Five Upcoming Healthcare Technology Careers
Nothing is certain in today’s economy, but if you’re looking for a career in an industry that’s likely to grow very fast, healthcare technology could be an extremely smart choice, for several reasons.
First, the U.S. population—like the world population—is ageing. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that between 2015 and 2025, the number of Americans aged over 65 will rise by nearly 38%. By 2025 there will be around 65.9 million Americans over retirement age, and as the population grows older, it will need more healthcare.
As Americans need more medical assistance, more attention will be paid to what it costs. The U.S. already runs the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Obamacare attempted to make healthcare more efficient, and some reforms are probably helping a bit. But the use of technology to control costs will become more and more important in the future of healthcare.
So which jobs should you consider that combine technology and healthcare? Here are five that look likely to show high job growth, becoming even more important than they are today.
1. Radiologic Technician
Radiologic technicians operate the machines that perform scans—everything from X-rays to ultrasound to MRIs. They need to know how to operate equipment effectively and safely for the patient, taking accurate images that a physician can use. They also need to help patients understand the procedures they’re undergoing.
Partly because their role requires education, usually an associate’s degree, radiologic technicians currently earn a good average salary of $56,760. In 2013 there were around 194,000 radiologic technicians in the U.S., with that number projected to grow 21% between 2012 and 2022, in line with the demand for healthcare in general.
2. Health Information Technician
Health information technicians deal with medical records. Easy enough, you think? Not necessarily. Healthcare providers keep a lot of records, for a lot of reasons: so that insurers get paid, to allow medical research to be conducted, and to make sure patients get the care they need. And all of it must be done while complying with patient privacy laws.
Electronic records will be crucial to the future of health information technology. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 78% of physicians based in offices kept some form of electronic health records. Back in 2001, just 18% did. Government programs give incentives for doctors to keep electronic health records, and this trend is likely to continue.
Health information technicians currently earn an average salary of $37,710. In 2013 there were around 180,760 health information technicians in the U.S., with that number projected to grow by 22% between 2012 and 2022, as cost control and efficiency become ever more important.
The job usually requires a postsecondary certificate and professional certification in health information technology, although some technicians also have an associate’s degree.
3. Laboratory Technician
Medical laboratory technicians collect medical samples, such as blood and urine, from patients. They perform some of the more routine tests on those samples, usually working under the supervision of medical laboratory technologists. The results of the tests are used to diagnose and treat disease. If you’ve had blood work done lately, a medical lab technician was probably involved.
Medical lab technicians currently earn a decent average salary of $40,240. In 2013 there were around 157,080 medical lab technicians in the U.S., with that number projected to grow 22% between 2012 and 2022.
The job usually requires an associate’s degree or a post-high school certificate or qualification.
4. Surgical Technologist
Surgical technologists have several key roles in the operating room. They make sure operating theatres are sterilized and ready for surgery. They wash and disinfect patients, and help surgeons by passing instruments and supplies. Some surgical technologists will also transport patients to and from surgery and help them feel comfortable. Surgical technologists must have an in-depth understanding of surgery and be able to react quickly during an operation.
Surgical technologists currently earn an average salary of $44,200. In 2013 there were around 97,930 surgical technologists in the U.S., with that number projected to grow at a very high rate: 30% between 2012 and 2022. An ageing population will require more surgeries, meaning especially high demand for surgical technologists.
Becoming a surgical technologist usually requires an associate’s degree or post-high school certificate or qualification.
5. Clinical Nurse
Experts in their field, clinical nurses use knowledge from their advanced degrees to improve healthcare for large numbers of patients. They provide specialist care to patients—clinical nurses may work anywhere from emergency rooms to psychiatric care—but also provide advice and help to other nursing staff, and conduct research on how to improve patient care.
Advanced nursing practitioners (a group that includes clinical nurses) currently earn an average salary of $95,070. The number of clinical nurses is projected to grow an incredible 26% between 2013 and 2023, according to CNN Money. The increasing importance of making healthcare more efficient and less expensive will drive demand for clinical nursing skills in the future.
Becoming a clinical nurse requires experience as a registered nurse—which itself usually requires a college degree—followed by a master’s or doctorate in clinical nursing.
Although it’s not easy to become a clinical nurse, the other careers we’ve highlighted here require an associate’s degree or certification—meaning you can be making a difference to patients lives very quickly, while earning a decent wage. If you’re interested in healthcare technology careers, be sure to check out our schools pages, whether you’re interested in studying on campus or online.