Health Field Careers

The health field may be the perfect area to consider for people who are looking for job security. The long-term prospects for health care careers are good for anyone planning to enter the workforce for the first time or for anyone looking to change fields due to personal interests or layoffs in other industries such as manufacturing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health care industry will create more new jobs than any other industry in the United States through 2018. Aging Baby Boomers with increasing medical needs are largely responsible for this projected growth.

What are the most in-demand health field careers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Career Guide to Industries, 10 of the top 20 fastest growing occupations are in health care. They include biomedical engineers, home health aides, personal and home care aides, medical scientists, physician assistants, physical therapist aides, dental hygienists, dental assistants, medical assistants, and physical therapist assistants.

How long does it take to train for various health field careers?

Educational requirements for careers in the medical field such as medical scientists, physician assistants, and biomedical engineers range from a bachelor's degree to a doctorate. At the other end of the spectrum, jobs for home health aides, personal and home care aides, physical therapist aides, dental assistants, and medical assistants involve short to moderate on-the-job training but don't necessarily require any formal higher education. Dental hygienists and physical therapist assistants require at least a two-year associate's degree.

However, it's important to remember that the data reports minimum educational requirements for careers in health care. Individual employers may have higher standards, and some categories—like medical assistants—include professions that span a broad range of education depending on professional specialties. For example, entry-level radiographic technicians can become certified with only on-the-job hospital experience, but supervisors and other professionals in the same field may have two-year associate's or four-year bachelor's degrees.

What kinds of salaries can health care professionals expect?

The medical field careers with the highest educational requirements are also the highest paid. Medical scientists, physician assistants, and biomedical engineers can expect to earn more than $70,000 per year. Average wages for the jobs with the least educational requirements start at around $20,000 per year. Average annual salaries for the jobs that require at least moderate on-the-job training or associate's degrees range from $30,000 to more than $60,000. This category includes dental hygienists, physical therapist assistants, and medical assistants with certifications in a medical specialty area such as nursing, PET (positron emission tomography) imaging, or MR (magnetic resonance) imaging technology.