What sectors will be hiring in 2021? The coronavirus pandemic pushed overall US unemployment to nearly 15% in April, but the jobless rate dropped to 6.9% by October. Hiring remained strong in some sectors…rebounded in some others…and is surging or appears poised to do so in certain fields as employers respond to an economy that has been reshaped by the new challenges. 

Opportunities have been created at various levels and with assorted skills requirements. Some in-demand professions require years of education and experience, but others offer opportunities that many people could transition into within months. Positions that have low barriers to entry also tend to have modest starting salaries, of course—you’ll notice low median salaries for many of the careers listed below, but that can hide big regional differences in pay and/or the potential for rapid promotions and raises in these in-demand fields. Monster.com’s salary tool can tell you the typical salary for a profession where you live. Some of these fields lend themselves well to launching small businesses, too. Employers in many of these sectors are willing to continue to work with remote employees, increasing the odds that people will be able to find work even if most employers are far from where they live. 

Bottom Line Personal asked Vicki ­Salemi, career expert for the job-listings website Monster.com, to identify jobs that don’t require years of specialized education but are likely to see strong 2021 hiring. The choices are based on trends identified by Monster.com…analysis of US economic changes…and projections by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks labor market activity.

The Corporate World

Four positions that financial companies, manufacturers and other large and midsize businesses will be trying to fill in 2021…

Loan processors compile and evaluate mortgage applications and other loan documents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics was projecting strong hiring in this field prior to the pandemic, and demand for loans and loan processors should only increase now that interest rates are likely to remain low for the foreseeable future. A degree and/or experience in accounting or business will help you land these jobs but isn’t always required. Taking an online class to learn how to use common loan-origination software, such as Encompass, can help as well. Median annual salary: $39,000. 

Supply-chain and warehouse employees and managers are in demand as consumers increase their comfort with shopping online for many items. These jobs range from entry-level positions driving delivery vans or boxing up orders…to senior positions in supply-chain management and logistics. Those senior jobs require experience and/or a degree in a relevant field such as management or logistics, but entry-level positions often have no academic requirements and can offer opportunity for advancement. Median annual salary: Entry-level warehouse workers typically earn less than $30,000…delivery drivers average around $32,000…warehouse/distribution supervisors, $38,000…and supply chain/logistics ­managers, $73,000.

Quality inspectors confirm that products are properly made before they’re shipped. Job listings point to strong and growing demand in this field—one possible explanation is that manufacturers anticipate more government oversight of their products in the coming years…or perhaps this reflects manufacturing jobs returning to the US. Depending on what’s being inspected, these jobs might require a background related to the product being manufactured or the ability to read blueprints, but not necessarily. Experience using measurement tools such as calipers and micrometers can be useful as well. Median annual salary: $35,000, though positions requiring an engineering degree or extensive experience can pay significantly more—the typical “quality validation engineer” earns $75,000. 

Marketing strategists and executives are in demand—particularly professionals who have strong social-media marketing skills. Consumers are spending more of their time in the virtual world, so companies increasingly are focusing their marketing and promotional efforts there. The good news for marketing professionals is that they don’t need a social-media–focused ­degree or certification to apply—they just need to be able to show their social-media skills. Marketing pros who lack social-media experience could show these skills by improving their own Facebook and Instagram presence…and/or by volunteering to assist local companies or nonprofits with theirs. Median annual salary: $46,000 for social-media strategists, $79,000 for marketing managers.

Health Care

It takes years of specialized education to become a doctor or registered nurse, but there are in-demand health-care jobs that require much less extensive training. Many of these pay modest salaries, but they can be a way to get a foot in the door in a stable sector…

In-home care providers are in tremendous demand as the pandemic has encouraged many seniors to opt for aging in place rather than assisted-living facilities or nursing homes. This job typically involves providing assistance with daily activities such as shopping, meal preparation, bathing and dressing. Some positions require experience assisting the disabled or elderly, but not all. Higher-paying positions in this sector usually involve providing health-care services and require a degree in nursing. Median annual salary: $37,000, but “home health aide” positions that don’t require nursing ­degrees or certifications average around $25,000. 

Medical coders and billers help health-care providers get paid. Coders assign the appropriate procedure codes to the services provided, while billers submit bills to insurance companies, Medicare and patients and pursue delinquent accounts. The aging US population is driving demand for these employees—people use more medical services as they get older. Demand is likely to be especially strong in 2021 as patients obtain medical procedures that they have postponed during the pandemic. Some positions require certification in medical billing or coding, which could take one month to more than a year to obtain, depending on the program selected. Employers often are willing to hire remote medical billers and coders. Median annual salary: $32,000.

Laboratory technicians conduct lab tests and analyze medical samples. Entry-level lab-tech jobs often involve support tasks such as cleaning and monitoring lab equipment and keeping records. Some positions require a four-year college degree in a science-related field and/or a medical laboratory certification. The aging US population will need ever more medical tests, driving demand. Median annual salary: $33,000. 

Personal Services 

Demand is expected to be strong for the following services, leading to both hiring and opportunities to launch small businesses…

Pet-care services including pet grooming, pet day care and dog walking will be in demand. There was a surge in pet adoptions in 2020 as people stuck at home decided it was the perfect time to add an animal to the family. Many of those new pet owners will return to their workplaces and busy lives as the pandemic eases, creating demand for people to help care for their animals. Median annual salary: $32,000. 

Home-office designers are likely to be in demand in the coming years. Not everyone will return to the office full-time—many employers will continue to allow employees to work remotely full- or part-time. Some employees who have worked from ad hoc home offices will want to upgrade their workspaces when working from home becomes permanent. Experience in interior design could help land jobs or clients. People who have design skills but not professional experience could design attractive home work spaces for themselves and their friends and include photos of these on social media or in their portfolios. Median annual salary: Interior designers earn an average of $49,000. 

Online tutors and teachers are in demand because many students have become accustomed to remote learning during the pandemic. This was a growing sector even before, due in part to the popularity of online English-­language tutoring services among foreign students and of homeschooling among US students. Some positions require a degree in education and/or teaching experience, but for others, a degree or work experience in the subject being taught is sufficient. Most employers in this sector will accept remote employees. Median annual salary: Tutors make a median salary of $45,000.