Want to pursue a career in the medical field? Check out our list of five health care careers projected to grow in coming years.
Do you want to pursue an in-demand career in a booming industry? You might want to look to health care.
The U.S. Department of Labor's monthly economic news release noted that the health care industry is continuing to grow, adding 26,000 jobs in March 2012 alone.
Laurence Shatkin, a career expert and author of "2011 Career Plan," believes this is due to a population that's getting older.
"The population is needing more health care, and at the same time, the health care system is trying to find ways to cut expenses," Shatkin says. "One way is to shift health care duties from doctors to less expensive workers."
Perhaps that's why, according to Department of Labor projections, careers like registered nurse and dental assistant are projected to have some of the highest growth rates between 2010 and 2020.
Intrigued? Keep reading to learn about five booming health care careers.
Career #1 - Medical Assistant
Are you an organized people-person who's looking to pursue an on-the-rise career in health care? If so, this is probably the right time to consider pursuing a career as a medical assistant. From 2010 to 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor projects a 31 percent job growth in the field, which is equivalent to 162,900 jobs.
Why the growth? "An increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other health care facilities need support workers, particularly medical assistants, to do both administrative and clinical duties," notes the Department of Labor.
Typical Responsibilities: "It's important to understand that medical assistants are really medical office assistants," Shatkin added. "Their job is about setting appointments and dealing with insurance companies." Other duties might also include taking patient histories and giving patient injections as directed by a physician, says the Department.
Education Path: Medical assistant hopefuls can enroll in a medical assisting certificate or associate's degree program, both of which are common routes towards pursuing this hands-on career, the Department says.
Career #2 - Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians: you can find them in almost every drug and grocery store. And, looking at the U.S. Department of Labor, you'll be finding them there for much longer.
The Department of Labor projects that employment for pharmacy technicians will grow much faster than the average occupation - up to a 32 percent increase - or 108,300 jobs - from 2010 to 2020.
Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, a career coach who focuses on job-search strategy, says pharmacy technicians and licensed pharmacists now share many duties, which is a good way to help patients get their medication quicker.
Typical Responsibilities: "A technician can do a number of things pharmacists have historically done, like take prescriptions, distribute medication, and interact often with customers," Tannahill-Moran says. Pharmacy techs might also find themselves preparing ointments, packaging and labeling prescriptions, and answering phone calls from customers.
Education Path: If this booming field interests you, consider earning a pharmacy technician certificate, which the Department says is one route towards this career.
Career #3 - Registered Nurse (RN)
If you'd like to pursue one of the largest health care occupations, consider this one. "This career follows the overall medical services upward trend, which is largely driven by the aging boomer population," Tannahill-Moran says.
In fact, registered nurses are projected to see a 26 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That's about 700,000 more available positions in the 10-year period.
Typical Responsibilities: You might think that nurses just tend to patients, but they're actually responsible for a quite a bit more. RNs also perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, as well as operate and monitor medical equipment, notes the Department of Labor.
Education Path: Think this career might be for you? You can take several different educational paths to pursue this career, according to the Department. For example, an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program, plus passing the national licensing examination, could help you get your career going.
Career #4 - Dental Assistant
If you think a career in dental assisting is for you, you're in luck - it's a booming medical career that's projected to see a 31 percent growth, or 91,600 jobs, from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
"The generation of dentists who preferred to do almost everything in the dental practice is moving into retirement and being replaced by a generation that prefers handing off various tasks to assistants," Shatkin says.
Typical Responsibilities: So what exactly does a dental assistant take care of? A variety of things, from scheduling appointments and organizing patients' records to sterilizing equipment and assisting dentists with procedures, notes the Department of Labor.
Education Path: Aspiring dental assistants have a few options when it comes to prepping for the career. Two routes: a certificate or associate's degree program in dental assisting, according to the Department.
Career #5 - Occupational Therapy Assistant
If you like the idea of being on your feet, setting up equipment, and working with patients all day, this thriving medical career might be for you. Occupational therapy assistants are projected to see a 41 percent growth, or 14,800 jobs, from 2010 to 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor says.
"The need for occupational therapy is growing particularly among older people, many of whom have to learn how to cope with strokes and other disabling conditions," Shatkin says. "In addition, the large number of wounded veterans will need these services."
Typical Responsibilities: From helping with therapeutic activities to working with children who have development disabilities, occupational therapy assistants focus on helping patients develop, recover, and improve the skills they need to use on a daily basis, says the Department of Labor.
Education Path: If you choose to go this route, you'll need at least an associate's degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program, according to the Department. In most states, you must also be licensed.
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