How to Prepare for a Booming Health Career

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See how going back to school could help you prepare to pursue an in-demand health care career.

By Chloe Jenkins-Sleczkowski    

If you've ever considered studying to pursue a career in health care, now is the time to act.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that 3.2 million jobs will be created from 2008-2018. And according to a July 2011 CNN Money article, "Health care jobs a bright spot for hiring," an aging population and health care reform will most likely lead to an increased demand for health care workers.

Are you ready to take the next step toward an in-demand career? Check out these booming health care careers - and the education needed to pursue them.

Career #1 - Medical Records and Health Information Technician

If you love the idea of working in medicine but prefer a more behind-the-scenes position, consider pursuing medical records and health information technician opportunities.

In this career, you'll likely act as the vital liaison between doctors and insurance companies. By taking care of medical histories, data, and insurance coding, medical records and health information technicians help health care facilities run more efficiently.

Education options: Consider pursuing a two-year associate's degree in health information technology if you want to develop the needed skills to pursue this career. This program teaches medical terminology, clinical classification, and coding systems - and could take as little as two years to complete.*

Click to Find the Right Medical Records and Health Information Technician Program.

Career outlook: Employment of medical records and health information technicians is projected to grow by 20 percent between 2008 and 2018.*


Career #2 - Registered Nurse

Are you a caring and responsible person with a heart for medicine? You could find the perfect fit in nursing.

Registered nurses help doctors by treating patients and educating them about medical conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Education options: If you want to get into this field, consider earning a two-year associate's degree in nursing. That's how many nurses enter the field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.*

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Career outlook: Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018. That's a little over 580,000 jobs.*


Career #3 - Dental Assistant

Do you love taking care of your teeth and want to help others do the same? Consider studying to pursue career opportunities in dental assisting.

Dental assistants help with patient care, assist with dental instruments and procedures, and provide a reliable set of hands to dentists in order to make sure everything runs more smoothly.

Education options: For a competitive edge, it's usually a good idea to complete a dental assisting program and earn a diploma or a certificate, as the Department of Labor notes that more and more have formal education. Programs could take as little as one year to complete.*

Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program.

Career outlook: This is a hot field to pursue, since the occupation is expected to grow by 36 percent between 2008 and 2018. In fact, it's one of the fastest-growing occupations for that time period.*


Career #4 - Pharmacy Technician

If you prefer a bright working environment, are detail-oriented, and have an interest in medicine, consider studying to pursue pharmacy technician opportunities.

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists by handling prescription medications and interacting with customers.

Education options: You can generally prepare for a pharmacy technician career by completing a certificate or associate's program. This program generally covers pharmaceutical terminology and techniques. Bonus: Some certificate programs can be completed in as little as six months.*

Click to Find the Right Pharmacy Technician Program.

Career outlook: As the need for medicine rises with the age of the population, the number of pharmacy technician jobs is expected to increase by 25 percent from 2008 to 2018.*


Career #5 - Medical Assistant

If you like helping others and enjoy interacting with people, consider studying to pursue a medical assisting career.

Medical assistants might handle administrative and/or clinical duties that might include updating medical records or taking medical histories.

Education options: Want to join this in-demand profession? Look into completing a medical assisting education program. Certificate programs could sometimes be completed in as little as one year. Another option is the two-year associate's degree program.*

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program.

Career outlook: Because of the population's rising age and increasing need for health care workers, medical assisting is projected to grow by 34 percent from 2008 to 2018.*


*Career outlook, education options, and average earning potential data are from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2010. Education completion times are averages and will vary by school, program, student's level of commitment, and other factors.


Next Article: 5 Rising Health Care Careers »

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