Healthcare is an essential part of life. Patients need proper care from compassionate people, and healthcare providers need to find the right people to fill those positions.
As people get older, their healthcare needs often increase. This creates a higher demand for all kinds of health-related services. That’s why healthcare is a field with so many career opportunities.
Projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that healthcare jobs are expected to increase by 16% from 2020 through 2030. This means that the industry will add about 16.97 million new healthcare jobs.
It’s an exciting time to pursue a career in healthcare. This field will add more employees than any other occupation in the coming years, according to the BLS.
Career growth isn’t the only reason many people work in the healthcare field. It’s also a field that lets you help many people. Healthcare professionals get to make a difference every single time they go to work. It can be a rewarding career path with a sense of personal fulfillment.
This guide can help you navigate through your journey toward a career in healthcare. Learn how to find the right path for you, and the education you’ll need to follow that path. Discover career options and tips for landing a job, as well.
Choosing a career is a major decision that requires thought and planning. Use this guide to help you think through your options and find the career that meet your needs. Once you know what you want to do, this guide offers actionable steps to help you reach those career goals.
Start your career path by asking yourself a few questions. Do you want a career that allows you to help others? Are you looking to work in a field with higher than average projected career growth in the coming years? Would you like to choose between a wide variety of career options?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then healthcare could be a good career fit for you.
It can be difficult to know where to start since there are so many types of healthcare careers to choose from. A simple first step is to look at the broad career paths and see which ones fit best with your needs and goals.
Another option is take a healthcare career quiz to help you explore healthcare positions based on your personality.
Here are a few overviews of the different fields in healthcare:
Allied healthcare is a dynamic field with a lot of career options. Some of the positions involve direct patient care. Other allied health jobs focus on assisting healthcare practitioners and helping medical offices and facilities run smoothly. Still others allow you to work with electronic healthcare records and healthcare technology.
Jobs in allied healthcare can suit a variety of skill sets, since there are so many different paths to choose from. Medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, dental hygienists and home health aides are all examples of allied health careers.
Advances in technology impact the entire medical field. Healthcare lets people build a career around the technology they love. Many people find opportunity to build a career in healthcare technology as a result of technology improvements.
There are positions that focus on healthcare technology systems, while other jobs deal with healthcare technology support. Many positions also work with electronic healthcare records and management systems to help keep patient records accurate and private.
Hospitals, healthcare facilities and other medical practices need strong leadership. Consider healthcare management if you’re driven, organized and good at communication.
Healthcare management may include budgeting, creating processes, communicating with leadership teams, managing the healthcare staff and other business-related responsibilities.
Careers in healthcare management include office managers, front desk supervisors, medical records clerks and accounts receivable specialists. There are a variety of leadership positions available in the healthcare management field.
Now that you have a broad overview of the career options in healthcare, it’s time to narrow down your choices. Answer these questions to help point you toward the right career path.
These questions can help you find the career option to best meet your needs. This guide uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to explain education requirements, salary information and job outlook projections for different healthcare careers.
You might also want to keep in mind where you intend to live in the future. Some cities may have increased need for certain positions. It can be helpful to know if particular positions are in-demand where you plan to live.
Deciding your general career path can help you figure out what you want from a healthcare job. Next, you can narrow down the specific career options that meet your needs.
Here are some promising career options in the healthcare field. Use the provided data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the career that matches to what you’re looking for.
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Medical billers and coders support healthcare providers, helping them collect payments for their services in a timely manner. Medical coders assign each diagnosis and procedure a universal identifier, using standard industry codes. Once patient records have been properly coded, medical billers send the invoice, or claim, to the insurance company or other payer for reimbursement.
Most medical billers and coders work full-time in an office setting at a healthcare practice, hospital, or clinic. As of May 2020, the median salary for this profession—which the BLS classifies as medical secretaries—was $37,350 per year, or $17.96 per hour. This means roughly half of the workers in this occupation earn less, and half earn more.
While overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to decline 11% from 2020 to 2030, the BLS projects employment of medical secretaries will increase 22% over the same period. This faster-than-average growth is linked to the rising demand for healthcare services among an aging population.
Medical billers and coders require many of the same skills as other secretaries and administrative assistants, in addition to specific knowledge related to their profession:
According to the BLS, medical secretaries typically learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending classes at community colleges or technical schools. Online programs are also available. While formal education is generally required to obtain the relevant skills and knowledge, medical billing and coding training can be completed in a matter of months, depending on the individual student. Some employers prefer candidates with relevant certification, such as the Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential.
Medical billers and coders perform a specialized role in today’s healthcare practices. Job titles in this field include medical billing and coding specialist, medical records technician, medical collections specialist, healthcare billing representative, certified coder, and reimbursement coordinator.
With experience and additional education if necessary, these professionals may advance into roles such as medical billing supervisor, coding manager, revenue cycle supervisor, or billing compliance manager.
Dental assistants do a variety of tasks to help dental practices run smoothly. They may work with patients, help keep office records, and schedule appointments.
A dental assistant is most often a full-time position and takes place in a dentist’s office. Dental assistants may also sometimes work in schools, hospitals, or nursing homes.
As of May 2020, dental assistants earned a median wage of $41,180, or $19.80 per hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
The BLS estimates that the need for dental assistants will increase by 11% from 2020 to 2030. Research continues to show that oral health is linked to overall health. That’s why the need for preventative dental health services is expected to see continued growth.
In order for dental practices to meet the growing demands, dental assistants are crucial. They work on the tasks necessary to keep the office running so dentists can keep up with a growing number of patients.
According to the BLS, some skills that dental assistants need include:
The exact education requirements for dental assistants vary from state to state. However, the BLS states that this position usually requires graduation from an accredited program and for the student to pass an exam.
For some states, it could be a one- or two-year program from a vocational or career dental assistant training school. Other states may require an associate degree, though this isn’t as common.
Dental assistants may find work in a specialized position. For example, pediatric dental assistants specialize in working with young patients, while surgical dental assistants assist during dental surgery.
These specialized positions may require additional skills or job experience.
Phlebotomists are responsible for drawing blood from patients. This could be for routine tests, medical research, blood transfusions, or blood donations.
Hospitals are the most common place for phlebotomists to work. Other common workplaces include laboratories, doctor’s offices, and blood donor facilities. Phlebotomists often work full-time.
As of May 2020, the median salary for this job was $36,320, or $17.46 an hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Bloodwork is a critical part of the healthcare industry. It is used to help diagnose patients and perform crucial medical research.
That demand is why phlebotomists are expected to have a 22% increase in jobs from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Phlebotomists need these skills, according to the BLS:
Professional certification is often a requirement to work in phlebotomy. Vocational and career training schools, technical schools, and community colleges are popular options for phlebotomy programs.
These programs typically combine work in the classroom with hands-on clinical work. Students can typically complete phlebotomy programs in one year.
Phlebotomists are sometimes known as phlebotomy technicians. There are leadership positions available in the phlebotomy field, like phlebotomy directors or phlebotomist supervisors. These positions could require additional training or education.
Pharmacy technicians are instrumental to pharmacies. They help patients or medical professionals fill prescriptions and get the medicine they need.
Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, usually with full-time hours. They could be located in pharmacies and drug stores, retail establishments like grocery stores, or hospitals.
The BLS reports that as of May 2020, this position had a median salary of $35,100, or $16.88 per hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Pharmacy technicians are expected to see a 4% increase in hiring from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As people get older, they tend to need more medication. To provide this mediation, pharmacies will need to be well-staffed. That’s why this career field is expected to grow over time.
According to the BLS, pharmacy technicians need the following skills:
These programs may be completed in one year, though students can go on to get an associate degree if they choose, which could make them more competitive candidates.
Pharmacy technicians could work in retail settings, hospitals, or even mail-order facilities. Though the basic job is the same, there could be varying duties based on the specific workplace.
Nursing assistants help to care for patients. They assist with tasks like checking patients’ vital signs and helping patients stay clean. Different workplaces may offer different responsibilities, like giving patients their medicine and helping them to eat.
Some nursing assistants work in hospitals. Others work in nursing homes or other residential facilities. This is most often a full-time job and may require working nights, weekends, and holidays.
As of May 2020, the BLS reports that nursing assistants made a median of $30,850 a year, or $14.83 per hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Nursing assistants are projected to see an 8% increase in available jobs from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS. This increase is due in part to the rising number of baby boomers reaching an age that requires more medical attention.
As more people experience medical issues like dementia or chronic illnesses, they are more likely to need care. This increases the need for nursing assistants.
Nursing assistants require skills like:
Each state has its own specific program requirements and competency exams needed to become a nursing assistant.
These programs are offered at a variety of schools, like high schools, community colleges and vocational and career training schools. Some nursing homes or hospitals may offer their own programs, as well.
Once you’ve completed the state-approved program, you’ll have to pass a competency exam, which usually allows you to be listed on a state registry.
Nursing assistants are sometimes known as nursing aides or Certified Nursing Assistants, depending on the state.
You could also become an orderly. This is a similar job, where your responsibilities include helping move patients around the healthcare facility and cleaning medical equipment.
Orderlies may make a slightly lower median salary and have a projected job increase of 5% from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS.
Medical transcriptionists help physicians and other healthcare employees to create reports and medical documents. They listen to recordings and use technology for voice recognition to get the information they need to create their reports.
Most medical transcriptionists work full-time in hospitals or doctor’s offices. However, the BLS reports that one in ten medical transcriptionists worked from home in 2014.
As of May 2020, the median salary for medical transcriptionists was $35,270, or $16.96 per hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Advances in technology have changed the medical transcription field. The number of jobs for medical transcriptionists is expected to decrease by 7% between 2020 and 2030.
To help increase your chance of being hired in this field, the BLS recommends that students go through a formal education program. Job prospects could be better for people with experience and training in quality assessment and electronic health records (EHR).
The primary skills needed for medical transcriptionists include:
The BLS maintains that transcriptionists with proper education and training are more likely to be hired. One year certificate programs are available for medical transcriptionists. There are also associate degrees available in this field.
Students can find medical transcriptionist programs at vocational and career training schools, technical schools and community colleges. There are also online programs available.
Medical transcriptionists are sometimes known as healthcare documentation specialists. Since technology has changed the function of the job, you will want to make sure you have the new skills needed.
Electronic health records (EHR) experience is especially important in the current medical landscape. You may need to help create EHR templates or policies for documentation, according to the BLS.
Medical records and health information technicians help keep health data well-organized, accurate, and updated, so doctors can make sound medical decisions and provide informed care. They typically input data and help keep patient records secure, as well.
Medical records and health information technicians often work full-time. They may be employed in a variety of locations, like hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for medical records and health information technicians was $45,240, or $21.75 per hour. That means half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Health information technicians have a positive job outlook, according to the BLS. This position is expected to see a 9% increase in employment from 2020 to 2030.
Since electronic health records are used in across the healthcare industry, this field is expected to be in-demand for years to come. The BLS states that job prospects are best for people who get certified in health information.
The major skills needed for medical records and health information technicians include:
Certificate programs or an associate degree are usually required to get a job as a health information technician, according to the BLS. Many jobs require official certification before being hired or shortly after getting a job in this field.
Medical records and health information technicians go by many names. Job titles in this field may include clinical documentation specialist, medical records clerk, coder, biller, medical records analyst, and registered health information technician.
If you later want to continue your education, you can work toward a career as a director of medical records.
A medical assistant does a combination of clinical work and administrative tasks. They may work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, or other healthcare facilities.
Their specific job duties depend on the size and specialty of their workplace. They may take patients’ vital signs,schedule patient appointments, assist physicians during patient exams, and record basic patient information.
Medical assistants often work full-time with some weekends, holidays and evenings, because patient care is often needed during these times. As of May 2020, they earned a median annual wage of $35,850, or $17.24 per hour. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Medical assistants are in the midst of a major employment growth. BLS projections show that medical assistant jobs should increase by 18% from 2020 to 2030.
A rising aging population will create a need for more care. Healthcare facilities will need additional medical assistants in order to care for the increase in patients.
Medical assistants require skills like:
According to the BLS, most states prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed formal education. There are programs available from vocational schools, technical and career training schools, community colleges, and universities.
There are one- and two-year programs available. Students typically work in the classroom, in laboratories, and in the field under the supervision of healthcare professionals.
A medical assistant’s workplace helps to determine what their daily job looks like. Medical data assistants focus on appointment setting, data entry, and coding for insurance. Clinical assistants help doctors and work with patients. Some medical assistants have a blend of administrative and clinical responsibilities.
Medical secretaries may work with doctors or medical scientists. They may work on patients’ medical histories or process payments for insurance.
It is often a full-time job. The BLS states that the median annual salary for medical secretaries as of May 2020 was $37,350. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
The continued growth of healthcare needs has made medical secretaries very in-demand. In fact, demand for this career path should increase by 11% from 2020 to 2030 according to the BLS.
As medical facilities receive an influx of aging patients, billing and processing insurance data will be increasingly important. This will assure that medical secretaries are needed for years to come.
These are some common skills that medical secretaries should have, according to the BLS:
According to the BLS, medical secretaries often need formal education to learn the medical terminology and specific skills needed to do their jobs.
Medical secretaries can attend vocational or career training schools or community colleges to get the education they need. Online programs are also available.
Medical secretaries who want to advance may consider someday working with healthcare executives. Executive secretary positions may lead to higher pay and increased responsibilities.
Medical and clinical laboratory technicians work to collect various medical samples. Depending on their specific job title, medical laboratory technicians may analyze samples from different parts of the body, like tissue, bodily fluids and more.
This is typically a full-time job, according to the BLS. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians often work in hospitals, laboratories, and doctor’s offices. The median annual salary for this position was $54,180, or $26.05 per hour, as of May 2020. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Employment for medical laboratory technicians is expected to see a larger increase than many positions, according to the BLS. This position is expected to see a 11% increase from 2020 to 2030.
Medical laboratory technicians will continue to be in-demand due in part to the aging population and their needs. The BLS explains that due to diseases like diabetes and cancer, lab work will continue to be needed.
Lab work is a crucial part of preventative care, as well as prenatal care, which means that even healthy patients rely on the work of the medical laboratory technicians.
Medical laboratory technicians require skills like:
The education level needed to work in this field depends on the specific job title and responsibilities. For example, medical laboratory technicians often require an associate degree, while medical laboratory technologists may require a bachelor’s’ degree, according to the BLS.
Some states may also require additional certification or licensure to work in this field. The BLS explains that certification is a good idea even if you aren’t in a state where it is a job requirement, since many employers prefer to hire certified technicians.
Medical laboratory technicians are sometimes known as clinical laboratory technicians or medical laboratory scientists. Medical laboratory technologists are also within this field.
There are also some specific job options in this career path. For example, phlebotomy technicians perform bloodwork for research, diagnostic purposes, blood transfusions, or donations. Chemical technicians focus on the chemical side of medicine, working with engineers or chemists.
Cytotechnologists, immunology technologists,and molecular biology technologists are additional career options in this field, according to the BLS, though they typically require a higher level of education.
Patient care technicians are the positions that work directly with patients, like home health aides. These positions are often full-time, according to the BLS. Home health aides may work directly in people’s homes, or in group settings like assisted living facilities or retirement communities.
Home health aides help people in need with their daily activities. They may work with people with chronic illnesses, disabilities or other forms of impairment. Elderly people may also require the assistance of a home health aide.
Home health aides earned a median wage of $27,080 a year as of May 2020, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Home health aides are expected to see a massive hiring growth in the coming years due to the increased needs of the aging population, according to the BLS. This field is expected to see a 33% increase in jobs between 2020 and 2030.
The BLS says that job prospects for home health aides are “excellent.” There are already many positions available, and the hiring is expected to continue.
Since home health aides work so closely with people, there are certain skills that are important to possess:
The BLS explains that home health aides don’t always have particular educational requirements. However, patient care technicians who are employed with certified agencies often require their employees to have training and take an exam.
If a home health agency gets reimbursed from Medicaid or Medicare, then their employees must get proper training and pass an exam to get certified, according to the BLS. Some states also require specific certification.
Community colleges and career training schools may offer training and certification for home health aides.
The job options for home health aides depend on the needs of the patient. For example, some home health aides may provide basic care while others may have tasks that are specific to the patient, like help with prosthetic limbs.
There may be some home health positions that require additional training for medical equipment that the patient needs, like ventilators for patients who have trouble breathing.
Diagnostic medical sonographers use imaging technology to capture medical images, run diagnostic tests and analyze the findings.
A majority of diagnostic medical sonographers work in hospital settings, though some may work at doctor’s offices or laboratories. It is typically a full-time position, according to the BLS. Nights and weekends may be required for this job, as hospitals are always open.
The BLS states that the median annual salary of diagnostic medical sonographers was $75,920 as of May 2020. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
There is a projected 14% increase in employment for diagnostic medical sonographers from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS. Since medical imaging is such an important diagnostic tool, the employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to continue to grow in the years to come.
Diagnostic medical sonographers with certification may have the best job prospects, according to the BLS. This is especially true for those who get certified in multiple specialties.
Skills needed to work as a diagnostic medical sonographer include:
The BLS explains that formal education is necessary to work as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Some jobs in this field may require an associate degree or certification.
There are associate and bachelor’s degree programs available for diagnostic medical sonographers. Certification programs are also available in this field.
Employers often have a preference for hiring certified diagnostic medical sonographers, according to the BLS. This is because some insurance companies and Medicare only pay for sonograms that were performed be a certified professional.
There are a variety of specialties that a diagnostic medical sonographer could choose from, such as abdominal sonographers, breast sonographers, and pediatric sonographers. Each specialty works with a specific area of the body, a specific illness, or a specific patient age.
For example, cardiac sonographers or echocardiographers specialize in imaging a patient’s heart. They use ultrasound equipment to examine the heart’s chambers, valves, and vessels. The images obtained are known as echocardiograms.
Medical and health services managers can run entire medical facilities or specific departments within medical facilities. These roles come with a lot of responsibilities, since healthcare regulations and legislation are frequently changing, and medical facilities have to constantly adapt to stay compliant.
Hospitals are the largest employer of medical and health services managers, according to the BLS. Group medical facilities and nursing homes also employ medical and health services managers.
This is typically a full-time position. The BLS also explains that many medical and health services managers work more than 40 hours per week, sometimes over the weekend and during the evening. The median annual salary for this position as of May 2020 was $104,280, or $50.13 per hour. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Medical and health services managers are expected to see a 32% increase in employment from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS.
The growing demand for this position is thanks in part to the medical needs of the aging population. In particular, employment is expected to grow for medical and health service managers who work for group medical practices, according to the BLS.
The projected career growth in group practices is attributed to the continual improvement in healthcare technology. The advances in healthcare technology have allowed patients to go to doctor’s offices for procedures that used to be done in hospital settings.
Medical and health services managers require skills such as:
Medical and health services managers usually require a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. But a master’s degree may be required for some facilities.
Depending on the type of healthcare facility and what state you work in, you may need additional licensure or certification for medical and health service management positions.
Other career options in the medical and health services management field include clinical director, health information management director and office manager. There are a lot of opportunities for advancement in this field as well.
Radiologic technicians do diagnostic imaging like x-rays. This job often takes place in hospitals or doctor’s offices. It is most often a full-time position and may require working nights and weekends.
In May 2020, the median annual salary for radiologic technicians was $63,710, or $30.63 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Radiologic technicians are expected to have a 9% growth in employment from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS. Since diagnostic testing is such an important part of healthcare, these job are expected to have continual growth.
The BLS explains that radiologic technicians who have certifications in different areas and have graduated from accredited programs could have the most positive career prospects.
Some of the skills that radiologic technicians should possess include:
Radiologic technicians often require an associate degree, according to the BLS. Some states may also require certification or licensure for radiologic technicians.
Students who are working to become radiologic technicians study subjects like pathology, anatomy, image evaluation, patient care, and radiation physics and protection. Their coursework takes place in the classroom and in clinical settings.
Radiologic technicians are sometimes known as radiographers or x-ray technicians. There is room to grow in this field to leadership positions like chief technician.
Social and human service assistants help provide support to a number of fields, like rehabilitation, social work, and psychology. Since healthcare and human services are so interconnected, social and human service assistants can get the chance to make a difference in the health and overall well-being of their clients.
They work to help clients receive aid as needed, with everything from navigating Medicaid to finding assistance with daily needs like eating and personal hygiene.
Employees in this field may work for private organizations, nonprofits, government organizations, or healthcare facilities. Social and human service assistants typically work full-time, sometimes on weekends and during the evenings.
The median annual wage for social and human service assistants as of May 2020 was $35,960, or $17.29 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
The increased need for healthcare in the aging population is one of the reasons why the BLS projects that social and human service assistants will see a 17% increase in employment from 2020 to 2030.
Job prospects are expected to be especially strong for social and human service assistants who have a healthcare degree from an accredited institution, according to the BLS.
Some of the most important skills needed for social and human service assistants include:
Social and human service assistants have varying educational requirements for employment. The BLS explains that even when a degree isn’t a requirement, a certificate or an associate degree in the subject of human services is common for this position.
Moreover, education can help you get additional responsibilities and may increase your chances for advancement in the field.
There are many job titles in the same field as social and human service assistants. According to the BLS, some of these position include:
Occupational therapy assistants help patients with the everyday skills they need after an injury, illness, or aging. They sometimes have their own offices, but may also work in hospitals, nursing homes, or other healthcare settings.
This is often a full-time position.
As of May 2020, the median yearly salary for occupational therapy assistants was $60,950, or $29.30 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
Since the aging population has increased medical needs, occupational therapy assistants are expected to have a 34% increase in employment from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS.
The massive hiring growth in this field means that job prospects in this field are very favorable and likely will be for years to come.
Occupational therapy assistants require skills like:
An associate degree is commonly required for occupational therapy assistants. Community colleges and technical or vocational schools often have programs for occupational therapy.
Hands-on fieldwork may also be required to work as an occupational therapy assistant. You can find this type of experience by looking for a program that offers externship opportunities.
Many states also require you to successfully pass the the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam in order to practice as an occupational therapy assistant, according to the BLS.
Occupational therapy assistants may have the opportunity to advance and become occupational therapists once they earn additional education.
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They help patients and doctors by performing a number of services like providing care and education.
Registered nurses typically work full-time in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. They often have to be available around the clock when they are on call. Working evenings and weekends is common in this field.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for registered nurses was $75,330, or $36.22 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
From 2020 to 2030, registered nurses are expected to see a 9% increase in employment, according to the BLS.
Since nurses are a vital part of most healthcare organizations, the need for this position will likely continue to increase over time.
Registered nurses should have skills like:
There are multiple educational paths available to become a registered nurse. There are nursing programs that provide the licenses needed for this position. You could also get an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree.
Your education requirements will depend on whether you want to become a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Typically you’ll need to complete one year of schooling to become an LPN. To become an RN, you will need between two and four years of schooling. RNs typically need to complete up to an associate degree, and possibly a bachelor’s degree depending on employer requirements. When deciding what path to take, it’s important to consider that RNs usually have more responsibility and, as a result, higher pay.
In all states and U.S. territories, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN, or the NCLEX-PN for a Licensed Practical Nurse). Depending on your state of residence, there may be other requirements for licensing. For more information on state-specific requirements, you can visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Registered nurses can work in a number of different specialties. Examples include genetics nurses, rehabilitation nurses, addiction nurses, and critical care nurses.
If you enjoy working with numbers and have a passion for healthcare, entering the field of healthcare accounting you may want to consider pursuing a career in healthcare accounting.
A career path in this field involves learning how to help healthcare organizations keep track of financial information, checking financial data for accuracy and creating financial reports.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for bookkeeping, accounting, auditing in the healthcare and social assistance industry was $41,100, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
From 2020 to 2030, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are expected to see a 3% decrease in employment, according to the BLS.
Healthcare accountants should have skills like:
Most bookkeeping and auditing clerks need some postsecondary education but can also learn some of their skills on the job. When supervised by another experienced employee, new clerks could learn how to complete their tasks. Basic math and computer skills are important to this role, in addition to knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
Professionals in this field typically work in settings like physicians’ offices, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and healthcare and insurance companies. Associate degree graduates can typically expect to pursue entry-level roles such as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and accounting assistants.
Physical therapy assistants and aides work with physical therapists to help patients restore their mobility while managing pain after an injury or illness. PT assistants are supervised by physical therapists and work alongside them in an office or hospital setting.
This role involves spending a lot of time on your feet and moving around as you work with patients and set up equipment that will facilitate their treatment.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for a physical therapy assistant was $59,770, or $28.74 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
From 2020 to 2030, physical therapy assistants are expected to see a 32% increase in employment, according to the BLS. That’s much faster than average.
Physical therapy assistants nurses should have skills like:
There are more than one path to become a physical therapy assistant or aide. Physical therapist aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent plus on-the-job training that can last from about one week to a month. States do not require PT aides to be licensed.
In all states, physical therapy assistant need to be licensed or certified which typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapy assistant program. PT assistants also need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam for assistants, which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states may also require that applicants pass a test on the state’s laws regulating the practice of physical therapy assistants, undergo a criminal background check, and be at least 18 years old. Physical therapist assistants also may need to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.
Physical therapy assistants work with physcial therapists and other physical therapy assistants. Some work nights and weekends as many PT offices and clinics offer extended hours to accommodate their patient’s needs.
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing due to a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma or emphysema.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for a respiratory therapist was $62,810, or $30.20 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less.
From 2020 to 2030, respiratory therapists are expected to see a 23% increase in employment, according to the BLS.37 That’s much faster than average.
Respiratory therapists should have skills like:
Most respiratory therapists need an associate degree but some have bachelor’s degrees. Respiratory therapists are licensed in every state except Alaska and requirements vary by state.
Most respiratory therapists work in full-time roles. Since they work in medical facilities like hospitals, they could work at night or on weekends.
Cardiovascular technicians, diagnostic sonographers and vascular technologists all are trained to operate special imaging equipment designed to conduct tests and create images.
Physicians and other healthcare professionals may use these images to diagnose or monitor medical conditions.
As of May 2020, the median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers was $70,380, or $33.84 per hour, according to the BLS. This means that about half of the workers in this occupation earned more, and half earned less. To further examine the salaries of these similar fields, the median annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $75,920 and the median annual wage for cardiovascular technicians was $59,100.
According to BLS, from 2020 to 2030, cardiovascular technicians are expected to see a 14% increase in employment, which is faster than average growth.
Cardiovascular technicians should have skills like:
Most respiratory therapists need an associate degree but some have bachelor’s degrees. Respiratory therapists are licensed in every state except Alaska and requirements vary by state.
Most respiratory therapists work in full-time roles. Since they work in medical facilities like hospitals, they could work at night or on weekends.
Once you’ve decided what career you’re working toward, you’re ready to choose the right school. There are plenty of education options that offer healthcare degree programs. Here are some strategies to help you find the right one.
Your first education decision is what type of school to attend. Check the education requirements for the specific job you are working toward to see if you need an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.
After you determine the degree you need, you can decide the right place to get your degree. Community college or a career training school could work for an associate degree. A traditional four-year college or university could work for a bachelor’s degree. Online education options could work for any degree level, depending on the program. There are also career schools with articulation agreements that allow you to move into four-year colleges and universities once you earn your associate degree.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of school.
Pros of getting a healthcare degree from a community college include:
Cons of getting a healthcare degree from community college include:
Pros of getting a healthcare degree from a traditional college or university include:
Cons of getting a healthcare degree from a traditional college or university include:
Pros of getting a healthcare degree from a career training school college include:
Cons of getting a healthcare degree from a vocational/technical include:
Pros of getting a healthcare degree from an online education provider include:
Cons of getting a healthcare degree from an online education provider include:
So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons of the various education options. You’ve made the decision about which is right for you. You know the career you’re striving for, and you’ve found a program that offers it. Now it’s time to make sure that you can get into the school of your choice.
Admission requirements vary based on the type of school or specific program. The higher the degree, the more strict the requirements may be.
For example, if you’re applying for a master’s degree program, you would often need a bachelor’s degree. There may be specific test scores needed for graduate education, as well.
However, if you’re applying for an associate degree or a certificate program, the requirements usually aren’t as strict. A high school degree or equivalent often qualifies you for admission into these programs.
Even students who don’t have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate can often find a school that will help them succeed. There may be an opportunity to attend high school classes online, or take a test equals a high school diploma.
Keep in mind is that there are schools out there designed to help students find success. So even if you don’t meet the application requirements for a traditional bachelor’s degree program, you can still find a healthcare program for your needs.
Once you get into a school, you’re officially on the path to a healthcare career. It’s exciting!
To make sure you get the degree you need for the career you’re working toward, success in school is a must. But if you haven’t been in school for a while, you may not know what to expect.
That’s okay. There are plenty of resources available to help you succeed in school.
To start, bookmark these blog posts to help you with everything from studying to managing online classes:
Organization and time management can make it much easier to get your classwork and homework done. But if you need extra help, your school may have some resources to help you.
Keep in mind that some schools offer in-depth resources to help their students succeed. Ideally, you want a school that invests in your success and is willing to offer help to make sure you meet your goals.
Find out if there is a dedicated student success team at your school. Some things to look for include:
Success is more than just doing well in class. Sometimes life will challenge you in ways that may impact your education. Maybe you’re having a hard time balancing school and work. It could be that family problems or health issues are getting in your way.
No matter what the issue is, try to find a school that is dedicated to helping you get through it. Some schools offer student services to help guide you through any problem that comes up.
These student services can make a big difference in your education experience. School can be a lot less stressful when you know that there is a team available to help you.
So, you’ve decided to work toward a job in healthcare, and you’re pursuing the right educational opportunity for you. Once you earn your degree, you’ll be in a good position to begin your job search.
Here are some things to work on before you apply for a job:
Some schools will help you with everything you need to prepare for the job application process, the interview, and even the first 30 days on the job. Check with your school’s career services department to see how they can help you.
Mock interviews can be especially helpful. Job interviews are often nerve wracking enough, and you don’t want your first experience to be when the job is on the line.
Practice interviews allow you to learn to work through your nerves. Through these practice sessions, you can begin to understand the sorts of questions that the interviewer may ask you—and how you should answer them.
Job search guidance is also important, because there are a lot of things that you may not even think about when it comes to finding a job. Body language is one example. Your body can give nonverbal signs to interviewers. How do you make sure you’re giving the right signals?
Bookmark these blog posts for job search advice on body language, interviewing and more:
Graduation is only the beginning. Get ready to go out there and find the job you’ve been working toward. Keep this guide handy to help you every step of the way, and contact your school if you have any questions or need any assistance. Good luck!