Job Outlook: What Is It? (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar and Experts - Aug. 19, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

The job market is ever-changing, and professions naturally experience growth or decline. To know which direction your current or potential career is heading, you need to understand its job outlook.

What Is Job Outlook?

Job outlook is the expected change in employment for specific occupations over a certain amount of time. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics collects and analyzes data to project the rate of change in employment in an occupation over the next ten years.

Every two years, the BLS provides this information in a document called the Occupational Outlook Handbook along with supplemental articles that provide job growth data and information on occupations.

The job outlooks are classified based on their predicted rates of change, and the BLS determines this from the following:

Changing employment between 2019 and 2029
If the statement reads— Employment is projected to—
Grow much faster than the average increase 8 percent or more
Grow faster than the average increase 5 percent to 7 percent
Grow about as fast as the average increase 3 percent to 4 percent
Grow slower than the average increase 1 percent to 2 percent
Little or no change remain largely unchanged
Decline decrease 1 percent or more

Why Is Job Outlook Important to Your Career?

Job outlook is important when considering a new career as it can help you narrow your search.

For example, you may research the job outlook for an occupation such as a software developer, and the results can tell you whether or not it makes sense to look for work in that field. In this case, you can see that software developer jobs expect a 21% job growth rate.

So as you consider a career, consider the job outlook. You wouldn’t want to go through all the effort of investing time and energy into finding a job in a field that has a slow-growing or declining forecast.

Conversely, by knowing the job outlook you may discover new opportunities when researching careers with fast-growing projections.

If you are moving and looking for work, your location’s job outlook can help you transition. Every state has its own job outlook. Look into what fields are in high demand before you move to a new city and you’ll have a much easier time finding a job.

Job outlook is still critical if you are already settled in a career. You should monitor your career’s job outlook because it can prepare you for opportunities if the outlook is good or challenges if the outlook is poor.

In all cases, job outlook is a great way to compare your professional experience and skillset against the backdrop of the larger job market. With the knowledge that a job outlook provides, you can see what opportunities await you.

What Are Your Options If the Career You Are Interested in Has a Poor Outlook?

If the career you are interested in has a poor outlook, you have a few options.

One is to reconsider and reframe your career interests. Figure out what drives you to a particular career. If the job you are interested in has a poor outlook, perhaps this may diminish the appeal for you and inspire you to look for something else.

If this is the case, then first look for careers that have similar requirements. Maybe the skills required are a good fit for your personality and abilities, and other careers require similar skills but have better outlooks.

However, it is more than likely that you will need to find a new career that requires different skills. If you are missing what is required, you should look into training, certification, and other education programs that will open new professional doors.

Finally, you can always accept that your career has a poor outlook. This humbling knowledge should make you appreciate the challenges you will face. Achieving success in such a career will be difficult, though not impossible. With the knowledge that your career outlook is poor, you can strive to work extra hard to ensure your best chance to succeed.

Limitations of Job Outlook

There are several drawbacks to using job outlook as a metric for career decisions. For starters, job outlook is simply an estimate, and predictions haven’t always shaken out in the past.

With the rapid pace of technological improvement and automation, jobs that are booming today might be made totally obsolete in a decade. On the flip side, new roles are also constantly emerging while old ones evolve.

Second, job outlook only estimates one side of the equation: the projected supply of jobs, not the demand. In other words, if everyone sees that there’s little growth in a field and nobody enters it as a result, then there’s also less competition for jobs in that field.

To complete your picture of a job’s future, you should also look at job prospects. That will tell you how many job seekers are looking for a position compared to how many job openings for that position there are.

Taken together with job outlook, job prospects can help you make informed decisions about how to strategically map out your career.

Job Outlook FAQ

  • What is the average job outlook? The average job outlook is between 5-8%.

  • What is considered a good job outlook? Any job that has a job outlook of greater than 8% can be considered a career with a good job outlook.

  • What job has the highest job outlook? Wind turbine service technicians have the highest job outlook, with a projected growth of 61% in the next decade. This is a good example of why job outlook isn’t everything — even though the job is growing rapidly, there are still fewer than 6,000 current job openings nationwide.

    Nurse practitioners and personal home health care aides are next on the list.

  • What job has the lowest job outlook? Word processors and typists have the lowest job outlook, with a projected decline of 36.4% over the next decade. Parking enforcement workers, nuclear power reactor operators, and watch/clock repairers are next on the list.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.


Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR

Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.

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