the opportunity jobs also required applicants to hold a specific certification or skill in addition to a bachelor's degree.

"A college degree alone doesn't buy you access to an opportunity job," Sinclair told MarketWatch. "These jobs are in a narrow set of industries and in general you need specialized skills. Just a general college degree won't get you there."

The opportunity jobs with the highest salary growth were:

  • Physician assistants: 42% salary growth and $99,270 average annual income;
  • Occupational therapists: 38.9% salary growth and $81,690 average annual income;
  • Financial managers: 38.3% salary growth and $134,330 average annual income;
  • Marketing managers: 37.4% salary growth and $140,660 average annual income;
  • Medical and health services managers: 36.7% salary growth and $106,070 average annual income;
  • Computer and information systems managers: 36.1% salary growth and $141,000 average annual income;
  • All other computer occupations: 35.9% salary growth and $87,310 average annual income;
  • Sales engineers: 35.4% salary growth and $107,160 average annual income;
  • Administrative services managers: 35.4% salary growth and $94,840 average annual income; and
  • Family and general practitioners: 35% salary growth and $192,120 average annual income.

(Sparshott, Wall Street Journal, 7/26; Indeed report, accessed 7/28; Berman, MarketWatch, 7/26). 


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