A Guide to Healthcare Careers and Requirements

Graphic of medical icons.

Healthcare occupations and industries will have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs by 2024, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS expects healthcare and social assistance to become the largest-employing sector, overtaking both the government and business/professional services.

Some lesser-known healthcare careers can be a strong option for individuals not interested in traditional career paths. While a bachelor’s degree is recommended for some of the following medical fields, many of them require an associate degree or certification program to enter the profession. Some employers later require professionals with a certification or associate degree to receive their four-year degree. In these instances, a bachelor’s degree can open up the opportunity for career growth and upward mobility within the profession. Additional education can also lead to increased employment opportunities as well as serving as preparation for graduate school.

7 Careers in the Medical Field

Wellness Coordinator

Plan all of the fitness and wellness activities at a gym or health facility, as well as take care of administrative tasks for the facility. Job duties include planning and scheduling group exercise classes; hiring instructors, personal trainers and other personnel; evaluating personnel; making sure the facility is within health and safety regulations; and ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all members of the gym/facility and the staff. A bachelor’s degree is typically required.

Health Educator

Teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. Job duties include organizing events and programs about health topics, evaluating the effectiveness of programs and educational materials, helping people find health services or information, supervising staff who implement health education programs and assessing the health needs of the people and communities served. Employment of health educators is projected to grow 12 percent by 2024. A bachelor’s degree is required.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Help patients develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living and working by providing therapy. Job duties include helping with therapeutic activities like stretches and other exercises, encouraging patients to complete activities and tasks, and recording patients’ progress to occupational therapists. Employment of occupational therapy assistants is projected to grow 43 percent by 2024. An associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program is required, and occupational therapy assistants must be licensed in most states.

Surgical Technologist

Assist in surgical operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, anesthesiologists and other personnel. Job duties include preparing the operating room and patients for surgery, helping with the surgery by passing instruments and supplies to personnel, overseeing specimens sent to a laboratory, applying dressings to the incision areas and taking patients to the recovery room after the operation. Employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow 15 percent by 2024. A postsecondary certificate or an associate degree is typically required.

Medical Imaging Technologist

Gather images through X-rays, ultrasounds and other equipment. Job duties include preparing patients for imaging procedures, operating equipment to obtain diagnostic images, analyzing images, communicating with physicians about images and maintaining patients’ imaging records. Medical imaging technologists can enter into many different specialties, such as radiology and sonography. Employment of radiologic and MRI technologists is projected to grow 9 percent by 2024. An associate degree is typically required, and many employers require certification even if the state does not require it.

Respiratory Therapist

Care for patients who have trouble breathing and provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning or shock. Job duties include performing diagnostic tests, interviewing and examining patients, consulting with physicians to develop patient treatment plans, monitoring and recording patients’ progress, and teaching patients how to use treatments and equipment. Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 12 percent by 2024. An associate degree is typically required, and all states except for Alaska require respiratory therapists to be licensed.

Dental Hygienist

Examine and clean teeth while providing other preventative dental care. Job duties include taking dental X-rays; removing tartar, stains and plaque from teeth; documenting patient care and treatment plans; collaborating with dentists; and educating patients about oral hygiene techniques. Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 19 percent by 2024. An associate degree in dental hygiene is required, which typically takes three years to complete. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed.

Advancing Your Career in Healthcare

A degree in healthcare science can help you obtain or pursue growth in many healthcare careers. Alvernia University’s online degree in healthcare science prepares students for a wide range of opportunities in healthcare environments. From careers in therapy to management-level roles, graduates can enter the industry immediately or pursue graduate studies.

The program takes place in a flexible and convenient online learning environment that accommodates students’ work and personal schedules.