Aspiring to become a professional in the health care industry? Well you may be in luck because due to the ever-changing health care environment and increased demand for healthcare employees, the job outlook in this industry looks rather promising. Despite the stress, which is present in just about every industry anyway, choosing a career in the health industry may be the most rewarding decision you will ever make – the income is usually a plus too. There are several paths you can take, filled with various opportunities…so with your best interests in mind, choose wisely. The top 10 health careers most likely fall under the following categories:
#1 – Registered Nurse (RN)
A registered nurse is one of the most in-demand careers in the entire health industry of the United States. Due to the continued aging of the population, the outlook of this career is very positive; as the population ages, we are going to need more and more qualified individuals to provide skilled medical care. In order to be licensed as a RN, one must exhibit competence in various areas of nursing and pass a licensure board exam. Overall, RN’s must have a minimum of 2 years and up to 4 years of additional, higher education after high school graduation focused on the specialty of nursing to become a RN. Greater than 4 years of education will award much higher degrees in the specialty of nursing. RN’s are expected to perform duties as directed by those above them (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dentists, etc) and are expected to perform hands-on, critical thinking tasks, while caring for the lives of others. RN’s also may be expected to perform their skills quickly and effectively, especially during times of an emergency. The median income for a registered nurse is approximately $50,000 – 60,000 per year.
#2 – Home Health Aide
A home health aide is a qualified individual that provides a limited amount of care to individuals within their home. The care a home health aide provides is simply just activities of daily living such as helping their patients eat, bathe, get dressed, etc. Home health aides do not have the qualifications to provide more skilled medical care such as give medications, perform assessments, complete treatments, etc. Generally the population that requires care from a home health aide is unable to leave their home or unable to complete their daily routines safely on their own. Due to the aging population, more and more people will begin to require care that is brought into their homes in order to function on a daily basis, which makes this job in high demand in years to come. To acquire this position most companies prefer that individuals are qualified for this position, and at least possess basic life support (BLS) certifications. In most areas it will take less than 12 months to earn qualification to begin working as a home health aide. The median income for a home health aide is approximately $25,000 per year.
#3 – Medical Assistant
A medical assistant is a qualified individual that assists physicians generally in their offices. Tasks medical assistants typically perform include collecting vital signs, performing blood draws, administering injections, completing parts of health physicals and more. Before medical assistants were very popular, licensed practical nurses (LPN’s) held their positions. LPN’s have since been worked toward phasing out of doctor’s office settings due to their pay requirements being higher than medical assistants, which is why medical assistants are more in demand for physician offices. Typically to obtain the diploma to become a medical assistant it will take less than 2 years. The median income for a medical assistant is approximately $32,000 per year.
#4 – Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in providing medications and health care products to a variety of patients. Of course these jobs are in demand due to the high quantity of medications that are made available to patients around the world for their existing health conditions and for those who are newly diagnosed on a daily basis. Technicians obtain qualifications in order to count medications, label bottles, and perform administrative duties such as answering telephones, etc. It is NOT within the scope of a pharmacy technician to answer patient questions or educate them related to their medications. Formal training to become a pharmacy technician will vary depending upon your location. Most often, a selling point of this career is that many companies offer on-the-job training for this position. The median income for a pharmacy technician is approximately $32,000 per year.
#5 – Medical Transcriptionist
Medical transcriptionists are individuals who are qualified to transcribe what physicians have dictated; dictated means that the physician, radiologist, etc. performed a patient procedure and later verbally records what they did once the procedure is finished into a phone that is stored onto a file that is later typed (transcribed) by an individual qualified to do so in order for an original file to be printed and placed into the patient’s medical record. Medical transcriptionists should have a vast amount of medical terminology education and be familiar with medical procedures that are typically performed in the area in which they are expected to provide transcription on. Postsecondary education is preferred, but not recommended for this position; most employers base their hiring on individuals with further education and experience. The median income for a medical transcriptionist is approximately $35,000 per year.
#6 – Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are the most in-demand job in the field of dentistry – they provide care to dental patients as directed by the dentist and others who are in supervisory roles. One must express competence in a higher educational program focused in this area in order to be qualified to take on a position such as this; programs generally take 1 to 2 years to complete. Their tasks include sterilization of dental instruments, educating patients on dental care, and obtaining x-rays. Typically, dental assistants have flexible schedules that may allow for a second job or may enable them to continue their education. The median income for a dental assistant is approximately $35,000 per year.
#7 – Healthcare Administrator
These individuals act as the backbone to any facility to which they are employed; further education of up to 4 years focused on healthcare administrative duties must be completed prior to applying for a position in this field. Healthcare administrators take on duties that require supervision of the work that is carried out by numerous departments and employees within their facility. The healthcare industry is ever improving and changing which will require that administrators be flexible and able to adapt to new environments and new technology. The demand for administrators is still great despite how much the healthcare industry continues to change and become more technology-based. The median income for a healthcare administrator is approximately $64,000 per year; this number may significantly increase or decrease depending up what level of education the individual has, and which type of facility they choose to work in (hospital, long-term care facility, etc).
#8 – Medical Records/Health Information Technician (HIT)
Individuals with this experience are responsible for maintaining the millions of confidential health records of patients within the vast healthcare industry. There is a postsecondary degree option that aspiring individuals should complete prior to applying for a position in this field, or in some cases there may even be on-the-job training available. Health records these employees handle include x-rays, medical history, laboratory reports, treatment plans and all the other pertinent paperwork that is within the medical record. In present time, most medical records are also scanned into a computer system in order to be accessed much easier and to be shared over distances with different members of the healthcare team. The medical records field is expected to grow faster than average because it requires special experience to maintain such confidential and expansive records, along with navigation of the technology. Each patient has a detailed medical record that always needs to remain organized and confidential. The median income for medical records/HIT employees is approximately $36,000 per year.
#9 – Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are individuals that have went on to further their education with the focus of helping patients during rehabilitation to regain and restore their muscle strength so that they may reach their most optimal level of functioning and independence. Becoming a physical therapist requires upwards of 4 years of college courses after high school graduation, plus one must pass a board exam to obtain licensure. Physical therapists have the unique ability to be able to work with a huge variety of patients – to those who suffer from chronic pain, to disabled individuals, to the elderly – their options are open. Physical therapy is indeed a growing occupation, especially for those interested in pursuing a level of higher education but who have chosen not to become a medical doctor. Becoming a physical therapist opens the door for many opportunities, most will have more than one job – such as being employed part-time in a facility, while also having their own private practice. The median income for a physical therapist is approximately $78,000 per year.
#10 – EMT and Paramedic
EMT and paramedics are those individuals who are responsible for providing quick and effective pre-hospital care in emergencies prior to patients receiving care by medical professionals in the hospital setting. As far as education requirements, more is required before one can become a paramedic because their scope of practice is slightly larger than that of an EMT; typically neither one should take more than 2 years to complete. At times EMT’s and paramedics may have to respond to emergency situations that are quite serious and should be able to think fast, critically and provide the best care possible. These individuals should have the capability to perform their job efficiently under extreme amounts of stress. EMT’s and paramedics may work in a variety of settings including hospital emergency rooms, emergency ambulance services, with emergency helicopter services and more. These healthcare workers are typically the first ones to arrive at every medical emergency scene, and this field rarely ever notices a slump in employment because they will always be needed to provide that crucial pre-hospital care. The median income for an EMT is approximately $31,000 per year while the median income for a paramedic is approximately $39,000 per year.
Ultimately, choosing a career within the healthcare industry will prove to be a great choice. Due to the increased lifespan of the current population and continued advancements made in medical technology, careers in the healthcare field will continue to be in demand year after year. Of course more stress may come with some of the jobs that are available, but you just have to choose the one that peaks your interest and the one that would best fit into your lifestyle. No matter which one you choose, the amount of reward felt at the end of each shift will feel overwhelmingly wonderful because of the possibility of having a positive impact on the life of someone else.