Which Top Healthcare Careers Are In Demand?

Wondering which healthcare careers are in demand? Despite tough economic times, the healthcare industry continues to thrive. As the baby boomer population ages, Generation Y has children, and federal legislation increases the number of people with health insurance, the need for healthcare professionals will only increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry is projected to add over four million jobs between 2012 and 2022. Below are the 17 fastest growing healthcare jobs in America as reported by the BLS.

17 Fastest Growing Healthcare Jobs in the US

1. Personal Care Aides

  • Job Summary– The number one most in demand healthcare career, personal care aides help clients with everyday housekeeping and homemaking tasks. They also aid clients with self-care and provide companionship.
  • Education Requirements– Most personal care aides have a high school diploma or its equivalent and receive short-term on-the-job training.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of personal care aides was $20,100.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of personal care aides is expected to grow 49% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average for all occupations.

2. Home Health Aides

  • Job Summary– Home health aides provide assistance to the elderly, cognitively impaired, disabled, and chronically ill.
  • Education Requirements– There are no formal education requirements to become a home health aide, but you must get training and pass a standardized test to work for a certified home health or hospice agency.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of home health aides was $21,020.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of home health aides is projected to grow 48% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average for all occupations.

3. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

  • Job Summary– Diagnostic medical sonographers operate special imaging equipment. The images they produce help physicians diagnose and assess medical conditions.
  • Education Requirements– Diagnostic medical sonographers are typically required to earn an associate’s degree, as well as professional certification. Those who have received training in a related healthcare field may gain employment with only a postsecondary certificate.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of diagnostic medical sonographers was $66,410.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to grow 46% from 2012 to 2022.

4. Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • Job Summary– An occupational therapy assistant helps patients do therapeutic activities that develop, improve, and recover the skills they need for work and day-to-day living.
  • Education Requirements– Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate’s degree from an occupational therapy assistant program.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of occupational therapy assistants was $55,270.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow 43% from 2012 to 2022.

5. Genetic Counselors

  • Job Summary– Genetic counselors assess the risk of individuals and families for inherited conditions. They provide information and advice to healthcare providers, as well as individuals and families.
  • Education Requirements– You need at least a master’s degree in genetics or genetic counseling to become a genetic counselor, but some earn a PhD in the field.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, genetic counselors earned a median annual wage of $63,590.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of genetic counselors is projected to grow 41% from 2012 to 2022.

6. Physical Therapist Assistants

  • Job Summary– Physical therapist assistants help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement, as well as manage their pain. They work under supervision of physical therapists.
  • Education Requirements– You must have an associate’s degree to become a physical therapist assistant.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of physical therapist assistants was $53,360.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 41% from 2012 to 2022.

7. Physical Therapy Aides

  • Job Summary– Physical therapy aides work under the supervision of physical therapists, but they are not directly involved in patient care. They may clean and set up the treatment area, move patients or perform clerical duties.
  • Education Requirements– Physical therapy aides need to have a high school diploma and get on-the-job training.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of a physical therapy aide was $24,310.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of physical therapy aides is expected to grow 41% from 2012 to 2022.

8. Physician Assistants

  • Job Summary– Physician assistants, often referred to as PAs, practice medicine under the supervision of physicians. They examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment.
  • Education Requirements– Physician assistants are typically required to get a master’s degree from an accredited program, which takes two years.
  • Median Annual Wage– The median annual wage of physician assistants was $92,970 in 2013.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of physician assistants is expected to grow 38% from 2012 to 2022.

9. Occupational Therapy Aides

  • Job Summary– An occupational therapy aide works under the supervision of an occupational therapist but is not directly involved in patient care. Occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities.
  • Education Requirements– They are usually required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Median Annual Wage– The median annual wage of an occupational therapy aide was $26,350.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of occupational therapy aides is expected to grow 36% from 2012 to 2022.

10. Health Specialties, Teachers, Postsecondary

  • Job Summary– Postsecondary health specialties teachers teach college courses in fields like medicine, dentistry, therapy, public health, and pharmacy.
  • Education Requirements– To become a postsecondary health specialties teacher, you typically need a master’s degree or PhD in the subject you teach.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage for postsecondary health specialities teachers was $85,030.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of postsecondary teachers of health specialities is expected to grow 36% from 2012 to 2022.

11. Medical Secretaries

  • Job Summary– Medical secretaries perform secretarial duties in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories.
  • Education Requirements– You need a high school diploma or its equivalent, basic office skills, and knowledge of medical terminology to become a medical secretary. Some medical secretaries choose to complete postsecondary training through a certificate program.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of medical secretaries was $31,890.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of medical secretaries is expected to grow 36% from 2012 to 2022.

12. Physical Therapists

  • Job Summary– Physical therapists, also known as PTs, help people with injuries and illnesses manage their pain and improve their mobility.
  • Education Requirements– You need a doctoral degree in physical therapy to become a physical therapist.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of physical therapists was $81,030.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 36% from 2012 to 2022.

13. Orthotists and Prosthetists

  • Job Summary– Orthotists and prosthetists design, measure, and fit patients for medical supportive devices, like artificial limbs and braces.
  • Education Requirements– You need a master’s degree and certification to enter this field. In order to become certified, you must complete a one-year residency.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, orthotists and prosthetists earned a median annual wage of $62,970.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of orthotists and prosthetists is expected to grow 36% from 2012 to 2022.

14. Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

  • Job Summary– Nursing instructors and teachers teach nursing students about patient care in the classroom and in clinical settings.
  • Education Requirements– You must have a master’s degree or PhD to become a nursing instructor.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, nursing instructors earned a median annual wage of $65,940.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of nursing instructors is expected to grow 35% from 2012 to 2022.

15. Nurse Practitioners

  • Job Summary– Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illnesses as part of a healthcare team. They are able to prescribe medication in some states.
  • Education Requirements– To become a nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse and complete a master’s degree in nursing.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of nurse practitioners was $92,670.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow 34% from 2012 to 2022.

16. Audiologists

  • Job Summary– Using audiometers, computers, and other devices, audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing.
  • Education Requirements– You need a doctoral degree in audiology to become an audiologist.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, audiologists earned a median annual wage of $71,170.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of audiologists is expected to grow 34% from 2012 to 2022

17. Dental Hygienists

  • Job Summary– Dental hygienists clean teeth and examine patients for signs of oral diseases. They also educate patients about good oral hygiene.
  • Education Requirements– An associate’s degree in dental hygiene is typically required in order to become a dental hygienist.
  • Median Annual Wage– In 2013, the median annual wage of dental hygienists was $71,110.
  • Projected Growth– The employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 33% from 2012 to 2022.

Pursuing an In Demand Health Career

There are many healthcare careers in demand, so there are plenty of opportunities available to those who are interested in healthcare and working with patients, whether directly or indirectly. With a growing focus on disease prevention, as well as an intensifying fight to diagnose and treat medical conditions, the need for qualified healthcare professionals will grow in the coming years. A substantial number of healthcare jobs will be added, and the most growth is expected in support jobs.