When you’re a child in school, there are a limited number of careers presented. Even the classroom decorations tend to focus on a few jobs – mostly ones with the easily-recognized dress. You’ve seen the bulletin board cutouts: doctor, police officer, construction worker, postal worker, business person. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with introducing children to different jobs in this way, some of us tend to keep the mindset that there are only a few different careers open to them. Given that most people choose their career as a teen or young adult, it’s important to be aware of the number of different careers available. Health care is a rapidly growing field, offering many opportunities for those exploring their career options.
Everyone knows the jobs of doctor and nurse, but the realities are quite different than what you might see on your favorite TV hospital drama. Becoming a doctor does take quite a bit of education, whether you are becoming a pediatrician or a podiatrist. A 4-year undergraduate degree is usually followed by another 4 years in medical school. Finally, they serve a residency that can be as long as 7 years. Plus, they have to pass extensive examinations called boards.
Nurses also complete a 4-year degree and pass boards. These usually vary by state so it’s a good idea to plan to take the boards in the state you would like to live and work in, although you can take multiple boards. There are many flexible educational programs for nurses now, including some online work and many part-time programs that allow you to work while you study to become a nurse.
A growing field is home health. As America’s population ages rapidly, there is a great need for medical professionals who can visit their patients’ homes and help them with the day-to-day needs of managing their illness or recovery from a surgery. Home health aids typically aren’t required to hold a particular degree, so it’s a good option if you want to “try out” the health field and see if you want to pursue further education in the field, or if you are looking to find a job quickly, as demand for these professionals continues to grow.
Some professionals order medical supplies or serve as administrative professionals for doctor’s offices or hospitals. This is a great option if you want to help people who are ill and have a talent for administration but aren’t so keen on dealing with blood and bodily fluids
Dental hygienists, sonographers, cardiovascular technicians, massage therapists, and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are all careers requiring a vocational education or associate’s degree, making them great options if you want to opt out of the tradition (and lengthy) 4-year college program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations,” meaning that there is an exciting potential to find a rewarding career helping people from all walks of life as a health care professional.