Experts predict that the boom in the health care industry following the 2013 implementation of the Affordable Care Act will lead to job growth in several areas through 2020. Although most health care jobs require specialized technical skills, some of the fields experiencing growth do not even require bachelor's degrees. Look for an increase in demand in the following areas throughout the next decade.
Health Information Technology
Health information technicians organize patient health care records. Job responsibilities include interpreting and coding complex health care information, making sure medical records are complete and filing out paperwork appropriately. Getting an entry-level position as a technician requires an associate degree and certification.
Medical Laboratory Science
Medical laboratory scientists analyze body fluids and specimens. Laboratory work gives doctors the information they need to make accurate diagnoses and evaluate treatment programs. Entry-level positions in this field require a bachelor's degree and clinical rotations.
Nutritionists and dietitians advise individuals and organizations on healthy eating. In clinical settings, dietitians plan meals to meet specific dietary needs and help patients reach health goals through nutrition. Private-practice clinical nutritionists work one-on-one with clients to teach healthy eating skills. Becoming a registered dietitian requires a bachelor's degree, an accreditation exam and an internship.
Pharmacists oversee the distribution of medications to patients. Pharmacists ensure that medications are safe for individual patients and do not conflict with other drugs in their treatment programs. Health care jobs in pharmacy require a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, a licensing examination and either a residency or a fellowship. The entire process takes about eight years, but with an aging population, health care jobs in this field are expected to continue to grow well past 2020.
Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants help patients improve range of motion and other physical abilities following injuries and health issues. Most physical therapists have a master's degree and some have a doctorate. Physical therapy assistants, who work under the supervision of a full therapist, need only an accredited associates degree to find health care jobs in this field.
Physician assistants work in conjunction with doctors to provide general medical care including giving physical examinations, providing diagnoses, prescribing treatment and assisting during surgery. These health care jobs free up doctors to perform more specialized services. Physician assistants must have master's degrees and meet state licensing requirements.
Nurses provide direct treatment to patients. Registered nurses provide a full range of services while licensed practical nurses provide more general care under the supervision of registered nurses or doctors. Although licensing requirements vary from state to state, licensed practical nurse training programs last about a year and are offered through vocational schools and community colleges. Registered nurse training entails an associate or bachelor's degree.
As the baby boomers hit retirement age, growth in health care jobs in key areas is invetibale in the coming years. Although some positions require extensive education, many do not. For those that do, the long-term growth in the health care industry will makes the extended training and education worth the investment.
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