Want Job Security? 5 In-Demand Medical Careers to Consider

As our population ages, our healthcare requirements are increasing correspondingly, creating a higher demand for health-related services. This explains why healthcare offers you so many career opportunities. In fact, jobs in the healthcare sector are expected to increase by 18 percent in the period from 2016 through 2026 – translating to about 2.3 million new jobs in the sector.

Now is an exciting time to get into the healthcare industry! Not only will the sector demand more employees than any other, it’s also a rewarding field that lets you help people. Every single moment on the job, healthcare professionals are making a difference in someone’s life. Some core competencies and attributes you need to be successful in healthcare include professionalism, excellent communication skills, ability to solve problems under stress, and compassion for patients.

Before we consider what it takes to change careers, here are five promising healthcare career options that will offer you the greatest job security and in some cases, great post-retirement options for those who enjoy working with people.

1. Phlebotomy

phlebotomist is responsible for drawing patient blood for routine tests, blood transfusions, medical research, or blood donations. While hospitals are the commonest places for phlebotomists to work, you can also work at donor facilities, doctor’s offices, and laboratories. As a phlebotomist, you will often have to work full-time.

Blood work is a critical component in the medical industry and is used for diagnosing patients and performing important medical research. Demand for phlebotomists in the healthcare sector is expected to increase by 25 percent by 2026. Some of the skills you will be required to have in this exciting field include dexterity, great hand-eye coordination, empathy, and an ability to focus on details.

Professional certification is a critical requirement in phlebotomy. Some popular options for this certification are community colleges, technical schools, and career and vocational training schools. Phlebotomy technicians can get into leadership roles as phlebotomy directors or supervisors, but the positions will require additional education or training.

2. Patient Care Technicians and Home Health Aides

Patient care technicians and home health aides work directly with patients. The position is often full-time and may involve working directly in a patient’s home or in group settings such as assisted living facilities. Home health aides also help individuals in need to carry out their daily activities.

As a home health aide, you will work with people with chronic conditions, disabilities, and any other impairment forms. This career field expects a major hiring growth boost in the near future due to the increased needs of an increasingly aging population. In fact, expect a 40 percent increase in home health aide jobs by the year 2026. 

Job prospects for a home health aide are excellent, and there are already numerous positions available. However, before you step into this career, you should know the skills required. Since you will be working directly with people, you need to possess several critical skills.

  • First, you need to have the stamina to move patients when required as well as perform other tasks that require physical input.
  • You also need to have the ability to pay attention to details and follow critical patient-care instructions.
  • Finally, you need to make your patients feel comfortable having you around them as well as possess interpersonal skills to handle various patient emotional and physical states.

To become a patient care technician and a home health aide, you don’t need to fulfill specific educational requirements. However, if you will be working with certified agencies, you may be required to undergo training as well as take an exam. If the home health agency is reimbursed from Medicare or Medicaid, then you will be required to complete the proper training and pass an exam to be certified.

In addition, some states require some form of certification from career training schools and community colleges. Home health aide job options depend on the requirements of patients. For instance, some home health aides might provide basic care while others perform specific tasks for individual patients, such as helping with prosthetic limbs.

Some positions might require you to go in for additional training on how to handle patient medical equipment, such as ventilators for patients with trouble breathing.

3. Nursing  

Nurses assist doctors and help patients perform several services like providing education and care. As a registered nurse, expect to work full-time in healthcare facilities like nursing homes and hospitals. Often times, when you are on call, you’ll be expected to be available around the clock.

Expect to work evening and weekend shifts. The career outlook for nurses is promising with the employment of registered nurses set to increase by 15 percent by the year 2026. Considering the importance of nurses to healthcare organizations, the need for their services is expected to continue increasing over time.

According to career site Zippia, registered nurses who enter the field move on to become directors and managers within 10 years of beginning their careers. Click on a job title in the graphic below to learn more.

Source: Zippia.com Zippia Logo

Some of the skills required to become a registered nurse include strong communication and organizational skills. Moreover, you need to have the ability to be compassionate and emotionally stable, as well as have physical strength and stamina. In addition, a nurse is required to critically think and focus on details.

You can take multiple education paths to become a registered nurse. Some nursing programs provide licenses required for working in this position, and you can get an associate or a bachelor’s degree. The educational path you take depends on whether you are looking to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN).However, note that each U.S. state may have different licensing requirements to become a nurse, which is why you should look at platforms like the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. As a registered nurse, you can also work in several different specialties. For example, you can work as a critical care nurse, rehabilitation nurse, genetics nurse, or as an addiction nurse.

4. Occupational Therapy Assistant  

An occupational therapy assistant helps patients with everyday tasks when they can’t due to aging, illness or injury. Some occupational therapy assistants have their own offices, but they also work in nursing homes and hospitals. In most cases, this is a full-time work position.Due to the increased aging population, healthcare requirements will lead to an increased demand for occupational therapy assistants by as much as 29 percent by 2026. This massive hiring growth potential in the field means that job prospects are very favorable and will likely be for years.

Some of the skills required to become a successful occupational therapy assistant include compassion for patients and interpersonal abilities. In addition, you will need physical stamina to assist your patients. Finally, you need to have an eye for details and remain flexible with every new patient you serve.

Occupational therapy assistants usually require an associate degree. Vocational schools and community colleges also host occupational therapy programs in addition to hands-on field experience. You can also find this experience through externship opportunities programs.

Most states require an individual to have passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to work as an occupational therapy assistant. Once in the field, you can advance your career by becoming an occupational therapist through additional education.

5. Social and Human Service Assistants

social and human service assistant provides support in several fields like psychology, social work, and rehabilitation. Due to the interconnection of healthcare and human services, the assistants have a better opportunity at making a difference in health services as well as the overall well-being of their patients. As a social and human service assistant, you’ll help your patients receive aid as required – including navigating Medicaid to providing assistance for daily needs like personal hygiene.

Social and human service assistants work full-time, sometimes during the evenings and weekends. You may work for healthcare facilities, nonprofits, private organizations or government organizations.

The need for social and human service assistants will increase by 16 percent due to an increasingly aging population. Plus, you can expect job prospects to increase for assistants with a healthcare degree from an accredited institution.
To work as a social and human service assistant, you need to have a compassionate personality during stressful life situations. In addition, you need to display exceptional organization and communication skills as well as have an aptitude for problem-solving and time management. Furthermore, interpersonal abilities are critical, especially when facing some difficult circumstances.

While a degree is not necessary, an associate degree or certificate in human services is required for this position. Plus, education helps get you more responsibilities, increasing your chances of succeeding in this healthcare field.

Conclusion – Get the Job

The healthcare industry promises to offer job security for the foreseeable future and is a great option for those who are attracted to the caring professions. You may be asking yourself if you can change career or whether to consider a post-retirement career and if so, where to start. Here are some key steps:
  1. Figure out what general career path is most appealing to you. For healthcare careers, an interest in social occupations involving working and communicating with people is a must. If you’re not sure what your interests are, take the free O*NET Interest Profiler and Skills Matcher to get more clarity.
  2. Learn what preparation is involved. Research the career to learn what qualifications and professional training are required and how long it will take to prepare. Narrow down your list to career options that meet your interests and skills and are attainable for you, given your career goals and life stage. MyNextMove is a great place to start.
  3. Conduct informational interviews. Find and network with people in your field(s) of interest to learn more about the work, the training/preparation involved and advice on how to get started. Consider volunteering in a hospital or medical center to connect with healthcare professionals, gain experience and exposure to the work and environment first-hand.
  4. Retrain. Explore options for training, including online programs and local resources that will allow you to acquire relevant job skills. mySkills myFuture can assist in identifying local training opportunities to bridge your skills gap between your last job and your target job.
  5. Find your next opportunity, using our advice and recommended resources  in the “Best Online Resources for Job Seekers.”

Recommended Reading & Resources

  • ExploreHealthCareers.com offers peer-reviewed career descriptions designed to help readers find health careers that suit them. The site offers comprehensive resources for learning about healthcare careers, education and funding, and jobs.
  • Healthcare Administration Careers & Degrees is a great source of information for anyone looking to enter the field of health administration. Discover Health Admin offers career guides, degree information and state information guides to help you explore options and where to work.
  • HospitalRecruiting.com is a nationwide healthcare job board for physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, allied health professionals, and non-clinical healthcare professionals. Browse open positions, apply to jobs, and to communicate with recruiters with active job openings.
  • How to Begin a Career in Behavioral Health Care. DrugRehab.com’s guide to different career paths in the behavioral health field, as well as the types of degrees and what they cover.
  • The Complete Guide to Career Change After 50This guidebook walks you through the process of changing careers over the age of 50, including how to get started, where to get additional training, and what types of careers might be right for you.
  • What Does a Career in Healthcare Administration Entail? University Headquarters is an all-in-one source of information on colleges, entrance requirements, and career paths. The site provides career guides that will help you navigate all of the requirements to gain entry to programs, become certified, or move up the career ladder in your chosen field throughout the country.

Ashley Lipman, Content Marketing Specialist
Ashley is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing creative solutions for building brands online. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches.
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Founded on core family values and a commitment to building strong, long-lasting partnerships, AJO approaches its work with confidence and expertise that only comes with over 40 years in the business. Working with companies of all sizes, needs and budgets, AJO develops high-performing teams and global leaders for organizational success.