What Can I Do with a Degree in Healthcare?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in healthcare. Find information on healthcare careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in healthcare.

Overview

Healthcare is a broad field that includes professionals working in a number of medical, technical and nursing positions. Overall, the healthcare industry is one of the largest in the United States, employing over 14.3 million people. Of the top 20 fastest growing careers, 10 are in the healthcare field. Although many jobs in the healthcare field require only vocational training or a two-year degree, others require advanced education including Bachelors Degrees, Masters Degrees and medical school diplomas.

Even though wide variation exists in terms of the professions and education required for a career in healthcare, there are some common features to all healthcare professions. In particular, all healthcare professionals are required to combine technical expertise with human caring to provide the patient with the best possible care and treatment. All professionals working in the healthcare system operate in a coordinated manner to help patients improve their lives though health services. While patients that are ill commonly seek healthcare services, many professionals strive to provide patients with preventative services to maintain health and prevent the onset of disease. In these roles, healthcare workers typically command generous salaries and are often rewarded personally through their ability to interact with and help patients.

Careers

The full scope of careers available in healthcare are too numerous to review here. However it is possible to provide some general classifications for professionals working in the healthcare field. In general, physicians and nursing professionals are two of the most common careers that are seen in the healthcare industry. Additionally, individuals seeking careers in this field can work as a technological specialist in areas such a radiology and imaging, respiratory therapy or phlebotomy (blood work). Other careers in healthcare involve medically focused professions such as physician assistant, emergency medical technician (EMT), medical assistant, medical lab technician and nutritionist/dietician. Individuals seeking careers in healthcare may also choose to work in administrative positions. Some examples include: medical billing and coding, medical transcription, hospital administration and nursing management. The specific career selected by the professional will be contingent upon his or her area of interest. Individuals interested in providing patient care can find a number of different niches in which to provide this service.

Industry Salary Info

Salaries for healthcare professionals vary based on the specific area in which they are trained and employed. Salaries are higher for professionals with advanced education compared with those that chose vocational education or an Associate Degree. Even though there are notable variations in salaries for healthcare professions, overall salaries in many of these positions are quite generous. For instance, an occupational therapy assistant that may only have a two year degree can earn a median annual salary between $43,331 and $53,046. Similarly pharmacy technicians that may only be required to complete an 18-month certification program in their field can have an average annual salary of $35,780. For professionals seeking advanced education, salaries are typically higher. One example is a pharmacist that can command an average annual salary of $80,000. Physicians and nursing professional, depending on their area of specialization and level of education can also command average salaries over $100,000 annually.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for positions in healthcare is expected to be quite robust over the next several years. Between 2008 and 2018, the healthcare industry is expected to add 3.2 million new jobs. This is higher than any other industry. Of those new positions, many will be created in nursing care facilities. Demand for nursing care professionals is expected to increase due to the aging of the Baby Boomer population in the US. Significant growth in primary care (e.g., doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics) is also expected. Passage of the new healthcare reform law will increase demand for primary care physicians to provide care for millions of new patients. Growth in the field is also expected as a direct result of improvements in medical technology. Patients with chronic medical conditions are living longer and will require more care. Further advances in technology and medicine will accelerate the need for medical professionals to provide care for these patients.

Recommended Schools

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