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America's fastest growing (and fastest shrinking) jobs

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 9/3/2015 Alexander Kent and Michael B. Sauter

The economic upheavals of the last decade brought dramatic changes to the U.S. labor market.

Millions of Americans lost jobs, and to this day, many occupations remain below their pre-recession employment levels. In the hardest hit industries, total employment fell by half.

Some will bounce back. For example, the collapse of the U.S. housing market crushed the construction industry as new home starts fell from 24.9 million in 2005 to 6.6 million in 2009. But as the economy continues to recover, expect a rebound in construction-related occupations.

Other occupations may be on the way out for good. As technology improves and business and cultural practices change, some jobs — word processors and switchboard operators, for example —simply become obsolete. (Click here for the full report on America’s fastest-shrinking occupations.)

But new jobs are taking their place. Three of the fastest-growing occupations we found in this report are related to the U.S. oil boom. Demographic changes, including the aging of the Baby Boom generation, are opening up jobs in other field. (Click here for the full report on America’s fastest-growing occupations.)

To determine the fastest-shrinking and fastest-growing occupations this Labor Day, 24/7 Wall St. used Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2005 and 2014. Our rank is based on the percent change in employment over that period. We only considered occupations with at least 20,000 employees nationwide as of 2014. Additionally, we did not include catch-all occupations such as Managers, All Other. Where two occupations were virtually identical, we only discussed one.

Click ahead for America’s fastest-shrinking and fastest growing jobs.

No. 10 Fastest Growing: Residential Advisors

© Morsa Images/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 89.6%

> Total employed: 95,750

> Median annual pay: $24,340

The number of employed residential advisors increased by nearly 90% in the 10 years ending in 2014. Among other responsibilities, residential advisors organize activities in residential settings such as student dormitories, rehabilitation centers, and retirement homes. With demand for health services expected to increase, and as more baby boomers enter retirement, the number of employed residential advisors is expected to increase. BLS forecasts the number of residential advisor jobs to rise by more than 20% through 2022, nearly twice as fast as the average job growth across the country.

No. 9 Fastest Growing: Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

© UpperCut Images/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 94.7%

> Total employed: 77,940

> Median annual pay: $46,490

Meeting, convention, and event planners are responsible for all aspects of preparing for an event -- including location, food, and transportation. The BLS forecasts that employment in this field will increase by 33.2% from 2012 through 2022 because of increased globalization -- as businesses shift focus internationally, they will require more meetings and conventions. Already, employment in the field has nearly doubled since 2005, the ninth highest projected growth among occupations.

No. 8 Fastest Growing: Roustabouts, Oil and Gas

Oil worker approaches a pumpjack © David Jones / Getty

Oil worker approaches a pumpjack

> 10-year job growth: 118.8%

> Total employed: 73,450

> Median annual pay: $35,780

Machine maintenance -- both repair and construction of new machines -- is a major concern for U.S. energy companies looking to maintain profits. Roustabouts are an integral part of of any energy company that owns oil fields. From 2005 through 2014, the number of people employed as roustabouts in oil and gas increased by 118% to just over 73,000. A typical employee in the field earns $35,780, roughly equal to the median salary across all occupations.

No. 7 Fastest Growing: Personal Care Aides

© Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images

> 10-year job growth: 121.7%

> Total employed: 1,257,000

> Median annual pay: $20,440

In the 10 years ending in 2014, the number of people employed as personal care aides rose by 121.7%, the seventh largest employment increase during that time. Employment prospects for people in this field are expected to improve even more dramatically in the future as the population ages and requires more hospice-like help. It is estimated that employment in this area will increase by nearly 50% by 2022, the highest growth forecast of any occupation over that period. Despite rapid job growth, annual salaries have yet to improve meaningfully. In 2014, a typical personal care aide earned $20,440, just 17.9% higher than in 2005, one of the lower increases among jobs reviewed.

No. 6 Fastest Growing: Petroleum Engineers

© Hero Images/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 127.1%

> Total employed: 33,740

> Median annual pay: $130,050

Petroleum engineers are among the highest paid workers in the nation, earning a median income of $130,050 in 2014. Their work typically involves assessing and planning drilling operations, as well as determining the equipment and methods necessary to extract oil and natural gas in the most efficient way possible. While most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree, every state requires employed petroleum engineers to have a license. Oil prices often play a major role in determining the demand for petroleum engineers -- higher prices can offer more room for exploration and development in less hospitable places. The BLS forecast in 2012 that employment in this field would grow by 25.5% by 2022.

No. 5 Fastest Growing: Massage Therapists

© WIN-Initiative/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 132.7%

> Total employed: 87,670

> Median annual pay: $37,180

Massage therapists also benefited from the ageing population, with nationwide employment increasing 132.7% from 2005 to 2014. According to the BLS, the rising number of massage clinics has also helped support the field’s high employment growth. The median salary of an employed massage therapist was just over $37,000 in 2014, slightly higher than the median salary across the nation of $35,540. Additionally, 46% of massage therapists are self-employed, compared to roughly 6.5% across all occupations.

No. 4 Fastest Growing: Logisticians

© Martin Barraud/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 140.7%

> Total employed: 125,670

> Median annual pay: $73,870

Logisticians ensure that a product’s supply chain flows smoothly from acquisition to distribution to delivery. In the 10 years ending in 2014, employment of logisticians increased by more than 140%, from 52,220 in 2005 to 125,670 in 2014. Typically requiring a bachelor’s degree, the median salary of workers in the field is nearly $74,000, double the median salary nationwide.

No. 3 Fastest Growing: Human Resources Specialists

© Images > 10-year job growth: 151.7%

> Total employed: 456,170

> Median annual pay: $57,420

Over the 10 years ending in 2014, human resource specialist employment grew by 151.7% to 456,170, the third largest job growth over that period. The BLS, however, predicts that the number of human resources specialists will grow by less than 10% from 2012 through 2022 -- one of just two occupations with an employment growth forecast of less than 10%. One reason for the low growth prospects may be new technologies that would allow companies to conduct the entire interview process online. Additionally, websites such as LinkedIn and CareerBuilder allow companies to post job openings and recruit new hires directly, mitigating the need for traditional recruiters.

No. 2 Fastest Growing: Music Directors and Composers

© Mark Sterkel/Odessa American via AP > 10-year job growth: 154.1%

> Total employed: 21,880

> Median annual pay: $48,180

More than half of all music directors and composers employed in the country work for elementary schools and high schools. In the 10 years ending in 2014, the number of workers employed as music directors and composers increased by 154% to 21,880, the second largest job growth rate. Salaries grew as well over the period. Workers in the field earned $48,180 in 2014, 37.4% more than they did in 2005. Unlike other jobs with large employment gains from 2005 through 2014, cuts to school budgets may hinder employment growth of music directors and composers in the future. The BLS forecasts just a 4.5% employment growth through 2022.

No. 1 Fastest Growing: Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining

© Christian Lagereek/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: 217.9%

> Total employed: 62,080

> Median annual pay: $44,970

No occupation has grown faster than service unit operators working in natural resource extraction. The number of such workers jumped from 19,530 in 2005 to more than 62,000 in 2014, a 218% growth rate. Workers in these fields are typically responsible for operating and maintaining wells used to extract natural resources. In addition to explosive job growth, median salaries of workers in the field have increased by more than 46%, the highest salary growth in the country. The BLS forecasts employment will grow by 20.9% from 2012 through 2022, nearly double the growth rate of all jobs over that period.

No. 10 Shrinking: Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service

© Studio Tec/ailead/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -44.2%

> Total employed: 26,550

> Median annual pay: $26,550

Some jobs, such as switchboard operators, are disappearing because of changes in technology or in societal needs -- changes that are likely permanent. With the increased use of automated switchboards and similar technology there is little need for live operators. Close to 200,000 Americans were employed in these positions a decade ago. Last year, just 108,890 people worked in the field. The BLS projects this decline to continue in the coming years.

No. 9 Shrinking: Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

© Monty Rakusen/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -46.8%

> Total employed: 22,760

> Median annual pay: $27,270

Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders are responsible for checking cloth and machines for defects. From 2005 through 2014, employment in this field fell by 46.8% to just under 23,000 jobs. Outsourcing is likely the main reason for the dramatic decline. While workers in this field are paid just $27,270 in the United States, 77% of the national median salary, such workers in other countries like Bangladesh, India, and China are paid significantly less. The BLS projects employment to decline to 16,500 jobs by 2022.

No. 8 Shrinking: Word Processors and Typists

© JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -47.1%

> Total employed: 81,300

> Median annual pay: $36,700

Word processors and typists are responsible for typing letters or reports from rough drafts or voice recordings. Over the 10 years ending in 2014, the number of workers employed as word processors and typists declined by 47.1% to 81,300. Advances in computers and other new technology may soon make the administrative and support tasks associated with word processor and typist occupations obsolete. Employment in this field is projected to shrink further in the future, with the BLS forecasting a 25% drop in the 10 years through 2022.

No. 7 Shrinking: Semiconductor Processors

© Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg > 10-year job growth: -47.3%

> Total employed: 23,580

> Median annual pay: $34,680

Semiconductor processors monitor the production of microchips that are found in nearly all electronic devices. Despite strong and increasing demand for microchips, many workers in this occupation are being replaced by machines. Additionally, high manufacturing costs in the U.S. have driven many of the companies that employ semiconductor processors overseas. As a consequence, employment in this field fell 47.3% from 2005 through 2014, and the BLS forecasts an additional 27.1% decline in employment by 2022. Plants still operating domestically may already be facing pressure to keep operating costs low to remain competitive. A typical semiconductor processor earned $34,680, in line with the national median, but just 11.8% higher than 10 years earlier. Nationwide, salaries rose 20.8% over that period.

No. 6 Shrinking: Brickmasons and Blockmasons

© Chris Cheadle/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -48.8%

> Total employed: 59,340

> Median annual pay: $47,650

Employment of brickmasons and blockmasons shrank by 48.8% from 2005 through 2014, the sixth largest contraction in the country. Much of that decline is likely due to the recession, which may have prevented developers from investing in new projects and homeowners from expanding or improving their homes. Still, the rapidly growing U.S. population will require more schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings, many of which are made of brick or stone. By 2022, the BLS forecasts that employment in this field will grow by 35.5% to more than 96,000.

No. 5 Shrinking: Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants

© AAGAMIA/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -50.5%

> Total employed: 713,730

> Median annual pay: $51,270

The number of executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants was cut in half over the past decade. According to the BLS, technological advances have resulted in an increasing number of executives taking care of their own correspondence and scheduling. Because of this, corporations are increasingly replacing higher-paying executive secretary positions with lower-level secretary positions. In the coming years, even as secretary positions are expected to rise overall, the number of executive secretaries and administrative assistants is anticipated to remain stagnant.

No. 4 Shrinking: Computer Operators

© Erik Isakson/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -55.0%

> Total employed: 58,060

> Median annual pay: $39,590

Computer operators are responsible for operating computer terminals and monitoring data processing systems. Workers in this occupation must ensure machines are functioning properly, which involves checking and responding to error messages as well as recording and documenting problems. Automation and improved computing may be two reasons employment in this occupation fell 55% from 2005 through 2014 and is projected to fall by another 17% by 2022.

No. 3 Shrinking: Plasterers and Stucco Masons

© Helen King/Fuse/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -56.5%

> Total employed: 20,760

> Median annual pay: $37,550

Slightly less than 21,000 people are employed as plasters and stucco masons in the country, down 56.5% since 2005. A typical worker in this field earned $37,550 in 2014, slightly higher than the national median salary, and one of the highest paying occupations for people with less than a high school diploma. Like other jobs on this list, employment of plasterers and stucco masons can be extremely sensitive to changes in the business cycle -- such as the last decade's housing bust. Despite declining in previous years, the BLS estimates employment in this field will increase 15% over the 10 years ending in 2022.

No. 2 Shrinking:  Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters -- Helpers

© BartCo/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -59.8%

> Total employed: 23,570

> Median annual pay: $28,830

The number of assistants working with brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters fell from 58,690 in 2005 to just 23,570 as of last year. This nearly 60% drop came primarily as a byproduct of the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent collapse of the U.S. housing market and construction industry. According to the BLS, helpers were more affected than other construction workers because “contractors kept their more experienced workers and had them perform tasks that helpers would normally do.” While they do not appear likely to return to previous levels, positions for construction helpers are expected to grow by 43% by 2022 as the industry continues to recover.

No. 1 Shrinking: Carpenters -- Helpers

© gpointstudio/Getty Images > 10-year job growth: -61.8%

> Total employed: 38,900

> Median annual pay: $26,600

Carpenters’ helpers -- commonly called gofers -- perform lower-skill tasks, such as gathering materials or tools and cleaning the work area and equipment. In 2005, nearly 102,000 carpenters’ helpers were employed in the United States. As of 2014, employment in this field had contracted 61.8%, largely due to the slowdown in construction during the recession. According to the BLS, helpers are usually the first to lose their jobs in economic downturns because contractors prefer to keep their more experienced workers and have them perform tasks normally reserved for helpers. As the housing market rebounds, carpenters’ helpers may not be found among America’s disappearing jobs. In fact, the BLS projects the number of people employed in this occupation will increase by 29.6% by 2022.

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