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Which NC Careers Have the Best Prospects?

Finding a career that matches your interests and skills is important, but you also want to know which occupations have the best prospects.  That typically means you want to consider occupations that are growing and have good salary potential. Take a look at the two tables below which illustrate two approaches for considering occupations - one considers growth rate and salary, and the other just considers growth.

Know Before You Go – NC Jobs

The NC Department of Commerce has a Star Jobs system which assigns 1-5 stars based on wages, projected growth rate, and projected job openings. These are the top 30 occupations five-star occupations, ranked by the rate of annual growth between 2017 and 2026.

Occupation Title Annual % Growth Median Annual Salary Education Level
Statisticians 3.4% $96,290 Master's degree
Software Developers, Applications 3.1% $100,560 Bachelor's degree
Nurse Practitioners 2.9% $101,540 Master's degree
Information Security Analysts 2.8% $103,470 Bachelor's degree
Physician Assistants 2.8% $102,180 Master's degree
Operations Research Analysts 2.7% $81,130 Bachelor's degree
Respiratory Therapists 2.7% $56,410 Associate's degree
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary 2.4% $105,520 Doctoral or professional degree
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 2.4% $62,370 Bachelor's degree
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 2.3% $66,930 Associate's degree
Physical Therapist Assistants 2.3% $60,100 Associate's degree
Physical Therapists 2.2% $86,600 Doctoral or professional degree
Financial Managers 2.1% $131,610 Bachelor's degree
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary 2.0% $64,520 Doctoral or professional degree
Occupational Therapy Assistants 2.0% $64,890 Associate's degree
Personal Financial Advisors 2.0% $97,960 Bachelor's degree
Social and Community Service Managers 2.0% $64,360 Bachelor's degree
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors 2.0% $46,870 Bachelor's degree
Medical and Health Services Managers 1.9% $101,020 Bachelor's degree
Occupational Therapist 1.9% $84,700 Master's degree
Veterinarians 1.9% $91,550 Doctoral or professional degree
Healthcare Social Workers 1.8% $53,600 Master's degree
Management Analysts 1.7% $83,700 Bachelor's degree
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 1.7% $43,530 Associate's degree
Registered Nurses 1.7% $62,940 Bachelor's degree
Computer and Information Systems Managers 1.6% $135,740 Bachelor's degree
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists 1.6% $88,690 Doctoral or professional degree
Speech-Language Pathologists 1.6% $73,250 Master's degree
Technical Writers 1.6% $73,740 Bachelor's degree
Web Developers 1.6% $68,520 Associate's degree

Source: NC Dept. of Commerce - Labor & Economic Analysis

This approach to considering occupations simply looks at which are projected to have the highest number of openings.  Here are the top 30 NC occupations with the highest projected number of openings in the next few years.  This table does not take growth rate or salary potential into account.

Occupation Title Change (2017-2026) Median Annual Salary Education Level
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food 25,962 $18,890 No formal educational credential
Registered Nurses 16,618 $62,940 Bachelor's degree
Home Health Aides 11,885 $20,390 High school diploma or equivalent
Personal Care Aides 8,867 $21,010 High school diploma or equivalent
Software Developers, Applications 8,782 $100,560 Bachelor's degree
Retail Salespersons 8,184 $22,440 No formal educational credential
Customer Service Representatives 8,007 $32,910 High school diploma or equivalent
Nursing Assistants 7,721 $25,260 Postsecondary nondegree award
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Handler 7,118 $25,880 No formal educational credential
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 6,965 $23,030 No formal educational credential
Waiters and Waitresses 6,540 $19,140 No formal educational credential
Cooks, Restaurant 5,752 $23,630 No formal educational credential
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers 5,709 $27,410 No formal educational credential
General and Operations Managers 5,700 $108,750 Bachelor's degree
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers 4,935 $24,750 High school diploma or equivalent
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 4,277 $62,370 Bachelor's degree
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products 4,096 $59,920 High school diploma or equivalent
Accountants and Auditors 4,079 $69,840 Bachelor's degree
Business Operations Specialists, All Other 3,988 $67,660 Bachelor's degree
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers 3,775 $40,050 High school diploma or equivalent
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General 3,772 $37,890 High school diploma or equivalent
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 3,770 $20,740 No formal educational credential
Medical Assistants 3,681 $32,710 Postsecondary nondegree award
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers 3,627 $31,850 High school diploma or equivalent
Financial Managers 3,389 $131,610 Bachelor's degree
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 3,388 $42,140 Postsecondary nondegree award
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers 3,258 $59,040 High school diploma or equivalent
Childcare Workers 3,196 $21,540 High school diploma or equivalent
Computer User Support Specialists 3,192 $49,290 Some college, no degree
Management Analysts 3,148 $83,700 Bachelor's degree

Source: NC Dept. of Commerce - Labor & Economic Analysis

Here are four other resources to continue your exploration:

  1. Star Jobs - try the helpful Star Jobs tool from NC Commerce to sort and filter hundreds of NC occupations.
  2. NC Tower - look at employment outcomes for degrees from public two-year and four-year NC colleges.
  3. College Scorecard - find information about the cost of higher education, including average overall loan debt incurred.
  4. College Navigator - learn about college cost of attendance, program completion rates, transfer rates to other institutions, and percentage of students receiving financial aid by type of aid.
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