In Demand Careers in Health & Medical Services

In Demand Careers in Health & Medical Services

What are the most popular healthcare positions that require a certificate or degree?

As baby boomers transition into their golden years and Generation X build families, there will be an increased demand for careers in health and medical services. In fact, by 2018, healthcare is expected to have the largest growth out of any other industry.

Medical professionals in all areas of administration and healthcare are needed to provide a variety of services. Whether you are continuing education, or just beginning your college career, a degree in healthcare can help you earn the money you need to lead a comfortable life.

Due to the large variety of jobs available in the health sector, there are a few different educational paths that will lead to your career. Choosing to pursue a certificate, associates degree in health and medical services is your fast-ticket to immediate employment. Or, if you’re looking to continue your education, earning a bachelors degree or masters degree will allow you to advance in your career and increase your salary potential.

Medical Assistant Training

A career as a medical assistant is rewarding and requires only one to two years of postsecondary education. Depending on the program chosen, you will graduate with a certificate or associates degree.

The duties of medical assistant vary depending on the size and location of the office and the practitioner’s specialty. Typically, you will perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the flow of the physician’s office running smoothly.

A clinical assistant helps the physician in examination procedures rather than administrative duties. Clinical assistants have greater one on one interaction with the patients and can perform small clinical duties under the direction of the physician such as, drawing blood, removing sutures and preparing patients for x-rays.

Healthcare Administration Degree

With a healthcare administration degree, you will have the skills necessary to plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of healthcare. A bachelors degree in healthcare administration is sufficient for entry-level positions in smaller offices and departments. However, for most positions a masters degree in healthcare administration is required.

Medical Technician Training

Diagnostic and treatment technicians, also known as medical technicians, use technology in order to diagnose patients with illnesses or disease. Your specific major will depend on your desired field of interest. Various degrees include cardiovascular technology, diagnostic medical sonography and physician’s assistants. Most applicants who pursue this track attend a one to two year program, receiving a certificate or associates degree, though there are bachelors degree programs available.

Job opportunities for clinical and medical laboratory technicians are in demand at least until 2018. Medical lab technicians must not be squeamish because you will be performing tests to examine blood and other bodily fluids. This career appeals to the analytical mind as it has become less hands-on due to the increasing use of automation and computer technology. A 1-year certificate program or 2-year associates degree is sufficient for securing a job as a clinical or medical laboratory technician.

Pharmacy technicians receive prescriptions requests, count tablets and label bottles, while a pharmacy assistant performs administrative functions such as answering phones, stocking shelves and operating cash registers. Pharmacists prefer to employ applicants who have already acquired a six month to two year technician certificate or associates degree through a community college, vocational school, hospital or military.

Ultrasound technicians commonly work with obstetricians and gynecologists to examine patients during pregnancy using sonography technology. To enter into this profession, you must have completed either a two or four year program with an associates degree or bachelors degree in ultrasound technology. There are also one year programs that provide certificates for those already in the healthcare profession who are looking to increase their marketability.

A radiologic technologist and x-ray technician are similar, but the former requires a higher level of education. A radiologic technologist, or radiographer, is trained to perform a variety of radiologic exams, while an x-ray technician is only qualified to operate specific x-ray machines. A strong attention to detail is necessary for this position, as you are working to ensure that the radiation does not hit any other part of the patient’s body other than the desired area. For a radiographer you can receive a certificate, associates or bachelors degree in radiography, though the most common track is the associates degree program. X-ray technician’s require less training.

Surgical technicians prepare the operating room by cleaning and sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that all tools are in proper working order and patients are prepped for surgery. A 9 to 24 month surgical technician training will lead either a certificate or associates degree.

Mental Health School and Social Services Training

People who exhibit compassion and care for other people are excellent candidates for a career in mental and social health services. There are certificate programs that last only a year and two-year degree programs that will prepare you for a job as a social worker’s assistant. Social workers usually obtain a bachelors degree, however if you push on through your masters, you will have a better chance at landing a higher paying job.

Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse Training

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Licensed Vocation Nurses (LVN) care for the sick and injured, and work under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. LVN job availability is expected to be great between 2008 and 2018, but it varies by industry. The major source of LVN nurse openings will be from workers who have left the occupation permanently.

Usually LVN programs last one year and can be found at vocational and technical schools or community and junior colleges, leading to a LVN certification, diploma or associates degree. The curriculum at LVN schools focuses on classroom practice and clinical practice. In the classroom, students learn basic nursing concepts related to patient care, and then apply them in the clinical practice.

LPN careers may be found in any area of healthcare, and in specialized areas such as a nursing home, doctor’s office or in home healthcare. LPN jobs in nursing care facilities help to evaluate the resident’s needs and supervise the care being provided by nursing aides. In a doctor’s office they may be responsible for performing clerical duties.

Rehabilitation and Therapy Schools

Occupational therapists and physical therapists are the most popular careers in rehabilitation. Occupational therapists use treatments to develop, recover or maintain the daily living and work skills in a patient. A physical therapist utilizes a variety of therapy techniques to promote their patients ability to move and perform functional activities.

Rehabilitation and therapy schools teach students to work with patients recovering from illness, or who are living with a permanent disability. Both physical therapists and occupational therapists are required to obtain at least a masters degree, though you may only earn accreditation if you hold a doctoral degree. However, if you’re itching to get into the rehabilitation field sooner, there are associates degree programs available for occupational therapist or physical therapist assistants.

Dentistry Support Services

Dentistry support service majors may either pursue careers as a dental assistant or dental hygienist. Both careers require a small amount of postsecondary education, as you can receive dental assistant certification in less than a year, and a dental hygienist associates degree in two years. If you want a more general dental degree, there are bachelor degree programs in dental support available.

Job prospects for careers in dentistry support services are excellent. Although dental assistant and dental hygienist tasks do overlap at times, the main difference is that dental hygienists work primarily in preventative oral treatment. They are also more educated, so they generally receive a higher salary.

Nutrition Schools

Nutritionists and dieticians work with patients to prevent illness by promoting healthy eating habits. This requires at least a bachelors degree in a nutrition, or other related areas.

A dietetic technician works under the supervision of registered nutritionists to administer a diet plan patients. This differs from a dietetic assistant who helps plan, prepare and serve meals to individuals with specific dietary needs. Both career paths have certificate and associate degree programs, allowing for a quick transition into your new job.

Tips & Tactics

  • Clinical assistant, license practical nurses, and pharmacy technician duties vary by state. Check your state’s laws to find the job requirements for each position in your state.
  • If you are a high school student considering a career in the healthcare sector, keep in mind that training programs prefer to accept applicants who have taken high school courses in health, science and mathematics.
  • When choosing a healthcare school program, pay attention to the internships or work study programs available at the school because additional hands-on training is important to employers in this field.


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