> Pct. increase: 33.1%
> Total new jobs (2010-2020): 11,300
> Median income: $94,990
> States with the most jobs per capita: Hawaii, North Dakota, Montana
Optometrists specialize in the care of eyes and vision. Their responsibilities include diagnosing eye injuries and diseases, as well as prescribing glasses and contact lenses. In order to practice, they are required to have a Doctor of Optometry degree, presently awarded by just 20 accredited programs, and must be licensed by the National Boards in Optometry. Those who meet these qualifications are often extremely well-compensated: the top 10% of optometrists earned in excess of $166,400. With vision problems becoming more frequent as people grow older, the number of optometrists is expected to rise by 33.1% between 2010 and 2020.
9. Occupational Therapists
> Pct. increase: 33.5%
> Total new jobs (2010-2020): 36,400
> Median income: $72,320
> States with the most jobs per capita: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire
“Occupational therapists treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working,” according to the BLS. Becoming an occupational therapist requires a master’s degree, which generally takes two years to complete. The number of occupational therapists is expected to reach 145,200 by 2020, as an aging baby-boomer generation looks to maintain its independence and stay active.
> Pct. increase: 35.9%
> Total new jobs (2010-2020): 22,000
> Median income: $82,040
> States with the most jobs per capita: Montana, Colorado, Iowa
In addition to pets, veterinarians tend to sick livestock, laboratory animals and other critters. The BLS projects that the number of veterinarians will increase by 22,000, or 35.9%, between 2010 and 2020. A rising national pet population, as well as the need for additional food supply inspection as the U.S. population grows, are among the reasons for the strong job growth. To practice, veterinarians must obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, currently awarded by just 28 colleges nationwide, as well as a state license.
7. Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists
> Pct. increase: 36.4%
> Total new jobs (2010-2020): 36,400
> Median income: $76,700
> States with the most jobs per capita: Massachusetts, California, Washington
Though the roles of medical scientists vary from job to job, all study biological systems to understand their effects on human health. Medical scientists often work for the federal government, at research universities or in the private sector. By 2020, the number of medical scientists is projected to increase to more than 136,000, as the population of the United States grows and ages and the demand for prescription drugs rises. Educational requirements are quite high, with most positions asking for either a doctorate or a medical degree. The annual pay of the top 10% of medical scientists was $142,800.
> Pct. increase: 36.8%
> Total new jobs (2010-2020): 4,800
> 2010 Median annual wage: $66,660
> States with the most jobs per capita: New Mexico, Colorado, West Virginia
Audiologists treat patients who have problems with their hearing, balance or ears. A doctoral degree is necessary, as is a state license, though exact requirements differ by state. Explaining projected job growth, the BLS notes that “hearing loss increases as people age, so an aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists.” There are not very many audiologists, and a projected 36.8% increase in jobs would bring the total number of audiologists to 17,800 by the end of the decade. Annual salaries exceeded $102,210 for the top 10% of audiologists.