Wage stagnation has been a big problem for many American workers since the recession, but a few jobs are bucking the trend.
The occupations with the fastest-growing salaries aren't necessarily the top-paying jobs in the U.S., but they represent roles that employers need to fill and are willing to bump up salaries to attract candidates, according to a new report from CareerCast.
Not surprisingly, many of these jobs require technology or math-related skills, which demand specialized training and a college education. The post-recession economy is increasingly rewarding workers with specialized skills or training, while less educated Americans may feel the impact of automation, offshoring and degree inflation, or when jobs that once went to high school grads switch to preferring college-educated workers.
"High salary growth rate and overall highest paying jobs are not necessarily one in the same," said Kyle Kensing, online content editor at CareerCast. "Careers with high entry-point wages do not necessarily grow considerably from median to upper wage earning levels. Similarly, some high paying jobs did not grow as much in median pay over since the 2013 Jobs Rated report."
Still, other employment sites have identified good careers for Americans without college degrees, such as executive assistants and dental hygienists.
While the share of low-wage workers has remained steady at about 40 percent of all U.S. employees, they are increasingly educated, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. About 22 percent of Americans who earn $12 to $16 an hour have a college degree today, compared with 16 percent two decades ago.
Read on to learn about the 7 occupations with the fastest-growing salaries.
Software developer: 10.2 percent
The median income for software developers has jumped 10.2 percent to $102,280 during the last four years, according to CareerCast, which analyzed information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Software developers at the top of their field have the potential to earn even more, with the report finding that wage growth for those in the top 10 percent of earners was almost 58 percent.
Physician assistant: 13.9 percent
Physician assistants have enjoyed salary growth of 13.9 percent during the past 4 years, with the median salary rising to $101,480. The top 10 percent of earners in this profession are witnessing even stronger growth, with wages increasing 40.1 percent, CareerCast said.
The hiring outlook for physician assistants is strong, with new jobs expected to grow by 30 percent over the next several years, the study found. America's aging demographics is driving demand for this profession.
Operations research analyst: 9 percent
These employees use mathematical and statistical methods to analyze complex issues for companies and organizations. During the last four years, median wages have increased 9 percent to $79,200, which CareerCast says speaks to the business demand for analytical models.
Wage growth for the top 10 percent of these workers stands at 67.5 percent, or the highest jump out of all the professions in the study. The hiring outlook is also strong, with jobs projected to grow by 30 percent through 2024. Workers in this occupational typically have a bachelor's degree in a STEM-related field, such as math, engineering or computer science.
Mathematician: 4.6 percent
Working with numbers is a well-paid profession, with the typical mathematician earning $105,810, CareerCasts said. That represents wage growth of 4.6 percent during the past four years, although mathematicians in the top 10 percent of wage earners saw their salaries jump by 51.5 percent.
The job outlook for mathematicians is relatively healthy, with the field expected to grow by 21 percent over the next few years, CareerCast said.
Information security analyst: 4.5 percent
Information security analysts saw their salaries rise by 4.5 percent to $92,600 over the last four years, CareerCast said. The top-paid professionals in the field benefited from a 59 percent jump in pay,
These jobs generally require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, as well as a graduate degree in business or information systems. They help businesses protect their data and look for vulnerabilities in their systems. The profession is expected to grow by 18 percent during the next several years.
Computer systems analyst: 10.2 percent
Computer systems analysts have enjoyed a 10.2 percent salary increase during the past four years, reaching median annual income of $87,220. Wage growth for those at the top 10 percent of the income distribution stands at 58 percent, the study found.
Most of the workers in this field have a college degree in a computer science or a related area, and may also have studied business. They help businesses organize their computer systems and procedures to make their operations moe efficient. Hiring in this field should grow by 21 percent over the next few years, the study said.
Online sales manager: 17 percent
The typical salary for online sales managers has jumped 17 percent during the past four years, thanks to the rise in online shopping. Earners in the top 10 percent of the wage distribution saw their income jump 42.7 percent, the study found.
Wage growth is primarily due to the explosion in online shopping, CareerCast said. Even though the job is well paid, it doesn't have as healthy a job growth outlook as other occupations, with the number of openings projected to climb by 5 percent during the next several years.