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Future Jobs 2020: The fastest-growing careers in the U.S.

An elderly man receives home health care.

See your job future with Marketplace's all-new Future Jobs-O-Matic, updated with career forecasts and salary information for hundreds of careers.

If you’re looking for a new line of work, caring for the baby boomer generation might be a good place to start. According to projections by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers as home health care and personal aides will grow by as much as 70 percent by the year 2020.

These career forecasts and hundreds more are featured in Marketplace's new Future Jobs-O-Matic career forecasting tool.

Here are the top 10 from that list:

1 and 2. Home Health and Personal Care Aide
No question, home health care is a growth industry. It lets sick people stay at home instead of in a hospital and retain some of their independence. Workers in this job help patients perform basic daily activities, like getting in and out of bed, dressing, bathing, eating and using the restroom.

There were about 1.9 million home health and personal care aides in the U.S. in 2010.

“People want to live at home longer, participate in their communities and stay independent, and one of the ways they do that is through home health care,” said Danielle Feris, national director of Hand in Hand, a group that advocates for the rights of domestic workers.

Employment of home health aides is supposed to grow 69 percent from 2010 to 2020, and the personal care aide profession is projected to grow 70 percent. You can thank the aging baby boom generation and the growing number of elderly people in the U.S.

Home health care is less expensive than prolonged hospital treatment, so it’s no wonder the demand for workers in this field is high.

There are drawbacks, though. The median yearly income for people in this profession is just $20,170, or $9.70 an hour.

The work can be physically and emotionally draining. As Marketplace has reported, some workers say they are treated as maids and don’t get always minimum wage or overtime.

Feris’s group and others are pushing for laws to extend rights for home health workers.

3. Biomedical Engineer
There are big opportunities ahead for people who design biomedical equipment. These are the people who make instruments, devices and software for the medical field. These are also the folks who design things like artificial organs and body parts, so it’s a pretty cool job.

Employment for biomedical engineers is supposed to grow by 62 percent from 2010 to 2010. It’s a smallish field though, so that bump will only result in about 9,700 jobs. Again, growth will be driven by aging baby boomers requiring advanced care and procedures, like hip replacements.

The technology in medicine is changing fast, so you’ll always have new things to learn and new areas to work in. Biomedical engineers get about $81,540 in median yearly earnings.

4. Veterinary Tech
If your passion is taking care of animals, you’re in good shape, especially if you’re interested in providing first aid, performing medical tests and prepping the dogs and cats for surgery. These are the kinds of support tasks that veterinarians need you to do.

The good news for you is that the pet population is growing. And we really, really care about our pets. Americans spent about $50 billion on our animals in 2011, according to the American Pet Products Association. About 73 million homes have pets.

This field is expected to grow about 52 percent from 2010 to 2020, and the median pay is about $29,710 a year. Veterinary technologists need a four-year degree. Technicians typically only need a two-year degree.

5. Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Worker
It’s demanding work, and there are plenty of hazards, but it’s still a growing field. The number of jobs is expected to increase 49 percent from 2010 to 2020. Why? Older buildings, power plants, highways and bridges need rehabilitation, maintenance and replacement. This occupation is sensitive to fluctuations in the overall economy. It’s a fairly small profession, so we’re really only talking about 9,300 new jobs.

6. Physical Therapist Assistant
There are plenty of reasons why the demand for physical therapist assistants and aides is expected to rise, and much of it has to do with the aging baby boomer population. For one thing, people are staying active later in life than previous generations. Also, that generation is reach the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, increasing the need for physical rehabilitation. For cost reasons, assistants and aides are now expected to do more of the actual treatment.

7. Meeting, Convention or Event Planner
One of the keys to growth in this area is globalization. International businesses are recognizing the value of professionally planned meetings and events. Employment for meeting and event planners is projected to grow 44 percent from 2010 to 2020. Expect some serious competition. There could be a lot of travel involved when the actual meetings are happening. Get ready for some really long days, though, especially during major events.

8. Interpreter, Translator
Your language skills are badly needed in places like schools, hospitals and courtrooms. Many Interpreters and translators are self-employed. Employment in this field is expected to grow 42 percent from 2010 to 2010, and the median annual wage is about $43,300. The boom will be driven by the increasingly diverse U.S. population, growing international trade and broadening global ties. Growth for people who interpret in American Sign Language is expected to be strong too. You might even consider working in the military.

9. Glazier
Interested in working with glass? You’ll be in high demand as commercial buildings increasingly use glass exteriors. It’s all about energy efficiency. Glass buildings decrease the need for artificial lighting. Opportunities are looking good in the South and in metropolitan areas. This field generally follows the fluctuations in the constructions industry. Employment is expected to growth 42 percent from 2010 to 2020.

10. Market Research Analyst
If you have the mathematical and analytical skills, you’ll be in good shape. Employment for market research analysts is projected to grow 41 percent from 2010 to 2020 as companies increasingly use research on customer behavior to reach their target audiences more effectively. It’s not just private companies. Research firms, social and civic organizations, universities and government agencies are using market research to see whether they’re effectively doing their jobs.

Explore more than 300 career profiles in the Future Jobs-O-Matic.

About the author

Ryan Faughnder is a web contributor for Marketplace. Most recently, he was a business reporting intern for the Los Angeles Times and a senior editor at Neon Tommy.

See your job future with Marketplace's all-new Future Jobs-O-Matic, updated with career forecasts and salary information for hundreds of careers.

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