Even during the depths of the recession and the slow recovery of the U.S. economy, healthcare is considered among the most stable of careers. America’s aging population and evolving healthcare coverage point to top healthcare jobs across a wide range of disciplines.
Primary and clinical careers
- Registered nurses. With the huge Baby Boom generation now carrying their AARP cards and the senior population predicted to surge in the next decade, the market will be wide open for private-duty and institutional nurses. The potential for career development includes options as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse or nurse manager. The highest-skilled professionals in the most lucrative job markets can earn upwards of $75,000 a year.
- Physical therapists. According to experts, demand outpaces supply for physical therapists in nearly every sector of the United States. Add to that the fact that the current crop of PTs is getting ready to retire – a third of them were age 50-64 in 2010 – and the benefits of getting into this career now become even clearer. CNN calls physical therapy a “fast growth” career.
- Clinical laboratory technicians. With a mean annual wage of $38,960 as of 2011, clinical laboratory technician jobs are forecast to increase by 16% between 2008 and 2018. Technicians may specialize in disciplines like immunology or phlebotomy, and they may devote their time to examining cells, creating charts, and consulting with physicians.
Health and wellness careers
- Acupuncturists. An increasingly sought-out alternative therapy, acupuncture combines ancient techniques with modern wellness approaches. Practitioners must gain certification from an accredited school, and other requirements (such as earning an M.D.) vary by state. The average salary for acupuncturists was $50,000 in 2005.
- Massage therapists. From in-their-prime athletes to creaky Baby Boomers, people of all ages and descriptions seek relief for tired muscles and pulled tendons. This puts massage therapy on the cutting edge of rising healthcare careers; in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an impressive 20% rise in employment through 2020.
- Chiropractors. If you have the determination, talent and time to complete undergraduate work plus a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic degree, you’ll be in a fine position to hang a shingle in the next decade. The job forecast for chiropractors is a bright one, rising by 28% through 2020. The pay is attractive, too, averaging $67,000 per year in 2010.
- Dieticians/nutritionists. America’s obesity issues and an increased awareness of healthy lifestyle choices are triggering new careers for dieticians and nutritionists. These professions require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related course of study, including dietetics, food and nutrition, and food systems management. You will also need a firm grasp of sociology, economics and even psychology. But a double-digit employment forecast and a median wage topping $50,000 can provide a substantial return on your investment.
Service and support careers
- Home healthcare providers. Baby Boomers are putting the “boom” in home healthcare demand – among top healthcare jobs, this one is uniquely forecast to increase by an impressive 50% from 2006-2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home health aides, personal care aides, respite care providers and certified nurse assistants are just a few of the job descriptions in this field. The salary is not the highest in healthcare, averaging about $20,00 per year, but practitioners often enjoy flexibility in scheduling and assignment as well as the personal satisfaction of making a positive difference in the lives of their patients.
- Case managers. Collecting, analyzing and reporting timely and accurate information to improve the quality of a patient’s treatment and recovery is the job of the medical case manager. This career was tagged as one of 2010’s 100 Best Jobs in America by CNN, which cited a median salary of $54,000 and a job growth rate of 22% from 2008-2018.
- EMT/paramedics. There will always be a demand for first-responders in emergencies and health crises. It takes a unique combination of grace under pressure and a drive to succeed to excel in this challenging but highly rewarding field. From entry-level EMT-Basic to advanced-level EMT-Paramedic, these careers are often affiliated with local police, fire department and other public services as well as with hospitals. Job growth in this field is about 9% through 2018.
All the top healthcare jobs have their foundation in education, training and certification. But even if your background is in a different industry, you likely already possess many of the organizational, technical and interpersonal skills that can help you succeed in your new calling.