These 4 Careers Are Where the Money’s At in 2016

Bored by your current gig? Looking to boost your earning power? Hungry for a new challenge?

There are plenty of reasons to seek a change of pace from the drudgery of the 9-to-5 (or 5-to-9). But how do you know that there’s an actual market for what you want to do — or that you’ll be compensated fairly for your work once you make the leap?

While the future is inherently unknowable, it’s never a bad idea to try to peak at the right time. Take a page from your high school yearbook (not literally — reprints are expensive) and keep your job or business-building search to concepts deemed “most likely to succeed.” These four job descriptions are rapidly becoming more common — and there’s a huge supply-demand imbalance to boot. Even better, all four of these jobs double as entrepreneurial opportunities. If you’re hoping to become your own boss in 2016, pick your favorite concept and start building a business on it.

  1. Information Security Specialist / Analyst

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that companies large and small are absolutely terrified of hackers. With good reason: Cybersecurity breaches are getting larger and more disruptive, as hackers use ever more sophisticated tactics to breach IT defenses, steal information and generally wreak havoc.

So it’s no surprise that pretty much every company that can afford to do so is hiring information security specialists like there’s no tomorrow, and paying handsomely (more than $85,000 per year, on average). According to one estimate, demand for IT security specialists is set to rise by 35 percent between now and 2022, a stunning rise for a sector that scarcely existed a decade ago. If you don’t want to work in-house at a major corporation or security firm, look into independent consulting opportunities in this low-barrier field.

  1. Physical Therapist

As America’s population ages and grows increasingly infirm, demand for physical therapists is rising rapidly. Couple this long-term aging trend with the brave servicemen and -women returning home from overseas with serious, and in some cases chronic, injuries and disabilities, and you’ve got a best-case scenario for aspiring physical therapists. Bonus: PT’ers earn more than $80,000 per year, on average.

  1. Mobile Marketing Specialist

Mobile marketing is increasingly the future of marketing. Although fewer than 40 percent of U.S. businesses are even close to being mobile-ready, demand for mobile marketing specialists and strategists is projected to skyrocket in the years to come. Get in on the ground floor with a program of aggressive self-education or find yourself a guru mentor like mobile ad visionary Jeff Kamikow.

  1. Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are basically “nurses-plus.” In addition to all the other nursing duties that their lesser-paid peers do day in and day out, they’re authorized to make diagnoses and prescribe medication. While they typically work under medical doctors and can’t do everything a full-fledged MD or DO can, NPs are a critical piece of the solution to the growing medical skills shortage.

Which career opportunity are you most excited about in 2016?