It is no secret that healthcare is the largest and fastest-growing industry. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, we need health science more than ever before. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates employment in health-related professions to grow 15 percent by 2029, about 2.4 million new jobs total. For this reason, many students today are exploring the health science career cluster.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, you may be considering your different options. One unique path to take is within the health science career cluster. This career and education pathway provides students with the ability to learn about disease, injury, medicine, nutrition, technology, wellness, and many other subjects that fall within the health science field. The opportunities are expansive, with jobs in a variety of workplace settings and specialties. Through a health science major, you could choose to become a laboratory technician, medical coder, environmental health scientist, health educator, and more.
What is the health science career cluster? Why does it matter? Where might you fit in? Read on, as we break down what you need to know about entering this rewarding cluster of careers.
Defining the Health Science Career Cluster
Before you pursue this field of study, you will want to have a basic understanding of health science. Unlike general science courses you studied in high school—like chemistry, biology, or physics—health science is directly related to health and medicine. Essentially, health science is an area of study that focuses on natural and behavioral sciences, as they relate to medicine and our greater healthcare system.
What is the health science career cluster, then? The health science career cluster is used to describe a group of occupations that require similar skills within the health science field. It also refers to an educational area focused on teaching students how to be healthcare professionals. The health science career cluster was once known as vocational education, which is still used in some educational programs.
Over the past several years, however, the term “vocational” has been replaced with “career and technical education” (CTE), as technology became a larger part of our lives and of skill-dependent careers. While health science careers can still be considered vocations, the career cluster is part of CTE.
Why is the Health Science Career Cluster So Important?
Health science education is important because many of the roles within this field are, quite literally, a matter of life and death. It is critical to have properly trained healthcare workers who can care for patients, conduct impactful research, and train the next generation of medical professionals.
Some of the professionals to emerge from health science related studies include doctors and nurse practitioners, but they only make up a small percentage of this career cluster. Health science also encompasses unique career paths within environmental health, public health, medical research, nutrition, and other critical fields.
What else can be done with a health science degree? Read on, as we explore some of the prospective health science careers that you may be interested in pursuing.
Careers within the Health Science Career Cluster
There is a wide variety of career choices for those interested in studying health science. Some of these roles include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Behavior analyst. These professionals help patients with behavioral or developmental challenges. If you have an interest in mental health and psychology, you may enjoy this profession. Behavior analysts counsel and advice people who suffer from addiction, eating disorders, or mental health illnesses.
- Health educator. If you are a good communicator and desire to teach others about health and wellness, you may be fit for the role of a health educator. Health education specialists teach people about health prevention and tactics to promote good health and well-being.
- Dietician or nutritionist. Dieticians and nutritionists are experts in using food and nutrition to promote health, or manage health conditions. They help people develop diets, achieve healthy lifestyles, and work towards specific health-related goals.
- Healthcare director or administrator. If you are a leader, you may be perfect for this health science related role. Healthcare directors oversee the operations of a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility. These professionals earn more than $100K per year.
- Environmental health scientist. Environmental health scientists research and analyze data from the environment, to identify how that may impact human health and safety. They detect treats within the environment – such as water pollution or chemical usage – and develop solutions to protect anyone who may be at risk.
- Hearing aid specialist. These professionals evaluate the extent of a patient’s hearing loss by using various tests and treatment options. Studies have shown that people with hearing loss often isolate themselves because they want to avoid social situations, which can lead to loneliness and depression. Helping patients hear is a rewarding gift to those who work in this specialty.
- Patient care advocate. Professional patient advocates work with other members of a healthcare team to coordinate a patient’s care. In hospital settings, these professionals are sometimes referred to as “patient navigators.” Some of these professionals work at community-based organizations, or independently and are hired on a freelance basis directly with patients. If you desire a close working relationship with patients, but do not wish to pursue nursing, this is the role for you.
- Registered radiologic technologist (RTs). These medical professionals perform diagnostic imaging exams and administer radiation therapy treatments. If you have a passion for health science, but you also have a deep appreciation for technology and scientific research, you may love the role of RT.
Prepare for Your Dream Career
If you are interested in the health science career cluster, you may already understand some of the demands required of professionals in the field. Prospective health science students should first have a strong desire to work in a service profession. The improvement of the health and well-being of others is a key part of the job – no matter what your specialty or focus is. Other qualities and skills professionals of health science should have include:
- Analyzing data
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Working in teams
The health science program at Goodwin University provides students with a diverse and challenging curriculum, preparing them for a career that involves both science and service. Graduates emerge from the program equipped with the skills listed above, as well as knowledge and training needed to succeed.
The bachelor’s degree and associate degree programs offer flexibility for students. We understand the challenges that come with earning a postsecondary degree while working and maintaining a personal life. In order to accommodate busy schedules, classes are offered days, nights, and weekends, too. At Goodwin, you can fulfill your career goals without putting your entire life on hold.
Are you interested in a health science degree to launch your exciting career? Reach out to Goodwin University today by calling 800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more information.
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.