One determinant of future success for kids in school is whether they’re prepared for their eventual career choice. The job market of 2026 will likely look quite different from today’s career landscape, so students must be future-focused.
The Economist report entitled “Driving the Skills Agenda: Preparing Students for the Future” studied which skills are likely to be the most important for future jobs. According to the report, problem solving will be “the most important skill for students’ future.” Additional skills of note were communication and team-working.
Other studies indicate that students will be using these skills in jobs that differ widely from those their parents held. “By one popular estimate, 65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist,” according to the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report.”
So what will these new jobs be and how can kids be better prepared for them?
Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its projections for career growth for 2026, and they provide some helpful insight for parents of students in elementary and high school. According to the report, jobs will grow at a faster rate than in the previous period (2006–2016), and the majority of the new jobs will be in the healthcare industry, which is estimated to add nearly four million jobs by 2026. In fact, healthcare is projected to be the “largest major sector in 2026.” Within healthcare, support occupations, practitioners, and technical positions are likely to be the fastest growing jobs.
All the stats from the projections report are available in the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the BLS website, but we’ve compiled the charts below to highlight the most helpful data in an easy-to-read format, complete with employment numbers, salaries, and projected percentage of growth!
Understanding what jobs will be available in the future and what skills will be required is only one part of what will contribute to the ultimate success of today’s students. It’s now more important than ever that students begin some form of career education in high school, so they will be better equipped to meet the demands of the ever-changing career landscape. “A study published in the Journal of Education and Work suggests that better-informed teenagers are likely to make more advantageous career choices,” according to BBC News. Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) told the BBC that this study indicates “career education translates into measurable earnings advantages.”
From talking to business professionals or taking focused career technical education (CTE) courses, students should be exposed to future careers as much as possible. If your child’s school doesn’t offer career education, you may want to consider other school choices. K12 online schools offer a variety of ways students can begin learning about future career options, from academic courses to electives to extracurricular activities.
And now that you know which categories and careers are growing at the fastest rate, take a look at the chart below which provides further details on some of the jobs in these fast-growing categories. For each position, you’ll find the current estimated salary, the percentage of employment growth, and the estimated number of jobs that will be available in 2026. Knowing this information may help your student to begin plotting his or her eventual career path.
K12 also offers Destinations Career Academies and career programs in some states. Many of the classes and programs offered at these online academies prepare students to take exams for credentials in high-demand fields such as healthcare and IT. The programs also provide access to organizations like SkillsUSA, where students practically apply what they learn through community-centered projects and work through a job skills curriculum.