Embarking on a career, hoping for a high enough salary to pay off student loans? Or looking for a new career that will carry you into, and maybe beyond, retirement — with enough money to make the job worthwhile?

You’re probably hoping to find something with strong potential for growth as well as a rewarding paycheck.

With unemployment under 5 percent, competition is strong, so it makes sense to look for the best job you can possibly find—particularly if you’re hoping to hold it for any amount of time.

And while lots of jobs are experiencing growth, there are some that are heading the other way. And those are not the ones you want to find.

Well, you’re in luck, since Kiplinger has evaluated the job market and come up with its choices for the best jobs for the future. We’ve taken a look, too, and have found that many are, unsurprisingly enough, in the field of health care.

But those aren’t the only ones out there.

In fact, Kiplinger says it reviewed 785 popular occupations and winnowed them down “by focusing on fields that are projected to expand greatly over the next decade and currently offer generous paychecks.

In fact,” it adds, “all of the jobs on our list have annual salaries that are well above—and in many cases more than double—the median for all jobs.”

You’ll be happy to know that they also gave priority to jobs that won’t cost you a “huge investment in education” to get started. Some do require advanced degrees, but others only call for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Read on to see where your best chances lie for a lucrative future for years to come.


App dev (Photo: Getty)

7. App developer


Total number of jobs: 798,233

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 21.6 percent (All jobs: 8.6 percent)

Median annual salary: $97,483 (All jobs: $43,233)

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

Mobile technology is your friend here—it’s driving the demand for apps and, thus, developers of all types of apps, from news and games to music and social sharing.

Systems software developers, who create the operating systems for computers and mobile devices, are also on the verge of tremendous growth, with a projected growth rate of 16 percent by 2026 from its current level of about 414,000 jobs already out there.

And get this: systems software developers earn a median income of $104,767 a year.


Computer systems analyst (Photo: Getty)

6. Computer systems analyst


Total number of jobs: 597,812

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 22.0 percent

Median annual salary: $85,080

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

As the world becomes more computerized, there’s just no end to the appetite for computer systems analysts, who keep everything running in a connected world.

And a bachelor’s degree in information technology or another computer-related field is typical, but you can gain entrée into the field with a liberal arts degree and those tech skills you developed all on your own.


Nurse practitioner (Photo: AP)

5. Nurse practitioner


Total number of jobs: 145,331

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 32.3 percent

Median annual salary: $98,288

Typical education: Master’s degree

Okay, so you need a master’s for this one. But don’t let that put you off; the health care field is only going to grow, particularly in the areas of preventive care and geriatric medicine (the latter thanks to our aging population).

Nurse practitioners provide much of the same care as full-fledged doctors, including performing routine checkups and writing prescriptions, and they can work independently. Exact guidelines vary by state.

Then there are registered nurses, who are also in high demand. While there are already 2.9 million in the workforce, that’s expected to grow 17.2 percent by 2026. And they enjoy a healthy pay rate, too: The median salary for RNs is $67,418 a year.

Both NPs and RNs, by the way, need a license to practice.


Physical therapist (Photo: Shutterstock)

4. Physical therapist


Total number of jobs: 226,661

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 30.4 percent

Median annual salary: $83,501

Typical education: Doctoral degree

Aging boomers recovering from heart attacks and strokes need physical therapists, as do those surviving increasingly challenging illnesses and injuries that require physical intervention to come back to full, or nearly full, functionality as medicine improves survival rates.

While you need a doctorate to practice, you also need a license—so be prepared.

Occupational therapists are also in demand, with growth expected to hit 25.6 percent over the next 10 years.

While physical therapists focus on rehabilitation of major motor functions, occupational therapists help ill or disabled patients develop or recover the ability to independently perform daily tasks, such as dressing or feeding themselves.

Occupational therapists typically need a master’s degree to get started and earn a median annual income of $79,619.


Health services manager (Photo: Getty)

3. Health services manager


Total number of jobs: 337,863

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 17.4 percent

Median annual salary: $93,294

Typical education: Bachelor’s degree

Health services managers may oversee the functions of an entire medical practice or facility—as a nursing home administrator, for example—or a specific department, as a clinical manager for, say, surgery or physical therapy.

A bachelor’s degree will get you in, but a master’s is common—and you may also need a license to run certain types of facilities.


Physician assistant (Photo: Getty)

2. Physician assistant


Total number of jobs: 103,422

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 28.8 percent

Median annual salary: $98,869

Typical education: Master’s degree

PAs are similar to nurse practitioners in knowledge and abilities, and are trained to diagnose and treat patients and are able to write prescriptions and order tests.

But unlike NPs, they work under the supervision of physicians and surgeons.

There are state-specific duties and supervision requirements, so you’ll need to check on the requirements for your state.

No bachelor’s degree here—you need at least two years of postgraduate study to earn a master’s in this field, and you also need a license to practice.

It’ll cost you, but not as much as a full medical degree; according to the American Medical Association, the average medical student graduates with more than $180,000 in debt.


Dental hygienist (Photo: AP)

1. Dental hygienist


Total number of jobs: 207,223

Projected job growth, 2016-2026: 19.0 percent

Median annual salary: $73,141

Typical education: Associate’s degree

Not only dental hygienists, but also dentists and dental assistants are going to be on the rise in times to come, with the latter two expected to surge by growth rates of 12.4 percent and 19.6 percent, respectively, over the next 10 years.

The median salary for a dental hygienist, who typically cleans teeth, takes x-rays and educates patients on proper care, is about double that of a dental assistant, while a dental assistant’s duties may include prepping patients for treatment and sterilizing equipment.

But it won’t cost you as much, again, to become a hygienist as it would to become a dentist. You usually need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, which typically takes three years to complete, as well as a license to practice. Requirements vary by state.