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Five of the Fastest Growing Health Care Careers in the Nation

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Home >> Articles >> Healthcare Careers >> Five of the Fastest Growing Health Care Careers in the Nation

Although we're living longer, studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that we need more professional help to make the most of our lives. The job market reflects that reality, as the country's fastest growing health care careers involve helping patients cope with the challenges of aging.

Home Health and Personal Care Aides

Even though government statistics show that nearly two million Americans work as home health aides, analysts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that the number of people employed in this field will grow by over two-thirds during the next decade (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

Personal care aides help patients cope with illness or impairments, either in patients' homes or in assisted living communities. When paired with supervising nurses or physicians' assistants, home health aides can perform most duties without a high school diploma. Many states require aides to pass certification exams before working in health care facilities or for registered agencies.

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Living longer means that many of us will experience more accidents and surgeries that require recovery or routine exercise. Physical therapist assistants move patients through a therapist's office, cleaning treatment rooms and preparing specialized equipment along the way. In some practices, assistants also handle clerical tasks and help patients with paperwork or insurance claims.

Government analysts expect a 45 percent increase in demand for physical therapist aides and assistants between now and 2020. Many physical therapy practices rely on a growing pool of workers to scale their practices and to care for expanding populations of patients requiring regular care.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

For decades, doctors have used sonographs to help identify potential birth defects, with the side effect of more accurately predicting a baby's gender from the other side of the womb. Lately, researchers have chronicled practical uses for sonographs at the opposite end of the aging spectrum. Specialized scans can identify problems with the brain or detect early-stage cancer cells in the breast or abdomen.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the field will grow by 44 percent or more over the next ten years (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). With stand-alone sonography centers opening throughout the country, qualified workers can enjoy greater variety in work environments and locations.

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Like physical therapy aides, occupational therapy aides help patients regain and improve their motor skills during and after medical treatment. However, occupational therapy involves a more focused set of skills designed to help a patient get back to work or to alleviate pain on the job.

Government analysts predict a 41 percent rise in the number of occupational therapy assistants employed between 2010 and 2020 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). Home health aides and physical therapy assistants can blend their experience with an associate's degree to qualify for these higher paying roles.

Physical Therapists

Health care providers can't just rely on hiring more aides and assistants to keep up with demand for physical therapy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a gain of 39 percent over the next decade, bringing the total number of physical therapy professionals over a quarter million for the first time (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

After completing doctoral degree programs and earning licensure, physical therapists diagnose patient issues, set long-term therapy plans, and direct the actions of their support teams. Although many physical therapists work in health care facilities, a growing number of professionals operate personal, specialized practices.

All five of these healthcare careers may reward hard work and dedication to professional development with greater responsibility and higher salaries. Instead of just hunting for a job, you can ride a career wave driven by demand. Your passion for helping people and a commitment to lifelong learning can help you play an important role in your community while earning a steady income.

Sources:

"Home Health and Personal Care Aides," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012
"Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012
"Diagnostic Medical Sonographers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012
"Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012
"Physical Therapists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012


About Author

Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for over two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. Previously, Joe worked as a marketing and customer service training advisor for three of the country's leading consumer lenders. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards; (Rogue Guide Books, 2012). When not writing about business, Joe serves as a corporate communications advisor for a Fortune 500 company.

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