Health care is the fastest growing occupational group in the U.S. with a projected growth rate of 18 percent between 2016 and 2026. The reason? Because there’s a real, rising need in this sector for specially trained individuals as baby boomers, America’s largest generation, age and face more medical issues.
But there are a lot of different roles that need to be filled. Below, we’ve compiled a list of five such career paths in the healthcare industry, along with the types of health care degrees you’ll need to get started!
Registered nurses play a vital role in hospitals and clinics, and the demand for this position is high. As a registered nurse, you would treat patients, administer medication, monitor your patients’ conditions, and update their records for the doctor.
Nurses can begin working quickly, by earning a diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN), which usually takes about two years. This will qualify you as a registered nurse, allowing you to jumpstart your career and gain on-the-job experience. But because of the growing demand for better-trained nurses, it’s become increasingly necessary for nurses to pursue further education, such as a bachelor’s (BSN) or master’s (MSN) in nursing.
If you already have an associate in nursing, you can earn a BSN within two years through an RN to BSN program; and many programs have options for online healthcare degrees, too. These degrees will open up opportunities for advancement into specialized roles or leadership positions, especially if you also pursue a two-year MSN degree.
Health and Wellness
When considering healthcare degrees and careers, doctors, surgeons, and nurses may first come to mind—but there are also opportunities to help with prevention rather than treatment, by educating people on how to live healthier lifestyles.
For example, you could become a public health educator, who works with schools and communities to educate people on healthy, active living. You could also work as a health coach for individual clients, a wellness coordinator for a company, or a health services manager at a hospital.
These and other health and wellness careers begin with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness. Depending on the position, a bachelor’s degree in business or nursing can also get you started; but some roles will also require a master’s degrees in public health, health administration, or health education.
Hospitals and health systems are continually digitizing patient information and trying to find more efficient ways of organizing, accessing, and analyzing that patient data. That provides many career opportunities in health informatics.
You could work as a system manager, ensuring the effective and secure operation of facility computers and applications. You could also work as a data quality manager, health data analyst, or a health information management director, overseeing the integrity of a hospital’s clinical and financial data.
An associate’s degree in health informatics will qualify you for multiple entry level positions, giving you many opportunities to enter the field. However, a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management will open up the most doors, especially for higher-level positions later on, such as health information management director.
Medicine and Surgery
Physician and surgeon are perhaps the first positions that come to mind when thinking about working in healthcare. There are many different types of physicians and surgeons, with specialties including cardiology, neurology, oncology and others. As a physician you would diagnose and treat patients; and as a surgeon, you would also operate—mending bones, removing cancerous tumors, and potentially fixing birth defects, such as cleft lips.
These are the best-paying careers in healthcare, with salaries equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. But becoming a doctor or surgeon takes a lot of education, including a bachelor’s degree with coursework in biology, physics, chemistry, and math (3-4 years); medical school (4 years); and a residency program (3-5 years).
If you’d like to make a difference in the health care industry from behind the scenes, rather than through direct contact with patients, a position in health administration would be perfect for you.
Entry level positions include working as a medical office administrator, where you’d manage various administrative duties at clinics, such as answering phones, handling contracts, and contacting insurance companies. You could also work as a medical executive assistant, overseeing the conception and completion of hospital projects; a healthcare human resources manager; or eventually, you could direct the operation of a hospital as a health administrator.
The best degree to prepare you for a career in health administration is a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management, where you’ll learn best practices and critical functions of health care administration. As with many healthcare careers, however, there are more opportunities for advancement with graduate-level degrees, such as a master’s degree in health administration or health management, or even a master’s degree in business with a health concentration.
Choosing the Right Degree for Your Future
We offer various health care degrees—including bachelor’s, master’s, and online health care degrees—to ensure you get multiple options for an accessible, affordable education. But if you’re unsure about the career you want or the degree you need to achieve it, our career advisors are here to help!