17. Physical therapist assistants
Projected increase in 2018: 33.3 percent
Number employed in 2008: 64,000
Median pay in 2008: $46,300
Education/training: PTAs are required to complete an accredited, two-year program that combines semesters of academic study and hands-on clinical experience. After completing the program, PTAs must be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. Depending on the state of employment additional testing and licensing may be required.
Job outlook: Job opportunities should be particularly good in acute hospital, skilled nursing, and orthopedic settings, where the elderly are most often treated. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas, as many physical therapists tend to cluster in highly populated urban and suburban areas.