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Schools.com Top Jobs Report Methodology

The Schools.com Top Jobs report delivers job seekers and students an interactive experience, with data about the 100 top professions projected to grow the most in the next decade across a variety of industries, education levels and salary ranges. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2010), the report utilizes employment projections to determine which occupations are poised for growth. These projections are based on past career trends, as well as a number of factors that impact employment growth and potential job openings.

The Schools.com Top Jobs report makes complicated job growth data easily accessible. Interactive graphs allow prospective students and potential employees to search occupations by projected growth and average salary, as well as the previous experience and education level commonly required to secure employment. The report is designed to help users identify high-growth occupations and find the career path that is best suited to their individual needs.

Growth Volume vs. Growth Percentage

Based on past career trends, as well as a number of factors that impact employment growth and potential job openings, including retirements and new job creation within an industry to meet increased demand, the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics have projected employment growth during a ten-year period, from 2010 to 2020. These statistics are presented as both the 10-year growth volume and 10-year growth percentage for each occupation.

Growth volume is the total number of new jobs that the BLS expects to be created for an occupation, while growth percentage measures the percent change in the number of jobs. For example, the BLS projects that more than 20.4 million new jobs will be added in the United States during the 10-year period from 2010 until 2020, resulting in a growth percentage of approximately 14.3 percent. The Top Jobs report allows users to search projections by industry, identifying which ones are poised for growth and should have increased employment opportunities in the future.

Total projected U.S. jobs added between 2010 and 2020: 20.4 million
Total projected U.S. jobs growth percentage between 2010 and 2020: 14.3 percent

Growth percentage measures how rapidly an occupation is expanding, and a higher percentage indicates that demand for those occupations is expected to increase. Occupations featured in the Schools.com Top Jobs report have a 10-year growth percentage ranging from 26.3 percent (health diagnosing and treating practitioners) to 70.5 percent (personal care aides). The report allows users to search jobs by industry and estimated growth percentage, identifying those expected to offer a growing number of employment opportunities. Each occupation featured on the Top Jobs report has strong projections for future demand, due to changing demographics, technological advances, or other factors that positively impact their hiring outlook.

Projecting Future U.S. Employment

The BLS gathers employment data through the development of two industry-occupation matrices, a base-year employment matrix for 2010 and a projected-year employment matrix for 2020. Together, these matrices are known as the National Employment Matrix, which aims to provide a comprehensive employment database. Each occupation represented in the matrix is accompanied by a detailed breakdown of employment by industry and class of worker. Workers are separated into three separate classes: wage and salary, self-employed, or unpaid family workers. Total base-year employment for an occupation is the sum of employment across all industries and class-of-worker categories.

In order to determine projected-year employment, BLS economists analyze base-year staffing patterns. They examine historical staffing pattern data, and conduct research on factors that may affect occupational trends within given industries during the projected time frame. These factors can include shifts in production, and changes in technology or business practices. For example, an aging U.S. population will be one of the main factors contributing to the need for more personal care aides and home health aides, positions that make up the top two spots on the Schools.com Top Jobs report.

Breaking Down Occupational Industry Share

After identifying those occupational trend factors, they are used to estimate the proportional change in an occupation's share of industry employment over the projection period. An occupation's projected share of an industry may increase, decrease, or remain the same, depending on the applicable factors. For instance, increased demand for workers to help care for the elderly is expected to drive employment growth in health-related occupations. These findings are reflected in the report, as 43 of the top 100 jobs fall into the health, healthcare and nursing industry.

Projections of job growth provide valuable insight into future employment opportunities, since the creation of each new job has a practical impact on workers. However, opportunities are also created when workers leave their occupations and need to be replaced. In most occupations, replacement needs provide more job openings than employment growth does. For instance, four of the top 10 occupations in the report are related to the construction industry, in large part because of retiring workers who will have to be replaced.