Career Definition for Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare professionals are a diverse group of workers that include dentists, technicians, nurses, physical therapists, physicians, and surgeons, among many others. Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare professionals treat patients and run the businesses aspects of dental offices, physician's offices, nursing homes, hospitals, laboratories, and other medical businesses.
|Education||Associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or vocational training are the most common educational prerequisites; doctors must graduate medical school and be licensed|
|Job Skills||Communications skills, interpersonal skills, helpfulness, compassion|
|Median Salary 2017||$208,000+ (physicians and surgeons), $51,770 (medical and clinical lab technologists and technicians)|
|Job Growth||13% (physicians and surgeons), 14% (medical and clinical lab technicians)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education requirements for healthcare professionals vary with the specific occupation. Health technicians might enter their fields through associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or 1-year or 2-year training programs offered by vocational schools or colleges. Registered nurses, physical therapists, and other types of health therapists typically have earned bachelor's degrees, completed postgraduate training, and passed licensing exams. Dentists, physicians, and surgeons have earned bachelor's degrees, graduated from medical school, passed exams to earn licenses, and completed residency programs.
Healthcare professions require a commitment to helping others and compassion for the ill and injured. Healthcare professionals must be willing to work long hours, including some nights and weekends. Healthcare professionals often work together as part of a team, requiring excellent communication and people skills.
Career and Economic Outlook
Healthcare is expected to be among the fastest growing fields of employment in the next decade, according to the BLS. Advancing medical technology, an increase in the elderly population and increased life expectancy for ill patients will all fuel the demand for healthcare professionals.
Incomes vary according to job title, education level, experience, and supervisory duties. The BLS lists median pay for physicians and surgeons as equal to or greater than $208,000, and $51,770 for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.
Alternate Career Options
Careers with similar duties are:
A social worker assists people who are experiencing problems, whether they are related to health, family, employment or other areas. Those who practice clinical social work can also diagnose and develop treatment plans for clients with behavioral, emotional, mental or related conditions. A bachelor's degree in social work is generally required for entry-level work, although a master's degree, two years of experience, and state licensing are required for clinical social work jobs.
The BLS reports that jobs for social workers, in general, are expected to grow 16% from 2016-2026; however, certain kinds of social workers may see faster or slower job growth, like healthcare social workers (+20%) or child, family, and school social workers (+14% ). The BLS also reports that median pay for social workers can vary by area of practice: for example, in 2017, healthcare social workers earned $54,870, and child, family, and school social workers earned $44,380.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
People who work in this career may also be called addiction counselors. They help clients seeking recovery from conditions like gambling, alcoholism, eating disorders, and more, by working with them to develop treatment plans and build coping skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors also deliver relevant education programs. They may work in outpatient clinics and treatment centers, residential facilities, and related settings.
Employers' requirements can vary from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree, depending on the job and responsibilities; jobs in private practice typically require a master's degree and state licensing. The BLS predicts that jobs in this career field will increase 23% from 2016-2026, and workers earned a median salary of $43,300 in 2017.