Labor Department releases its predictions for the top jobs in 2018.
PHOENIX - The Labor Department has released its prediction for what jobs will be in top demand in 2018.
A bulk of them are in the computer field and healthcare industry.
By studying which fields will have fast growth, recent graduates or workers seeking a job change can learn which skills they can be developing now to land a great job later.
According to the recently released statistics , biomedical engineering leads the pack as the occupation with the fastest growth.
According to the handbook, the U.S. economy is continuing its shift away from making durable goods toward industries that produce a service.
So-called service-providing industries such as healthcare, social assistance, educational services and food services, "are anticipated to generate approximately 14.5 million new wage and salary jobs."
Employment in the utilities sector is expected to decline 11 percent through 2018 due to improvements in technology which increases worker productivity.
By contrast, "employment in the water, sewage, and other systems industry is anticipated to increase 13 percent by 2018."
Healthcare workers are projected to be in demand as the "Baby Boomer" generation continues to age.
Also, increased healthcare costs means more staff members like physician assistants are being utilized to tackle responsibilities that used to be handled by a doctor.
Home aids are also on the rise, something reflected throughout the recession in the local Arizona economy.
The economy will continue to need people who know how to network computers and fix them as more companies, even smaller ones, find they need to incorporate changing technology to stay in business.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook also claims that the, "U.S. workforce is expected to become more diverse by 2018. Among racial groups, Whites are expected to make up a decreasing share of the labor force, while Blacks, Asians, and all other groups will increase their share. Among ethnic groups, persons of Hispanic origin are projected to increase their share of the labor force from 14.3 percent to 17.6 percent, reflecting 33.1 percent growth."
Women will also get a boost in the labor force, and "will grow at a slightly faster rate than the number of men. The male labor force is projected to grow by 7.5 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared with 9.0 percent for the female labor force."
Also seeing a boost? Workers aged 55 years and older, who "are anticipated to leap from 18.1 percent to 23.9 percent of the labor force during the same period."
So what did the handbook have to say about scientific fields and healthcare?
Professional and related occupations, which includes a wide variety of skilled professions, is expected to be the fastest growing major occupational group, at 17 percent, and is projected to add the most new jobs -- about 5.2 million.
Computer and mathematical science occupations are projected to add almost 785,700 new jobs from 2008 to 2018. As a group, these occupations are expected to grow more than twice as fast as the average for all occupations in the economy.
Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services is projected to grow by 34 percent, adding about 2.7 million new jobs by 2018. Employment in computer systems design and related services is expected to increase by 45 percent, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all new jobs in this industry sector.
Employment in management, scientific, and technical consulting services is anticipated to expand at a staggering 83 percent, making up about 31 percent of job growth in this sector. Demand for these services will be spurred by businesses' continued need for advice on planning and logistics, as well as the implementation of new technologies.
About 26 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in the healthcare and social assistance industry. Employment growth will be driven by an aging population and longer life expectancies.
Employment among healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, a subgroup of the professional and related category, is expected to increase by 21 percent. This growth, resulting in a projected 1.6 million new jobs, will be driven by increasing demand for healthcare services.
Employment in community and social services occupations is projected to increase by 16 percent, growing by roughly 448,400 jobs. As health insurance providers increasingly cover mental and behavioral health treatment, and as a growing number of elderly individuals seek social services, demand for these workers will increase.
Occupations with the fastest growth?
Of the 20 fastest growing occupations, half are related to healthcare. Healthcare is experiencing rapid growth, due in large part to the aging of the baby-boom generation, which will require more medical care. In addition, some healthcare occupations will be in greater demand for other reasons.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, work is increasingly being delegated to lower paid workers in order to cut costs. For example, tasks that were previously performed by doctors, nurses, dentists, or other healthcare professionals increasingly are being performed by physician assistants, medical assistants, dental hygienists, and physical therapist aides.