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Hot in Health Care: 5 Most-Searched Medical Jobs

Health care professions are some of the most in-demand jobs in the country, with many occupations experiencing unprecedented growth as the country's population becomes older.

Health Healthcare Nursing

While it's true that many of the best-paying health care jobs require years of intense education and clinical training, some of the most sought-after jobs in the industry require as little as one year of study. A recent survey published by job and career site Glassdoor found that the educational requirements for the top five most-searched health care jobs ranged from diplomas or certificates to doctoral degrees. Several others required bachelor's or master's degrees.

There are many different career paths for students interested in working in health care -- and there are several different educational paths to choose from as well. Here are the top-five most-searched jobs on Glassdoor with career overview, job outlook and educational and licensing requirements.

Physical therapist

What they do: Physical therapists play an important role in helping people recover from injuries or serious illnesses by using exercise, stretching, hands-on therapy and therapeutic equipment. Work typically varies by patient and the nature of his or her injuries.

Education: Students who earn the doctor of physical therapy designation typically study for three years, and many choose to complete a yearlong clinical residency program. Physical therapists must be licensed in every state and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination, which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

  • BLS national median annual salary, May 2013: $81,030
  • Top 10% earnings: $113,340
  • Bottom 10% earnings: $56,280
  • Job growth, 2012-2022: 36%, 73,500 new jobs

Registered nurse

What they do: RNs administer medical treatments and medicines, perform diagnostic tests, observe and record patient data, operate medical equipment and work with patients and doctors to manage patient illnesses and injuries.

Education: RN programs that culminate in an associate degree usually take at least two years of full-time study, while bachelor's degree usually take at least four years to complete and include supervised clinical experience. All RNs must earn licensure by passing the National Council Licensure Examination.

  • BLS national median annual salary, May 2013: $66,220
  • Top 10% earnings: $96,320
  • Bottom 10% earnings: $45,630
  • Job growth, 2012-2022: 19%, 526,800 new jobs

Occupational therapist

What they do: OTs help injured or sick patients resume normal everyday activities through physical therapy exercises or use of wheelchairs, leg braces and crutches. They also work with autistic and developmentally disabled children, as well as with seniors and people with permanent disabilities, to help them become more self-sufficient or lead more active and fulfilling lives.

Education: Most occupational therapists have earned master's degrees, the BLS reports, though many have earned doctoral degrees. Educational programs require at least 24 weeks of supervised clinical experience, and occupational therapists also must be licensed in every state through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists.

  • BLS national median annual salary, May 2013: $76,940
  • Top 10% earnings: $109,380
  • Bottom 10% earnings: $51,310
  • Job growth, 2012-2022: 29%, 32,800 new jobs

Nurse practitioner

What they do: Nurse practitioners, also called advanced practice nurses, serve as primary caregivers to their patients, though the scope of their practice varies by state, the BLS reports. Depending on which state in which they work, nurse practitioners can diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications and order certain medical tests. Typically, nurse practitioners focus on one certain area of care, such as geriatrics, pediatrics or mental health.

Education: Nurse practitioners must have completed at least master's-level study, the BLS notes, and many have earned doctor of nurse practicing degrees. Advanced practice nurses also must become licensed registered nurses before moving upward in their careers.

  • BLS national median annual salary, May 2013: $92,670
  • Top 10% earnings: $126,250
  • Bottom 10% earnings: $66,960
  • Job growth, 2012-2022: 34%, 147,300 new jobs

Medical assistant

What they do: Medical assistants are front-line workers in physician, chiropractic, podiatrist, pediatric and other health care offices. They perform a range of clerical and administrative duties, including measuring vital signs, recording patient's medical and personal history, assisting physicians with examinations and scheduling appointments.

Education: Many medical assistants complete postsecondary education programs at vocational or technical schools that last about a year and culminate in a diploma or certificate. Others pursue associate degrees at community colleges, which may take about two years to complete. Medical assistants aren't required to be certified, but many employers prefer to hire certified employees, the BLS notes. There are five different medical assisting certifications available through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

  • BLS national median annual salary, May 2013: $29,610
  • Top 10% earnings: $41,910
  • Bottom 10% earnings: $21,280
  • Job growth, 2012-2022: 29%, 162,900 new jobs

Sources:

"How to Recruit Healthcare Professionals; 3 in 5 Expect to Look for New Job This Year, Glassdoor Survey," Glassdoor, Glassdoor Team, May 30, 2014, http://employers.glassdoor.com/blog/recruit-healthcare/

Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes319092.htm

Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm

Nurse Practitioners, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes291171.htm

Occupational Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm

Occupational Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm

Physical Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes291123.htm

Physical Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm

Registered Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes291141.htm

Registered Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm

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