In the past couple of weeks, I’ve written numerous jobs related posts. Why? Because jobs are all-important; they're the foundation, allowing you to support yourself, loved ones, and maybe allowing you to purchase some fancy gizmos or gadgets now and then. Unless you happen to be a Gatsby-esque yachtsman where all your needs are met at the touch of a button and a butler named Jeeves caters to your every need (you’re not one of those? Yeah, me neither.), then you definitely need a job.
So that’s why I write about it a lot on the blog. Here’s another consistency: if you’ve been up-to-date on reading the blogs (good for you!) you’ll have seen a few fields of work come up again and again. In this post we’re going to cover one of those fields: the healthcare industry. I’m going to talk about the perks and benefits of working in this fast-paced, engaging field, why it continues to grow (and will continue in that direction), and what some of the prized jobs are.
According to the Census Bureau, the baby boomer population was born between 1946-1964, a result of returning GIs from World War II feeling victorious over their recent defeat of the Axis Powers as well as a budding economy. Furthermore, according to the Census Bureau, “when the last census was taken in 2010, the oldest had not even turned 65. Since then, about 10,000 a day have crossed that age threshold and by 2030, all boomers will be at least age 65.”
This has become known as the “2030 problem” by medical researchers, demographers, and all those who study populations and posits an overloading of the healthcare system with the full onslaught of retired, or elderly boomers. For more insight you can check out this study “The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers” published by the National Institutes of Health.
The upside to the aging boomer population is the increasing need for a wide array of healthcare providing jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it simply: “This projected growth is mainly due to an aging population, leading to greater demand for healthcare services.”
I’ve pointed to BLS data before, and will do so again to further illustrate the point. On the “Fastest Growing Occupations” list released by the BLS in September 2020, at least eleven of said 30 occupations deal directly and indirectly with the healthcare field and cover ground from mental health to physical therapy and a lot in between. I’m going to go into more detail about which professions are in demand next, so read on! (See, I didn’t make an ‘ok, boomer’ joke; we’re better than that on this blog.)
There are quite a few in-demand healthcare jobs; these are positions with expected career growth, aka opportunities to advance and rise through the ranks. Many of these jobs also offer good salaries, which is never a bad thing.
Three of the most in-demand jobs are being a physical therapist, a physical therapy assistant, or physical therapy aide. The median annual wage (for 2019) for a physical therapist is over $89,000, and physical therapist assistants have a median annual wage (again, for 2019) of $58,790, all determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physical therapy aides have a lower annual salary at $27,000, but, through training and education, you can always advance to being a physical therapy assistant or physical therapist.
It’s also worth mentioning occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and massage therapists, all also in-demand. For example, while physical therapy assistants are expected to see 32.6% growth between 2019-2029, occupational therapy assistants are expected to see a whopping 34.6% (for perspective, the average national job outlook is closer to 4%); the median annual salary for that role is $61,510.
There are a few different occupations within the nursing field, and some differences between title and role some may not know offhand. Registered Nurses (RN) “typically work in patient-facing roles carrying out procedures, treatments, and medications ordered by a provider (physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner),” according to registerednursing.org.
This difference, providing as an RN versus diagnosing as a nurse practitioner, and the difference in education also explains the difference in salary between the two roles ($73,300 for RNs, and $115,800 for nurse practitioners). A nurse practitioner generally has a higher degree, be that doctorate or masters, in nursing than an RN.
The job outlook for both, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is stronger than average, and extremely strong for nurse practitioners, with 45% growth estimated between 2019-2029, which is also why it’s ranked second on US News & World Report’s Best Healthcare Jobs list of 2021.
Let’s say you like the idea of working in the healthcare industry, but might be a bit squeamish. You could pursue a career as a medical services manager (sometimes called health services manager). These administrators manage and support hospital staff, whether that’s an entire hospital, an assisted living facility, or just one department in a larger healthcare setting. Bachelors and masters degrees are common in this position with a median annual wage in 2019 of $100,980 and a job outlook of 32% growth from 2019-2029, much higher than average.
There is also work on the more technical side of the medical field, aka “diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists,” to quote the BLS. This field is expected to grow 17% and is responsible for operating special imaging equipment that allows physicians to make diagnoses. There is a wide variance in pay that depends on your specific title and hospital duties, so I recommend checking out the BLS data for yourself if you’re curious.
Finally, if you’re interested in developing a potentially lasting, personal relationship with those you care for, it’s hard to beat a home health aide. This role is expected to see 34% growth in the next decade (all those boomers will need some help after all) and has a median annual wage of $39,810. This position doesn’t necessarily require a college degree, and there are programs at vocational schools and community colleges across the country that can help you hone your craft. It’s definitely a job that requires patience and empathy as you help clients to do everyday tasks (like cooking, dressing, and grocery shopping) as well as make sure they keep doctors appointments and stay on top of medication.
As this Indeed.com article outlines, there are a lot of reasons, even besides the tremendous job growth, to get involved in the healthcare industry. There are flexible education requirements (ranging from community college all the way to doctorate), opportunities for career advancement, and location options because, as we all know, everyone in all places needs access to healthcare providers.
As well, this is an industry where you can make a positive impact on people’s lives, improving their day to day living, for example as a physical therapist, or managing an efficient hospital that is able to help more patients. This blog post is just a primer on this industry, a basic guide to some of the career paths you can take and the ways you can improve both your life and others’ too.