Are you a student on your way to campus, unsure of what to choose as a major? Are you looking for a better job? Well, you're hardly alone. With over 7% of the American workforce unemployed, you're bound to have competition wherever you look -- but with the right planning, you might be able to hitch your wagon to one of America's hottest jobs. Let's take a look at where the jobs will be by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projections:


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

It's a rather uneven batch of opportunities -- several of these fields are rather low-paying, but then you've got health care and education, which can offer excellent job security if you find the right opportunity. Let's drill down a little bit to see what the salary ranges look like for these fields:



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

For comparison purposes, the poverty level for a family of four in the United States is $23,550 -- $11,490 if you're working for yourself. If you want to get ahead in life, the fastest-growing foodservice jobs are probably not good ideas, and neither are many of the lowest-paying jobs on the list. Let's run through all the higher-paying jobs, from $30,000 per year on up, and break down just how many new jobs each particular profession is expected to gain in the next seven years or so:

Profession

2010 Employment

Projected New Jobs (2020)

Growth Rate

Median Salary (2010)

Physicians / Surgeons

691,000

168,300

24.4%

$111,570

Registered Nurses

2,737,400

711,900

26%

$64,690

Accountants / Auditors

1,216,900

190,700

15.7%

$61,690

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

1,430,000

223,400

15.6%

$52,440

Elementary School Teachers (not Special Education)

1,476,500

248,800

16.8%

$51,660

Office Supervisors

1,424,400

203,400

14.3%

$47,460

Postsecondary Teachers

1,756,000

305,700

17.4%

$45,690

Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses

752,300

168,500

22.4%

$40,380

Carpenters

1,001,700

196,000

19.6%

$39,530

Heavy Truck Drivers

1,604,800

330,100

20.6%

$37,770

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

1,898,300

259,000

13.6%

$34,030

Medical Secretaries

508,700

210,200

41.3%

$30,530

Customer Service Representatives

2,187,300

338,400

15.5%

$30,460

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Interested in keeping others healthy? You've got nearly 1.3 million potential high-paying jobs to compete for by 2020, most of which are in the nursing field. If you like crunching numbers, you'll have over 400,000 new opportunities to earn a living doing that by 2020. There'll be over half a million new teaching jobs, too, if these projections are accurate.

If you're looking to invest in the growth of health care employment, here are several of the largest publicly traded hospital companies, including revenues, profit margins, and P/E ratios. All are sure to hire briskly to keep up with the aging population of America, and that means more income -- at least in theory, anyway.

Company

Trailing-12-Month Revenue 

Profit Margin

P/E

HCA Holdings

$33.4 billion

4.3%

12.3

LifePoint Hospitals

$3.5 billion

3.3%

19.3

Health Management

$5.9 billion

2.1%

28.0

Community Health Systems

$13.0 billion

1.7%

17.7

Tenet Healthcare

$9.4 billion

(0.5%)

N/A

Source: Yahoo! Finance. N/A = not applicable because of negative earnings.

However, before you jump right into these hot career paths (or investments), consider this for a moment:


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Even the best-laid plans and projections can go astray. In the case of these projections from roughly a decade ago, such plans can go astray in the direction of several million fewer employees. Will health care and education be the next big mistakes on the BLS' ledger? We'll have to find out in a few years.

What macro trend was Warren Buffett referring to when he said, "this is the tapeworm that's eating at American competitiveness"? Find out in our free report: "What's Really Eating at America's Competitiveness." You'll also discover an idea to profit as companies work to eradicate this efficiency-sucking tapeworm. Just click here for free, immediate access.

The article The Fastest-Growing Jobs of the Next Decade originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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