The health care industry is one of the few job markets that is growing quickly despite the overall slow growth of the economy. The focus on getting people better access to health care has been increasing due to the Affordable Care Act, efforts to increase disease prevention, and further research to fight disease. As a result, the need for qualified health care professionals in the industry is projected to increase by up to 31% over the next 12 years. With more people expecting to retire soon and generation X starting families, health care professionals will be in demand for years to come.
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These sought-after jobs will be available across a broad number of health care specialties. Some require advanced degrees, but many of the most in-demand health care jobs do not require a four-year college degree. Doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and therapists all require help with their jobs in the form of aides and assistants, so these health care jobs are hiring at faster than average rates as well.
- Jobs in the health care industry jobs have grown faster than any other job category over the last decade.
- By 2020, 1 in 9 jobs will be in the health care industry.
- Many aide and assistant jobs in health care do not require a four-year college degree.
Secure yourself as an in-demand health care aide or assistant with these top 10 careers.
1. Dental Assistants
The duties of dental assistants are regulated on a state-by-state basis and typically include preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing and setting out instruments, handing them to dentists during procedures, using suction equipment, processing x-rays, and performing clerical duties. Some dental assistants may also perform lab tasks such as preparing materials for making crowns.
Median Annual Wage: $33,470
Education Requirements: Educational requirements for dental assistants vary by state. In states where there are no formal educational requirements, dental assistants are trained on the job. Other states require dental assistants to graduate from accredited programs and pass state exams.
2. Occupational Therapy Aides
Occupational therapy aides work with occupational therapists to help patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities to develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy aides do not provide medical services but typically help prepare equipment used in treatment, fill out paperwork, and perform clerical duties.
Median Annual Wage: $27,430
Education Requirements: Occupational therapy aides need high school diplomas or G.E.D.s. On-the-job training is provided.
3. Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistants work under the direction of physical therapists to help patients who are recovering to regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants help patients perform exercises using a variety of techniques and equipment including massage, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. Physical therapist assistants record notes on patient treatment and report progress to physical therapists.
Median Annual Wage: $49,690
Education Requirements: Most states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Clinical work includes certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Courses in algebra, English, anatomy, and physiology are helpful for physical therapist assistants.
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4. Physical Therapist Aides
Physical therapist aides work under the direction of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. Physical therapist aides perform tasks that are indirectly related to patient care, such as cleaning and setting up the treatment area and moving patients, as well as clerical tasks such as answering phones or helping patients with paperwork.
Median Annual Wage: $23,680
Education Requirements: Physical therapist aides do not need to be licensed as physical therapist assistants do. On-the-job training is provided.
5. Pharmacy Aides
Pharmacy aides record drugs delivered to the pharmacy, store incoming merchandise, and inform the supervisor of stock needs. Pharmacy aides may operate cash registers and accept prescriptions to fill.
Median Annual Wage: $23,460
Education Requirements: Pharmacy aides need to have high school diplomas or the equivalent. Pharmacy aides cannot have arrest records for drug abuse or other problems with controlled substances. On-the-job training is provided.
6. Home Health Aides
Home health aides usually work for certified home health or hospice agencies under the direct supervision of a medical professional. In addition to helping their clients with daily activities and hygiene needs, home health aides may provide basic medical services to clients: checking a patient’s pulse, respiration, and temperature; changing bandages; giving prescribed medications; and helping with exercises. Home health aides also keep records of a client’s daily progress and report any changes to their medical supervisors.
Median Annual Wage: $20,170
Education: Most health aides have a high school diploma. Those working in certified health care facilities must pass standardized tests to receive certification. Further training may be required in certain states and is available from community colleges, vocational school, online programs, and home health care agencies.
8. Personal Care Aides
Personal care aides provide companionship and help with daily activities to clients who are immobile, chronically ill, elderly, or impaired, usually in the client’s home. They may be responsible for bathing and dressing clients, helping with household chores, and providing transportation, shopping, and meal preparation. Personal care aides do not provide any medical assistance.
Median Annual Wage: $19,640
Education Required: There are no formal educational requirements for personal care aides, but high school diplomas are common. Personal care aides are trained on-the-job and some states require more formal training which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, online programs, and home health care agencies.
9. Occupational Therapy Assistants
Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities to develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants help patients perform therapeutic exercises, train patients in the use of special therapy equipment needed at home, and record patient progress for the occupational therapist in charge.
Median Annual Wage: $51,010
Education Requirements: Occupational therapy assistants are required to have an associate’s degrees and must be licensed in most states. Community colleges and technical schools often offer degree programs for occupational therapy assistants. In addition to biology, courses in health and psychology are good choices for occupational therapy assistants.
10. Physician Assistants
Physician assistants work under the direction of physicians and surgeons to examine, diagnose, and treat illness and injury in patients. Physician assistants work with physicians in all areas of medicine and differ from medical assistants who do not practice medicine. In rural areas or inner-city clinics where physicians are not present on a full-time basis, physician assistants may be primary care providers and will consult with doctors and other health professionals as required.
Median Annual Wage: $86,400
Education Requirements: Physician assistants generally earn a master’s degree after receiving a bachelor’s degree in an applicable major. Master’s programs generally require at least two years of full-time study. Physician assistants must also be state licensed and are required to re-certify every six years. Many physician assistants enter the field with experience as registered nurses, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
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