What Are the Fastest-Growing Careers in California?

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California offers much more than sunny, warm weather and visitor attractions. Despite the high cost of living, which is driven primarily by housing and transportation prices, the state offers plenty of benefits to those who live and work within its borders.

While unemployment rates continue to recover from COVID-19 highs, California boasts the country's largest civilian workforce, led by the agriculture, healthcare, tourism, manufacturing, and technology sectors.

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According to Bloomberg, California also has the country's fastest-growing workforce, gross domestic product, manufacturing industry, and average household income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state also has higher annual mean wages than the national numbers.

Here, we examine some of the fastest-growing careers in California.

California Career Outlook

As California's economy and workforce recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the rest of the country, the overall outlook looks good for the state.

The Anderson School of Management at UCLA projects the unemployment rate will steadily decrease, beginning with 7.1% by the end of 2021, 5.2% in 2022, and 4.3% in 2023.

Total employment growth rates could hit 5.3% in 2021, 4% in 2022, and 2.2% in 2023, while projected non-farm payroll jobs growth rates may hit 2.6%, 5.4%, and 2.2%, respectively during those same years.

In May 2020, the annual mean wage in California was $65,740, compared to the national mean wage of $56,310. Some of the largest and fastest-growing industries include agriculture, media, tourism, tech, and service industries.

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Careers in California

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $49,690
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 65.4%

Solar photovoltaic installers set up solar panels and other energy systems for individuals and organizations. They ensure the systems get installed safely and securely and that they follow all required building codes. These professionals also provide troubleshooting and maintenance on existing setups.

The rise in solar panel usage comes as a response to the search for more affordable and clean energy alternatives, along with the decrease in household system prices. In California, state incentives have reduced costs. Streamlined permit processes have made solar panels more accessible.

Some solar photovoltaic installers take courses at a technical school or community college for employment, according to the BLS.

Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $73,930
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 42.3%

Occupational therapy assistants help patients with their therapeutic activities. These include aiding in physical exercises, coordinating play activities for children with developmental delays, and helping in the use of assistive technologies.

Assistants provide reports and feedback to occupational therapists. They also clean and prepare therapy settings for the next patient sessions.

The aging population and a greater understanding of developmental delays have helped contribute to a growing demand for this profession. According to the BLS, occupational therapy assistants typically need an associate degree in occupational therapy for employment.


  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $112,050
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 40.7%

Statisticians and mathematicians use mathematical models and statistical software to interpret and analyze data for businesses, governments, and various other organizations. They communicate complex information through visualizations and easy-to-understand methods.

They also seek solutions for practical organizational problems, provide forecasts, and look for errors and limitations in data.

The increased demand for statisticians results from the widespread use of data and growing applications of data analytics. Many industries and organizations collect market data and can use it to improve processes, services, and products. According to the BLS, statisticians typically need a master's in mathematics or a related field.

Physician Assistants

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $135,180
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 34.2%

Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients. They work on a team with various medical professionals, prescribe medications, and offer support and education to patients and family members.

They may also research wellness and care practices, provide outreach, and consult with other healthcare workers.

The aging population and expansion of medical services add to the demand for physician assistants. Also, the growing autonomy of the position makes it a desirable alternative to traditional physicians in many situations. To qualify for employment, these professionals typically need to complete a physician assistant master's program.

Information Security Analysts

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $125,990
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 32.7%

Information security analysts secure and protect an organization's data and information systems. They test for vulnerabilities and investigate potential threats while also ensuring the organization uses the latest and most effective security measures. These professionals may work on staff or in a consulting role.

The growth in cyberattacks and data usage within organizations has created a major demand for cybersecurity specialists and computer science professionals.

According to the BLS, most employers hire applicants with a bachelor's degree at minimum. However, a master's in information systems security may be required for some jobs.

Personal Care Aides

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $31,270
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 32.1%

Personal care aides work with people who have illnesses and disabilities, assisting them in their daily activities and providing basic care. They keep records, track client progress, and report their findings. The aides may also take some health-related measurements from the client.

Along with the aging population, the increasing demand for personal care aides is a result of more varied services being available to patients, such as home care support.

While a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for employment, according to the BLS, some employers prefer candidates with college-level training, such as a gerontology certificate.

Nurse Anesthetists

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $205,360
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 30.8%

Nurse anesthetists are members of the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) group. They administer anesthesia during medical procedures. They provide information to the patient ahead of the process and ensure the procedure can be completed safely. They also monitor the patient during and after the procedure to check for any unwelcome reactions.

In addition to an aging population driving the demand for nurse anesthetists, the increase in medical services has helped the field grow.

According to the BLS, nurse anesthetists need a master's degree in an advanced nursing field at minimum, along with national certification and licensure.

Nurse Practitioners

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $145,970
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 30.5%

Nurse practitioners provide primary care to patients, assessing their needs, considering the options, and developing a treatment plan. These APRNs may specialize in a field, such as gerontology or pediatrics. They typically work with other medical professionals and patients and their families as well.

The growing demand for APRNs stems from an aging population and the need for more services and more varied healthcare options.

APRNs can perform many of the same duties as physicians, so they represent a valuable alternative for healthcare employers. For employment, nurse practitioners need at least a nurse practitioner master's degree, national certification, and state licensure, according to the BLS.

Post-Secondary Health Specialities Teachers

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $118,420
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 30.3%

Postsecondary teachers in a health specialties field educate and help guide healthcare students in colleges and universities. They develop curricula and learning materials, mediate classroom discussions, and challenge and support learners. They also conduct their own research and create their own scholarly work in their field of expertise.

The aging population and need for new healthcare professionals have made healthcare specialties the most in-demand of the teaching disciplines. In terms of California careers, the size and expansion of the state's healthcare field makes this a much-needed profession.

According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers need a doctorate. For those in the health specialities field, that can include a Ph.D. in healthcare administration or healthcare management, for example.

Speech-Language Pathologists

  • Annual Mean Salary (as of May 2020): $95,570
  • Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028): 29%

Speech-language pathologists work with patients with communication and swallowing difficulties. They assess, diagnose, and implement treatment plans to manage or overcome delays and difficulties caused by injuries, illnesses, and other issues. These specialists may work with a certain age group or disorder.

An increase in age-related communication disorders and a better understanding of communication issues has created a large demand for speech-language pathologists.

For careers in California, the state's large population and healthcare system provide ample opportunity for healthcare specialists. To become a speech pathologist, candidates need at least a master's degree, according to the BLS.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Fastest-Growing Careers in California

What jobs are in high demand right now in California?

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In addition to the jobs listed in this article, the fastest-growing careers in California also include multiple professions from the tech, business, and healthcare industries. California's Employment Development Department (EDD) projects over 27.5% growth for software developers, physical therapist assistants, operation research analysts, and respiratory therapists from 2018-2028.

Some other high-demand California jobs include diagnostic medical sonographers, nursing instructors, and physical therapist aides. The EDD projects over 26% growth for each between 2018 and 2028. Furthermore, the EDD projects over 24% growth for medical assistants, market research analysts, and computer information research scientists during the same period.

What jobs in California make the most money?

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California's highest-paying careers come from the management, legal, computer and mathematical, and healthcare practitioner occupational groups, according to the BLS. Among individual California careers, the most lucrative positions belong to psychiatrists, obstetricians and gynecologists, who each made annual mean wages over $235,000, as of May 2020.

Some other high-paying California jobs include surgeons, airline pilots, and physicians, who all made annual mean wages over $226,000, as of May 2020. Moreover, dentists, natural sciences managers, pediatricians, and chief executives all made annual mean wages over $200,000, putting them in the category of highest-paying California careers.

Is it easy to get a job in California?

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While California has an enormous workforce with plenty of opportunities for aspiring workers, candidates should expect strong competition. According to the BLS, California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 7.5% in September 2021. Positions in the most desirable industries may still be challenging to get because they typically require specialized training.

However, with the proper education and experience, job candidates should be able to land a career in their field. The state does offer support resources and programs for those who struggle, such as the EDD's return-to-work program.

Job-seekers can get assistance locating and applying for positions, along with help choosing the appropriate ways to strengthen skills.

What city in California has the most jobs?

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In California, the various regions each feature industry strengths. The state's industry map shows the sector hotspots among the different regions, such as government, healthcare, and education in Sacramento. The San Francisco Bay Area, for example, leans toward tourism, agriculture, and financial services.

In terms of the fastest-growing careers in California, the San Jose metropolitan area employs the most software developers. Conversely, the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim metro region employs the most physical therapy assistants, operation research analysts, and respiratory therapists in the state.

Featured Image: Ron and Patty Thomas / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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