The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently listed the growing careers within the greater health care industry. In 2012, the latest year for which the BLS has retained data, over 11.6 million Americans were working in the health care industry (bls.gov, 2012) and 40 percent of the fastest growing careers in America through 2020 are expected to be in health care (bls.gov, 2012).
The health care positions listed below are expected to be the growing among all health care over the next decade. Many of these industries are expected to grow as much as 25 percent per year through the next two to three years alone.
The health care careers from 2010 through 2018 include the following fields in order of expected growth:
- Medical Assistants – Expected to be the fastest growing field, medical assistants specialize in administrative and clinical tasks to support the work of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Duties may include answering phones, greeting patients, preparing medical records and insurance forms, scheduling appointments, billing, lab correspondence and more. Education usually requires a certificate or diploma in health care management, medical assisting or related field.
- Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians – These technologists and technicians assist physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac and vascular (heart & blood) problems. They also assist cardiovascular physicians in many types of procedures including angioplasties and even open-heart surgery. As the population across the US ages, Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians will continue to be in higher demand. Two and four-year programs in cardiovascular technology are available for those who wish to work in this industry.
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers – Also known as ultrasound technicians, sonographers operate the ultrasound equipment necessary for doctors to collect the information they need to diagnose a variety of issues from tumors to pregnancies. Two and four-year sonography programs are available nationwide as this field is expected to grow quite fast through the next decade.
- Physician Assistants – Physician Assistants work closely with doctors and nurses to provide services to assist physicians in a wide variety of patient care. Job duties include inquiring patient's medical histories, patient examinations, laboratory and X ray correspondences. As health care industry expands, the demand for physician assistants will grow as well. Requirements include a minimum two-year education program and a national licensing exam. .
- Respiratory Therapists and Respiratory Therapy Technicians – RT technicians evaluate, treat, and care for patients with cardiopulmonary (breathing/lung) disorders. Therapists and technicians provide a wide range of care for their patients, from diagnosis through treatment. Job openings are expected to increase for a variety of reasons, not least of which is America's aging population. Education requirements include at least an associates degree in respiratory therapy.
- Athletic Trainers – Also including personal trainers, athletic trainers help to prevent and treat injuries for people of all degrees of athleticism, from high profile athletes to children, elderly and overweight and obese. Job duties include recognizing, evaluating, and assessing injuries and ailments to provide the correct care and rehabilitation. Trainers work in a variety of settings from hospitals and clinics to fitness centers. Educational requirements usually include at least an associates, however a bachelor's degree in a related field is often preferred.
- Surgical Technologists – Also referred to as surgical technicians, these professionals assist surgeons, nurses and other surgical personnel in the operating room. From preparation of the operating room to preparing and transporting patients for surgery to monitoring patients' vital signs while they are under, these technicians are in greater demand each passing year with the industry's increasing technology. Educational requirements usually include formal training programs through community and junior colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military.
- Clinical laboratory Technologists – Also known as medical technologists or lab techs, they perform clinical laboratory tests to aid in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases. Lab techs manage the process of analyzing and testing a vast number of specimens including fluids, bacteria, tumors and many other types of substances sent from doctors. Educational requirements generally include at least an associates degree or certification from a college, university, hospital, vocational or technical school. For clinical laboratory technologist, the requirements are higher, most often requiring a bachelor's degree with a major in medical technology or life sciences.
- Medical and Health Services Managers – Medical & health services deals with the business end of health care, rather than patient treatment or laboratory studies. Also known as health care administration, service managers plan, forecast, administer, coordinate and supervise the mechanics of the health care industry. Working in a variety of settings including physicians' offices, clinics, hospitals, home health care services, long term care facilities and outpatient care centers, the demand for medical services managers is predicted to continue to rise. Unlike many other areas of allied health, senior administration positions often require a master's degree in health care administration, business administration or closely related field while a bachelor's can be enough for some entry-level positions.
- Dietitians and Nutritionists – Of all the careers on this list, only nutrition and dietetics works primarily for the prevention, reduction and alleviation of illness and ailments, preserving health rather than reacting to specific body failures. Dietitians and nutritionists are in a better position than ever before to increase the health of Americans while lowering the ever-increasing costs of health care before they spiral even farther out of control. Preventing and treating illness through the promotion of better eating habits and dietary modifications, these professionals have a profound affect on tomorrow's health care outlook. Working in a variety of settings, nutritionists and dietitians can be found in hospitals, schools, research facilities, private and public clinics as well as private practice.. North America's growing focus on disease prevention through improved education of nutrition and diet, along with its it's aging population, have increased demand for nutrition professionals in every community. Educational requirements differ from dietitians to nutritionists. Whereas one requires at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, nutrition science or related degree to become a registered dietitian, nutritionists can often begin practicing after just an associates degree in the subject.