Prepare for a Hot Career in Health Care!

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See how you could prepare for a stable career in this growing industry.

By Carolyn Joy

If you're looking to pursue a stable career, look to the health care industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

• In February 2011, health care added more than 34,000 positions.
• Health care is projected to add 3.2 million new positions from 2008-2018.
• The health care industry provided 14.3 million jobs in 2008.

[Find Health Care degree programs near you]

More good news: This growing field is full of career options. Need something with a quick education path? No problem. Care more about high earning potential? There's a career for that too.

Keep reading to see some education options for today's in-demand health care careers.

#1 - Medical Assistant

Medical assisting duties include office management, patient care and interaction, and equipment sterilization.

Hot factor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, medical assisting is projected to be one of the fastest growing occupations for the 2008-2018 timeframe. In fact, it's expected to grow 34 percent through 2018! [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: While some medical assistants learn on-the-job, many attend one or two year medical assisting programs, which are offered at vocational schools and junior colleges.

Average earning potential:* The mean annual wage for medical assistants in May 2009 was $29,450. Top earners in the field averaged at nearly $40,000.

[Start searching for Medical Assistant schools now]

#2 - Dental Assistant

Dental assistants handle a variety of tasks, including working with patients, organizing the back-office, and taking patient dental histories.

Hot factor: Dental assisting was deemed one of the fastest growing professions for 2008-2018 by the U.S. Department of Labor. Among the factors at play: population growth and a stronger emphasis on preventative care. [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: On-the-job preparation is one option. If you'd like to formally prepare for this career, consider a one-year certificate program or a two-year dental assisting associate's degree program.

Average earning potential: According to a May 2009 Occupational Employment and Wages survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, dental assistants have an average yearly wage of $34,000. Top earners average at more than $47,000 per year.

[Find Dental Assisting programs near you]

#3 - Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Medical technicians work with physicians and other health care professionals to ensure the accuracy of patient health information.

Hot factor: More medical tests, treatments, and procedures mean more opportunities for medical records and health information technicians. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 20 percent jump in employment through 2018. [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: You could earn a medical billing certificate in less than one year, depending on your course load and program. Another option is to earn an associate's degree, a credential that many entry-level technicians have, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Average earning potential: Workers in this career have a mean annual wage of $33,880. The top ten percent of earners average at $51,510.

[Find Medical Billing and Coding programs near you]

#4 - Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians fill prescriptions, maintain patient records, verify insurance coverage, and sometimes act as administrative support.

Hot factor: Fueled in large part by the growing elderly population, the U.S. Department of Labor anticipates a 25 jump in opportunities through 2018. [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers favor applicants with training and certification, so consider enrolling in a formal pharmacy technician program.

Average earning potential: Pharmacy technicians have strong earning potential. While the average wage is $28,940, the top ten percent in the profession average at $40,160 per year.

[Start searching for Pharmacy Technician programs now]

#5 - Registered Nurse (RN)

RNs are responsible for a variety of vital tasks, including observing and recording patient symptoms and histories, administering medications, establishing and executing patient health care plans, and providing support for doctors, patients, and their families.

Hot factor: In addition to being the largest occupation in the health care industry, RNs are projected to enjoy excellent opportunities through 2018. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts an addition of 581,500 new RN jobs from 2008-2018. [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: If you want to get into nursing, you can take one of three routes: earn a nursing diploma, associate's degree in nursing, or a bachelor's of science in nursing. From there, you'll need to get licensed.

Average earning potential: National estimates put the mean annual wage for RNs at $66,530. For top earners, the average is $93,700.

[Find a Nursing school near you]

#6 - Health Care Administrator

Also known as medical and health services managers or health care executives, health care administrators plan, coordinate, and supervise how health and patient care is delivered.

Hot factor: This occupation is projected to experience faster than average growth through 2018. Opportunities should remain strong, especially for those with related work experience and business management skills, says the U.S. Department of Labor. [Click to find degree programs.]

Education options: A bachelor's degree could prepare you for some starting positions in smaller facilities, however most managers have a master's degree. To manage a specialized service, such as nursing care, you must pass a licensing exam, a state training program, and hold at least a bachelor's degree.

Average earning potential: The average yearly pay of a medical and health care administrative manager is $90,970. Top earners in this career average at $140,300.

[Find Health Care Administration programs now]

*All average income figures are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and represent figures from May 2009.

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