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10 fast-growing jobs for would-be entrepreneurs

Ruth Umoh

New data suggests millennials looking to be their own boss should think strategically about the gig economy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 9.6 million self-employed workers in 2016. This number is expected to increase to 10.3 million by 2026. That's a 7.9 percent growth rate, which is slightly faster than the rate projected for all workers.

Some gig economy jobs are growing faster than others, however. Jobs with some of the fastest growth include roles in childcare, light housekeeping and landscaping. These can be perfect for young workers looking to build a business or side hustle quickly since they won't require much training or job experience.

Millennials have struggled to build businesses at the same rates Gen-Xers or Boomers did at their age thanks, in part, to high college debt that makes bootstrapping difficult. The economic downturn in 2008 has also made it harder for today's 20- and 30-somethings to break into careers and build the skillsets and networks entrepreneurs need.

These challenges have made millennials eager to create their own opportunities. A 2017 study conducted for business development group America's SBDC found that two-thirds of millennials surveyed believed entrepreneurship offered more job security than working for someone else. The same share of Boomers surveyed believed the exact opposite.

Research shows that millennials are intrigued by entrepreneurship, lured by flexible work arrangements and the potential for higher income. According to a recent Deloitte survey, 81 percent of the millennials surveyed had already left or would consider leaving their full-time employment to be their own boss.

Millennials looking to be their own boss or take on freelance work should look where the opportunity is — and where experts project growth in coming years. For instance, while the bureau's data finds the self-employed will still dominate creative jobs like writing and design, it finds those categories will add the fewest jobs between now and 2026, according to its projections.

However, job opportunities within the personal care and service industry, such as childcare workers and maids, are expected to increase significantly. Jobs such as taxi driver and chauffeur will see some of the biggest growth, jumping 40 percent by 2026. Millennials can use the popularity of service-based platforms like Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit to get a headstart on building a business of their own.

Here's a list of ten fast-growing occupations if you want to work for yourself:


1. Childcare workers

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 350,400

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 378,900

2. Carpenters

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 340,300

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 362,500

3. Construction laborers

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 304,800

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 324,700

4. Hairdressers and cosmetologists

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 264,600

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 299,100

5. Landscapers and groundskeepers

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 262,100

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 293,600

6. Real estate agents

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 194,700

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 207,700

7. Housekeeping cleaners

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 177,200

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 197,900

8. Painters, construction and maintenance workers

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 161,400

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 172,000

9. Management analysts

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 140,200

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 169,400

10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

Number of self-employed workers in 2016: 110,600

Projected number of self-employed workers in 2026: 155,000

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