Interested in a career in healthcare?
There are plenty of benefits that come from this sort of career—a rewarding experience, potentially lucrative pay, and job security, plus the fact that healthcare jobs are currently in high demand. There are a variety of ways to break into the healthcare industry depending on your skills, education and interest. Here is everything you need to know to land your one of many jobs in the healthcare field.
Because there are such a wide variety of jobs in the healthcare field, there are positions available for nearly every level of education. Some jobs, like medical transcriptionists, orderlies or pharmacy technicians, often only require a high school diploma and offer on-the-job training. In some cases, short workshops and certifications for things like CPR or ACLS are provided through the company or encouraged for employees to participate in on their own.
Other positions, including EMTs, dental hygienists, occupational therapy aides or phlebotomists, typically require a certificate from a trade or technical college. These programs tend to be very specialized and typically take between a year and 18 months to complete, though many people still work entry-level healthcare jobs while going to school.
The next education level for a career in healthcare is an associate's degree from a community or technical college. These degrees typically take two years to earn and are required or incredibly beneficial for positions including physiatrist aides, physical therapy assistants, medical assistants or clinical lab technicians.
A degree from a four-year college or university isn't required for many healthcare jobs, though it's definitely a great thing to put on a resume. One of the most common healthcare positions for a four-year degree is a registered nurse, which is one of the most in-demand and lucrative healthcare positions.
Specialized jobs in the healthcare field, including physicians, require post-graduate training. As is typical with other industries, the more education you have, the more job options you have and the higher pay you could receive. Of course, more schooling also means higher tuition costs, so you'll need to weigh the benefit of a higher degree with what is required for your dream job.
Although healthcare education allows you to get very specific in your training, don't feel like you need to limit your job search just to that area. If your training is in radiology, you can also apply for unrelated jobs that still use your general healthcare knowledge.
One of the best ways to stand out from other job applicants when looking for a career in healthcare is to expand your resume with healthcare-related experience. This can include anything from volunteering at a hospital or retirement home to extracurricular activities that put you in contact with doctors or patients, such as a service club that reads at a children's hospital or a group that brings medical supplies to at-risk areas.
Internships also provide invaluable experience. Although most healthcare internships aren't paid, they allow you to gain hands-on experience and see what it's really like to have a job in the healthcare field. Because healthcare is such a growing industry, there is often a shortage of employees, meaning there is potentially a lot of work for interns. Work with your school's career center or reach out to local hospitals or clinics to see what internship positions are available. Some internships may even lead to full-time employment; even if it doesn't, you'll still have great experience for your skillset and resume.
As with any industry, who you know can make a big difference in finding a healthcare job. Join professional groups for future medical specialists in your area, find someone to shadow for a day on the job, or reach out to classmates or acquaintances who may be able to help you make connections. Getting your foot in the door through networking can be vital in setting you up for a great position.
The top healthcare jobs
While almost every type of job in healthcare field is in high demand, some jobs have more openings than others. Here are the top five healthcare jobs based on the number of positions available nationwide.
Medical Assistant. Medical assistant jobs are some of the fastest growing in the country, with an estimated 31 percent more positions available in 2020 than in 2010. Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative tasks in a hospital or doctor's office and can typically find work without much training. However, employees who have taken medical assistant classes, have an associate's degree in medical assisting, and have passed the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam typically earn a higher salary. On average, medical assistants earn around $30,000 a year.
Home Health Aide. Home health aides typically assist homebound patients who are disabled, elderly, or chronically sick with everyday tasks, such as dressing, bathing, or basic housekeeping. Depending on their schedules and the needs of the patients, home health aides can travel between multiple patients or work full time with a single patient, even living in their home for around-the-clock care. Home health aides don't require any formal education and earn an average of around $22,000 a year.
Certified Nursing Assistant. CNAs play a particularly vital role in retirement homes, where they assist nurses with various duties like taking vital signs, preparing medical equipment, and taking care of elderly patients who can't perform tasks like bathing and going to the bathroom on their own. Although some nursing assistant positions are available with little or no training, an associate's in nursing and passage of the CNA exam are highly preferred. Nursing assistants make an average of $26,000 a year.
Medical Transcriptionist. On the less hands-on side of healthcare is the job of a medical transcriptionist, which still serves an important role in doctor's offices and clinics. Transcriptionists type out recordings from doctors to add to a patient's file so the information can be accessed by other healthcare professionals. No formal training is required, but medical transcription training at a trade school or technical college can be an advantage. Medical transcriptionists earn around $35,000 a year on average.
Licensed Practical Nurse. LPNs, occasionally referred to as licensed vocational nurses or LVNS, perform basic nursing tasks in clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes, like drawing blood, checking vitals, administering medicine, and maintaining patient records. LPNs typically need an associate's in nursing and to pass the NCLEX exam. Many LPNs eventually go back to school to become registered nurses. On average, LPNs make around $43,000 a year.
Healthcare is a thriving industry that provides a variety of experiences for all kinds of employees, with lots of room for growth. Your first job in the healthcare field can be a stepping stone to guide you to you dream career caring for a number of patients.
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