Want to pursue an in-demand career? Consider one of these growing careers in the health industry.
If you're looking to prepare for a career in a strong industry, look into your health care options.
The industry is projected to grow by 5.6 million jobs between 2010 and 2020, the most of any other industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
In December 2012, alone, health care added 45,000 jobs, with employment rising by 338,000 over the entire year, according to the Department of Labor's Employment Situation Summary for December.
Keep reading to learn about six hot health care careers with high job growth potential.
Career #1 - Medical and Health Services Manager
These detail-oriented administrators are essentially the professional "oil" that makes day-to-day operations run smoothly. From streamlining procedures to maintaining the security of patient files to developing reports and controlling costs, these professionals have their fingers on the pulse of medical office efficiency, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," according to the Department of Labor. Master's degrees are also common, in majors such as long-term care administration, public health, health services, business administration, and public administration.
Job growth: According to the Department, this career is expected to grow faster than average at a rate of 22 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Median annual salary: $86,400*
If you tend to be detail oriented and have strong computer software skills, a career as a medical record or health information technician could be a good fit.
These technicians may not generally log a lot of hands-on patient time, but they can play an important role in documenting patients' medical histories such as symptoms, examination results, or treatment methods, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education: To pursue a career as a medical records and health information technician, you usually need a postsecondary certificate, although an associate's degree may also be acceptable. Still, most employers might prefer to hire candidates who have obtained professional certification, according to the Department of Labor.
Job growth: This position is projected to see 21 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020, due in part to an increase in medical tests, treatments, and procedures, says the Department.
Median annual salary: $33,310*
Career #3 - Registered Nurse
If you have a caring nature and want a hands-on role in health care, consider pursuing a career as a registered nurse (RN).
These patient professionals wear a variety of "hats," usually assisting physicians with everything from performing diagnostic tests to educating patients about managing their injuries or illnesses to providing emotional support, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Specific work duties vary depending on the position and office atmosphere, says the Department of Labor.
Education: To pursue a career as registered nurse, you can take one of two paths. You could earn an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program. From there, you'll need to pass a national licensing exam, according to the Department of Labor.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.
Job growth: The Department projects a 26 percent increase in registered nursing jobs from 2010 to 2020.
Median annual salary: $65,950*
Career #4 - Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians usually work in a retail environment, helping to prepare prescriptions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Once they receive a written or electronic prescription request, pharmacy technicians generally verify the accuracy of the prescription, prepare the medication, and then pass it to the pharmacist for final approval, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education: To prep for this career, you'll usually be required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent, although some states might require you to pass an exam or complete a formal education program, says the Department.
Job growth: This industry is expected to increase much faster than the average field at 32 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Department.
Median annual salary: $28,940*
Career #5 - Medical Assistant
These health care professionals perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. Potential responsibilities include: drawing blood, changing dressings, filling out insurance forms, answering the phone, and filing medical records, says the Department of Labor.
Education: Although there are no formal educational requirements in most states, some applicants prepare for a medical assisting career by pursuing a formal education program, which could lead to a certificate, diploma or associate's degree, says the Department of Labor. Employers may prefer candidates who have graduated from a formal education program or have certification.
Job growth: According to the Department, this career is projected to experience 31 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020, in part due to the aging population.
Median annual salary: $29,100*
Career #6 - Dental Assistant
From processing dental X-rays to creating casts of the teeth and mouth to updating patients' records, dental assistants play an important role in providing oral care through a mixture of patient care, office, and laboratory roles, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education: Some states may require candidates to pass a state exam and graduate from an accredited program. These programs, which could lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree, include lab work where students learn about the instruments dentists use, as well about gums, teeth, and jaws, according to the Department of Labor.
Job growth: With a projected 31 percent job growth, the Department projects dental assisting will be a fast growing occupation between 2010 and 2020. With more middle-aged and older populations preserving their natural teeth as well as an increased emphasis on preventive dental care, the demand for dental services will most likely continue to increase, according to the Department.
Median annual salary: $34,140*
*Average earning potential information is from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages for May 2011.
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