If you want to earn a degree that's hot to employers, you might want to look to the health care field...
Do you want to earn a degree that employers actually want? Consider pursuing a health care degree.
According to health care career expert, Andrea Santiago, almost any degree in the health care field is a smart option.
"There are very few bad investments when it comes to picking among the available health care degrees out there. The field is full of opportunities," says Santiago, who is also About.com's Guide to Health Careers.
In fact, the health care and social assistance industry is projected to see as many as 5.7 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
"The important thing is to do your research and decide on a degree that suits your particular interests," says Santiago.
To help you navigate the various options within this field, we've compiled a list of health care degrees that could help you get noticed by employers.
Not so keen on needles and syringes? Got more of an inclination for files and databases? Good news: an associate's degree in health information technology could prep you for a more behind-the-scenes health career.
Why Employers Want it: "This is the time to have a degree in health information technology," says Santiago. "With new legislation requiring medical facilities to transition from paper to electronic records, the need to hire people to help with this transition is high."
What You'll Learn: Wonder how hospitals keep their confidential medical information organized? Wonder no more. With a health information technology program, you could discover how medical databases are built and maintained, says the College Board, an educational organization that administers tests like the SAT. Some common courses you may take include medical terminology, introduction to coding, and health information systems.
Potential Career: With an associate's degree in health information technology, you could prep to pursue a career as a medical records and health information technician. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these technicians are the ones who gather patients' medical information and compile it into a database.*
Do you want to pick up leadership skills that can help you learn how to run a medical facility - not just work in one? If so, earning a master's degree in health care administration could be a great fit for you.
Why Employers Want it: "Health care is so different from traditional business settings that having a master's degree specifically focused on health care administration is going to be more appealing to employers than a more generalized MBA," explains Santiago. "When an employer looks at your resume and sees 'health care administration,' it communicates that you're someone who has a specific interest in, and passion for, health care."
What You'll Learn: In a health administration program, "you'll learn how to manage the finances of huge organizations, how to deal with personnel, and how to interpret and comply with the maze of laws that effect health care providers, administrators, and organizations," according to the Princeton Review website.
Potential Career: Want to one day manage a hospital? Well, with this degree, that could be a viable goal. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a master's degree in health services could help you pursue a career as a medical and health services manager. These are the people who handle the day-to-day operational decisions for hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.*
If you love to help people and want to earn a degree that could teach you what it takes to be involved with patient care, then an associate's degree in medical assisting might be worth your consideration.
Why Employers Want it: "While not all employers require medical assistant candidates to have a degree, getting your associate's could help you become more comfortable with the medical terminology and other aspects of the job," says Santiago. "It could also save a potential employer from having to train you in things that were already covered in your program."
What You'll Learn: With common courses like medical office administration and clinical procedures, a medical assisting program offers students a chance to understand the different clinical and administrative tasks that go into running a medical office, according to the College Board.
Potential Career: After you finish your associate's degree in medical assisting, you could be prepped to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Those in this career can often be found taking a patient's history, scheduling appointments, or filling out insurance forms in a medical office, says the U.S. Department of Labor.*
Do you care about dental hygiene more than most people? If so, you could very well enjoy earning an associate's degree in dental assisting.
Why Employers Want it: "Because this is a very specific field, which requires a specific skill set, an employer who wants to hire a dental assistant will be looking for someone with an associate's degree in dental assisting," explains Santiago. "The fact that it's a highly specialized field will make someone who has gone through the classes and learned the right terminology and procedures stand out."
What You'll Learn: Ever wonder what the proper way to brush and floss is? Good news: you can. In a dental assisting program, you'll likely learn about proper dental care, how to take x-rays, and how to sterilize medical equipment, says the College Board. Dental assisting techniques, oral anatomy, and radiology are just a few of the classes you may take.
Potential Career: So, what kind of gig could you pursue with this degree? You guessed it: dental assistant. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, dental assistants play an important role in keeping dental offices running smoothly, both on the administrative and treatment end.*
Do you sympathize with people who have to recover from an illness or injury? Do you think you'd enjoy learning how to help patients regain their physical functions? If so, consider earning an associate's degree in physical therapy assistance.
Why Employers Want it: "On top of the fact that this type of program will give you the field-specific knowledge employers are looking for - the terminology, the exercises - a completed associate's degree also demonstrates to an employer that you are capable of learning and applying knowledge," says Santiago. "This is incredibly important in a field where you'll need to continue to learn on the job."
What You'll Learn: In this program, "you'll learn the exercises and techniques physical therapists (PTs) use to rehabilitate patients," notes the College Board. Typical classes like therapeutic exercise, rehabilitation procedures, and motor development could help you learn these techniques.
Potential Career: Not much of a surprise here, folks. An associate's degree in physical therapy assistance could help you pursue a career as a physical therapist assistant, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. In this role, you could work alongside physical therapists to help patients through their exercises or offer different therapeutic treatments.*
*All potential careers information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition. Related careers were determined on the basis of the Handbook, which referenced the degree as being either required, preferred, or good preparation for the potential career.
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