For years, healthcare has been considered among the fastest-growing industries in the economy. The need for quality healthcare is increasing, and alongside it, is the demand for qualified health professionals. For this reason, healthcare is recognized as one of the best fields to get into today, offering various job options, stability, advancement opportunities, and a good salary on top of personal reward.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of healthcare workers will grow 14 percent by the year 2028. This translates to nearly two million jobs getting added to the healthcare industry in the next decade, which is far more than any other occupational group. The projected growth, explains the BLS, is due to an aging baby boomer population – leading to greater demand for healthcare services.
Which healthcare careers are in highest demand? Whether you are looking to advance in your current role, change career paths, or are just starting out on your education, knowing the top growing healthcare careers (and where there is opportunity) can help steer your path in the right direction. To help guide you forward, Goodwin College has detailed the most in-demand healthcare careers (and therefore, college degrees) below.
- Personal Care and Home Health Aides
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of personal care aides and home health aides is projected to grow over 36% by the year 2028. Compare this to the national average rate, just 5% growth. As the baby boomer generation ages, there has become a greater need for healthcare professionals who are dedicated to helping the elderly. This is exactly what home health aides (HHAs) and personal care aides (PCAs) do – they assist the elderly (as well as people with disabilities) with daily tasks such as dressing, eating, bathing, and housekeeping. They may do this in the patient’s home, or in a long-term care facility.
While personal care and home health aides can expect to see a spike in job opportunities, the typical salary is below the national average. PCAs and HHAs can expect a salary of around $24,000 annually, while the national average salary is over $38,000 per year. There are no higher education requirements to become a home health aide or personal care aide.
- Occupational Therapy Assistants
On the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of fastest-growing careers, Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) rank number five. Across the nation, employment of Occupational Therapy Assistants is expected to grow over 33% by 2028, with about 14,500 jobs being added to the field. OTAs with practical experience (i.e. in a clinical setting) will have the best job opportunities in the coming years, according to the BLS.
With the aging baby boomer population, it makes sense that the demand for Occupational Therapy Assistants will grow. OTAs are responsible for helping patients develop, improve, and strengthen the skills needed for daily living. As older people are more prone to conditions like arthritis and stroke, they are more likely to require occupational therapy to maintain healthy motor skills. In addition, OTAs will continue to be in high demand to treat other patients in need, such as children and young adults with developmental disabilities like autism.
Today, Occupational Therapy Assistants can expect to make over $60,000 annually. In Connecticut, OTAs make an average of $65,000 per year, with even more room for growth over time. To become an Occupational Therapy Assistant in Connecticut, you must earn your associate degree in Occupational Therapy, from an accredited OTA program (like the one at Goodwin College). From there, you can become certified in the field.
- Registered Nurses
According to Military.com, Registered Nurses (RNs) rank #3 on their list of most in-demand healthcare careers. It’s easy to see why. Across the United States, employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow 12% by 2028. What’s more, is that this 12% growth translates to an estimated 371,500 job openings in the nursing field. Job opportunities will become available across a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals to long-term care settings. However, the BLS predicts that the most opportunity will be within:
- Home healthcare settings
- Long-term rehabilitation centers that treat Alzheimer’s disease, as well as stroke and head injury
- Residential nursing home facilities, due to the aging baby boomers
- Outpatient care centers, such as surgical facilities
Registered Nurses have great opportunity for growth and advancement, once in a career. Licensed RNs have opportunities to specialize in a certain field, to take on leadership positions, to try out different healthcare settings, and to make a real impact in different aspects of the job. They also can expect strong earning potential, with an average salary of over $71,000 per year in the U.S.
Not only are RNs in demand amongst employers (and patients), this career is also in demand amongst job candidates. The BLS reports that competition for nursing jobs has increased in recent years. That said, Registered Nurses with a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN degree) are said to have “better job prospects” than nurses without one.
- Medical Assistants
Medical Assistants are also in high demand among patients and practitioners alike. As reported by the BLS, there will be a 23% increase in medical assisting jobs over the next decade. Specifically, close to 155,000 jobs will be added to the field by 2028. This is due to a growing need for preventative healthcare services, and therefore an increased need for Medical Assistants to help out. Medical Assistants help physicians perform routine administrative and clinical duties, such as measuring vital signs, helping with exams, and collecting samples for lab tests. This allows physicians to see more patients and accommodate the growing need for their services.
Medical Assistants, on average, can expect to make over $33.5k annually, with higher earning potential in hospitals and outpatient care settings. In Connecticut, Medical Assistants make over $38,000 per year. To become a Medical Assistant in Connecticut, you simply need to become certified through an approved medical assisting program. Goodwin offers certificate and associate degree programs in Medical Assisting, which can be completed in as little as 12 to 16 months.
- Medical Health and Services Managers
Medical and Health Services Managers make up another fast-growing healthcare career bucket, with employment expected to rise 18% by the year 2028. This means that more than 71,600 jobs will become available to qualifying individuals. And you may be wondering, who exactly is qualified?
Medical Health and Services Managers is a broad name for leaders and administrators in healthcare – those who run departments, supervise staff, make key decisions, manage budgets and resources, and/or ensure facilities are operating safely and smoothly. They work closely with all members of the healthcare team, and interact more with team members than patients themselves. Their goal? To improve the quality of care provided, and overall patient experiences, in a clinical facility.
As the need for healthcare services grow – along with the need for nurses, physicians, medical assistants, and specialized therapists – the need for managers of these services will grow alongside it.
Due to the scope of their role, Medical Health and Services Managers (such as Nurse Administrators) can expect to make close to $100,000 per year. While you can attain this career (and salary) with a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field, many managerial positions in healthcare today require a master’s. If you are looking to advance in your current workplace, and looking to increase your earning potential, attaining an advanced degree can help you move into this in demand role.
With the aging baby boomers, advancing medical technology, and new research rising in the field, the time to become a healthcare professional is now. But don’t be pressured by time constraints – there is still time to get started (and to prepare for this field). Baby boomers have only recently hit their golden years of 60 and 70, meaning there is still plenty of time to get in on this booming field. You can start today at Goodwin College, with career-focused and convenient healthcare degrees available. Call 800-889-3282 today, or visit us online to learn why Goodwin College is a leader in healthcare education in Connecticut.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.