Healthcare is one of the world's fastest growing industries, promising everything from high pay to job security to workers entering the field. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total employment in occupations related to healthcare is expected to skyrocket by 11 percent -- a total of 15.6 million jobs -- in the decade between 2012 and 2022. Let's countdown five of the most promising healthcare jobs that don't require a medical degree.
Minimal educational requirements -- a high school diploma or its equivalent -- and a growth rate of 20 percent over a 10-year period earn pharmacy technicians a spot on this list.
Working alongside pharmacists in pharmacies, grocery stores, drug stores and hospitals, pharmacy technicians help pharmacists with the dispensation of prescription medications.
Most pharmacy technicians learn through on-the-job training, although there are some secondary education programs. Some states require that pharmacy techs complete a training program accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists.
With a projected growth rate of 23 percent between 2012 and 2022, the number of jobs for workers in this field is predicted to rise by nearly 16,000 during that same period of time.
Dispensing opticians work in stores that sell visual aids, including glasses, contact lenses and other optical goods. Based on prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists, dispensing opticians are responsible for fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses, as well as assisting customers in deciding on the right products.
The median annual salary for dispensing opticians is just over $22,300, although the top 10 percent may earn nearly $53,000. In addition to a high school diploma, on-the-job training is usually sufficient to obtain a position as a dispensing optician.
A projected growth rate of 25 percent between 2012 and 2022 earns dental assistants a spot on the list of fastest growing healthcare careers.
Depending on where they work, dental assistants may be responsible for a wide range of tasks -- from scheduling appointments to taking X-rays to providing patient care.
While there's no single path to becoming a dental assistant, some states do require graduation from an accredited program as well as the passing of a state exam. Additionally, many community colleges offer year-long certificate programs, as well as two-year programs which convey an associate's degree. The typical dental assistant school curriculum include a mix of classroom, laboratory and clinical work.
Dental assistants earn an average salary of $34,500, although top earners may bring home nearly $50,000.
2. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists
With a job outlook projected at 39 percent, these imaging experts are expected to be in great demand in the coming years.
Largely employed in hospital settings, diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians are trained in the use of special equipment in order to create images and conduct tests used by physicians to diagnose medical conditions as well as to aid during surgical procedures.
With an average pay of $60,350 per year, these professionals do require some formal education and qualifications, such as an associate's degree and postsecondary certificate. Some diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians choose to pursue bachelor's degree programs in sonography and in cardiovascular and vascular technology.
A projected growth rate of a staggering 48 percent between 2012 and 2022 earns home health aides the top spot on this list. Requiring less than a high school diploma and a short period of on-the-job training, home health aides can expect to enjoy unprecedented job security in the years ahead.
Working in a variety of settings, home health aides help people -- from seniors to the disabled or cognitively impaired -- who require assistance with basic daily activities.
As more and more seniors make the choice to age in place, home health aides will become an increasingly vital part of the healthcare system. And while the current median salary is just under $21,000, the increased need for these workers is expected to drive pay upward.
While doctors may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of healthcare professions, there are plenty of other career paths for aspiring members of the healthcare industry. Each of these five professions offers extraordinary job security, along with educational and training requirements far less strenuous than the ones imposed upon doctors. The result? Unprecedented opportunities for people looking to get a foot in the door of the in-demand healthcare industry.
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