The 20 Fastest Growing Industries for 2020 and Beyond

These industries are poised for major growth in the coming decade.

Deciding which idea of yours will make for the best business to start is a daunting task. Wanting your business to be the best and it actually being the best are two very different things. And outside of your personal skills and interests, there are real factors at play that can either limit or unleash your business’s success. Determining which business is poised for growth requires looking at industry trends, such as trajectories of employment and growth in industry output, among many other factors. Starting a business in an industry that is hot with growth is obviously better than an industry that’s diminishing. As an entrepreneur, you can’t just think about tomorrow — you need to consider the coming decades, too.

In order to help aspiring entrepreneurs, Seek Business Capital conducted a study to identify the fastest growing industries in the U.S. for 2020 and beyond. Using data sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the study analyzed hundreds of industries in terms of their 2018-2028 projected growth in employment and compound annual growth rate in employment, as well as the value of industry output by 2028.

Here are the fastest growing industries:

  1. Home Healthcare Services
  2. Outpatient Care Centers
  3. Individual and Family Services
  4. Other Information Services
  5. Offices of Health Practitioners
  6. Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
  7. Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  8. Forestry
  9. Other Ambulatory Healthcare Services
  10. Software Publishers
  11. Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting
  12. Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services
  13. Office Administrative Services
  14. Support Activities for Mining
  15. Warehousing and Storage
  16. Other educational Services
  17. Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  18. Offices of physicians
  19. Elementary and Secondary Schools
  20. Junior Colleges, Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools

Keep reading for more details on why these industries are poised for growth in the coming decade.

20 Fastest Growing Industries

Our methodology enabled us to drill down to a level of specificity that other lists don’t do. For instance, the industries in our ranking aren’t broad and unspecific like finance, education or energy. Instead, our analysis led to a more detailed (and useful) list by using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) digit-code system to identify industries on a more specific level. The goal is to create greater utility for aspiring entrepreneurs; we think it’s a lot more helpful to know that the fastest growing industry is home healthcare services, rather than simply healthcare, which encompasses thousands of different business ideas.

Based on projected employment growth, industry output and growth rates, we’ve identified 20 industries you should keep an eye on.

Here are the fastest growing industries in the U.S.:

1. Home Healthcare Services

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 1,472,700
  • Employment in 2028: 2,186,400
  • Employment Change: 713,700
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 4.0%

Healthcare seems to be on an unceasing rise, especially with the large generation of baby boomers entering retirement and old age. In line with this trend, home healthcare services have been and will continue to experience incredibly fast growth in the coming decade.

From 2008 to 2018, employment in the home healthcare services industry rose by 511,300 jobs. Over the next 10 years, it is projected to grow even more, by 713,700 additional jobs. Also, by 2028, the industry’s output is projected to be nearly $115 billion, compared to just $56.8 billion in 2008.

2. Outpatient Care Centers

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 934,400
  • Employment in 2028: 1,265,400
  • Employment Change: 331,000
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 3.1%

You may have noticed the greater appearance of outpatient care centers in recent years, often taking form as standalone medical buildings, unattached to a physical hospital. This industry is composed of businesses with medical staff that is principally engaged in a variety of outpatient services, including diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, treatment of alcohol and other substance abuse, family planning, and other general or specialized outpatient care.

According to the NAICS, there are over 70,000 outpatient care centers in the U.S., with outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers comprising more than 11,000 of them. In the last 10 years, employment in outpatient care centers surged from 580,900 in 2008 to 934,400 in 2018. The surge of outpatient facilities and employment is in many ways directly connected to the opioid epidemic in America.

3. Individual and Family Services

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 2,464,200
  • Employment in 2028: 3,255,700
  • Employment Change: 791,500
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.8%

Individual and family services falls under the social assistance part of the healthcare and social assistance sector. Individual and family services is composed of establishments that are primarily involved in providing nonresidential social assistance services to children and youth. Some key areas that individual and family services covers are foster care and adoption, life skills training, drug prevention and social development.

Learn: 9 Effective Growth Strategies for Your Small Business 

4. Other Information Services

  • Sector: Information
  • Employment in 2018: 307,800
  • Employment in 2028: 393,500
  • Employment Change: 85,700
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.5%

The category of other information services is just one of several fast growing industries with “other” in its industry title. When you read the industry description, it soon becomes apparent why this ranks among the top growing industries going into 2020 and beyond.

According to the BLS, the main components of this industry are news syndicates, libraries, archives, exclusive internet publishing and broadcasting. Thus, think of the abundance of online publishers and sites that have emerged over the course of the last 10 years. This growth makes even more sense when you contrast it with another, adjacent industries in the information sector. For example, the other information services industry is experiencing a 2.5 percent annual rate of growth compared to the newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers industry, which is suffering from a 2.8 percent compound annual rate of decline from 2018 to 2018. So as we see a decline in analog information and publishing, we also see a comparable growth in its digital equivalent.

5. Offices of Other Health Practitioners

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 930,200
  • Employment in 2028: 1,184,800
  • Employment Change: 254,600
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.4%

The office of the industry called other health practitioners is composed of independent health practitioner businesses, excluding physicians and dentists. To get a better idea of the industry, here are some of the subsectors that fall under offices of other health practitioners: offices of chiropractors, optometrists, mental health practitioners, physical therapists, audiologists, podiatrists and all other miscellaneous health practitioners.

This industry grew by 303,200 jobs over the last 10 years and is projected to add another 250,000-plus jobs by 2028. In 2018, it became a $100-billion industry with total output worth $101.9 billion.

See: 6 Ways to Position Your Business or Growth in 2020

6. Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 277,900
  • Employment in 2028: 350,300
  • Employment Change: 72,400
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.3%

You might know this industry because of how common the names of the biggest companies have become: LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, for instance. The growth in this industry’s employment has been robust, adding 60,900 jobs between 2008 and 2018, and is forecasted to add even more by 2028.

There are two components of the medical and diagnostic laboratories industry. One is medical laboratories, which comprise 14,288 of the 17,667 businesses in this industry. The other component is diagnostic imaging centers, accounting for 3,379 businesses.

7. Computer Systems Design and Related Services

  • Sector: Professional and Business Services
  • Employment in 2018: 2,121,600
  • Employment in 2028: 2,642,300
  • Employment Change: 520,700
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.2%

The computer systems design and related services industry is projected to add more than half a million jobs over the next 10 years. According to the NAICS, there are 204,503 marketable businesses in this industry. The biggest subsector is custom computer programming services — writing, modifying, testing and supporting software needs of a particular customer — with 109,028 businesses.

8. Forestry

  • Sector: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
  • Employment in 2018: 5,700
  • Employment in 2028: 7,000
  • Employment Change: 1,300
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 2.1%

The forestry industry is perhaps one of the more surprising entries on the list of the fastest growing industries. However, with an annual rate of employment growth of 2.1 percent, the industry is expanding indeed.

The forestry industry can be broken down into timber tract operations, forest nurseries and gathering of forest products. Some big-name companies in forestry include Interfor, Idaho Timber and Mendocino Redwood Company.

9. Other Ambulatory Healthcare Services

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 307,600
  • Employment in 2028: 372,300
  • Employment Change: 64,700
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.9%

This is another “other” industry group and ranks as the No. 9 fastest growing industry in the U.S. Besides strong employment growth, the other ambulatory healthcare services industry is projected to increase its output significantly by 2028. From a current output of $38.6 billion, the industry is forecasted to reach $50.5 billion worth of output.

Based on the title of the industry, the areas covered can seem vague. Some useful examples of establishments within industry include health screening services, physical fitness evaluation services, hearing testing services, smoking cessation programs and pacemaker monitoring services.

10. Software Publishers

  • Sector: Information
  • Employment in 2018: 407,900
  • Employment in 2028: 489,100
  • Employment Change: 81,200
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.8%

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that software publishing is one of the fastest growing industries. The original dotcom era put software publishers on the map and developments over the last 10 years have made employment explode: From 263,600 jobs in 2008 to 407,900 jobs in 2018. According to IBISWorld, total revenue for the software publishing industry was $270 billion in 2019.

11. Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services

  • Sector: Professional and Business Services
  • Employment in 2018: 1,483,200
  • Employment in 2028: 1,776,000
  • Employment Change: 292,800
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.8%

This industry has a fairly broad range. According to the NAIC, businesses in the management, scientific and technical consulting services industry are involved in providing advice and assistance to businesses and other organizations on management, scientific, technical and environmental issues.

Employment in this industry is set to grow by a little under 300,000 jobs over the next decade. Currently, there are close to 660,000 businesses in management, scientific and technical consulting. A major subsector of this is administrative management and general management consulting services. This comprises specific services like site selection consulting, financial management consulting and strategic planning. Some recognizable names in this industry include Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture and Deloitte.

12. Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services

  • Sector: Information
  • Employment in 2018: 329,800
  • Employment in 2028: 391,400
  • Employment Change: 61,600
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.7%

Employment growth in this industry has been strong but so has its output. In 2008, the output from the data processing and hosting industry totaled $87.8 billion. By 2018, that amount had more than doubled to $205.9 billion. Over the next 10 years, industry output is projected to exceed $280 billion.

See: 7 Fears to Overcome Before Starting Your Business

13. Office Administrative Services

  • Sector: Professional and Business Services
  • Employment in 2018: 515,200
  • Employment in 2028: 607,900
  • Employment Change: 92,700
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.7%

The office administrative services industry is a varied one. According to the NAICS, this industry is composed of businesses primarily involved in providing day-to-day office administrative services. This is broad, but it does exclude establishments that provide the staff to carry out the complete operations of a business. Instead, companies in the office administrative services industry cover tasks like billings and recordkeeping, personnel services, financial planning, distribution and logistics on behalf of other businesses on a contract or fee basis.

14. Support Activities for Mining

  • Sector: Mining
  • Employment in 2018: 346,100
  • Employment in 2028: 408,200
  • Employment Change: 62,100
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.7%

One only needs to think about the boom in oil, natural gas, fracking and related operations to understand why the support activities for mining industry is growing fast. Major companies that operate in this industry include Halliburton, Schlumberger and Weatherford, to name a few, all with headquarters in Houston, Texas.

Related: How to Start a Business in Texas

15. Warehousing and Storage

  • Sector: Transportation and Warehousing
  • Employment in 2018: 1,139,600
  • Employment in 2028: 1,309,000
  • Employment Change: 169,400
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.4%

The warehousing and storage industry already has a workforce in excess of 1 million, but it’ll continue to add almost 170,000 more jobs by 2028. Businesses in this industry operate warehouses and storage facilities for general merchandise, refrigerated goods and other products. The key point is that these businesses store goods — they do not sell the goods they handle. Sometimes firms in warehousing and storage will also handle logistics too. Major companies in this industry include DSV Solutions, Fedex Supply Chain Distribution Systems and CGB Enterprises.

16. Other Educational Services

  • Sector: Educational Services
  • Employment in 2018: 780,600
  • Employment in 2028: 895,400
  • Employment Change: 114,800
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.4%

With the explosion in tuition costs and student loan debt, the other educational services industry is seeing some robust growth. In the last 10 years, the industry added nearly 200,000 jobs and is projected to add more than 100,000 over the next decade.

Other educational services, according to NAICS, breaks down into business schools and computer and management training, technical and trade schools, other schools and instruction, and educational support services. You might recognize some top names in this industry, such as Lynda and Learning Tree International.

17. Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

  • Sector: Professional and Business Services
  • Employment in 2018: 738,500
  • Employment in 2028: 845,000
  • Employment Change: 106,500
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.4%

Here’s another one of the fastest growing industries that’s an “other.” According to the NAICS, businesses in this industry are involved in the provision of professional, scientific or technical services, with many exclusions. This makes the industry a bit vague, so here are some examples: non-real estate appraisal services, patent broker and marketing services, commercial photography, pipeline or power line inspection services, consumer credit counseling, weather forecasting, arbitration and conciliation services not covered by attorney or paralegal offices, among many others.

There are just under 390,000 businesses in this industry, with photography studios accounting for more than 88,000 of those businesses and veterinary services accounting for nearly 47,000 of them.

Learn: Here’s How Much the Average Entrepreneur Makes in Every State

18. Offices of Physicians

  • Sector: Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Employment in 2018: 2,620,600
  • Employment in 2028: 2,970,500
  • Employment Change: 349,900
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.3%

Riding the healthcare boom into the future is the offices of the physicians’ industry. Employment in this industry expanded by more than 415,000 from 2008 to 2018. Though growth over the next decade is slower, the industry is still projected to add just under 350,000 more jobs.

19. Elementary and Secondary Schools

  • Sector: Educational Services
  • Employment in 2018: 1,083,300
  • Employment in 2028: 1,220,400
  • Employment Change: 137,100
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.2%

Here’s an industry that really isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In most U.S. cities, one of the largest employers is always a school district. Elementary and secondary schools are forecasted to increase employment to more than 1.2 million by 2028.

20. Junior Colleges, Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools

  • Sector: Educational Services
  • Employment in 2018: 1,863,600
  • Employment in 2028: 2,085,200
  • Employment Change: 221,600
  • Compound Annual Rate of Change: 1.1%

The cost of higher education is going up, but so is employment and the value of industry output. Employment has been on a steady march, rising by 264,200 jobs over the last 10 years, from about 1.6 million to over 1.8 million currently. In the next decade, an additional 221,600 positions will be added. Industry output is forecasted to reach $230.9 billion in 2028.

See: 8 Tips for Building a Better Business Budget

The Bottom Line

After conducting this study, some clear patterns are observable. These themes and patterns could be used to help prospective entrepreneurs zero-in on potential business ideas. Some overarching patterns of themes that emerge include the following:

Growth of the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is easily one of the fastest growing sectors and claims many of the fastest growing industries in the country. Healthcare is also already one of the largest industries in the U.S. Health systems are frequently the biggest employer in many cities. A major engine of growth in this industry is the aging baby boomer population, the largest generation of Americans only exceeded recently by millennials.

Growth of Industries Based on Operations that Are Outsourced

Outsourcing is frequently the target of criticism for eliminating jobs, especially low-skilled labor. However, that is only half the story. The increasing use of outsourcing by businesses has fueled a major growth in industries that handle outsourced tasks, such as recruiting, training, billing, accounting and many more related operations. This makes outsourcing a potentially lucrative field to break into.

Read: 5 Lessons You’ll Learn When Scaling Your Business

Growth of Educational and Related Services Industry

Demand for higher education in the U.S. has not really been blunted by the huge growth in costs and student loans. Standard educational services, like elementary and high school teachers and professors, are growing, but perhaps more intriguing is the faster growth of other educational services — online courses and schools, business schools and technical training.

Growth of “Other” Industries

Several of the fastest growing industries in the study fall under “other” services. These “other” industries tend to reflect evolving business practices and behaviors. For example, the other information industry includes exclusive internet-based publishers and broadcasters, a field which has significantly cut into the more traditional industry of newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers industry. “Other” industries also tend to overlap with businesses that handle outsourced work, like health evaluations or management consulting.

Up Next: How to Safeguard Your Business for the Next Recession

Methodology

To determine the list of fastest growing industries, Seek Capital sourced data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections for the years 2018 to 2028. The fastest growing industries were analyzed in terms of (1) increase in employment over the next 10 years; (2) compound annual rate of change in employment; and (3) change in the value of industry output. The level of specificity of industries was determined based on NAICS codes; for instance, an NAICS code with only two digits — such as education services, which is 61 according to the system — was considered too broad to be considered in the study; instead, industries had to have three- or four-digit codes to be considered, thus providing a greater level of detail and precision in identifying the fastest growing industries.

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