- Expected growth (2010-2020): 39 percent
- Average annual salary: $76,310
- Minimum education: Master's, doctoral or professional degree
Demand for physical therapists is growing as the baby boomer population ages.
In addition, technological advances are saving more trauma victims and newborns with birth defects, creating a greater demand for rehabilitation care. And medical therapies that are alternatives to placing people in long-term hospital care are in high demand, Shatkin says.
Rather than keeping people in a hospital bed to recuperate from injury or surgery, doctors can send patients home, having them return for outpatient physical therapy, he says.
Physical therapy jobs are expected to increase 39 percent by 2020, with increases in all settings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities are very good in acute hospital, skilled nursing and orthopedic settings, and in rural areas.
To practice, you must hold a master's or doctoral degree in physical therapy and complete residency programs after graduation that last nine months to three years. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.