Healthcare Career: More than Just a Paycheck
Degrees in healthcare allow career seekers to take advantage of one of the fastest-growing job sectors in today's economy. Learn how an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in healthcare may help you.
From taking care of patients on the front line as a nurse or directing the treatment process as a physician, health care is a career that may make a difference.
The Career 411
The health care industry is comprised of a collection of professionals that diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate patients who suffer from illnesses and injuries. They combine best practices with high-tech medical equipment to follow a patient from assessment to recovery. Health care professionals work in a variety of medical environments--hospitals, clinics, private practices, immediate care facilities, and even in retail establishments.
Health care management professionals such as consultants, financial auditors, and human resources professionals, who provide support to medical staff on the front line, may be found in offices of medical facilities.
Why This Career Has an Edge
The demand for health care professionals has never been higher. The US Bureau of Labor statistics reports that health care will generate 3 million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016; that's more than any other industry over the coming decade. For you, that means the option to work anywhere in the country, at virtually any facility that you choose.
Also, the human component is another attractive draw. Very few professions allow you to see the fruits of your labor in such an instant fashion. You can actually witness the healing process and give your patients hope for a healthier tomorrow. And because you're typically cooperating with a team of professionals to get the job done, your collaborative skills are sharpened throughout your career.
Career in the Numbers
Wage and salary employment in the health care industry is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2016. The particular fields that expect the highest increases in employment include:
- Home health care services at 55.4 percent
- Ambulatory health care services at 32.3 percent
- Health practitioners at 28.3 percent
- Physician offices at 24.8 percent
PayScale lists several potential salary levels for various professions within the health care industry. Salary is influenced, by specialty, experience, and geographic location. Some of the top earning niches in the coming decade include:
- Nursing Director - $77,869
- Physician Assistant - $74,376
- Nursing Manager - $73,803
- Physical Therapist - $59,301
How to Get There
Due to the extreme specialization of positions within the industry, there are multiple routes of entry into health care programs. Assistants and technicians are often required to earn at least two years of focused training in a related field. Registered nurses typically have a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing. And physicians combine a bachelor's degree in a natural science with at least four additional years of post-graduate study and a two-year residency.
Certification is also a primary concern at all levels. A variety of professional organizations offer certification opportunities that require working experience, passing a formal exam, and continuing professional development.