When you see someone injured or sick, do you feel a natural inclination to help out? Does the biology and physiology of the human body fascinate you? Are you cool and calm with things like cuts and scrapes that make so many of your peers squeamish? If so, you may just have what it takes to train for successful and life-changing career in healthcare.
With a large, aging baby boomer population in the United States, the need for healthcare workers continues to grow. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor projects jobs in the healthcare field will grow 19 percent by 2024. This doesn’t just mean more hospitals stocked with doctors and nurses either—though those are of course, two critical pieces of the puzzle. There are many components that make up a comprehensive healthcare system, and a variety of ways you can devote your life to helping people heal and maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, you could become an X-Ray technician at a local clinic, provide pediatric dental care or help guide babies into the world as a midwife at a birthing center. You could become a mental health counselor to those suffering from depression or a home health aid to elderly or chronically ill. Whatever your specific interests and career goals, there are many options to explore in healthcare.
But don’t worry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupational outlook handbook can help you narrow things down. It provides you with job profiles, salary information and what type of education and training you’ll need to complete. To get you started on your path, here are a few great jobs in the healthcare field.
If you’re hoping for a job that makes a difference in the lives of others, earns a good annual salary and has pretty solid job security, nursing might be the perfect fit for you, as nursing job opportunities are expected to rise 16 percent by 2024.
What you’ll do:
There are many aspects to being a nurse. Whether at a school, hospital, nursing home or clinic, they need to gather health information, educate patients clearly and compassionately, apply treatments and administer medications prescribed by a doctor.
What you’ll earn:
Depending on where they work, Registered Nurses make anywhere from $45,880 to $98,880, though the median salary in 2014 was $66,640.
Degree you’ll need:
There are several avenues you can take to becoming a registered nurse. You’ll need a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, successfully complete a nursing school program, which includes on-the-job clinical training, and pass National Council Licensure Examination for your license.
Being a doctor or surgeon isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires immense drive and long-term dedication. It requires a tolerance or “strong stomach” for seeing what most people don’t, and mental and emotional strength through stressful and sometimes downright sad situations. Most of all, it requires a commitment and readiness to help those in need of medical attention and save lives. Read on if you think you’d be up for the challenge!
Physicians and surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating people with illness and injuries. They gather information about the patient’s condition, the make decisions and take action accordingly. Doctors may provide general preventative care and treatment of minor health issues, or specialize in areas such as sports medicine, pediatrics (children’s health), cardiology (heart), dermatology (skin) and radiology (often cancer-related treatment). Some work in hospital emergency rooms or exclusively surgical units, while others may see pregnant women for an appointment in their office one day and perform cesarean-section surgery to deliver babies the next. Explore more of the specialization options that a rewarding career in medicine offers.
What you’ll earn:
Wages tend to vary greatly depending on the area of medicine you work in. For example, family primary care physicians earned an annual median income of $221,419 in 2014, obstetricians earned $317,496, while anesthesiologists earned the most at $443,859. As you can see though, each of these positions pays far more than non-physician jobs in the health care field.
Here’s what some people may call a catch. Becoming a physician or surgeon is a significant investment of time and money. Most physicians earn a four-year undergraduate degree and then four years of medical school, loans for which add up. They complete their advanced education with a residency program (in essence, on-the-job training), which can last anywhere from three to seven years depending on specialization.
It’s good to be needed, especially when it comes to your job. And what this country needs is more physical therapists (also known as PTs). Employment opportunities in physical therapy are expected to grow by 34 percent by 2024, so if you’re fascinated by how the human body works—and heals—and want to improve people’s quality of life everyday, this field is one you might seriously want to consider.
Physical therapists are the experts in movement, and work one-on-one with people to reach their goals, whether that’s returning to full function after an injury, treating and managing chronic pain, or maintaining strength and wellness. As a PT you might work in a hospital, patients’ homes, a private clinic, a fitness center, for a sports team, or nursing home.
Depending on where in the country you work, your level of education, specialization, and what kind of setting you’re in, you can make anywhere between $56,800 and $116,090 annually, thought the median salary in 2014 was $82,390.
To break into this field you’ll to earn a bachelor’s degree, complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy program which will focus on biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology, and include clinical experience, and then pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for licensure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one third of American adults are obese—that’s over 78 million people. Obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even cancer, so it’s no wonder dietician and nutritionist jobs are expected to grow 16 percent by 2024, which is much faster than average among all occupations.
The good news is, in most cases, obesity-related health issues are preventable through healthy eating and exercise. If you enjoy learning about the nutrients in various foods, how the body absorbs and uses them, and most importantly, teaching people and helping them reach goals, this could be a perfect career fit for you.
Working in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and even grocery stores, dietitians and nutritionists guide people toward making food decisions that will benefit their bodies, and combat or prevent disease.
Depending on where you work, you could make anywhere between $35,040 and $79,840 each year, although the median salary is $56,950.
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to land a good job as a dietician or nutritionist, and many complete on-the-job internships. Depending on your state, you may need a license to practice in the field as well.
As first responders to accidents, fires and emergencies, paramedics and Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have an incredibly important job. They need to act quickly, often under stressful circumstances, to apply their medical knowledge to protect and save the lives of others.
EMTs and Paramedic drive ambulances to emergencies in order to address medical needs of people at the scene and transport them to a nearby hospital emergency room or treatment facility. There they must fill out necessary paperwork in order to properly communicate circumstances of each patient to the doctors and nurses who will take over emergency medical care.
Data from May 2014 shows the median annual wage for full time EMTs and paramedics was $31,700, with the lower end around $20,690, and the highest 10 percent around $54,690.
Many paramedics simultaneously work for their town’s fire department, which can drive salary upward, while an independent ambulance service may pay on the lower end of the scale.
To become an EMT you’ll need a high school degree, CPR certification and completion of an EMT certificate program. Depending on the level of EMT, programs require between 150 to 400 hours of instruction and skills training.
Becoming a paramedic requires more advanced education, often requiring an associate’s degree program, which includes approximately 1200 hours of instruction, and certification/licensing from the state.
To prepare for either, taking courses such as anatomy and physiology are advisable.
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I think health careers are an amazing to plan for someones future, but it’s not for me.
I was thinking about going into nursing and this helps a lot thank you!
I would love to learn about other healthcare careers…like speech therapists or behavioral therapists because I often learn about the above professions but rarely about the other options.
I got bored…
This was a good article, and taught me some good information that made me think about these fields.
that would be awsem
Thank you so much, those couple paragraphs about registered nurses was plenty of help to know the shape of my life in the next 4-5 years from now. Thank you again.
vary interesting will now i think i know what im go to be
I think this article is pretty interesting, but I would rather go into medical for animals.