Health Care Careers

There has never been a better time to consider health care careers. The current economic climate is unpredictable and shaky at its best moments. One industry that has seen a steady increase in terms of employment and wages is health care. The industry also accounts for a significant percentage of jobs in the country. With growth in the countryís population, and the aging of the population, jobs should not be in short supply. There are also unprecedented changes going on in the industry through regulation, medical advances, and financial reform that should necessitate continued employment growth.

The employment outlook, according to the industry overview commissioned by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is rosy. Many of the fastest growing employment job titles are in the health care sector. While hospitals continue to employ the majority of health care workers, there is startling growth in health care services provided at patient homes, residential facilities, and in outpatient clinics. The reason for this is twofold: the American population is aging more rapidly than it grows; and the costs of hospitalization have become exorbitant, necessitating new modes of treatment for all ages. Careers that involve patient care are a safe bet for the coming decade. Furthermore, the administrative and managerial structures that make in-home and hospital care possible should continue to grow. There is solid growth in management and financial positions for both hospitals and private practices. There is steady growth in medical billing and coding jobs. Billing reform should continue apace, so employers may favor those with the educational background to facilitate changes and streamlining in billing and record-keeping systems. A third pillar of health care employment involves laboratory work. Technologists and specialists analyze biological material, like blood, and diagnose illness and injury. Lab workers also come up with new medicines and techniques for treating illness.

Much of the difference in wages and employment statistics can be attributed to the differing amounts of education needed for diverse job titles in health care careers. The top earners are inevitably those with the most education and specialization. Top earners tend to be those who have attended medical school in addition to receiving an undergraduate degree. Administrators with masterís degrees in health care management fare better than those without. All across the board, the addition of extra degrees and certificates equals higher salaries. That being said, workers in health care can command a premium over workers with similar education and training in other industries.

Those working in hospitals garner the largest incomes. Hospital workers of all stripes and educational backgrounds have a significant salary advantage when compared with the average wage of workers countrywide. Health care careers in private practice and residential facilities still beat the national average, but fall short of their hospital counterparts. Most hospital jobs require a degree in a related field. Medical assistant and technologists usually require at least an associateís degree and most positions are licensed by state boards. These licenses require specific coursework, training, testing, and experience that mean preparing for these jobs incurs one extra costs and time than an average job.

The one truism in health care careers is that the extra effort and investment involved in getting a degree pays off in the end. Lifetime earnings increase radically with every added degree and in the health care industry, with its higher salaries, education can mean a comfortable retirement and added opportunities for family members. The difference between $15 an hour and $20 an hour may not seem like much, but over 40 years of labor that extra money really adds up.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014