Best Health Care Careers for Hands-On People


Check out these seven careers that let you play an active role in patient care.

By Amanda Hearle    

Do you appreciate wellness, people, and lending a helping hand?

If you answered "yes" to all of the above, then you might be well-suited for a hands-on career in health care.

And there's no better time than now to pursue a career in health care. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are health care related. Specifically, the health care field will create 3.2 million new jobs between 2008 and 2018.

Want in on the action? Keep reading to learn about seven hands-on health care careers and the education you'll need to pursue them.

Career #1 - Health Care Administrator

Do you want to have a hands-on leadership role in the health care field? Consider pursuing a career as a health care administrator, who usually directs staff, plans policies, and coordinates department affairs to ensure that a facility runs smoothly and efficiently.

Hands-on factor: As a health care administrator, you could play an active role in shaping how facilities operate and how patients are treated, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Depending on the medical settings, some health care administrators may also be involved with providing resident care, patient flow, and community outreach.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Education: A master's degree in health services administration, public health, and public administration is the standard credential for this hands-on leadership position, according to the Department of Labor. A bachelor's degree could help you get your foot in the door of smaller places, says the Department.

Career #2 - Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses make a significant impact in health care. From treating patients to educating them on their medical condition, RNs play an active role in the well-being of patients.

Hands-on factor: By developing treatment plans, discussing options, and assisting with exams, you could have a direct and meaningful impact on a patient's health. Some RNs may also have their hands full with running general health screenings or immunization clinics, blood drives, and public seminars on various conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Education: Earning an associate's degree in nursing is a typical path to pursuing an RN career, according to the Department of Labor. RNs must also pass the national licensing examination in order to obtain their license and practice their craft.

Career #3 - Dental Assistant

Going to the dentist can be very scary for some people. That's where dental assistants come in. Dental assistants - who might perform a combination of patient care, office, and laboratory duties - help ensure that patients walk away smiling.

Hands-on factor: As a dental assistant, you could have a direct impact on the comfort and quality of a patient's experience. You could help make patients comfortable from the beginning to the end of their visit. From greeting patients, to taking X-rays, removing sutures, sterilizing equipment, and scheduling appointments, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program.

Education: If you're interested in pursuing this hands-on health care career, the Department of Labor notes that an increasing number of dental assistants pick up their skills through a certificate or associate's degree program in dental assisting.

Career #4 - Physical Therapist Assistant

Want to help patients relieve their pain and regain their independence? Physical therapist assistants usually work alongside physical therapists to help accident victims and the disabled through their rehabilitation.

Hands-on factor: On any given day, you could teach a patient to use crutches, retrain someone to walk, or help paralyzed patients recover use of their hands, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. As a physical therapist assistant, you could directly impact patients' recovery by assisting with their exercises, giving massages, and tracking their progress.

Click to Find the Right Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

Education: Almost all physical therapist assistants earn an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program, according to the Department of Labor.

Career #5 - Medical Assistant

Without medical assistants, doctors' offices might not function as well. Medical assistants are often responsible for scheduling appointments, updating patient files, arranging lab tests, and ultimately keeping medical facilities running smoothly.

Hands-on factor: Doctors' offices can be intimidating. As the first person usually seen by patients, you would play an active role in a patient's comfort. That's because medical assistants generally answer questions, show patients how to fill out their paperwork, and perform medical assessments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some medical assistants might instruct patients about medications and special diets, as well.

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Education: Interested in pursuing this career? Many medical assistants complete a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree in medial assisting, according to the Department of Labor.

Career #6 - Massage Therapist

Massage therapists understand how hands can be instruments of healing and how a variety of techniques can help treat different kinds of pain.

Hands-on factor: Using their "healing hands," massage therapists can help patients find relief from injuries, stress, and chronic pain. This can include treating painful ailments, decompressing tired and overworked muscles, reducing stress, and rehabilitating sports injuries, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Massage Therapy Program.

Education: Most states require you to complete a formal education program and pass an examination before pursuing a career as a massage therapist, according to the Department of Labor.

Career #7 - Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)/Paramedic

Sometimes, when people are seriously injured, they don't have time to spare. EMTs/paramedics are dispatched by the 911 operator, responding to anything from car accidents to slips and falls - essentially anything that requires medical attention.

Hands-on factor: EMTs/paramedics generally provide life-saving medical care during that critical period between the accident and the hospital. As a paramedic, you could find yourself treating gunshot wounds, heart attacks, and car crash victims, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Your direct care could mean the difference between life and death.

Education: A high school diploma is usually required to enroll in an EMT or paramedic program, according to the Department of Labor. In order to pursue a career as an EMT or paramedic, you must complete a program and certification process.

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