Top Careers in Healthcare for 2014: Highest Paying & Outlook
The social assistance and health care industry is expected to grow by 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In numerical terms, that amounts to an estimated 5.7 million jobs. Part of this growth is due to technological advances and new medications that allow physicians more options for treating patients, some of whom would have been considered untreatable only a few decades ago. However, the aging baby-boomers are also a factor. They are a large portion of the population, and overall, Americans are living longer and remaining more active later in life than previous generations.
Those who desire a career in healthcare will find no shortage of jobs from which to choose. Although some of the fastest growing careers require advanced degrees, others require as little as an associate’s degree or completion of a certificate program. Here are the top careers in healthcare for 2014:
Biomedical engineers use their knowledge of medicine, engineering and biology to produce instruments and equipment for patient care. They also design artificial organs, replacement joints and prostheses. Most earn a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. Some biomedical engineers earn a bachelor’s degree in another engineering field, and then obtain a master’s degree in biomedical engineering or secure training on the job. The median pay for biomedical engineers in 2012 was $86,960 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects a 27 percent growth rate for the occupation during the decade ending in 2022.
Chiropractors use massage, manipulation and other noninvasive techniques to treat conditions involving the nerves, muscles, bones and ligaments. Chiropractors complete a four-year program to obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, and most chiropractic schools require applicants to have completed at least three years of college before applying. After graduating from chiropractic school, chiropractors must pass a state exam to earn a license to practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 15 percent between 2012 and 2022 for chiropractors, and reports that their average annual salary in 2012 was $79,550.
Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of gum disease, provide cleanings, take x-rays and apply fluoride treatments and sealants. They also instruct patients in proper oral hygiene. Although it is possible to earn a four-year degree in dental hygiene, most hygienists enter the field with a two-year associate’s degree. All states require licensing for hygienists, but each state establishes its own standards. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 33 percent growth rate for the occupation between 2012 and 2022. As of 2012, the average annual salary for a dental hygienist was $70,700.
Healthcare administrators are the managers who oversee a medical facility’s operations. In a large hospital, they may manage a department, while in a physician’s office, they may oversee all areas of the practice’s finances and supervise the clerical staff. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, but many have earned master’s degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the field to increase by 23 percent by 2022. The median annual salary in 2012 was $88,580.
Medical assistants handle many of the clerical tasks for physicians, chiropractors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. They typically perform some clinical duties as well, such as taking a patient’s vital signs or health history. Entry-level jobs usually require completion of a certificate program; program lengths vary, but most take about 12 months to complete. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 2012 median pay for medical assistants was $29,370 per year, and it predicts a growth of 29 percent for the occupation between 2012 and 2022.
Occupational and physical therapists have many similarities. Both types of therapists help patients alleviate pain and recover their normal range of motion. Occupational therapists focus on assisting patients with job-related issues, while physical therapists assist patients with a variety of needs. Occupational therapists need at least a master’s degree, but physical therapists must have at least a Ph.D. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 29 percent growth for occupational therapists and a 36 percent growth rate for physical therapists. The median annual pay in 2012 was $75,400 for occupational therapists and $79,860 for physical therapists.