Hot jobs in 2021

February 08, 2021

The changes in how we all work, live, and shop coming out of 2020 have definitely impacted how businesses operate today and for the foreseeable future. Some ways, we probably haven’t yet even fully realized.

For many of us, the expectation that we go to an office everyday has all but evaporated. With expectations of us as caregivers, for some, being home is a blessing; for others, a real challenge.

It’s fair to say, we’re all finding ways to adapt.

Businesses have had to do the same — find ways to adapt. Many have had to quickly standup online presences, adapting to new technology, emphasizing last mile delivery, and even changing their products or service offerings altogether. As you can imagine, the jobs that are hot — those that are in demand and that you have a harder time keeping filled — are a bit different than those in prior years.

Information technology

Of course, IT jobs are hot and they probably will be for the foreseeable future. Artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is in high demand, given the transformative nature of the role and what it will do for our organizations. Though AI jobs were new to our surveys in 2020, our expectation is that because right now there isn’t a big AI workforce and the demand is high, organizations will need to provide a compelling value proposition, including competitive base pay, to attract and retain the talent they need.

More traditional IT jobs, like software engineers, are more important than ever, given the emphasis on digitizing the employee and customer experience. Today companies are looking for more than programming skills, however. The software engineers that are in demand possess a wide variety of skills, including being able to think strategically and make the connection from business need to technical specifications. From 2019 to 2020, we saw the median increase for several software engineering jobs exceed 4%, which would reflect both increases to incumbents but also a higher starting salary for new hires. A 4% increase may not seem like much, but in a world where annual increase budgets are less than 3%, it’s certainly an indicator of an in-demand role. Of course, certain specialties are more in demand and commanding higher increases than others. Do you know how to set your IT pay to get the talent you need?

Supply chain/warehouse/delivery

We’re all still home, and many of us will be there for a while. “Browsing” in a retail outlet on Saturday afternoon has likely been replaced by filling your Amazon cart on your phone while watching Netflix. We’ve come to expect that we can get anything delivered to our doorstep, and that we can get it quickly. The stress online retailers faced at the start of the pandemic was crippling…but only for a short time. Although we were warned to expect shortages and slowed delivery times, it wasn’t more than a few months before we were back to being able to have just about any purchase show up within a few days. Aside from the IT gurus working feverishly to ensure our customer experience is amazing, the driving force behind fulfilling our every desire has been the supply chain, warehouse, and delivery teams.

Year over year we saw a variety of warehouse, supply chain, and truck driver jobs receiving significant increases in pay. For example, the median base pay for a heavy truck delivery driver moved more than 6%.


Of course, a significant burden was placed on all aspects of our healthcare system in 2020. Whether it was the treatment of COVID-19 cases, the elimination of elective surgeries, or the call for physicians to pivot to mostly telehealth at the drop of a dime, it was a challenge.

In particular, demand for advanced nursing positions, such as nurse practitioners in physician offices, continues to increase as the trend toward using them to supplement the work of doctors takes hold. However, there is a significant amount of variation in pay, with the highest pay for these roles being on the West Coast.

Additionally, occupational, speech, and physical therapists are seeing higher than average pay increases with the median for some jobs increasing more than 5% year over a year.

Data science

The importance of data continues to be recognized as not only the source of success for many organizations, but big business in its own right. In fact, the main source of revenue for some organizations is mining and analyzing data as a service for their clients — and they’re making a killing at it! Whether it’s a smaller internal data science and analytics team or a giant data mining operation, these data analytical skills are being sought out by all. Mercer saw the median pay for these roles far exceed that of many others, with some levels having a year over year increase in median pay exceeding 8%.

What does this mean to me?

You may be asking yourself, “So what? I don’t employ any of these roles, why do I care?” Well, you might not care today, but you may in the future and knowing how to pay them is of utmost importance.

What is the biggest thing we hope you take away from this article?

Don’t overpay for a job that you don’t need, and don’t underpay for a job that is key to the success of your business.

The roles that are in high demand are quite varied in today’s labor market. Make sure you keep a pulse on the changes — get the data you need now.

Need help deciding what salary surveys will best meet your needs? Give us a call at 866-605-1031 or email us at