There’s a good chance you’re reading this jobs guide because you’ve heard that the healthcare industry is super hot right now. And it’s true! But if you’re just starting out, or thinking about a career change, how do you get in on this fast-growing field? Let’s look at the important questions to consider before you take the plunge and commit to your new industry.
Which healthcare field is right for you?
One of the best parts about healthcare right now is its versatility—but that can also be a bit of a curse, because how do you choose?
When you think of “healthcare,” you probably think of core jobs like a physician, nurse, home health aide, therapist, etc. These professionals are the ones working directly with patients, diagnosing, treating, and caring for people at different points in the process. If you’re not afraid to get up close and personal with patients and have a high tolerance for things like bodily fluids, you might want to consider taking this path.
…but there are also a lot of behind-the-scenes options if working with patients isn’t your bag, or the idea of drawing blood makes you feel faint. Healthcare technology, which can involve everything from the digital infrastructure behind electronic medical records to the high-tech equipment that medical providers use, is a way to be involved in one of the fastest-growing parts of the health industry. IT, like healthcare, is a field that is perpetually growing these days—so if you have engineering, programming, and project management skills, you might want to consider specializing in healthcare technology systems.
Just as there are more jobs than ever for healthcare practitioners, the need for strong administrative support systems is growing as well. Hospitals, clinics, research labs, insurance companies…all of them need professionals to manage records, handle coding and billing, maintain medical offices, and generally keep things running smoothly to support patient care. And like with medical technology, healthcare administration can be a good option if your skill sets are more general, and you’re looking to specialize or expand into a field with strong job security and chances for advancement. For administrative positions that involve clinical expertise too (like medical assisting), you can often complete certificate programs or take terminology classes to help you build up your medical bona fides.
Do you need to go back to school?
Short answer…maybe. For non-clinical jobs, like in administration or technology, experience and education in those general areas are often enough to get started in the healthcare specialty. However, for positions that demand more specific expertise, training, or certification, you may need to plan for additional rounds of schooling. But here’s the good news: not every medical training program is a med school-level commitment; many programs range from short-term Associate’s programs (like dental hygienists) to a four-year degree (like most nurses). And for some jobs, like home health aide, a high school diploma is enough to get you in the door at the entry level.
It’s also important to remember that most health careers are governed by state requirements for certification and licensing, so whatever path you choose, be sure to understand what your own state’s requirements are for that job.
Where are the most healthcare jobs?
The upshot is that healthcare jobs, in general, are growing just about everywhere—but if you want to follow the most growth, head to the most populous states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest concentration of jobs for healthcare practitioners and healthcare tech were found in the following states:
- New York
For healthcare support occupations (like administration), these are the top five states:
- New York
Things seem great now, but what’s the outlook for healthcare jobs?
Very bright indeed! Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare occupations across the board is expected to grow at least 18% between now and 2026. That’s significantly faster than average for all occupations and translates into about 2.4 million jobs between now and 2026. A number of factors are driving this demand—but especially a growing population in general, and an aging population in particular. Changes in healthcare policy also drive the growth, especially in areas like medical administration and health insurance. As our health needs grow more numerous and more complex, there will be millions of jobs opening to help keep pace.
So if you’re considering going into the health industry as a newbie or as a game-changer, there’s likely to be a path that works for your particular skills and your goals. Good luck!