The in-demand careers in our list don't require a graduate degree, although for some of these high-demand careers a master's degree may be helpful for some of the positions.
We had numerous top careers to choose from. We selected in-demand occupations which don't inspire people to watch the clock, and which also have excellent employment growth forecasts from 2010 to 2020.
All of our employment projections and income statistics come from the redoubtable Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment growth forecasts cover the period from 2010--2020, while median salary figures are from 2011.
So, which jobs are in demand?
In alphabetical order, here's our list of 10 rewarding, in-demand careers:
What they do: Actuaries gather and evaluate facts to calculate the financial costs of risks. They build mathematical models to put a price tag on future risks.
Since they spend a lot of time working with numbers, they need an understanding of probability, statistics, and risk analysis.
Many actuaries work in the insurance industry. They decide how much to charge for insurance, or decide how much money to set aside to pay outstanding insurance claims.
Education requirements: Many actuaries have an undergraduate degree in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, or business. Some employers hire people with a liberal arts degree who show a high mathematical aptitude.
Actuaries need to take required courses for professional certification, including applied statistics, economics, and corporate finance. Helpful courses include courses in computer science, particularly programming languages. They also need the skills to develop and use spreadsheets, statistical analysis tools, and databases.
The occupation requires continual education. To achieve professional status, actuaries need to pass a series of examinations provided by the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries. Both societies offer associate and fellowship certification.
Median salary: $103,000
Employment growth: 27%, faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects consulting services to have the largest employment growth for actuaries---58%---due to the demand from insurance companies for contract work, and to companies seeking help with evaluating and managing employee benefit plans. For the insurance industry itself, 25% employment growth for actuaries is forecast.
More industries are expected to use the services of consulting actuaries to evaluate risks across all business areas, a practice known as "enterprise risk management." Those who have passed at least one actuarial exam and completed an internship while attending college should have the best prospects for entry-level jobs.
What they do: Biomedical engineers are involved with engineering for life. Biomedical engineers improve and save peoples' lives throughout the world via an array of innovations. They work in the worlds of biology, healthcare, and engineering. Some biomedical engineers use their expertise in electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering to solve healthcare and biology problems.
Biomedical engineers help create items such as prosthetic limbs, artificial organs, cardiac devices. and a variety of medical instruments. Some biomedical engineers are involved in areas such as arthroscopic surgery, tissue engineering, stem cell research, surgeries performed by robots, nanotechnology, and synthetic drugs.
Biomedical engineers often work in teams with doctors, nurses, technicians, medical scientists, medical researchers, manufacturing representatives, and others. Many biomedical engineers work for biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, and research labs.
Education requirements: Some biomedical engineers have a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering; however, many have an engineering degree in areas such as chemical and mechanical engineering.
Some biomedical engineers with an engineering degree in a field other than biomedical engineering obtain a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or receive on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.
Many undergraduate biomedical engineering programs require students to choose a track such as bioelectrical, biochemical, biomechanics, or biomaterials.
Median salary: $88,360
Employment growth: 62%, much faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects that rapid changes in technology will continue to create new areas for biomedical engineers to work in.
What they do: Cardiovascular technologists test and treat patients for heart, lung, and blood problems. Working with sophisticated lab equipment, they have the opportunity to specialize in invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular technology.
Most cardiovascular technologists work in invasive health labs or medical surgical intensive care units. They help other healthcare professionals perform heart surgeries and studies.
Many noninvasive cardiovascular technologists work in cardiologists' offices, in cardiac rehabilitation centers, or for a hospital or health insurance agency.
Education requirements: Most cardiovascular technologists have an associate's degree. Some schools offer a bachelor's degree in the subject, while others provide a one-year certificate program.
Some cardiovascular technologists first obtain an associate's or a bachelor's degree in radiologic technology or nursing, and then receive on-the-job training. A certificate is not required for the occupation; however, many employers prefer to hire certified technologists.
Median salary: $52,160
Employment growth: 29%, much faster than the average for all occupations
Those with multiple professional credentials, along with the required training to perform a wide array of procedures, have the best job opportunities.
What they do: Computer systems analysts design and develop computer systems; however, they typically wear a lot of hats, from selecting and configuring software and hardware and monitoring and testing the system in operation, to troubleshooting problems and matching technology to the needs of users.
Computer systems analysts provide systems requirements to software developers and network architects. They also consult with managers and users to establish system objectives, and develop cost-benefit analyses to ensure the technology is financially feasible.
Computer systems analysts need to understand how systems interact, but they don't have to understand the core of all the technologies involved. They need to know how information flows through the system, and they must understand the business field they're working in.
For example, an employer at a hospital may seek a computer systems analyst who has completed courses in health management, or has a background in health management.
Education requirements: Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor's degree in computer science or information science. Some companies hire people with a business or liberal arts degree who can write computer programs. To deal with the business aspects of a company, some computer systems analysts major in information systems management.
Some positions require a master's degree, such as an MBA with a concentration in information systems. Some computer systems analysts only have an associate's degree, along with experience in a related occupation.
Median salary: $82,320
Employment growth: 22%, faster than the average for all occupations
People with a business background may have better job prospects because the occupation often requires knowledge of a company's business needs.
What they do: Cost estimators decide how much a project will cost, in order to help a company decide if they should manufacture a product or build a structure. They evaluate all the factors which can change the cost of a project, including labor, supplies, special equipment, and location.
Cost estimators decide which jobs are making a profit. They also estimate how long it will take workers to complete tasks. They estimate delays which may occur due to bad weather or late deliveries. Over 60% of cost estimators work in the construction industry; the rest work in a broad range of other industries.
Education requirements: Most cost estimator positions require a bachelor's degree. They need a strong background in mathematics.
Construction cost estimators generally need a bachelor's degree in an industry-related field, such as building science or construction management. Some construction workers with a lot of experience and analytical abilities may qualify for a cost estimator job without a bachelor's degree.
Cost estimators working in manufacturing typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, statistics, or mathematics. Some employers seek candidates with backgrounds in business-related disciplines such as economics, finance, accounting, or business.
Median salary: $62,670
Employment growth: 36%, much faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects the demand for cost estimators to remain strong due to companies seeking more accurate cost projections, as well as more cost-effective products and services.
What they do: Healthcare managers plan and oversee medical and health services, as well as the financing and delivery of healthcare. They also evaluate the need for services, personnel, and equipment. In addition, healthcare managers make sure a healthcare facility adheres to government regulations.
Healthcare managers at small facilities typically oversee the entire facility, whereas health care managers at large healthcare institutions usually specialize in managing a particular clinical area or department. Some healthcare managers oversee a medical practice for a group of doctors.
Education requirements: Healthcare managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree, often in Health Administration. Many healthcare managers have a Master's degree in Health Services, Public Health, Long-Term Care Administration, Business Administration, or Public Administration.
Median salary: $86,400
Employment growth: 22%, faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS reports that there will likely be an increase in demand for nursing care facility administrators due to the aging baby-boomer population. The demand for medical group practice managers is forecast to increase, as medical group practices become larger and more complex.
What they do: Network administrators plan, build, upgrade, and maintain computer networks, as well as keeping them secure. They ensure that vital servers and other types of equipment and applications work almost 100% of the time. They also might deal with emergencies on vital projects.
Network administrators install and support computers and their operating systems, and oversee the operation of a company's computer networks, including local area networks (LANs), network segments, wide area networks (WANs), intranets, and other data communication systems. Network administrators typically do a lot of planning, involving anything from new branches/buildings, to desktop installations, to servers.
Network administrators install and support Web servers and software used for the Internet. They also install and maintain software and hardware.
Network administrators working for a small company may take care of practically everything related to IT, whereas those working for a large company may only manage and administer routers and switches.
Education requirements: A lot of network administrators have a bachelor's degree in a field related to computers or information science. Some network administrator positions require only an associate's degree or a post-secondary certificate in a computer field, along with related work experience. Also, certification programs are generally offered by software companies and product vendors.
Median salary: $70,970
Employment growth: 28%, faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects demand for network and computer systems administrators to continue to grow, as companies invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks.
According to the BLS, individuals with a bachelor's degree in computer science who stay current in the latest technology should have the best job prospects.
What they do: Physical therapist assistants help patients regain physical function after an injury or illness. They strive to limit or prevent permanent disabilities in patients who have been injured or ill.
Physical therapy assistants provide many types of treatments, after consulting with a physical therapist. Most of the treatments they provide improve the function of joints and muscles and reduce pain. They also perform clerical tasks.
Physical therapy assistants help patients with arthritis, low-back pain, broken bones, heart disease, and other problems. They also help accident victims.
Education requirements: Most states require physical therapist assistants to obtain an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist program.
Median salary: $51,110
Employment growth: 46%, much faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects the demand for physical therapy services to growth due to the health needs of an aging population, especially the large baby-boom generation.
Physical therapists are expected to increasingly use assistants to lower the cost of physical therapy services. Physical therapists can manage more patients with help from physical therapist assistants.
The BLS expects job opportunities to be best in acute hospital, orthopedic, and skilled nursing settings, where senior citizens are most often treated.
What they do: Nursing is a diverse and rewarding occupation, which combines compassion with health technology. Registered nurses evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients, and promote health. They help patients meet their basic health needs, recover from illness, and adapt to physical changes. Public health nurses strive to improve the overall health of communities.
Registered nurses work in hospitals, clinics, corporations, and in private practice. Those working in hospitals are typically assigned to a particular area, such as surgery.
Education requirements: Registered nurses typically follow one of three paths: A bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program.
Many registered nurses (RNs) with an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma first obtain an entry-level job and then receive tuition reimbursement to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) by completing an RN-to-BSN program.
Some schools offer a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree program, a combined bachelor's/master's degree program, and/or a program for people who seek to enter the nursing profession who have a bachelor's degree in another field.
Nurses must be licensed. They are required by law to pass the national Certification Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX), after graduating from an accredited nursing program, in order to be officially registered.
Median salary: $69,110
Employment growth: 26%, faster than the average for all occupations
The BLS expects a much faster-than-average employment growth rate for registered nurses in outpatient care centers. Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than nurses without one.
The BLS expects a high demand for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners.
What they do: Software developers are the creative people who design, develop, test, and maintain software. Software developers evaluate the needs of a company, create a solution, and then design or customize software. They also write software code.
Some software developers create the systems which control networks and run devices and others create applications that let users perform specific tasks on a computer or other devices.
Some software developers work on their own; however, they often coordinate the work of a team, including the production of software products, and the selection of content providers and graphic creators. They also collaborate with computer programmers to coordinate the assembly, production, and distribution of the final product.
Education requirements: Software developers typically have a bachelor's degree, usually in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. People interested in becoming a software developer should focus on classes related to building software.
Software developers should have a strong background in computer programming, as well as knowledge and skills related to the industry they're working in.
Median salary: $100,420
Employment growth: 30%, much faster than the average for all occupations
There is an especially big demand for software developers who specialize in applications.