Health & Social Care Careers

The field of health and social care provides a plethora of careers for those interested in helping and serving other people. Find out about just a few of the available professions and their education requirements.

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Health and Social Care Career Options

Numerous health and social care career options exist for those who wish to aide others in social, emotional, and bodily health related facets. Though their duties vary, individuals in all of these jobs look to improve the lives of their clients and patients. Here we explore a small sampling of several health and social care professions that span various disciplines within the field.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Speech-Language Pathologists $74,680 18%
Social Workers $46,890 15%
Health Educators $53,070 14%
Mental Health Counselors $42,840 20%
Physicians and Surgeons $208,000+ 15%
Occupational Therapists $81,910 21%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Health and Social Care Careers

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists help people who may have problems communicating and/or swallowing due to disabilities, illnesses or injuries. They must carefully evaluate their patients and determine possible treatment options that may include practicing sounds, building vocabulary, strengthening the muscles used for swallowing and more. Their patients may be children or adults, and these professionals often work closely with the patient's family to figure out ways to cope with the patient's disorder. Speech-language pathologists usually need a state license (depending on the state) and at least a master's degree.

Social Workers

Social workers specialize in the social care aspect of serving others as they work to help solve everyday problems in people's lives. This can involve addressing mental health and behavioral issues, but also connecting clients with community resources and services that they need to improve their lives, such as food stamps, affordable housing and healthcare. Social workers must maintain detailed notes and records of their clients and often check in with clients to ensure that their situations are improving. Depending on their area of specialization, social workers need a bachelor's or master's degree and possibly a state license.

Health Educators

Health educators work to meet the health needs of their community through education. They first identify the needs in their community and then develop programs and educational material to teach people about various health conditions. Health educators carefully evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and analyze data to make improvements to programs and services, as well as advocate for additional health resources and policies. Some health educators may need a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, but most need at least a bachelor's degree.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors help people by addressing their mental, emotional and relationship issues. They may treat individuals, groups, families or couples in therapy to overcome issues like grief, stress, anxiety and depression. They work with their clients through their individualized treatment plan and may suggest additional community resources or services. Mental health counselors usually need a master's degree and must complete an internship.

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons provide the traditional health care to patients that involves diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses and injuries, as well as providing preventative healthcare. Physicians typically treat conditions through medication and other treatment plans, while surgeons treat conditions, like deformities and broken bones, through surgeries. Both professionals must understand and update a patient's medical history and address any questions or concerns the patient may have. These professionals also remain on the alert for any patients who may be in need of even wider services through various social agencies. Physicians and surgeons must complete 4 years of medical school after their undergraduate studies, as well as a residency that lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 years depending on their area of specialization.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists help people who are disabled, ill or injured gain the skills needed to perform daily tasks, function socially, and/or work. These therapists use everyday activities as therapy to increase movement and learn or re-learn basic skills, like how to get dressed. Occupational therapists also recommend any necessary equipment, such as a wheelchair, and work closely with families and employers to figure out the necessary accommodations for the patient. These therapists need a license and at least a master's degree, but a doctorate degree in the field is common.

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