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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.
Job outlook is determined by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) to project the rate of change in employment by profession.
The BLS provides job outlooks every two years in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Knowing the job outlook can help you make informed decisions about your career.
If your job has a poor outlook you can consider different career paths, though this may require new training.
The job outlook is a rate of change only. To get a better idea of the future of a profession, you should also consider the predicted amount of jobs added.
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 2021 and 2031|
|If the statement reads—||Employment is projected to—|
|Grow much faster than the average||increase 11% or more|
|Grow faster than the average||increase 8% to 10%|
|Grow about as fast as the average||increase 4% to 7%|
|Grow slower than the average||increase 2% to 3%|
|Little or no change||decrease of 1% to increase of 1%|
|Decline||decrease 1% or more|
Why Is Job Outlook Important to Your Career?
There are several reasons why job outlook is important to your career.
Job outlook can focus your job search. 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.
Job outlook can reveal new opportunities. By knowing the job outlook you may discover new opportunities when researching careers with fast-growing projections.
Job outlook gives you information by location. 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 informs you about the state of your current profession. 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 To Do If Your Job Has a Poor Outlook
If the career you are interested in has a poor outlook, you have a few options:
Reconsider and reframe. 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.
Look for jobs with 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.
Learn or develop skills. 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.
Accept current job outlook. 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.
Job outlook is an estimate. 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.
Job outlook only projects supply of jobs. 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.
Job outlook is more helpful when matched with job prospects. Job prospects 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 and what is a good job outlook? The average job outlook is between 4-7%. A good job outlook would be anything with a rate greater than 8%. It is important to remember that these are only rates of change, they do not reflect the amount of jobs predicted to be added.
What job has the highest job outlook? Nurse practitioners have the highest job outlook with a projected growth of 46% with 118,600 projected jobs added. In second are wind turbine technicians with a job outlook of 44%. However, this is a good example of why job outlook isn’t everything — even though the job is growing rapidly, there will be only about an additional 4,900 projected openings nationwide.
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.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook.” Accessed on September 19, 2022.
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