Eleven million Americans are currently looking for work, yet 45 percent of human resources managers say they are unable to find qualified candidates for their open positions. For job seekers, this might not make sense; for HR managers, it all comes down to who has the right qualifications right now. This skills gap is a growing problem for employers and workers alike, but it can be overcome.

In “The Talent Equation,” a new book by Matt Ferguson (CEO of CareerBuilder), Lorin Hitt (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) and Prasanna Tambe (Stern School, New York University), issues such as the labor market’s skills gap challenge are explored, as well as how big data has the potential to transform human resources.

What job seekers can do
HR managers, eager to fill vacant positions and keep their businesses productive and profitable, have to decide between taking longer to find an ideal candidate and investing their resources into reskilling or educating an applicant who has some, but not all, of the necessary skills. According to research from the book, 8 in 10 employers express concern over an emerging skills gap, but only 4 in 10 say their company is doing anything to alleviate it.

Where does this leave job seekers?

While employers decide how they’re going to overcome the skills gap from a hiring standpoint, job seekers can take steps to find the right roles. For example, jobs that are projected to grow the most in the coming years are high-wage occupations, and jobs require associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees will all outpace jobs requiring short-term, on-the-job training. Job seekers might want to consider additional education or certifications to align themselves with these growing positions, which are in demand today and will be in the future.

The fastest-growing occupations
As employers find better ways to recruit, provide workers with more training opportunities and narrow the skills gap, more job seekers will be able to find roles in which they can be successful. Knowing which occupations have a bright outlook can further help job seekers focus their career.

A new report from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. on the projected fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. from 2013 to 2017 can give job seekers the direction they need. “Projections provide an important look at the future of the labor market, and can be used to spot emerging trends that have implications for students and job seekers, as well as businesses and economic planners,” Ferguson says. “Barring any major shocks to the economy, the short-term job outlook in the United States will likely continue developments seen during the recovery — specifically, significant growth for jobs that require a college education and occupations in health care, energy and technology.”

The following list, adapted from the report, spotlights the fastest-growing occupations that are projected to see at least 8 percent growth and 30,000 jobs added from 2013 through 2017.

1. Personal care & home health aides
Projected growth: 21 percent
New jobs: 473,965
Median hourly earnings: $9.77

2. Market research analysts & marketing specialists
Projected growth: 14 percent
New jobs: 60,889
Median hourly earnings: $29.10

3. Medical secretaries
Projected growth: 14 percent
New jobs: 76,386
Median hourly earnings: $15.17

4. Emergency medical technicians & paramedics
Projected growth: 13 percent
New jobs: 30,234
Median hourly earnings: $15.28

5. Software developers (systems & applications)
Projected growth: 11 percent
New jobs: 110,049
Median hourly earnings: $47.64

6. Medical assistants
Projected growth: 10 percent
New jobs: 60,109
Median hourly earnings: $14.35

7. Registered nurses
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 256,703
Median hourly earnings: $32.04

8. Network & computer systems administrators
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 34,825
Median hourly earnings: $35.14

9. Pharmacy technicians
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 31,975
Median hourly earnings: $14.29

10. Landscaping & groundskeeping workers
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 111,444
Median hourly earnings: $11.07

11. Social & human service assistants
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 34,411
Median hourly earnings: $14.02

12. Computer systems analysts
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 40,462
Median hourly earnings: $37.98

13. Management analysts
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 60,157
Median hourly earnings: $35.80

14. Cooks, restaurant
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 79,364
Median hourly earnings: $10.63

15. Insurance sales agents
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 52,565
Median hourly earnings: $23.20

16. Nursing assistants
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 117,400
Median hourly earnings: $12.01

17. Licensed practical & licensed vocational nurses
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 63,320
Median hourly earnings: $20.33

18. Combined food prep & serving, incl. fast food
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 237,192
Median hourly earnings: $8.75

19. Receptionists & information clerks
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 85,035
Median hourly earnings: $12.64