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Ann Jacobi Brown, gives a presentation on proper breakfast choices to a group of students at A.L. Stanback Middle School in Hillsborough, NC, as a part of her requirements as a nursing student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ann Jacobi Brown, 52, a nursing student teaches healthy nutrition to middle school students. — Photo by D.L. Anderson

En español | The prolonged housing market meltdown pushed Ann Jacobi Brown, a real estate broker of 11 years, to switch careers at midlife.

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At age 52, she is months away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The cyclical nature of the real estate business is something you learn to live with but it was getting so much more difficult,” Brown says. “I knew it wasn’t going to take me into retirement.”

Brown decided to pursue nursing two years ago because rapid growth is predicted for the occupation through the next decade.

“Going back to school at this point in time was a big challenge for me — financially and intellectually,” says Brown, whose husband works as a landscaper. But she says her new occupation is already giving her peace of mind.

“I can go anywhere and work as a nurse. I’ll never have to worry about being unemployed,” she says. “With real estate, you’re always at the mercy of the economy.

All over the country, people younger and older are moving toward occupations that promise big growth, like registered nursing. Some of the growth occupations require specific degrees, some don't. Some pay well, some are near minimum wage. But all offer the prize of potential job security.

Here are nine jobs and their expected growth from 2010 to 2020, as forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new hires include many people age 50-plus, though precise numbers are not known.

Registered nurses 

Registered nurses hold most of the jobs of health care. Of the 2.6 million RN positions, about 60 percent are in hospitals. The typical educational paths to this career are a bachelor's degree, an associate degree or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

RNs' responsibilities include recording patients' medical histories and symptoms, helping perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operating medical equipment, administering treatment and medications, and assisting with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Expected growth rate: 26 percent.

                                                                                 Retail Sales >>

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