As millions of college students are graduating and looking for a job, RENTCafé analyzed BLS data to reveal the fastest-growing, best-paid, and hottest jobs in 2021, and the metros where the new grads have the best shot at landing them — with little or no experience and a college degree.

Recent reports show that employers plan on hiring 7.2% more 2021 college graduates than they did in 2020 and the average starting salaries for recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees are expected to rise. And, one industry, in particular, is booming with job demand and promising financial benefits: healthcare.

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Jobs in the medical field take the top three spots on the hottest jobs list of 2021, outranking jobs in computer sciences. To rank the hottest jobs for recent college graduates, we turned to the freshest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see which positions are projected to grow the most this decade and what is the median annual wage for each job. Notably, while the median wage does not directly correlate with the starting salary, it does provide a measure of the earning power of each job. And, since we’re talking fresh-faced grads, we included only jobs that require a bachelor’s, master’s or associate degree and less than 5 years experience or none at all, per BLS classification. The fastest-growing jobs with the highest wages, that met our degree and experience criteria, received an “opportunity score”.

Here are the highlights for the Metro Phoenix area:

• Recent grads can find an above average number of hot jobs in the area – 80 per 1,000. Just to compare, the national average is 75, while the No. 1 area, Silicon Valley, has 198.

• In the Phoenix metro area, Sales Manager jobs are the most grad-friendly, based on the projected growth and a median wage of $130,200.

• Jobs for Medical and Health Services Managers are the second hottest, almost in line with the national trend as these jobs are the third hottest at the country level.

• Most jobs are for the Software Developers and QA Analysts category – 12 per 1000. This is not unexpected, as it’s the 4th job nationally.

50 Hottest Jobs for 2021 College Graduates

Pandemic Steps-up Demand for Healthcare Occupations

This past year solidified the evergreen need for healthcare professionals. The healthcare sector and those who work in it have proven to be literally vital in the context of the pandemic.

However, even before the pandemic, the healthcare industry was expected to grow exponentially — driven by the aging population, medical advances and a constant need for services and qualified personnel. This explains why the hottest job for 2021 college grads is nurse practitioner — a position that’s projected to grow by more than 52% by 2029 and has a median annual wage of around $109,800.

The next two fastest-growing jobs for  2021 college graduates are also in the medical field and not physician jobs. Physician assistants (about $112,300 median wage) and medical and health services managers ($101,000) are both expected to grow by more than 31%. Also making the Top 10 is a healthcare position that promises almost $174,800 — the highest median annual wage on the list — nurse anesthetist (to go up by 13.7%).

Check out the table below to see the best metros for graduate-friendly jobs.

Meanwhile, STEM-related majors maintain their popularity among students, given strong employer demand and technological advancements. In the fourth spot are software developers, projected to grow by 21.5% by the end of the decade. This sought-after career offers a $107,500 median annual wage and kicks off a string of computer and math occupations on our list that are expected to grow in the next decade, such as information security analyst or computer and information research scientist.

Metro Areas with Highest Share of Hot Jobs for Recent College Grads

To find out the best metros for graduates, we ranked the top U.S. metros where recent grads have the best chance of finding these in-demand jobs. And, while Silicon Valley continues to be the leading area for the hottest jobs, on the East Coast, the best metro to find a job as a recent grad is actually in Washington, D.C. — not New York. When it comes to the highest concentration of jobs for recent college graduates, some metros on the list might come as a surprise, such as  Madison, WI (89 grad-friendly jobs in 1,000) or Durham, NC (87 in 1,000). Here are the best metros for graduate jobs where you will find the highest concentration of today’s hottest occupations: