Americans continue to return to the workforce, pushing the unemployment rate to record lows in three states last month. Yet job quality remains an issue for many workers because millions are stuck in jobs with stagnating wages and career growth.
So how does one find a job that offers the trifecta of good pay, high job satisfaction and plenty of openings? It's best to focus on a few types of industries and skills, according to a new study from employment site Glassdoor.
Half the jobs in Glassdoor's annual survey of the year's top jobs are in two industries: technology and health care, the company said. These fields typically require specialized training or advanced degrees, which may put them out of reach of the seven out of 10 Americans who lack college degrees. The upside: These jobs are resistant to automation and are likely to provide opportunities and a healthy income for the foreseeable future.
"One thing we are noticing across the board is these jobs aren't in danger of being automated," said Glassdoor spokeswoman Sarah Stoddard. "The combination of technical and soft skills really plays well in the workplace."
Some economists believe automation will increasingly make an impact on low- and middle-skilled jobs, with artificial intelligence and robotics replacing human workers.
Automation and technology may displace 1.4 million individuals from their jobs through 2026, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, which is hosting its annual confab this week in Davos, Switzerland. About 57 percent of the displaced will be women, who largely dominate the administrative roles that are at high risk from automation.
Even though tech and health care employees are in demand -- and get a big paycheck -- Americans should consider their skills, talents and enthusiasms before signing up for a computer science degree. Research from Glassdoor has found employees believe professional challenges and working for a company with a vision and strong culture are likely to be happier in their work.
Read on to learn about the top nine jobs in America for 2018.
9. Product manager: $113,000
Product managers help develop and oversee products for corporations, ranging from insurance to online retailers. Professionals in this role typically have a college degree in business, computer science or engineering, while companies say they also want candidates with excellent people skills.
The median base pay is $113,000, and Glassdoor currently has more than 7,500 openings listed on its site.
8. Mobile developer: $90,000
These developers create apps for mobile devices, a job that's in high demand given that consumers are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets for shopping and personal finance.
The median base salary is $90,000, and Glassdoor lists more than 1,800 curren openings.
7. Strategy manager: $135,000
Strategy managers buckle down to solve strategic issues for corporations, while also coming up with ideas to juice revenue growth. These workers often hold an MBA or advanced degree related to the industry they're working in.
With a base pay of $135,000, this job is the highest-paid among the top nine jobs. Glassdoor said it currently has about 1,200 openings on its site.
6. Electrical engineer: $76,000
Electrical engineers are in strong demand at the moment, thanks to the strong economy and need for professionals with engineering expertise. Employers are looking for college grads with degrees in electrical or electronic engineering, as well as excellent communication skills.
The typical electrical engineer earns about $76,000 per year, and Glassdoor said it has more than 5,800 job openings on its site.
5. HR manager: $85,000
American corporations are hiring, and that's leading to a boom for human resource professionals. HR managers over see the recruitment and evaluation of staff, and typically have a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field.
The base pay is $85,000, and Glassdoor said it has more than 4,400 openings on its site.
4. Occupational therapist: $74,000
Occupational therapists help people dealing with injury, illness or disability improve their skills for everyday living. Many of them work in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care offices, while some work in schools. Becoming an occupational therapist typically requires a master's degree in the field, as well as receiving a state license.
The job outlook for the role is strong, due to the aging baby boom generation, which is expected to increase demand for such therapies.
The median base pay is $74,000, and Glassdoor said it has more than 11,900 openings on its site.
3. Marketing manager: $85,000
These employees help businesses develop marketing plans, which can include everything from advertising to planning a social media program. The role typically requires a bachelor's degree and experience in marketing.
The median base salary for the job is $85,000, and Glassdoor said it has more than 6,400 openings for the role.
2. Devops engineer: $105,000
Devops engineers develop programs that streamline or automate operations. Companies typically want candidates with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.
The median base pay is $105,000, and Glassdoor said it has more than 3,300 openings for the role.
1. Data scientist: $110,000
The top job in Glassdoor's annual survey returns for the third consecutive year: data scientist. These workers are in demand in Corporate America because of the huge amount of data created by internet-based applications, which businesses need to analyze to help formulate strategies and identify problems.
Some workers are attending data-science bootcamps to learn the skills to jump into this lucrative field, while others are hired from computer-science programs at universities.
The median base pay is $110,000, and Glassdoor said it has more than 4,500 job openings for data scientists.