Want to pursue a growing career in health care? Check out these six booming options.
By Andrea Duchon
Do you want to go back to school to prepare for an in-demand career field? You might want to look into health care.
The U.S. Department of Labor's March, 2012 "Projections Overview" report says that the "health care and social assistance industry is projected to create about 28 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. economy" from 2010 to 2020.
That's a projected 5.7 million new jobs - putting the health care industry at the forefront of job growth.
Think a career in the health care industry is right for you? Read on for six booming health care careers and the education requirements you'll need to prepare to pursue them.
Career #1 - Health Care Administrator
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 22 percent*
If you consider yourself a natural-born leader and want to apply your take-charge skills to a health care career, a gig as a health care administrator could be the perfect fit for you.
Health care administrators are often responsible for keeping the gears of a clinical center up and running. Typically, they work behind-the-scenes, keeping up-to-date on new laws and regulations, supervising assistant administrators, and handling the financial processes of a facility, reports the U.S. Department of Labor.
Job Growth Outlook: With baby boomers increasing in age, a demand for more doctors, procedures, and - ultimately facilities is imminent, says the Department of Labor. And as you can imagine, someone will be needed to oversee and organize the medical information and staff within these facilities. This is one reason that the Department foresees an increase of 68,000 jobs in this profession from 2010 to 2020.
Education Options: A bachelor's degree in health administration is typical for pursuing a career as a health care administrator, although master's degrees in health services, long-term care administration, public health or administration, and business administration are also common, says the Department.
Career #2 - Medical Assistant
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 31 percent*
Looking for an administrative health care career that also allows you to interact regularly with patients? A career as a medical assistant could be a great option.
In fact, medical assistants work mainly on the administrative side of health care, performing office tasks for doctors and other health practitioners. But they're also responsible for taking down a patient's history, preparing lab tests, and scheduling appointments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Job Growth Outlook: What's causing this career field to have a boom? The aging population, who will increase the demand for preventive medical care, says the Department of Labor. And because physicians will have more patients to see, they will reduce their workload and costs by hiring medical assistants, thus creating a projected 162,900 new jobs, according to the Department.
Education Options: In most states, there are no formal education requirements for medical assistants, says the Department. Typically, they have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may prefer candidates with formal education, such as a diploma, certificate, or associate's degree.
Career #3 - Medical Records and Health Information Technician
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 21 percent*
Do you think you're better suited working behind-the-scenes, rather than face-to-face with patients? Then consider a career as a medical records and health information tech.
They play an important role in keeping the office up and running. How so? By managing and organizing data on behalf of the facility they work in. This includes reviewing patient records, assessing patient outcomes and success, and providing patient confidentiality, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Job Growth Outlook: An aging population means more tests, treatments, and procedures, and as a result, more technicians will be needed to manage patient records, says the Department of Labor. For this reason, the Department projects 37,700 new medical records and health information technician jobs to be created from 2010 to 2020.
Education Options: According to the Department, this career path typically requires a certificate in health information technology, though an associate's degree in the field is also accepted. You'll also want to keep in mind that many employers require applicants to have a professional certification.
Career #4 - Dental Assistant
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 31 percent*
Are you into smiles? Perhaps you want to help the world do a little more of it? If so, a career in the growing field of dental assisting could be right for you.
Dental assistants act as the right-hand person for dentists. Just take a look at what their daily responsibilities often entail, per the U.S. Department of Labor: assisting doctors during procedures, educating patients on proper dental care, scheduling appointments, and working on billing and payment issues.
Job Growth Outlook: Thanks to research that links oral and general health, dental assistants are projected to be in demand - in correlation with the demand for preventative dental services - says the Department of Labor. That's one reason why they project 91,600 new positions to open up in this field between 2010 and 2020.
Education Options: According to the Department, requirements for dental assistants vary from state to state. However, some states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program, which includes certificate and associate's degree programs, and pass a state exam, adds the Department.
Career #5 - Registered Nurse
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 26 percent*
Do you want to pursue a hands-on health care career? Good news: A career as a registered nurse (RN) would likely allow you to interact with patients on a daily basis.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nurses typically provide and coordinate patient care, which could include jotting down a patient's medical history to running general health screenings and outreach programs.
Job Growth Outlook: Looking for more good news? The registered nursing career field tops the Department of Labor's "Occupations with the largest growth" chart, with a projected addition of 711,900 jobs from 2010 to 2020. This is due to many factors, including an increase in the number of older patients needing care, says the Department.
Education Options: According to the Department, registered nurses typically earn either a diploma from an approved nursing program or an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. From there, they must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Career #6 - Pharmacy Technician
2010 to 2020 Job Growth Rate: 32 percent*
If you've ever picked up a prescription from a pharmacy, chances are a pharmacy technician counted your pills or rang you up at the register. Yes, these technicians are a pharmacist's little helpers.
Of course, a pharmacy tech's daily responsibilities are anything but little. Just consider this: Pharmacy technicians often help pharmacists by filling prescriptions, counting tablets, and mixing medications, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. They also might handle customer-facing responsibilities, like answering phone calls and accepting payment for prescriptions.
Job Growth Outlook: Thanks to advances in pharmaceutical research and an aging population that takes more medication, the Department of Labor says more prescription medications are being used. As a result, the Department projects 108,300 new pharmacy technician jobs to be created between 2010 and 2020.
Education Options: According to the Department, a pharmacy technician usually requires at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some states may also require technicians to pass a licensing exam and complete a formal preparation program, which results in a certificate.
*All job growth rate information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition.
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