1. Network systems and data communications analyst (54.6%)
Job description: Design, test and build networks for businesses, including their data, e-mail and voice-mail systems.
Why it’s hot: More firms are looking to install or upgrade their networks to improve communication within the office and increase data accessibility.
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or information science.
Median salary: $60,600
2. Physician assistant (49.6%)
Job description: Work under a doctor’s supervision to complete miscellaneous tasks physicians may not have time to handle, such as taking medical histories, writing prescriptions, giving patient exams and ordering lab tests.
Why it’s hot: An aging population is creating a growing need for medical care. And with an increasing emphasis on keeping health-care costs low, demand is booming for physician assistants, who cost less than doctors.
Degree: Bachelor’s plus a two-year physician-assistant program. Must pass a licensure exam.
Median salary: $69,410
3. Computer applications software engineer (48.4%)
Job description: Uses computer languages to design, construct and maintain computer programs and applications software for consumers and businesses.
Why it’s hot: Customized business software is a growing market.
Degree: Bachelor’s in computer science or software engineering
Median salary: $79,930
4. Computer systems software engineer (43%)
Job description: Configures, installs and maintains entire computer systems. May also set up a company’s intranet and handle security issues.
Why it’s hot: Businesses continue to implement new technologies to increase the efficiency of their computer systems. Concerns over security are driving organizations to invest more money in protecting their networks.
Degree: Bachelor’s in computer science, computer information systems or software engineering
Median salary: $79,740
5. Network and computer systems administrator (38.4%)
Job description: Run a business’s on-site help desk for computer matters.
Why it’s hot: More organizations are implementing networks and need the in-house support that comes with them.
Degree: Bachelor’s, but not necessarily in a computer-related field.
Median salary: $58,190
6. Database administrator (38.2%)
Job description: Determine the best ways to organize, store and deliver a company’s data.
Why it’s hot: Falling prices for computer hardware and software are driving more organizations to ramp up their computerized operations.
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science or management information systems. Many employers seek workers with a master’s of business administration (MBA).
Median salary: $60,650
7. Physical therapist (36.7%)
Job description: Help people suffering from injuries or disease by administering physical treatments and exercises.
Why it’s hot: An aging population means more people with physical limitations and disabilities.
Degree: Bachelor’s and accredited physical therapy educational program. Must pass a licensure exam.
Median salary: $60,180
8. Medical scientist (34.1%)
Job description: Conduct biomedical research to understand causes of health problems to develop treatment and techniques to improve human health.
Why it’s hot: Hot health issues such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimers are driving research. Medical scientists also help develop new drugs — a hot field thanks to the aging population.
Degree: PhD in a biological science
Median salary: $61,320
9. Occupational therapist (33.6%)
Job description: Help people with mental or physical handicaps learn daily tasks such as bathing and dressing, as well as other life skills such as using a computer and problem solving.
Why it’s hot: An increasing number of seniors will need this kind of assistance in hospitals, nursing homes and their own homes. Also, a rising prevalence of special education programs for children with disabilities is driving a need for OTs in schools.
Degree: Master’s required beginning in 2007. Must pass licensure exam.
Median salary: $54,660
10. College instructor (32.2%)
Job description: Teach classes in a variety of academic and vocational subjects. Prepare lectures, grade exams and advise students.
Why it’s hot: College enrollment is rising as the number of 18- to 24-year-olds increases. Also, more adults are returning to school to enhance career prospects.
Degree: Master’s required for entry-level jobs. PhD required for tenure-track positions. Median salary: $51,800