Find Your Path to a Health Care Career

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See how the right education can help you find a place in this fast growing field.

By Lisa Manterfield    

Want to prepare for a career with lots of opportunity? Look to health care.

The field provides many career opportunities for you to work directly with patients or stay behind the scenes. With the right education, you could find yourself launching a new career in one of the fastest growing industries.

The demand for health care continues as the country's 75 million baby boomers are now reaching their senior years. The U.S. Department of Labor's August 2011 Employment Situation report shows that there is still an upward trend in health care even as overall employment remains unchanged. In August alone, 30,000 new jobs were created.*

Whether you like working with people, technology, or numbers, see how - with the right education - you could be on your way to finding a place in the health care industry.

Career #1 - Registered Nurse

If you enjoy caring for others, consider pursuing a career as a registered nurse.

In this role, you could find yourself administering medications and care programs to patients, providing emotional and educational support, or assisting with medical procedures, such as surgery or rehabilitation.

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Growth Rate: The U.S. Department of Labor projects the number of registered nursing jobs will grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: Prepare to move into this career with an associate's degree (ASN) or a diploma in nursing, which could take as little as two to three years to complete.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for registered nurses is $67,720.*


Career #2 - Medical Coding and Billing Specialist

Do you enjoy working with computers and have excellent attention to detail? You should consider a career as a medical coding and billing specialist.

As a medical coding and billing specialist, you might be responsible for accurately applying codes to patients' medical records. The hospital or medical facility uses these codes to bill health insurance programs for reimbursement.

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Growth Rate: This fast-growing occupation is projected to grow 20 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: Most employers want applicants who are certified in medical coding and billing, which involves passing a written test. For certification, an associate's degree or certificate program in medical coding and billing can help you prepare.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for medical coding and billing specialists is $35,010.*


Career #3 - Health Care Administrator

If you have good business sense and want to pursue a career with a lot of potential, this option could prove to be rewarding.

As a health care administrator (also known as a health services manager), your responsibilities might include planning, directing, coordinating, and supervising the daily operations of a health care facility or a specific medical department.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program Now.

Growth Rate: Vital to any health care facility, this position is expected to grow by 16 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: To break into this field, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in health care administration or a related field such as health sciences, public health, or business administration. In order to advance to a management position, you'll most likely need a master's degree in one of these fields.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for health care administrators is $93,670.*


Career #4 - Medical Assistant

Do you like working with people and managing multiple responsibilities? You might enjoy medical assisting.

In an administrative medical assisting role, you might find yourself scheduling appointments, filing insurance claims, or maintaining records. You might also have clinical responsibilities, such as monitoring patient vitals, drawing blood samples for testing, or explaining diet, exercise, or medication information to patients.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program Now.

Growth Rate: This hot career is projected to grow 34 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: You can prepare for this fast-growing career with a certificate or a diploma in medical assisting, which could take as little as one year to complete. Another option is an associate's degree in medical assisting.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for medical assistants is $29,760.*


Career #5 - Accountant

If you love numbers and can stay organized, you might find your niche as an accountant in the health care industry.

Did you know, for example, that management, business, and financial roles make up 4.3 percent of all health care jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor?

Health care accountants are often responsible for recording and analyzing a medical facility's financial information, preparing and managing department budgets, and conducting internal audits.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program Now.

Growth Rate: Across all industries, the demand for qualified accountants and auditors is predicted to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: Most companies require candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a similar field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for accountants is $68,960.*


Career #6 - Computer Support Specialist

As the health care industry increasingly relies on technology, the need for computer support specialists will continue to grow.

If you love working with computers and would enjoy helping other employees, such as physicians, health information technicians, and hospital receptionists, to solve problems with their computer systems, this could be a great career for you.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program Now.

Growth Rate: The need for computer specialists across all industries is predicted to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018.*

Getting Started: Many companies usually look for candidates with a computer science bachelor's degree. In some cases, an associate's degree or a certificate in computer science may be sufficient to prepare for this career. A certificate may take as little as one year to complete, while an associate's degree can take as little as two.*

Average Earnings: The average salary for computer support specialists is $49,930.*


*All growth projections are for the period between 2008 and 2018 and come from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 data. All career, education, and average salary information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 data. All time to completion information is dependent on a variety of factors including part- or full-time status, school, and program.

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