According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the health care field is growing. Learn how to prepare to get in on the action.
Interested in pursuing a health care career? Good news. Now is a great time to start preparing.
According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor's "Employment Situation Summary," health care employment continues to grow, adding 19,000 jobs in April alone.
Keep reading to learn more about five in-demand health care careers - and how you can prep to get your foot in the door.
Career #1 - Medical Assistant
Are you good with administrative tasks and have an interest in the medical field? Consider pursuing a path as a medical assistant, a career that the U.S. Department of Labor projects to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Thanks to the growth of the aging baby boomer population, medical assistants will be needed with the continued demand for preventive medical services, says the Department of Labor.
"The inevitable changes in health care will also create a greater need for people to manage and implement the necessary changes, like medical assistants," says Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of Create Your Career Path.
Typical responsibililties: With a combination of administrative and clinical duties, medical assisting duties could include everything from giving injections (under supervision of physician), drawing blood, scheduling patient appointments, and filling out insurance forms, according to the Department.
Education options: In a majority of states, there are no formal educational requirements, though the Department notes that some employers may prefer medical assisting applicants who graduate from a formal education program, like a certificate or associate's degree program in medical assisting.
Career #2 - Dental Assistant
If you're interested in learning more about dental care and how to help put people at ease, consider pursuing a career as a dental assistant. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of dental assistants is projected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020.
What contributes to this growth? It could be the fact that research now links oral health with general health, which will probably continue to boost the need for preventive dental services, says the Department of Labor.
And in order to see more patients, dentists will continue to need more dental assistants to complete routine tasks, adds Crawford.
Typical responsibilities: As a dental assistant, part of your job could involve helping patients feel more comfortable while in the dental chair. Other duties could include a mixture of administrative and clinical tasks such as sterilizing dental instruments, helping dentists during procedures, handling X-rays, scheduling patients' appointments, and dealing with billing and payments, according to the Department.
Education options: While some states do not have formal education requirements, other states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program - like a certificate or associate's degree program in dental assisting, says the Department. You'll also want to check your state's certification requirements, as this varies by state.
Career #3 - Registered Nurse
If you love to help people and have a passion for the medical industry, a career as a registered nurse could be a good fit. The growing nursing field is projected to increase by 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
With technological advancements treating more health problems and extending lives, more nurses will be needed to help with these treatments, says the Department of Labor.
"The large, aging baby boomer population will have many medical needs, which ratchets up the need for more nurses," says Crawford.
Typical responsibilities: As a registered nurse, you could provide patient care by taking note of their medical histories and symptoms, administering medications, and operating medical equipment, according to the Department. You could also help educate the public with health screenings, blood drives, or other outreach programs.
Education options: To get ready to prepare to pursue a career as a registered nurse, one education path is to earn an associate's degree in nursing, says the Department. Then you can get licensed after passing the national nursing exam (NCLEX-RN).
If you have good organization skills and hope to pursue a growing health care career, you're in luck. It is a great time to prepare for a career as a medical records and health information technician, as the U.S. Department of Labor projects a 21 percent job growth increase from 2010 to 2020.
Like many other health care careers, the demand for health services is projected to increase as the population ages, according to the Department of Labor. With older age comes a greater need for more medical tests, treatments, and procedures, which translates into more data to organize and categorize.
And digitizing of medical records could also cause a hiring uptick. "There is and will be a great need for people to implement these software systems in medical offices everywhere," adds Crawford.
Typical responsibilities: As a medical records and health information technician, you could organize patients' health information and make sure that the data is accurate and secure in both paper and electronic systems, says the Department. And you might use classification software to code and label health information for insurance reimbursements or medical databases.
Education options: To prepare to pursue this career, you might want to earn a professional certification as many employers require it. Medical records and health information technicians generally also need a certificate in health information technology, though an associate's degree is another option, says the Department.
Career #5 - Pharmacy Technician
If you tend to be detail oriented and want to work in the health care field, a career as a pharmacy technician could be for you. This in-demand field is projected to see a 32 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
What's a big reason for the growth? With progress in pharmaceutical research, more prescription medications are utilized to battle diseases, notes the Department of Labor.
And as the number of older people increases, there will likely be more demand for medications, Crawford adds.
Typical responsibilities: Under a pharmacist's supervision, a pharmacy technician could help distribute prescription medications by measuring prescription amounts and packaging and labeling them, according to the Department. Other duties could include answering phone calls from customers and handling payments and insurance claims.
Education options: Many pharmacy technicians could learn on the job, but education requirements vary by state. One option is to earn a certificate. In some states, you may also need to pass a certification exam, says the Department.
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