Here’s a statistic that may come as a surprise, but did you know that one in eight people are currently employed by the healthcare industry here in the United States? It is a massive industry that affects people directly all across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this one industry alone is responsible for generating $2.7 trillion each year. If you were to add up all the job titles in healthcare, it would total more than 16 million positions.
Now, what makes the industry even more intriguing and interesting is that it’s nowhere near maxed out; many positions are growing at rates much higher than the national average, sometimes double or even triple. With the baby boomers aging and leaving the workforce, it is creating all kinds of job openings plus they are putting more strain on the healthcare resources. As they age, it makes sense that they require more care. It’s a double whammy if you will.
So, for those thinking of a major career change or deciding which career path they should follow in terms of post-secondary education, the healthcare industry should appear on your radar. What many don’t realize is just how much variety exists in this industry, appealing to all different people. Here we’ll take a look at nine careers worth pursuing in 2021, from the common healthcare jobs to those you may not be as familiar with. Perhaps this list will act as an eye-opener and help you figure out your future.
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When you think of the healthcare industry, it’s normal to think of doctors and nurses, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. And besides all the front-line medical staff, there is also a robust administrative staff that is responsible for all the paperwork and data entry. The job of a medical secretary gives you a chance to work within healthcare but not on the front lines. You’ll be responsible for patient booking and scheduling, medical chart recording, patient billing and much more.
Besides having excellent organizational and communication skills, you’ll also need to be very familiar and comfortable with healthcare procedures and medical terminology. Some of the common places in which medical secretaries work include physicians’ offices, dentists’ offices, surgical hospitals, outpatient centers, clinics, health practitioners and more. The average yearly wage as of 2020 was $39,000 for these professionals, but some industries pay higher than others. In general, it is outpatient care centers that pay the highest.
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It’s hard to find a job that is more in demand than that of a registered nurse right now. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for more nurses country-wide.
It’s also important to point out that, once you become an RN, you can then look at advancing your career further choosing such programs as an Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) to MSN, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), PhD in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to name just a few. You can check out schools like Wilkes University to learn more. The job of a registered nurse can be a stepping stone to more advanced careers in the field.
Taking a closer look at the career of a registered nurse, the following statistics and information stand out:
- Registered nurses have a median pay of $75,330 and job growth is predicted to be 9% over the next decade. You can work in a physician’s office, the hospital, a clinic, a nursing care facility and more.
- You can become an RN by taking a few different education routes. These are an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in nursing or by obtaining a diploma from an approved nursing program. Once you finish school you will then need to be licensed.
- As an RN you will be responsible for a wide range of patient care spanning all kinds of different health issues and conditions.
- It can be a very busy job, shift work is common, and you may even work in a few different locations/facilities.
Home Health Aide
This job is responding to the changing demographics in the country. As mentioned, the baby boomers are aging, which means they are requiring more assistance. Many are still able to live independently in their own homes, but rely on the help of a home health aide.
These aides perform several different duties and tasks such as helping the patient to take medication and manage it; checking vital signs; helping them to arrange their daily tasks and schedule; helping them get to appointments; light housekeeping duties; helping the patient with personal care and grooming, such as getting dressed, and so forth.
As the job title implies, you will be going to the patient’s home to help them and, in most cases, you’ll have an array of patients you are working with. This can be perfect for those who don’t want an office environment and like to get out and help others.
While this job doesn’t pay as much as some of the other positions, since it has a median pay of $27,080, you can get into the job much earlier since you only need a high school diploma. Job growth is slated at 33% over the next decade which is well above the national average.
Want to work in the medical industry, be patient-facing but not deal with the stress of the emergency department? The job of a massage therapist could end up being the right path for you. In this job, you’ll be helping people to recover from injuries or help them to be more mobile, reduce pain, improve their circulation and help them to relax. The job of a massage therapist can be extremely rewarding, and you may feel like you’ve got more control over your future. There’s no need to be working 12-hour shifts; you can work at a clinic or open your practice and you may even be able to set your hours and patient load. Massage therapists work with all age groups, so there’s never a dull moment.
But what about the job outlook? Here’s another field that is growing exponentially, with it expected to grow by 32% over the next 10 years. The median pay for massage therapists is $43,620, which will fluctuate depending on the environment you work in. Common places you may work are clinics, doctor’s offices, spas, fitness centers, hotels or you may even visit patients in their own homes.
Another fast-growing job in the healthcare industry is that of the dental hygienist. While it’s not growing at the speed of some of these other positions, it’s still higher than the national job growth average. The median pay for this job is $77,090 and you’ll need an associate’s degree for this position. On top of the degree, you will also need to be licensed in the state you plan on working.
What makes this an interesting option is that dental hygienists often have the opportunity to work part-time, which can be ideal for some people. It may work better with your schedule and lifestyle. Your job will include examining patients to look for signs of oral disease, cavities and other issues, providing oral hygiene and speaking to them about preventative care.
Another job under the healthcare umbrella and in demand, is that of an optometrist. These professionals are responsible for eye care and health services. You will be checking the vision of your patients, as well as diagnosing various eye diseases and conditions. Optometrists are the ones that write up prescriptions for corrective glasses and lenses and even eye medication when needed. Job growth is predicted to be 9% between 2020-2030 and you will need a doctoral or professional degree. A license will also be needed to practice. The median pay for optometrists is $118,050.
This is an interesting career path that you don’t hear a lot about but, again, is very important and in demand. As a radiation therapist, it will be your job to provide radiation to cancer patients. You’ll be using a variety of machines to administer the radiation. The patients who come to you for treatment/care are likely going through the most stressful time of their life. Being a person who can show empathy, compassion, understanding and communicate well with others will help you to succeed in this job.
This job requires an associate’s degree and you will need to be licensed as well as certified in some states. Be sure to look at your individual state’s requirements. The median pay for this job is $86,850 and job growth is slated at 9% over the next 10 years. The most common places to work in this career are an outpatient center, a hospital or a doctor’s office.
Imagine if there was a career that was predicted to grow by 29% between now and 2030? That is exactly the case for speech-language pathologists. This is a really interesting career path, which doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. While you may assume you will only be helping people with speech problems, that’s not the case at all. Speech pathologists work to diagnose, treat and even prevent swallowing disorders and communication disorders. Your patients will range in age from kids to seniors, as all ages can benefit from these professionals.
To become a speech pathologist, you will need your master’s degree and you will likely need to be licensed. The average yearly salary is $80,480 and as for where you will work, that can include hospitals, clinics, private offices and schools.
It will pay to be a very patient and understanding personality type. Besides being well-trained in critical thinking skills, you may also need to do some out-of-the-box thinking and customize treatment plans for the individual patient. Each patient’s needs will be unique.
Then we have a whole other type of healthcare, and that’s the healthcare of animals. As a veterinarian, your patients will be animals of all types, sizes and species. Your job will be to diagnose and treat illnesses and health concerns, discuss preventative care, perform check-ups and protect public health. You may work in your own office, a laboratory, a farm, a zoo or even a classroom. You’ll need your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and a state license to practice. The median pay is $99,250 and this job is predicted to grow by an impressive 17% by the year 2030.
Burnout In the Healthcare Industry is Very Real
Any time you look at an industry that is going through a huge hiring process where pretty much every career is in demand, it’s only natural to ask when the bubble will burst. When will the hiring process slow down or at least level out? The problem is that it’s not just the fact that more people are needed in this industry; it’s also the fact that many of these healthcare workers are coming out of 19 months’ worth of a pandemic.
Burnout in the healthcare industry is a very real thing and there is at least a partial exodus happening. It’s helping to feed the turnover rate, which means there are no signs of it slowing. The idea of getting fresh and energized faces into the industry could be just what is needed, especially for overworked front-line workers who are just looking for a break.
When it comes to promising career paths – not just in 2021, but looking ahead to two, five, 10 even 15 years from now – the healthcare industry offers quite a lot of opportunities and stability. What makes it all the more attractive is the fact that there is such a wide array of positions available which require different levels of education, skills, training and interests.
For those who may already be working in healthcare, there has never been a better time to explore your options and look at ways you can make a career change within the industry and work your way up the ladder.