Employment Trends Job Search Tips

The Top 5 Jobs in Every Major Industry in the West

Written by Kate Lopaze

if you’re looking for a career change (or a change of scenery!), here are some of the fastest-growing jobs for 2016 in the far-western part of the u.s., per the u.s. bureau of labor statistics. this region includes alaska, arizona, california, hawaii, idaho, nevada, oregon, and washington.

this region is unique because it includes some of the most disparate states in the union—states don’t come much different than alaska and arizona. but what they have in common is that they’re all seeing strong growth in core industries.

1. tech industry: web developer

“if you build it, they will come.” okay, so that was technically a ghost in a cornfield telling kevin costner to build a baseball field. but it’s just as relevant for the american west, where the beating heart of the tech world lives in seattle and san francisco’s silicon valley. one of the hottest positions in the pacific region, according to the robert half tech blog, web developers will continue to be in demand. web developers design, create, and maintain websites for companies or personal clients. in addition to designing, they also manage the day-to-day tech aspects of the site and work in different programming languages to update the sites.

web developers typically have an associate’s degree or higher to start. the median salary is $63,490, and the projected growth is strong at 27%.

2. service industry: meeting, convention, and event planner

tourism is a key industry in the west, particularly in hubs like las vegas. meeting, convention, and event planners are responsible for organizing large-scale events like conferences and company meetings. they manage staffs and coordinate details like food and lodging, locations, and transportation. event planners typically have a bachelor’s degree, and experience in hospitality is a valuable skill to have, as well.

the median salary is $46,490, and the field is expected to grow by at least 10% in the coming years.

3. logistics industry: emergency management specialist

in a region of the country unfortunately prone to earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters, complete emergency preparedness is essential. emergency management specialists manage logistics related to emergency planning and training teams for future events.

the median salary for this position is $52,590, and california and oregon are among the highest-paying states for emergency management specialists. the field is expected to grow between 6-10%.

4. healthcare industry: occupational therapist

occupational therapists are an essential part of recovery after injury, and also work with patients who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. they create treatment plans that include everyday living skills to help patients recover or develop the ability to function. the standard level of education for occupational therapists is a master’s degree, with additional certification licensing generally required by states.

the median salary is $78,810, and the field is expected to grow by 27%.

5. restaurant industry: chef

we live in a foodie nation these days, and chefs and cooks are often at the front of the innovation line, with eclectic dishes inspired by local and ethnic cuisines. chefs may work in the traditional restaurant setting, but you’ll increasingly find them in other places as well: private homes, pop-up kitchens, and various hospitality venues. on-the-job training is key for chefs. no specific degree is required, but many chefs and cooks opt for formal culinary school training, and all must meet local food handling guidelines.

the median salary is $41,610, and the field is expected to grow by at least 10%.

no longer the wild west of old, the western region of the u.s. is a major source of innovation in all areas—and the job scene is just as fast-paced.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.