Five Fast-Growing Industries for Executives

Nearly a decade after the stock market crash in 2008, industries across the business spectrum are on the rebound. Advances in technology, the growth of the aging population, and an uptick in construction across the United States are broadening the reach of numerous industries and expanding the need for executives to take the helm.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently said job growth for top executives is expected to increase by six percent by 2024. The leading candidates have skills in communication, decision making, leadership, management, problem solving, and time management, the Labor Department said. Often, the strongest candidates have advanced degrees, including online Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degrees.

“Top executives work in nearly every industry,” the Labor Department said. “They work for large and small businesses, ranging from companies in which they are the only employee to firms with thousands of employees.”

In the coming years, the following five industries will experience explosive growth and increased opportunities for rising executives.

1. Healthcare/Elder Care

The aging population and changes in the U.S. healthcare system are a driving force behind rapid growth in the healthcare and eldercare industry. Every day an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers in the United States turn 65, increasing the need for efficient and accessible health care.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the industry is positioned to add four million additional jobs by 2024. Hospitals account for the largest number of new healthcare positions, but there will also be ample opportunities in healthcare offices, nursing homes, residential facilities, outpatient facilities, laboratories, and home health services. Executive positions, including chief executive officers and executive directors, are expected to be in high demand.

2. Hospitality/Tourism

As the economy strengthens and unemployment dwindles, the tourism and hospitality industry has been growing. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Barometer found tourism and hospitality combined is among the fastest growing industries worldwide. By 2024, the United States will add some 940,000 hospitality and tourism jobs, the BLS said.

Executive MBA programs aim to provide students with sound business skills and proper decision-making abilities. This knowledge can then be used to create profitable and effective hospitality systems. In addition to learning hard skills, Executive MBA students learn soft skills, such as business communications, flexibility, and problem solving, that can be applied across the spectrum of tourism-affiliated business models.

2. Technology/Cyber Security

Businesses in every industry are embracing technology and all elements of it. The strengthening of wireless networks, improvements in the Internet of Things (IoT), and advancements in virtual and augmented reality have opened the market for industry growth.

The executive job market is particularly encouraging for candidates who demonstrate innovation and talent. DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer at the tech company Red Hat, said the field is developing so rapidly that adaptability and curiosity are vital for management positions. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company recently hired a new CEO from the airline industry.

“We are interested in people who bring a new perspective and use their prior experiences to help build creative solutions to complex business problems,” Alexander said.

4. Waste Management/Environmental Engineering

As a growing number of communities struggle with what to do with their trash – from yard waste to biohazardous materials – environmental engineering positions will be on the rise. Waste management is a multi-billion dollar industry that needs MBA-trained executives to lead the charge. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 12 percent growth through 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Executive MBA degrees can provide the skills for rising managers to tackle the challenges ahead.

5. Construction

Following sharp declines in construction after the 2008 housing crisis, the construction industry is on the rebound. The BLS said the industry is projected to add about 800,000 jobs to reach 6.9 million jobs by 2024. Even though the expected increase will remain below the nearly 840,000 jobs lost during the housing market crash, the employment opportunities in the construction sector are encouraging news for U.S. job growth.

“Construction is projected to be the fastest growing of all of the goods-producing sectors in terms of output and grows faster than the economy as a whole,” the BLS said.

The trade group Associated General Contractors of America found 39 states added construction jobs between April 2016 and April 2017. However, states are having trouble keeping up with the growth due to a lack of skilled employees, including positions in upper management.

Trends in Executive Industries

The executive recruiting firm ExecuNet said other leading growth industries include defense/aerospace, business/professional staffing, manufacturing, and e-commerce. The company’s poll of recruiters found 60 percent believe the executive job market will be expanding in the coming months, particularly in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, technology, and defense.

BPI Group, a global management and HR consulting firm, said 2017 has shaped up to be a boon for executive employment. The lowered unemployment rate means qualified job seekers are in high demand.

“National executive unemployment also remains low, on top of projected 6 percent growth of executive positions from 2014 to 2024,” BPI Group said. “This flourishing of management roles is a reflection of the bright outlook for the U.S. economy—the result of new business creation and growth of existing organizations, all of which require experienced executive talent. Organizations are even more pressed to hire and place the right people in management positions.”

At the same time, Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council, said Executive MBA programs are increasingly providing investment returns for students. A recent survey of graduates found they, on average, received an 11.6 percent increase in compensation while in the program. Another 40 percent were promoted after completing Executive MBA degree.

“In today's competitive business climate, individuals are looking to advance their knowledge and skill set, which is a hallmark trait of what executive MBA programs deliver,” Desiderio said.

A separate survey of 264 employers of Washington State University MBA and Executive MBA students and graduates found there is tremendous value in the degree. Of the respondents, 98 percent said they would recommend the WSU programs and 95 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of the programs.

Washington State University’s EMBA program online

Executive MBA programs aim to provide students with real-world executive skills including strategic problem solving and critical thinking. At Washington State University’s EMBA online program, students study global leadership strategies, innovation, and entrepreneurship while studying the complexities that drive business success. A 100 percent online program, working professionals can access classes from anywhere and at any time while continuing to meet their career and personal obligations.

Healthcare jobs

Tech positions

Construction jobs

Waste Management


Job Trends

EMBA graduates