The nitty-gritty: The number of dietitians is on the upswing, and BLS expects a jump of 12,700 jobs through 2020. What's driving the surge? In recent years, there's been an increased awareness of how what we eat fosters health and wellness. A dietitian creates special diets for people who struggle to eat properly due to aging, allergies or illness such as diabetes and heart disease. You'll advise clients on diet-related concerns such as weight loss and cholesterol reduction. Corporations that offer wellness programs, health clubs or sports teams might hire you. Even supermarkets or restaurants hire specialists to whip up custom menus. For an aging population, there's also a growing demand for geriatric dietitians at hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers and offices of health practitioners. You might opt to open your own practice.
Median pay: $25.60 an hour.
Qualifications: The requirements for a state license and certification include a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition or a related area, supervised practice, and passing an exam. One way to become licensed is to earn the Registered Dietitian (RD) credential, which involves passing an exam after completing academic coursework and a supervised internship. You can get find more information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).
4. Massage Therapist
The nitty-gritty: Massage therapists are prized for their ability to ease muscle soreness and unwind stress for their clients. The employment prospects are swelling, as massage becomes an increasingly mainstream service offered by spas and clinics in recent years. BLS estimates that 30,900 more professionals will be hired through 2020. There's a smorgasbord of treatments and techniques massage therapists use, and you may choose to specialize in one as a targeted way to build a business as the go-to expert. You might work for a big hotel chain, which offers in-room massages to guests, or a local health club. Or your magic fingers could comfort residents of a retirement or assisted-living community or medical center. Once you get a loyal base of followers, you can attract new clients by word of mouth. Then you pack up your own table and linen and head over to their homes or offices for private sessions. Your core work consists of evaluating the client's medical history and following that with muscle manipulation, which can be gentle or a real workout. At the end of the day, you will feel it, too. Administering massages is physically demanding, so you may need to spring for massage for yourself from time to time.
Median pay: $16.78 an hour. Most massage therapists earn a combination of wages and tips.
Qualifications: In 2011, 43 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. In states with regulations, workers must get either a license or certification after graduating from an accredited training program and before practicing massage. Programs offered at colleges and universities can require 500 hours or more of study to complete. These programs cover more than just hands-on training, but you will learn subjects such as anatomy and physiology as well as business management. You usually need to pass a state or national exam to get a license. The two nationally recognized tests are the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB).
The nitty-gritty: Customers inevitably want a change: to look more professional, more youthful, or just want a 'do that fits their lifestyle. The job demands precision and fashion sense, listening skills and sometimes barber-chair psychotherapy. The essence of the job is shampooing, cutting, coloring and styling. The job can take a toll on you because you spend so much time on your feet, bending forward, and using your arms to wash and rinse your client's hair. Demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and even adding hair extensions has ramped up in recent years, a trend that's expected to remain over the coming decade. If you work as an independent contractor — as about half of all stylists do — you'll need to keep detailed records for tax purposes. Juggling clients can be tricky, especially when someone calls with a last-minute request. The key is a gracious smile and an ability to make each customer feel special and, well, happy. Employment of hairstylists is expected to bump up 16 percent through 2020, according to BLS.
Median pay: $10.94 an hour. But no one really charges by the hour, of course. A basic cut and shampoo can start at around $16 at a Hair Cuttery in Culpeper, Va. Tips of 10 to 20 percent are standard. Everything changes if you run your own salon. A typical cut and color can easily top $120 per appointment in a big city.
Qualifications: All states require hairdressers to be licensed. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally a person must have a high school diploma or GED and have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow you to transfer a valid cosmetology license. State licensing board requirements and a list of licensed training schools for cosmetologists may be obtained from the Beauty Schools Directory. Word-of-mouth marketing makes or breaks your success as a hairdresser.
Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.
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