If you’re a compassionate person who enjoys working with people, a healthcare career can be a good option for you.
This section includes relevant information that will help you decide if this field is a good fit for you.
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Job descriptions in the healthcare field vary widely depending on the specialty and the worker’s level of expertise, but also the state regulations and the type of procedures they are allowed to perform.
Physical therapists usually do the following:
- Review patients’ medical history
- Diagnose movements and functions by observing patients stand or walk
- Develop individualized plans of care
- Evaluate patients’ progress
- Educate patients on what to expect in the recovery process.
Massage therapists are responsible for:
- Talking with clients about their symptoms and medical history
- Evaluating clients to locate the pain
- Manipulating muscles
- Providing clients with guidance on how to stretch and relax their muscles
- Documenting the client’s condition and their progress.
Many healthcare workers are self-employed.
For example, massage therapists held 144,600 jobs in the United States in 2020, and 38 percent of them were self-employed.
Psychologists held 178,900 jobs, and approximately 27 percent of them practiced as self-employed workers.
Out of the 239,200 physical therapists who worked in the United States in 2020, about 6 percent were self-employed.
Self-employed healthcare workers set their hours, and they may work during evenings or weekends to accommodate their clients’ needs.
Depending on their field of expertise, healthcare workers also hold jobs in hospitals, medical offices, the fields of personal care services, or offices of other health practitioners.
Becoming a healthcare worker can take anywhere between a few months and more than four years, depending on the occupation you are targeting.
Most states require healthcare workers to hold a license that can be earned after passing a state-specific or national examination- depending on the profession.
Physical therapists, for example, need a Doctor of Physical Therapy(DPT) degree and a license.
DPT programs usually last around three years and require a bachelor’s degree in recreation and fitness or a healthcare-related field for admission.
Physical therapist programs typically include classes in biomechanics, pharmacology, and neuroscience and a significant part of clinical work.
The physical therapist license can be earned after passing the National Physical Therapy Examination.
Some states have additional requirements as well.
After gaining some work experience, physical therapists have the option of becoming board-certified in one of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities, such as orthopedics, sports, or geriatrics.
As mentioned before, some occupations require less than one year of specialized training.
One of the careers that need only a few months of training is the esthetician profession.
Skincare specialists need to complete a state-approved cosmetology or esthetician program and they also need a passing score at a state exam- which is a requirement in all states except Connecticut.
Although requirements vary by state, message therapists typically need to complete a postsecondary education program that consists of 500 hours or more of study and experience.
Before admission to a massage therapy program, applicants need a high school diploma.
Post-secondary massage therapy programs usually include classroom study and hands-on training and cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, business management, and ethics.
Other healthcare occupations require up to 7-8 years of education beyond high school.
Chiropractors, for example, need a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a state license to be allowed to practice.
The Doctor of Chiropractic(D.C.) program typically takes four years to complete; before enrolling in a program of this type, candidates have to complete at least three years of an undergraduate college program.
D.C. programs usually cover classes in anatomy, biology, physiology, and similar objects.
Chiropractic students need supervised clinical experience in which they learn about spinal assessment, diagnosis, and adjustment techniques.
Some programs also cover business management classes, billing, and finance.
Specific licensing requirements for chiropractors vary by state, but all states require a D.C. degree and the completion of all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam.
Besides formal education, several personal skills can make you a better healthcare worker:
Empathy plays an important part in this line of work because it’s important to make clients or patients have a positive experience.
Communication skills are essential to any career that involves working directly with people, especially if these people need therapy or healthcare services.
Physical stamina is important for massage therapists, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers who have to spend a lot of time on their feet.
Time-management skills help workers in the healthcare field keep up with their appointments.
Business skills are important, especially for self-employed healthcare workers.
Salaries in the healthcare field vary widely depending on many different factors, such as occupation, education, experience level, employer, and so on.
The highest median annual wage in this section was the one reported by victim advocates- who reportedly made approximately $111,000 per year, on average.
Other well-paid healthcare professions are physical, pediatric, and music therapists, for which the median annual wages were between $80,000-$90,000 on average per year.
Daycare providers, on the other hand, made a little over $25,000 per year, on average, which is lower than the median across all professions in the United States.
Wages for estheticians, hairstylists, and herbal therapists were in the $31,000-$32,000 range- still lower than the national average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for psychologists was $82,180 as of May 2020, with salaries ranging between less than $50,000 and more than $130,000.
Salaries also vary depending on the specialty and clinical, counseling, and school psychologists made $79,820 per year, on average.
The median annual wage for chiropractors was $70,720 as of May 2020 with salaries ranging between less than $36,000 and more than $137,000, depending on the chiropractor’s number of years in practice, geographic region, and hours worked.
Chiropractors who work in officers of physicians tend to earn more than those who work in offices of chiropractors.
The median annual wage reported by chiropractors in physician offices was $90,820, while those who worked in chiropractor offices made $69,650.
Some healthcare professionals earn a fixed wage paid monthly or weekly, while others are paid based on an hourly rate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly rate for skincare specialists was $17.55, which means that half of all workers in this profession made less than this amount while half earned more.
Hourly rates vary depending on the place of employment.
For example, skincare specialists who worked in offices of physicians made $20.25 per hour, on average, while those who worked in the field of traveler accommodation made $15.21
Some healthcare workers, such as counselors, psychologists, and chiropractors, start their practice after gaining a few years of work experience.
In this case, their earnings are connected directly to their business skills, the quality of the services they provide, and the number of patients they see each day.
Many healthcare workers tend to earn more as they build a client base and become partners in a practice.
Most healthcare professions will see spectacular growth in the next decade.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, which will result in approximately 2.6 million new jobs.
This growth is determined mostly by the aging population who will seek more healthcare services.
For example, the employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 32 percent by 2030, making this one of the most in-demand healthcare professions.
Employment for skincare specialists is projected to grow 29 percent over the decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This growth is explained by the increasing demand for skin care services.
Estheticians who do house calls and provide mini-sessions will have the best prospects.
Physical therapists will also see job growth in the future, with the growth rate estimated at 21 percent.
The hairstylist profession will grow 19 percent over the next decade but much of the expected growth is due to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional jobs for hairdressers and hairstylists will also stem from population growth and increased demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and other advanced hair treatments.
Employment for chiropractors will grow 11 percent over the decade, leading to 1,800 new jobs each year.
Chiropractic services will continue to be needed as a non-surgical, drug-free way of relieving pain.
Many chiropractors will be working with physicians, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers to provide complementary care to people who suffer injuries or need to recover after surgery.
Psychologists, in general, will see job growth of approximately 8 percent, with the demand being especially high for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.
As society becomes more aware of the connection between mental health and learning, the employment of school psychologists will continue to grow.
The job growth for many healthcare workers is generated by the increased use of outpatient surgery and therapy as medical technology advances.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the median salary in the healthcare field?
Salaries for healthcare workers vary widely depending on specialization, the number of years of experience, and the region, among other factors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for healthcare workers was $69,870 as of May 2020- higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which was $41,950.
What type of training do I need for a career in the healthcare field?
Some healthcare occupations, such as massage therapists, require only a few months of training, while others require more than four years of post-secondary education.
If you want to become a chiropractor or a therapist, you will typically need at least 7-8 years of training beyond high school.
Most healthcare professions also require the completion of continuing education classes.
Do healthcare workers need a license?
Although exact requirements vary by state, most healthcare occupations require a state license.
For example, massage therapists need to pass a state-specific exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) licensure exam.
Chiropractors need a passing score at all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Education exam.
Do healthcare occupations have good job prospects?
Although job prospects vary depending on the region and the local economy, most healthcare occupations are projected to grow in the next decade.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for healthcare workers is projected to rise 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average growth across all occupations.