10 Health Careers with Runaway Growth
When you think of health care jobs, physicians and nurses may be the first workers to come to mind. However, they represent only a few of the many people employed in the medical field.
Allied health workers include a range of support staff who help doctors diagnose and treat patients, and within this field, technicians are increasingly in demand, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Technicians have specialized skills that let them perform tasks such as scanning patients, completing laboratory work or operating medical equipment.
If you'd like to work in the health care field, allied health tech positions may be ideal since many require two years of college or less, according to the BLS. Here's a look at some fast-growing allied health tech jobs, ordered based upon job growth data from the BLS:
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- Job growth (2012-2022): 46%
- Total employment (2014): 59,760
- Average annual wage (2014): $68,390
You might know them best as ultrasound technicians, but diagnostic medical sonographers can use specialized equipment to perform medical scans on virtually the whole body. In addition to obstetric and gynecological sonograms, these professionals may be employed to scan a patient's abdomen, breast, musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
Diagnostic medical sonographers are expected to be in demand across the nation although opportunities may be best in Texas, where the BLS has estimated job growth to be 57.6 percent from 2012-2022.
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
- Job growth (2012-2022): 30.4%
- Total employment (2014): 51,080
- Average annual wage (2014): $55,210
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians are similar to diagnostic medical sonographers in that they use advanced equipment to scan parts of the human body. However, these technologists and technicians focus exclusively on the heart and veins. Technicians may conduct EKG testing on hearts, while technologists perform more advanced procedures such as helping physicians with cardiac catheterization.
According to the BLS, demand for cardiovascular technologists and technicians may be greatest in Utah where jobs are expected to grow 44.7 percent through 2022.
- Job growth (2012-2022): 29.8%
- Total employment (2014): 98,450
- Average annual wage (2014): $45,010
Before a surgeon enters the operating room, a surgical technologist has likely prepped it. Technologists also prepare patients, sterilize equipment and pass instruments and supplies to a surgeon during a procedure.
As with cardiovascular technologists and technicians, surgical technologists may be most in demand in Utah: The BLS says the state is projected to see 41.8 percent job growth from 2012-2022.
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians
- Job growth (2012-2022): 29.8%
- Total employment (2014): 36,470
- Average annual wage (2014): $36,520
When it comes to eye care, ophthalmologists often rely on ophthalmic medical technicians to assist them. Technicians may administer eye drops, conduct eye exams and provide patient instruction on how to care for glasses and contact lenses.
Georgia is expected to see the greatest demand for ophthalmic medical technicians. From 2012-2022, the BLS estimates jobs will grow 50.6 percent there.
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
- Job growth (2012-2022): 29.7%
- Total employment (2014): 160,460
- Average annual wage (2014): $40,750
Another of the fast-growing allied health tech jobs belongs to medical and clinical laboratory technicians, who are responsible for collecting and analyzing bodily fluids and tissues. As with several other jobs in this list, this position is expected to be in the greatest demand in Utah, the BLS states, where demand for medical and clinical lab technicians is expected to increase 42.4 percent from 2012-2022.
- Job growth (2012-2022): 26.7%
- Total employment (2014): 111,950
- Average annual wage (2014): $31,890
While other allied health tech positions may collect a number of different bodily fluids from patients, phlebotomists work exclusively with blood. They may be most often employed by a blood donation organization, a hospital or a medical laboratory. In addition to drawing blood, they may be responsible for organizing supplies and maintaining records.
In Utah, jobs for phlebotomists may increase 50.4 percent from 2012-2022, according to the BLS.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists
- Job growth (2012-2022): 23.6%
- Total employment (2014): 33,130
- Average annual wage (2014): $67,300
Otherwise known as MRI technologists, magnetic resonance imaging technologists use a specialized scanner to take images of the body that are then used by physicians to diagnose and treat patients.
MRI technologists may have the most job opportunities in Texas during the coming years. From 2012-2022, employment for technologists in the state is expected to grow 31.3 percent, the BLS says.
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
- Job growth (2012-2022): 23.1%
- Total employment (2014): 235,760
- Average annual wage (2014): $35,110
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are often the first on the scene in the event of a medical emergency. They must quickly evaluate a situation, take action to stabilize an injured or ill person and then transport them to the appropriate health care facility.
Of all the fast-growing allied health tech jobs, EMTs and paramedics include the largest number of workers. More than 235,000 people worked in the profession in 2014, and more than 120,000 jobs are expected to be added nationwide from 2012-2022, the BLS says. Virginia is expected to see the greatest job growth, with positions in the field increasing 47.5 percent during that period, according to the BLS.
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- Job growth (2012-2022): 22.1%
- Total employment (2014): 184,740
- Average annual wage (2014): $38,860
In medical offices today, paper patient records have given way to electronic ones. Medical records and health information technicians are the professionals responsible for managing these records. Those working in the field may maintain databases, ensure the accuracy of patient records and take steps to keep confidential information private.
The need for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase nationwide with the greatest demand being in Utah. The BLS reports that job growth in this state is expected to be 32.9 percent from 2012-2022.
- Job growth (2012-2022): 20.8%
- Total employment (2014): 193,400
- Average annual wage (2014): $57,510
Radiologic technicians have another allied health tech job that requires the use of complex machinery to help physicians diagnose and treat patients. Radiologic technicians most commonly administer x-rays and CT scans.
Utah is expected to have 32.5 percent job growth in this field from 2012-2022, the BLS says, making it the state with the greatest percentage increase in these positions during the years to come.
You don't have to spend years in school to have a career in health care. The Occupational Outlook Handbook of the BLS reports that many of these fast-growing allied health tech jobs require two years of college or less.
- Allied Health Professionals, http://www.asahp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Health-Professions-Facts.pdf
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm