The healthcare industry is the backbone of the U.S. job landscape, and with good reason—it’s one sector where hiring growth is above average, and many professionals in the industry strive to make an impact on the lives of the people they help.
Consider Adrian Miranda, a physical therapist in Brooklyn, New York. “There’s living, and then there’s quality of life,” Miranda says. “Physical therapists maintain quality of life.”
Physical therapists, one of the year's best jobs in healthcare along with dietitians and physiologists, are devoted to maintaining quality life and function, primarily as preventative care. All three fields have a high growth outlook and strong salaries, as well as the public’s increased awareness of their importance.
Miranda says he became interested in a career as a physical therapist while in high school. An active athlete who participated in baseball, basketball, soccer and wrestling, Miranda says that back pain brought him into physical therapy as a patient. He later earned a degree and became a physical therapist, and has since taken an aggressive approach to his education to rise to the top of his profession.
He’s currently a doctoral candidate at Texas Tech University, and Miranda says his career choice allows him to have a profound impact on the lives of others, which makes his day-to-day efforts worthwhile.
“I had a 26-year-old cancer patient,” Miranda says. “Her goal is to be able to work out again. It was her identity...part of her life...and I was able to help give that back to her.”
Job prospects across the entire healthcare sector are expected to grow through the next decade as more Americans gain access to health insurance and providers add staff to meet the demands, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Healthcare employment remained strong through the recession, and has continued to grow this year, with unemployment falling to just 3.7%. In fact, the BLS projects that employers in health care will account for 5 million new hires by 2022.
To be sure, not every healthcare job has the same hands-on impact that Adrian Miranda sees as a physical therapist, where job growth is expected to rise 36% by 2022, the BLS reports. But there are a wide range of health care careers that offer the ability to help patients get better, which can be extremely rewarding. Consider pharmacists. While you may not consider their role to be critical, anyone who has ever desperately needed a prescription filled knows just how significant their work is—and they are handsomely rewarded for it with an average annual salary of $116,670.
Of course, getting started as a pharmacist requires a significant educational investment of both time and money. Erin Albert, a pharmacist in Indianapolis, says that residencies and apprenticeships for aspiring pharmacists after they’ve completed pharmacy school are competitive and often take years to complete.
Because postgraduate work is a serious undertaking, Albert recommends getting a feel for the career before diving in.
“Network [with as many professionals as possible]…to get a feel for different disciplines,” she says.
Other top jobs among the best in healthcare require either associates or bachelor’s degrees, such as medical technologist and dental hygienist.
Below are the 10 best jobs in healthcare heading into 2015, according to our Jobs Rated report metrics:
An audiologist diagnoses and treats hearing problems by attempting to discover the range, nature, and degree of hearing function.