Health Care Careers with Surprisingly High Earnings

Health Care Jobs with High Pay

Check out these high-salary jobs in the fast-growing health care industry.

By Lisa Manterfield

Are you looking for a high-salary job in a rapidly growing field? Look no further than health care.

A February 2013 employment summary by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the health care industry added 23,000 jobs in January alone.

Andrea Santiago, health careers guide at About.com, worked in health care recruiting for more than 10 years, and she says that the industry has always been strong.

"But today it's growing even as other industries are struggling," she says.

Santiago attributes this strength to several factors. "The population is growing, people are living longer, and older people need more health care services," she says. Santiago also says that recent health reform means that 30 million more people are now insured.

Click Here to Learn More About Careers in the Health Care Field.

If you're ready to start working toward a new, high-paying career in health care, look no further. We've pulled together a list of some of the most lucrative medical careers for your persual. Of course, many of these careers require quite a bit of schooling, so if you're looking for something a little less time-consuming, we've also included some closely related supporting careers. Keep reading to find the health care career path right for you.

Career #1 - Anesthesiologist
Median Annual Salary: $187,199*

If you've ever had to undergo surgery, then you've likely been under the care of an anesthesiologist. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these critical care physicians are responsible for maintaining a patient's vital life functions - like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing - during surgery. They may also provide pain relief to patients in intensive care or labor and delivery.

Job Growth Outlook: As the population continues to age and grow, so will the demand for all physicians and surgeons, the group to which anesthesiologists belong. The field overall is projected to increase by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020, notes the Department of Labor.

Highest Education Required: M.D. degree (Medical Doctor) or D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and an additional three to eight years of internship and residency.

Related Support Career: Registered Nurse, median annual salary: $65,950


Career #2 - Family and General Practitioner
Median Annual Salary: $167,000**

If you have a sore throat, a funny pain, or you're feeling under the weather, your first health care stop will likely be to your primary care physician, who is often a family or general practitioner. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, general practitioners are often able to diagnose and treat a broad range of conditions - from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones -  but will usually refer patients with more serious conditions to a specialist.

Job Growth Outlook: Like we mentioned before, expansion in this field is steady; physicians and surgeons are projected to grow by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020. Many medical schools are already increasing enrollments to meet this demand.

Highest Education Required: M.D. degree (Medical Doctor) or D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and an additional three to eight years of internship and residency.

Related Support Career: Physician Assistant, median annual salary: $88,660


Career #3 - Pharmacist
Median Annual Salary: $113,390**

When your doctor writes you a prescription, your next stop is usually a pharmacist. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, pharmacists are responsible for distributing prescription drugs to patients. They sometimes advise doctors on appropriate medications and relay instructions and warnings to patients about their medications.

Job Growth Outlook: Pharmacist positions are projected to increase by 25 percent between 2010 and 2020, notes the Department of Labor. Opportunities in this career could be available in doctors' offices, outpatient care centers, and nursing homes.

Highest Education Required: Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree.

Related Support Career: Pharmacy Technician, median annual salary: $28,940


Career #4 - Physical Therapist
Median Annual Salary: $78,270**

If you've ever had an accident or injury that's resulted in loss of movement - say a back injury or a badly sprained ankle - you may have been referred to a physical therapist, a medical professional who generally helps patients improve their mobility. They may diagnose problems and develop treatment plans to help reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Job Growth Outlook: As people age, they are more likely to need physical therapy to help them stay mobile, which is one reason why the Department of Labor projects physical therapists positions to grow by 39 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Highest Education Required: Doctoral degree from an accredited physical therapy program.

Related Support Career: Physical Therapy Assistant, median annual salary: $51,040


Career #5 - Dental Hygienist
Median Annual Salary: $69,280**

When you open up and say "ahh" at the dentist, it's usually a dental hygienist who will examine your teeth, take x-rays, and clean away plaque and stains. And in some offices, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, dental hygienists are also allowed to prepare filling material and administer anesthetic.

Job Growth Outlook: The dental hygiene field is one of the fastest-growing occupations, with the number of jobs projected to increase by 38 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Department of Labor. Opportunities should continue to grow as the population ages and more emphasis is placed on preventative care.

Highest Education Required: A degree from an accredited dental hygiene program, most of which grant associate's degrees.

Related Support Career: Dental Assistant, median annual salary: $34,140


*According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics, median annual salary for anesthesiologists may be equal or greater than $187,199.

**All median salary, job growth, and education information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2011 data.


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