Looking for Job Stability? 8 of the Most Stable Careers to Pursue

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If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. From pandemics to recessions and beyond, it’s not an easy time to be in the workforce—and younger generations are experiencing some of the worst job security of their careers. If you’re craving stability and job security, you’re not alone. In today’s world, many people’s career priorities revolve around finding a reliable job in a field that’s positioned to grow over the next decade and avoiding anything in a volatile industry with poor job security.

If you’re looking to expand your job options and earning potential without experiencing too extreme of a change or tackling too quick of a learning curve, you’ve come to the right place. To determine career stability and job security, we looked at a combination of three factors for each occupation (as modeled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): the projected job growth, the projected number of job openings and the job’s median annual salary.1

Many of the most stable occupations belong to three major industries: healthcare and social assistance, professional and business services and computer and mathematical services.1 Here are some labor statistics and job security details about each.

Stable careers in healthcare and social assistance

The healthcare and social assistance sector is projected to create the most job openings of any industry between 2021 and 2031, growing alongside the portion of the population aged 65 and over. Demand for healthcare occupations is projected to keep growing— particularly for home-health and personal care aides for the elderly1—but if you’re looking for secure jobs with higher earning potential, you may want to consider one of the healthcare occupations below. 

1. Nurse practitioners

The nurse practitioner occupation is projected to experience some serious growth over the next decade, with the much-faster-than-average job growth of 45.7 percent, according to the BLS.1 Why?

Healthcare facilities and doctor's offices are increasingly relying on nurse practitioners to provide patient care that would otherwise be provided by a doctor, and it’s paying off. The median annual pay for nurse practitioners in 2021 was $123,780. If you're interested in learning how to treat patients, it could be a good fit.

Why it offers job security: In addition to fast job growth and high wages, an average of 30,200 nurse practitioner job openings are projected each year over the next decade. Many of those job openings are expected to result from natural cycles in the workforce—like needing to replace workers who change career paths or retire from the labor force—not from other sources of volatility in the field.1

Potential education pathway: Master of Science in Nursing Nurse Practitioner (MSN-NP).2

2. Physical therapists

Becoming a physical therapist requires obtaining a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), which can sound intimidatingly similar to a medical school degree. In reality, DPT programs typically last around three years, which is only a fraction of full-blown med school.

It's an interesting pathway to high job security, and it's becoming increasingly popular. Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 17 percent from 2021 to 2031, a rate much faster than average. As for compensation, the median annual pay for physical therapists in 2021 was $95,620 per year.1

Physical therapists also have the benefit of specializing in certain environments or injury areas, giving you some career mobility while remaining in this stable role.

Why it offers job security: About 15,400 job openings for physical therapists are projected each year over the next decade, according to the BLS. And just like with nurse practitioners, many of those job openings are expected to result from natural cycles in the workforce. In this case, primarily from needing to replace retiring workers. Between its high job growth and other broad economic forces related to the need for healthcare, physical therapy can offer great job security.1

Potential education pathway: A Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

3. Physical therapist assistants

Along the same vein, physical therapist assistants are another occupation that offers some of the most job security. The education required to become a physical therapist typically includes a high school diploma, an Associate’s degree from an accredited program and a license or certification.

Most physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work in physical therapy offices or in hospitals, and it’s an active job for individuals who prefer to be on their feet and treat patients rather than sit at a desk all day. Overall employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 24 percent from 2021 to 2031 according to the BLS, offering faster-than-average job growth. The median annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $61,180 in May 2021, which is less than physical therapists but significantly more than physical therapist aides.1

Why it offers job security: The need for physical therapists and the assistants who help them remains steady as the aging baby boomer generation relies on their work to maintain healthy and active lives. The role of a PTA is one of the many healthcare jobs with security and job growth, and it requires less education than certain jobs in the field.1

 Potential education pathway: Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's Degree.

Stable careers in professional and business services

The professional and business services sector is projected to see the third-largest employment increase between 2021 and 2023, according to the BLS.1 This demand stems from shifts in our increasingly digital workforce and businesses' overwhelming need for technical expertise in areas such as IT solutions, cybersecurity, management, marketing research and other consulting and technical services.

Here are a few stable occupations with the highest job security to consider.1

4. Management analysts

Generally speaking, management analysts recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. If you’re interested in business management and data analysis, it may be a good fit. Management analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree and fewer than five years of related work experience.

This role boasts high job growth, with the employment of management analysts projected to grow 11 percent between 2021 and 2031 according to the BLS. The best part? The career can be lucrative. The median annual wage for management analysts was $93,000 in 2021.1

Why it offers job security: An average of 101,900 job openings for management analysts are projected each year between 2021 and 2023, and many of those job openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force to retire. The number of openings combined with rapid job growth and a high median salary makes it a promising path in terms of job security.1

Potential education pathway: Business Management degree with a Business Analysis specialization.

5. Financial managers

Financial managers work across a number of industries and settings, from banks to investment firms to insurance companies and beyond. Financial managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of experience in related business or financial occupation.

Despite the possibility of long hours, financial managers remain in high demand and are typically well-rewarded with compensation. The median annual wage for financial managers in 2021 was $131,710, according to the BLS.1

Why it offers job security: Looking ahead to 2031, employment of financial managers is projected to grow 17 percent, which is much faster than average. About 71,300 job openings for financial managers are projected each year in that same period. Similar to the other occupations listed, many of those job openings are expected to result from workers making career changes or retiring.1

Potential education pathway: Finance Online Bachelor's Degree.

Stable careers in the computer and mathematical occupational group

The more we continue to rely on technology in our professional and personal lives, the more the computer and mathematical occupational group will grow.

This sector is projected to experience faster-than-average employment growth of 15.4 percent through 2031, according to the BLS.1 While many computer and mathematical occupations are amongst some of the fastest-growing occupations, we know that’s not the only factor influencing job security. Here are a couple of career paths that offer more than just rapid projected job growth.1

6. Computer and information systems managers

C computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate and lead computer-related activities in an organization. Candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science and relevant work experience, though many computer and information systems managers also have a graduate degree.

Related to businesses' increased need for technological expertise and services, the employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2021 to 2031 according to the BLS, demonstrating higher job growth than average. Plus, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers in 2021 is one of the highest on this list—coming in at $159,010.1

Why it offers job security: An average of 48,500 job openings for computer and information systems managers are projected each year until 2031, primarily due to natural turnover and workforce cycles.1 This paired with the high median salary and fast job growth makes it one of the occupations that have it all.1

Potential education pathway: Start your education journey with an Information Technology Online Associate's Degree. Then, move onto a Bachelor’s degree with a focus in the IT field.

7. Software developers

Software developers design computer applications or programs. There are a ton more specialized skills and highly specialized occupations within software development, but many work in offices and on teams with other software developers. Software developers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, though some employers prefer to hire developers who have a master’s degree or certifications specific to the role.

Why it offers job security: Software developers are projected to have the most job openings each year according to the BLS, with an average of 131,400 expected job openings between 2021 and 2031.1

Though the industry is certainly affected by turnover and churn, the issue isn’t an overall shortage of jobs—making it a generally stable and fast-growing field. Plus, the high median salaries make it an attractive career transition for many professionals seeking job security. In 2021, the median annual wage for software developers was $120,730.1

Potential education pathway: Software Application Development Associate's Degree.

8. Software quality assurance analysts and testers

Often working alongside software engineers, software quality assurance analysts and testers identify problems with applications or programs and report defects. They tend to work in similar settings as software developers and collaborate with other quality assurance analysts and testers.

This occupation typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field, though some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree or additional certifications. With average compensation a bit lower than software developers, software quality assurance analysts and testers still clocked in with a median annual wage of $98,220 in 2021.1

Why it offers job security: Due to its high overlap with software developers, much of the labor statistics for software quality assurance analysts and testers are combined between the two occupations. The overall employment for both jobs is projected to grow 25 percent from 2021 to 2031 according to the BLS, demonstrating job growth much faster than average.1

Similarly, an average of 162,900 job openings in both fields combined are projected each year for the next decade. Many of those job openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire.1

Potential education pathway: Software Application Development Associate's Degree.

Making the transition to a stable career

To pursue any of the occupations listed above, you may need to go back to school. It can be a difficult decision, but it can also be what makes the biggest difference in pursuing a position with higher job security. No matter what level degree you’re working towards or what hesitations you may have, we’re here to help address your biggest concerns. Check out “ I Want to Go Back to School But … [Insert Reason Here].”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed May, 2023] www.bls.gov/ooh Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.

2This program and its specializations are not available to residents of all states. Please speak with an advisor to determine your eligibility for enrollment.

3The MSN Nurse Practitioner program is currently NOT eligible for participation in Title IV federal aid programs.

About the author

Hope Rothenberg

Hope Rothenberg is a creative copywriter with agency, in-house, and freelance experience. She's written about everything from area rugs to artificial intelligence, and a ton in between.

Hope Rothenberg smiles at the camera in a black and white photo against a brick wall

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