Looking for a new career? Why not start with your best foot forward and consider highly in-demand fields that are starved for qualified applicants? Across a range of industries, specialized markets are facing huge shortages, and if one of these jobs appeals to you, you’ll be a hot commodity right out of the gate.

Teacher

The teacher shortage is predicted to hit 100,000 by 2018 and it’s not very hard to see why. Horror stories of long work hours, small budgets that see many teachers purchasing supplies out of pocket, strict curriculum standards, and low wages are pervasive and contributed to a 35 percent decline in teacher-preparation program enrollment from 2009 to 2014. This means fewer teachers, leading to larger class sizes and less preparatory time, turning off prospective teachers and perpetuating the cycle. That’s why the focus has shifted to enticing teachers with student loan forgiveness programs, signing bonuses, and tuition reimbursement. If you have a passion for one of the highest callings, now is a great time to pursue a teaching career.

Chef

As restaurants pop up on every street corner, restaurant owners more and more frequently find themselves competing for the same skilled chef. Restaurants don’t suffer from market shrinks as keenly as retail stores, so their growth continues mostly unhindered and culinary school graduates enjoy a wealth of jobs to pick from; in Denver, for example, 10 restaurants open on average every year. In 2015, the number was closer to 50. Restaurant culture also promotes working your way up, making this a good choice for anyone who is more work than academically-inclined.

Health Care

Nearly every facet of the health care field is aching for applicants. Historically high barriers for entry are being traded for apprenticeships and outreach programs as aging Baby Boomers and more accessible healthcare under the ACA further strain an already stressed system. Combine that with high stress and poor work environment and the 178 percent rate change of nurses leaving the field since 2001 makes sense. In particularly high demand are nurse practitioners, who are replacing family doctors more and more in general practice. Online programs, such as the family nurse practitioner programs at Bradley, which are used to obtain the required degrees are becoming increasingly popular as the shortage hits crisis levels, and similar to teaching, more and more incentive programs are becoming available to nursing students and health care workers.

Construction-Related Fields

The two million jobs lost in the construction sector during the housing bust have left a hole in the now-booming industry that desperately needs to be filled. The trades in America have been lacking in new blood regardless, but high demand now means the time is ripe to take up a skilled trade. There is a particular clamor for qualified plumbers, electricians, and carpenters as those workers near retirement: over half of U.S. skilled trades workers are over 45.

As unemployment rates hit lows not seen in almost two decades, more and more companies will be competing for the same small pool of applicants. If you want to be part of a highly sought after field, consider those facing labor shortages. It’s a worker’s market in America today; take full advantage.