Requirements for a Career in Healthcare

Did you know the demand for healthcare jobs is greater than most other industries? Check out these healthcare careers and learn why they're popular.
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  • Healthcare jobs are projected to grow at a faster rate than most positions in other industries.
  • Graduates of various degree levels can find lucrative careers in healthcare.
  • Healthcare careers allow people to either work with patients or work in administrative roles.

If you're passionate about helping others, you might consider pursuing a career in healthcare. Whether interacting directly with patients or working behind the scenes, healthcare professionals can make a significant difference in others' lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,22 million people hold jobs in the healthcare industry, and many of these individuals work on the front lines of combating threats to public health.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs in this sector will grow 13% between 2021-2031. A main cause of this high demand is that more older adults will increasingly rely on healthcare professionals to meet their physical and mental health needs.

What Are Healthcare Careers in High Demand?

Some of the most popular jobs in healthcare will experience the largest growth in the near future. And most people can work as medical or nursing assistants with just a certification or an associate degree.

Licensed practical nurses and physical therapy assistants will also likely see job growth. Professionals in these fields handle clinical and administrative aspects of patient care.

With a bachelor's or master's degree, people can work as registered nurses or in technical roles like laboratory technicians.

Jobs in occupational therapy and physical therapy are also rapidly growing fields. But these roles require graduate degrees. Plus, a graduate degree can also qualify people for leadership positions like nursing home directors or hospital administrators.

What Degree Should You Get to Work in Healthcare?

People can seek fulfilling healthcare jobs requiring an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree. And the choice of degree often depends on the necessary educational requirements for certain jobs.

Healthcare professionals wanting to advance their careers or earn higher salaries might need to get a certification or go back to school to earn a higher degree.

But keep in mind that no one degree automatically gives you access to the best career in healthcare. Consider your goals to help determine which degree to pursue.

Associate Degree

An associate degree in healthcare can qualify you for fulfilling entry-level medical careers. It can also serve as a springboard to a bachelor's in healthcare and beyond.

With an associate degree, many professionals choose to work in doctors' offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other medical settings.

Associate degree graduates in healthcare can work as respiratory therapists. The BLS projects that respiratory therapists' jobs will grow 14% between 2021-2031, much faster than the 5% growth rate for other occupations.

People with associate degrees can also work as medical sonographers or dental hygienists, which are two jobs with above-average growth rates.

In addition to clinical and medical training, some associate degrees in healthcare provide foundational knowledge in business and administration.

If you want to work in healthcare organizations, you can take classes in management, accounting, health information technology, and computer applications.

Bachelor's Degree

Healthcare professionals with bachelor's degrees often have technical skills. These skills can lead to competitive salaries, depending on the occupation.

For example, according to the BLS, athletic trainers will see projected job growth of 17% between 2021-2031, higher than the 13% growth of other healthcare occupations.

A bachelor's degree can also prepare people for work as clinical laboratory technologists. But some states require these professionals to also hold licenses.

After gaining several years of experience, professionals can get advanced training to enter specialties and progress in their careers.

You can also become a dietician or nutritionist with a bachelor's degree. Many patients require the care of dieticians, especially as they cope with chronic conditions and the effects of aging.

Master's Degree

With a master's degree in healthcare, you can hold some of the most in-demand positions in the healthcare industry.

A graduate degree can offer training and supervised experience in clinical and administrative settings. Many master's programs allow students to seek internships and gain work experience, which gives them an advantage when seeking employment.

Master's programs offer courses in health policy, finance, health informatics, and strategic planning to prepare graduates for administrative and leadership roles.

Most people need a master's degree to work as midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists. The BLS projects these jobs to grow 40% between 2021-2031.

Other positions with relatively high demand include genetic counselors, physician assistants, and speech-language pathologists, which typically require graduate-level education.

If you'd rather focus on organizational aspects, you can get meaningful healthcare administration jobs.

For example, a master's degree can qualify you for positions like healthcare administrator, hospital chief executive officer (CEO), and nursing home administrator.

Certificates

A certificate in a healthcare field provides access to many entry-level healthcare careers in a relatively short time. You can combine your interests in healthcare and business by receiving training that focuses on administrative and clinical skills.

People wanting to deal directly with patients can train for medical or dental assistant positions, which often include clinical and clerical tasks.

Medical assistants' duties can consist of scheduling appointments, collecting biological specimens, and handling office reception.

Many healthcare professionals with certificates also perform administrative functions. This can include collecting patient information, maintaining and updating electronic medical records, and handling billing.

Pros and Cons of a Healthcare Internship

Pros

  • A healthcare internship can provide you with supervised, real-world experience that can help you transition from school to the job market.
  • It can also help you decide if a particular career track is a good fit for you.
  • Internships help you find mentors who can provide guidance you might not get in the classroom.

Cons

  • Some people find it challenging to meet the expectations of an unpaid internship while paying for housing, food, and other living expenses.
  • Internships can occur in toxic work environments where interns experience overwork or mistreatment.
  • An internship does not always lead to a permanent job.

What to Include in Your Healthcare Resume

A well-written and organized resume can be instrumental in helping you land an interview. Hundreds of applicants might compete for a single job, depending on the position, location, and medical field.

So your resume must stand out from the rest and get enough attention to earn an interview for further consideration.

Generally, a healthcare resume should contain information about skills, qualifications, and work experiences specific to the industry and relevant to the job opportunity. It should also highlight your expertise as much as possible.

Regardless of the occupation or field, a resume should contain the following sections:

  • Resume Summary: Captures the applicant's background and qualifications in 2-3 sentences
  • Education and Training Background: Includes degrees and relevant training
  • Internships, Residencies, and Fellowships: Lists all supervised work experiences before employment
  • Professional Background: Includes work history after internships, fellowships, and other supervised experiences
  • Licensure and Certifications: Adds these credentials in a separate section if required by the occupation
  • Skills: Lists any technical and soft skills

Frequently Asked Questions About a Career in Healthcare

What healthcare careers are in high demand?

Healthcare as a whole is experiencing high demand. And the BLS projects that nurse practitioner jobs will grow 40% between 2021-2031, the fastest-growing occupation in the healthcare industry.

Also, positions forphysician assistants andgenetic counselors are projected to increase by 28% and 18%, respectively, as per the BLS.

Which is the least stressful healthcare job?

While most medical careers involve some stress, healthcare professionals do not have to accept it as a necessary occupational hazard. Some medical jobs like dental hygienists, diagnostic sonographers, and laboratory technicians involve low levels of pressure and burnout compared to others.

And positions that require more administrative or low-risk work may bring less stress and less high-stakes settings.

Are healthcare jobs worth it?

Students interested in science, medicine, and technology might find a healthcare career lucrative and rewarding. And despite relatively high burnout rates, many professionals seek fulfillment in helping others get the medical care they need.

Plus, some jobs in healthcare pay very well. For example, the BLS reports that physician assistants earned a median salary of $121,530 in 2021, exceeding the median of $45,760 for all occupations in the same year.

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