The 5 Best Careers for 2017 All Pay at Least $20 an Hour

stack of $20 bills

$20 bills | ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

If your New Year’s goal is to get a new job, you’re not alone. Job search activity tends to spike in January, when restless employees start thinking about making big career changes.

Overall, three-quarters of workers in the United States are either actively looking for work or open to considering new opportunities, according to survey data. But before you dust off your resume, you’ll want to survey the employment landscape. The best careers for 2017 will be found in fields like sales, health care, IT, and the skilled trades according to new data from CareerBuilder and Emsi.

“Our research shows that employers are very invested in expanding headcount in areas such as analytics and data science, product development and sales as they strive to stay competitive in B2B and B2C markets,” Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation, said. “Skilled laborers will also see high employment demand in the year ahead as will workers in clinical roles.”

To determine the best careers for the coming year, CareerBuilder looked for occupations that paid $20 or more per hour on average, have grown faster than the overall labor market in the past four years, and have a large number of openings. Job opening and salary data comes from CareerBuilder and Emsi’s labor market database, which draws information from online job postings as well as national and state employment resources.

These five good-paying careers are poised for growth in 2017, according to CareerBuilder.

1. Sales

making a sales call

Person making a sales call |

  • Job growth 2012-2016: 6%
  • Average wage: $19.06/hour

Sales jobs came with an average hourly salary of $19.06, just under the $20 an hour mark. But people in sales have the potential to earn much more through commissions and bonuses. The number of sales jobs grew by 914,066 between 2012 and 2016. In-demand job titles include account manager, account executive, business development manager, or client services coordinator.

For a person with the right mindset, a career in sales can be very lucrative. It’s also possible to break in without extensive experience, provided you can prove you have the goods by selling yourself. “[T]he first rule of sales is that people buy from people they like,” Cynthia Schames, director of business development for Performance Horizon Group told The Muse. “Interviewers know this, so it’s important to be likable and make a connection with your interviewers and recruiters. I’ve seen less-qualified candidates get a job simply because they were the kind of person that the sales director wanted to work with.”

2. Skilled trades


An electrician at work | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Job growth 2012-2016: 8%
  • Average wage: $21.38

Blue-collar workers have been hit hard in recent years, as factories have closed and employment opportunities have dried up. But workers in the skilled trades are still finding jobs. After all, when you have a blocked pipe, you can’t outsource the work to China. Businesses are already worried about a looming shortage of construction workers, repair technicians, and other skilled workers, according to research by the Conference Board.

The number of jobs for skilled tradespeople has already grown by more than 1 million between 2012 and 2016. Electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians are in high demand right now, according to CareerBuilder. Even better, you don’t need a four-year degree for most of these jobs, though other training is often necessary.

3. Business and financial operations

Asian Businessman Smiling

Smiling businessman |

  • Job growth 2012-2016: 8%
  • Average wage: $35.09/hour

There are plenty of opportunities for people who want to work in the operations side of a business. Demand is strong for operations managers, product development specialists, financial analysts, office managers, and business process analysts, according to CareerBuilder.

Jobs in business financial operations pay an average of $73,000 annually, though your salary will vary considerably based on your job title and experience. As far as training, an associate degree or certificate may be enough to land some office manager jobs, while financial analysts might need to have an MBA or have earned a CFA designation.

4. Health care

occupational therapist working with injured vet

An occupational therapist and prosthetist work with an injured veteran | John Moore/Getty Images

  • Job growth 2012-2016: 8%
  • Average wage: $37.77

When the Conference Board ranked the occupations most likely to suffer a labor shortage in the coming years, three of the top 10 careers were in the health care field. The economy is in dire need of more occupational and physical therapists, doctors and nurse practitioners, and nursing and home health aides.

An aging population is driving much of the growth in health-related jobs. The economy should add another 2.3 million health care jobs between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates – more than any other occupational group. Family practitioners, ICU nurses, cardiologists, and rehab nurses are among the most in-demand workers, per CareerBuilder.

5. Information technology

Hacker using laptop

A programmer at work |

  • Job growth 2012-2016: 12%
  • Average wage: $40.82

Few will be surprised that demand for workers with IT skills is high. Jobs in this field grew by 472,104 between 2012 and 2016, a 12% increase, more than any other field in CareerBuilder’s ranking.

IT jobs were also the best paying, with workers earning an average of $40.82 per hour, equivalent to an annual salary of about $85,000. People who’ve trained to work as data scientists, front-end developers, mobile software engineers, product managers, and information security will be in particularly high demand.

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