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List of Health-Related Careers that Are in High Demand

The health field is growing quickly due in part to an aging population. Continue reading for an overview of the degree requirements, training and licensing as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

There are many healthcare careers that are experiencing high demand, and can expect job growth to remain at high levels through 2024. With a high school diploma and on-the-job training it may be possible to begin a career as a home health aide, while careers as a medical assistant or radiologic technician require a postsecondary certificate. Other options that require more postsecondary training include a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer, registered nurse, dental hygienist or physician's assistant.

Essential Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that many healthcare fields will need more workers as the population ages and medical technology advances. Diagnostic medical sonographers, radiologic technicians and technologists, dental hygienists, nurses, medical assistants, physician assistants and home health aides are among the health-related careers the BLS projects to be most in demand.

Career Home Health Aides Registered Nurses Dental Hygienists
Education Requirements High School Diploma Bachelor's Degree Associates Degree
Other Requirements Vary from state to state, most positions offer on the job training State license Pass licensing exam administered by the American Dental Association
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 38% 16% 19%
Median Salary (2015)* $21,920 $67,490 $72,330

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Choosing to work in the healthcare field can be extremely rewarding. There are several career options available for high school graduates through master's and doctoral programs. The healthcare field is undergoing significant growth and there are many positions available in hospitals, dental offices, and doctors' offices, as well as opportunities for home healthcare workers. Continue reading to explore the possibilities of a career in the health field.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonography is one health-related field the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects to increase much faster than average; it projects an employment increase of 26% from 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov). Diagnostic medical sonographers use sonography machines to measures sound waves bouncing off the tissues of the body to produce medical images. Although commonly associated with obstetrics, there are many medical uses for diagnostic sonography. Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in obstetrics and gynecology or in abdominal, neurological or breast sonography. The BLS reports that, as of May 2015, diagnostic medical sonographers made a yearly median salary of $68,970.

Diagnostic medical sonographers typically complete an associate's or bachelor's degree in diagnostic medical sonography; a few certificate programs are also available. Many sonographers also choose to receive voluntary certification from The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Radiologic Technologists

Radiologic technologist is another career title the BLS expects to grow faster than average. Between 2014 and 2024, employment opportunities in this field are expected in increase by 9% and the greatest demand will be for technologists who are trained in more than one type of diagnostic procedure, according to the BLS. Median annual salaries for radiologic technologists as of May 2015 were $56,670, the BLS reports.

Radiologic technologists have typically completed a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in radiologic technology. Radiologic technologists typically perform X-ray procedures while radiologic technologists perform specialized diagnostic procedures, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mammography.

Dental Hygienists

According to the BLS, dental hygienists are one of the fastest growing occupations overall, with an employment growth of over 19% expected from 2014-2024. The annual median salary for dental hygienists, as of May 2015 according to the BLS, was $72,330. Dental hygienists remove plaque and other deposits from teeth, gums and other soft tissues of the mouth, as well as inspect patients for signs of oral disease and work with patients on preventive oral care.

Dental hygienists need a state license and training from a school with an accredited dental hygiene program. Most dental hygiene programs result in an associate's degree, but certificate, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs are also available. In order to obtain mandatory licensure, applicants must pass an examination administered by the American Dental Association.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) make up the single largest occupation within the healthcare system and in 2015 there were more than 2.7 million RNs in the U.S, according to the BLS. RNs are expected to continue to be in high demand as the current RN workforce ages and there are fewer young people entering the profession to replace them. This demand will result in over 439,300 new jobs between 2014 and 2024, a projected 16% growth according to the BLS. The median salary for registered nurses as of May 2015 was $67,490 a year.

Registered nurses work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other medical facilities. They are responsible for tasks such as basic patient care, performing tests, administering medications and following-up with patients. An RN typically completes an associate's degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Prospective nurses must also pass the national licensing exam, the National Council Licensure Examination, before being able to work as a registered nurse.

Physician Assistants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also expected physician assistants (PAs) to be in high demand between 2014 and 2024 and employment opportunities are projected to increase by 30%. Physician assistants work under the supervision of a doctor and examine, diagnose and treat patients. They also take medical histories, order X-rays and other diagnostic examinations, prescribe certain medications, treat minor injuries and visit patients in the hospital. Physician assistants made a median salary of $98,190 per year according to the BLS as of May 2015.

PAs are required to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination in order to be licensed to practice medicine. They have typically completed a master's degree program in physicians assisting.

Medical Assistants

Demand for medical assistants is projected to increase by 23% between 2014 and 2024, reports the BLS. The BLS also suggests that those with formal education or certification may have more job opportunities in medical assisting. As of May 2015, the BLS reports that medical assistants made a median salary of $30,590.

Medical assistants perform clinical and administrative tasks in physicians' offices. Their duties vary, but may include taking patients' medical histories and vital signs, sterilizing instruments, greeting patients, filling out paperwork and authorizing drug refills by telephone. In optometrist, podiatrist and other specialized healthcare offices, medical assistants have more specialized duties. Medical assistants may obtain a formal education through a medical assisting certificate or associate's degree program at a community college of vocational school.

Home Health Aides

Employment of home health aides is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to increase by 38% from 2014-2024. As the U.S. population ages, elder care services will be in greater demand driving the need for home health aides. Home health aides made a median annual salary of $21,920 as of May of 2015, reports the BLS.

Home health aides work in the homes or patients or in residential care facilities, caring for individuals with disabilities or those who are chronically ill, mentally ill, cognitively impaired or elderly. They help with activities of daily living and perform some basic healthcare tasks. They also provide psychological support and may provide training for the patient's family or other caregivers. Education requirements for this field vary from state-to-state, but many employers train their home health aides on the job.

Individuals who are interested in a career in health services have many options to consider. Educational requirements vary from a high school diploma and on-the-job training to completing a master's degree. With an associate's degree it's possible to pursue a career as a registered nurse, diagnostic medical sonographer, radiologic technologist, or dental hygienist.


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