No. 8 fastest-growing career: Physical-therapist assistant
Projected 2010-20 growth: 45.7%
The BLS expects demand for physical therapy to skyrocket in the next few years as baby boomers age and scientific advances help more and more accident victims and babies born with birth defects survive.
The agency expects much of the additional work to go to physical-therapy assistants instead of full-blown physical therapists, though, as insurers push to keep expenses down.
"Physical therapists are expected to use more assistants to reduce costs," Morisi says.That's why the BLS projects America will add 30,800 physical-therapy-assistants during the current decade -- a 45.7% gain. The agency predicts physical-therapy assistants, who generally need only two-year associates' degrees and earn a median $51,040, will find good job opportunities in the next few years in hospitals, skilled-nursing and orthopedic facilities. Assistants should find their skills particularly in demand in rural areas, which have fewer physical-therapy professionals than cities, the BLS says.