How to Jump-Start a Career in a Booming Field

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Learn how you can get ready to enter the health care field with one of these careers.

By Amy Chang

Are you interested in jump-starting a career in the health care field?

Great news: whether you're interested in a hands-on career or a more behind-the-scenes gig, there is a great mix of health care careers to suit a variety of interests.

And now is a great time to find your place in this growing industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the health care industry expects to add 5.7 million new jobs from 2010 to 2020.

Ready to jump-start a career in the growing health care field? Read on to learn about six great health care careers and the education you need to prepare to pursue them.

Career #1- Medical Assistant

If you want to put your administrative skills to the test in this growing industry, consider making strides towards a career as a medical assistant.

Considered as a doctor's or nurse's right-hand man or woman, you could perform office tasks - like scheduling appointments or recording patient information - as well as clinical duties, such as assisting with patient exams or drawing blood, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor projects employment of medical assistants to grow by 162,900 jobs from 2010 to 2020. This 31 percent growth is in part due to the aging population.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: You could make strides towards this career by earning an associate's degree or certificate in a medical assisting program, says the Department.


Career #2 - Registered Nurse

If you like taking care of people, you might want to consider prepping to jump-start a registered nurse (RN) career.

As an RN, your daily duties might consist of treating patients, educating patients about health conditions, and offering emotional support to patients and their families, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

With a large aging population and career options in various health care settings - including hospitals, doctors' offices, or nursing care facilities - registered nurses make up the biggest health care field. The Department of Labor projects 26 percent job growth for nurses, or 711,900 additional positions, between 2010 and 2020.

Click to Find the Right Registered Nursing Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: Earning an associate's degree in nursing is a common route to pursuing a registered nursing career, according to the Department. To get into full gear with this career, you'll have to pass the national licensing exam.


Career #3 - Dental Assistant

Most people don't look forward to going to the dentist. But if you're actually one who enjoys oral care, consider prepping to pursue a career in the growing dental assisting profession.

Typical responsibilities include sterilizing dental instruments, handing instruments to dentists during procedures, and preparing materials for examinations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Because oral health has been proven to influence overall health, dental assistants will continue to be needed to help with regular dental cleanings. Therefore, it makes sense that the Department of Labor projects 91,600 more dental assisting jobs - or 31 percent job increase - between 2010 and 2020.

Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: Some dental assistants learn skills on the job, but some employers prefer to hire candidates that have completed an associate's degree or certificate program in dental assisting, says the Department.


Career #4 - Medical and Health Services Manager

Are you looking to shift gears in your career and put your leadership skills to use in the health care field? You could get the chance to improve a health care facility's day-to-day operations as a medical and health services manager.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, your daily responsibilities might include improving the delivery of health care assistance, developing work schedules, communicating with the medical staff, and being in charge of a facility's finances.

With a higher demand for medical services due to an aging population, there will most likely be a greater need for medical facilities and people who can run them. In turn, the Department of Labor projects a need for 68,000 new medical and health services managers by 2020 - or an increase of 22 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: A master's degree in health service administration, health sciences, or public health can help prepare you for this management position, according to the Department. But a bachelor's in health administration could be sufficient for certain entry-level positions in smaller offices.


Career #5 - Physical Therapist Assistant

Prefer to play a more active role in a patient's physical recovery? If so, consider driving full-speed ahead towards a career as a physical therapist assistant.

By assisting patients with devices and equipment, providing treatment with massage and stretching, and reporting progress to a physical therapist, you could help patients begin to gain more physical strength, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

As the baby boomer population enters the age of being more vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes, physical rehabilitation may be needed at a greater rate, says the Department of Labor. This could mean a greater need for physical therapy assistants - the Department projects a 46 percent job increase, or 30,800 new jobs - in this field from 2010 to 2020.

Click to Find the Right Physical Therapy Assisting Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: If you want to get behind the wheel of this career, consider earning an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapy assisting program, which is required in some states, according to the Department. And be sure to check that the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.


Career #6 - Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Want to get moving on a more hands-off health care career? If you prefer dealing with data instead of seeing patients, a career in medical coding and billing may be right for you.

You could keep track of patients' health information by reviewing records for accuracy and timeliness, organizing data in clinical databases, and assigning clinical codes with classification software, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Because an aging population will most likely lead to an increase in medical data and records for tests and procedures, the Department of Labor projects a 21 percent job increase in this field between 2010 and 2020. That's a projected 37,700 new positions.

Click to Find the Right Health Information Technology Program.

How to Jump-start this Career: An associate's degree in health information technology is recommended to prepare for a medical records and health information technician career, says the Department. And some employers might require certification as a registered health information technician.

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