Healthcare is one of the fastest growing career fields. Between 2016 and 2026, the healthcare industry is expected to add 2.4 million new jobs. Some of the healthcare sectors adding the highest number of jobs include outpatient care centers and physician offices. The healthcare space is hiring for a wide variety of positions that require different skill sets. Some positions, like a physician or nurse, require medical knowledge and technical expertise. Other positions, like healthcare administration, focus on the business side of medicine. If you are considering a career in healthcare, you have plenty of opportunities to find a role that fits your interests and skills. Here are some of the top-growing healthcare careers.
1. Healthcare Administration
Healthcare administrator positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in business administrator of healthcare administration. While earning the degree, students will learn the skills necessary to facilitate patient care, work with other members of the healthcare team, create budgets, work with electronic medical records, and develop healthcare policies. People in this role will need to have both business acumen and knowledge of how the healthcare system works. The healthcare administrator position exists in multiple different healthcare settings including hospitals, surgery centers, nursing homes, and physician offices. The day-to-day responsibilities of a healthcare administrator will vary depending on the facility, but the main goal of the position is to manage a facility’s costs and improve efficiency.
Some of the common responsibilities associated with the role include:
- Ensuring a healthcare facility adheres to healthcare regulations
- Budgeting for supplies
- Overseeing staff
- Maintaining records
- Working with physicians and staff members
Since the healthcare administrator role comes with a lot of responsibility and leadership, the job is best suited to people with specific skills. Some of the qualities of a strong healthcare administrator include:
- Communication: Healthcare administrators spend a lot of their time speaking with other people, including physicians, direct reports, and other staff members of the healthcare facility. The administrator may also need to regularly communicate with people and organizations, such as vendors, outside the facility. This aspect of the job requires strong communication skills.
- Organizational abilities: Healthcare administrators have to juggle a lot of different responsibilities. This means the ideal candidate will have the organizational skills necessary to divide and manage their time effectively. Organizational skills will also play an essential role in tasks like budget management.
- Knowledge of healthcare regulations: Healthcare administrators play a significant role in ensuring their facility’s compliance with healthcare regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Stark Laws.
The job outlook for healthcare administrators is positive. Jobs in this field are expected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average. In 2016, there were 352,200 healthcare administrator jobs. A large segment of the population is aging, which is driving growth in the healthcare space. When it comes to pay, healthcare administrators made a median of $47.29 per hour or $98,350 per year in 2017. Salary can depend on several factors, such as facility location, facility type, and an administrator’s previous experience.
2. Laboratory Technician
Laboratory technicians typically hold an associate’s degree, which can be finished in as little as 18 months in some cases. Depending on the state, you may also need to earn a license to work as a lab technician. While training to become a lab technician, you will learn how to use lab equipment and handle medical specimen. Lab technicians are most often employed in hospitals and physician offices, but they can also work in different places. For example, pharmaceutical companies have labs and teams of lab technicians involved in drug formulation. When pursuing a career as a lab technician, it is possible to specialize in different areas such as microbiology, hematology, clinical chemistry, or immunology.
Some of the core job responsibilities of a lab technician include:
- Lab set up
- Maintain lab equipment
- Collecting biological samples
- Testing biological samples
- Conduct experiments
- Record data
If you are thinking of becoming a lab technician, some of the helpful skills include:
- Knowledge of the scientific method: Either working solo or as a part of a team, lab assistants may be required to design or carry out experiments. These experiments will need to adhere to the rigors of the scientific method.
- Knowledge of lab equipment: While you work in a lab, you will be required to use specialized equipment.
- Analytical mindset: Lab technicians need to be observant and mindful of small details while they collect and analyze biological specimens, such as tissue or blood.
- Manual dexterity: While the lab technician role requires mental focus, it also relies heavily on your hands. You will need the manual skills to use the lab equipment and handle small samples.
- Physical endurance: Lab technicians will spend a good portion of their working day on their feet moving around the lab as they use equipment, analyze samples, and record data.
Lab technician is one of the fastest-growing healthcare careers. In 2016, there were 335,700 laboratory technician jobs. The field is expected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, lab technicians earned a median of $24.89 per hour and $51,770 per year.
3. Dental Assistant
Requirements for becoming a dental assistant can vary based on the state, but the typical path to this career involves graduating from an accredited program. Dental assistants can work in multiple different settings. Options include small practices, large practices, specialty practices, public health, hospitals, and dental school clinics. People in this role generally work with a team.
Dental assistants have responsibilities including:
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Taking x-rays
- Preparing dental equipment
- Recording patient history
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Assisting dentists with patient care
Some of the skills potential employers look for in dental assistants include:
- Customer service: Dental assistants work directly with patients every day. They take x-rays, perform basic care, and answer questions. It is essential that people in this role have good customer service to make patients feel safe and at ease while they are at the dental practice.
- Manual dexterity: Dental assistants need to use their hands on the job. They clean and handle delicate equipment and clean patients’ teeth. Strong, steady hands are an important skill in this role.
- Computer knowledge: Some of a dental assistant’s responsibilities are administrative, such as scheduling and billing. Solid knowledge of computer programs, such as Microsoft Office, will help a dental assistant do the job.
- Attention to detail: Dental assistants are often the first people to see patients’ teeth. They should have the knowledge and attention to detail to notice signs of oral disease. Dental assistants also need to carefully adhere to dental industry safety and compliance standards.
- Flexibility: Every day can be different for dental assistants. People in this role should have the flexibility to attend to multiple different tasks throughout the day.
- Teamwork: Dental assistants are an important part of the larger dental care team. This means they need to be able to work well with others.
The dental assistant job field is growing. This position is one of the future healthcare jobs in demand. In 2016, there were 332,000 dental assistant jobs. The field is expected to grow faster than average (19 percent) from 2016 to 2026. Dental assistant positions can be full-time or part-time. Typically, dental assistants will work 35 to 40 hours per week. In 2017, the median pay for a dental assistant was $18.09 per hour and $37,630 per year. Pay will depend on several factors, such as education, additional certification, and years of experience.
Becoming a pharmacist requires earning both an undergraduate degree — either two-year or four-year — and a four-year pharmacy doctoral program. The education is intensive, but people who complete it will find the job outlook for pharmacists is positive. With 22 percent growth in the field, a pharmacist is one of the top-growing healthcare jobs. Pharmacists can work in a variety of different settings. A retail pharmacy, a hospital, a long-term care facility, a government facility, or drug research and development are just a few of your options. Most people know that pharmacists are responsible for taking people’s prescriptions and dispensing medication, but this is not their only responsibility. Here are some of the main duties of a pharmacist:
- Preparing and dispensing medication
- Advising patients on medication use
- Managing pharmacy operations
- Training pharmacy staff
- Communicating with physicians
- Adhering to state and federal laws
If you want to join this growing healthcare career, here some of the important skills to cultivate:
- Science and math aptitude: Pharmacology is a science, and dispensing medication requires accuracy. Pharmacists need to enjoy the exact nature of science and math to be good at their job.
- Attention to detail: Detail is essential to the pharmacist’s job. They need to have a vast knowledge of medication to accurately dispense it, answer patients’ questions and ensure patients are safely taking their medications.
- A desire to learn: Pharmacy is not a static industry. New drugs are constantly being developed. If you want to be a pharmacist, you have to commit to learning throughout your career. Pharmacists attend conferences and continuing education events to stay informed about the latest developments in their industry.
- Communication: Pharmacists need to be strong communicators. They work with doctors to understand their prescriptions, and they work with patients to make sure they understand how to safely and effectively take that prescribed medication. They also serve as the leaders of their pharmacy with several people working beneath them.
- Organizational acumen: Organization is vital to keeping a pharmacy running smoothly and safely.
- Endurance: Pharmacy is a demanding industry. Most pharmacists will spend the majority of their workday on their feet. Additionally, you may need to work long and irregular hours, including holidays.
The intensive education it takes to become a pharmacist means people in this position earn a competitive salary. In 2017, the median pay for a pharmacist was $59.70 per hour and $124,170 per year. In addition to the strong salary, there is also a growing demand for people to fill pharmacist positions. Like many other sectors of healthcare, an aging population is driving this growth. More people are going to require medication and assistance understanding how to take it.
5. Registered Nurse
Job opportunity for registered nurses (RNs) is ripe for new candidates because there is a concern of a shortage. There is expected to be a shortage of RNs growing from 2009 to 2030. If you want to become an RN, you will need to earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s of science in nursing. After you complete your degree, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become certified. During your training, you will learn about human anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, and the practical skills needed to provide patient care.
RNs can work in hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient care centers. Within these different settings, nurses can specialize in the kind of care they provide. For example, an RN could work in the operating room, the emergency room, the pediatrics department, or the intensive care unit. Similarly, nurses can choose a specific type of physician practice. For example, they could work in a family practice office, an orthopedics office, or an oncology office.
If you want to join one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare, here are some of the responsibilities you will take on as an RN:
- Taking patient vitals
- Managing medication
- Inserting and removing catheters
- Feeding patients
- Bathing patients
- Providing wound care
- Providing patient education
- Adhering to patient safety measures
- Documenting patient care
Some of the skills that help RNs execute their job responsibilities include:
- Analytical mindset: RNs need to be good problem solvers. You will need to apply critical thinking on a daily basis to help solve patient care problems and spot any potential patient safety issues. This skill will make an RN a vital part of the patient care team.
- Compassion: RNs spend nearly all of their time working with patients who are sick or injured. Providing patient care requires compassion.
- Endurance: RNs, like many other healthcare workers, will need the endurance to spend most of their day on their feet. Nurses also need the strength to help lift and move patients. Additionally, manual dexterity will ensure nurses can handle delicate instruments.
Registered nurses are one of the top growing careers in healthcare. In 2016, there were more than two million jobs, and that is expected to grow by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, RNs earned a median of $33.65 per hour and $70,000 per year.
Learn More About the Healthcare Programs at Vista College
If you are interested in pursuing one of the growing healthcare jobs, the first step is learning about the education you will need. Explore the Healthcare Programs offered at Vista College to help you get on the path to a career in healthcare.