Careers in the heath care industry are among those expected to see the fastest employment growth, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the national average growth rate for jobs is 14.3 percent, some medical careers are increasing at double and even triple that rate. And although some medical professions have lengthy educational requirements, there are also medical careers that require just two years -- or less -- of education.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
Occupational therapy assistants treat patients who are injured, paralyzed or have experienced a debilitating illness. Under the supervision of an occupational therapist, they assist patients in completing therapeutic exercises such as stretching, performing activities that promote coordination and using special equipment that can make their lives easier. According to the BLS, demand for occupational therapy assistants will grow by 41 percent through 2020, which is almost triple the national average for other jobs. The educational requirement for this profession is an associate degree in occupational therapy. The annual mean wage for occupational therapy assistants was $53,090 in May 2012.
Pharmacy technicians help dispense prescription medication. They assist pharmacists by recording the information needed to fill prescriptions, in addition to counting tablets, measuring liquids and mixing ointments. Pharmacy technicians also package and label prescriptions, accept payments and process insurance claims. The BLS projects pharmacy technician jobs will grow by 32 percent through 2020, which is more than double the national average growth rate for other professions. Some pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training, while others attend a 1-year pharmacy technology program at a vocational or community college. As of May 2012, pharmacy technicians earned an annual mean wage of $30,430.
Dental assistants perform a variety of duties, which includes sterilizing dental instruments, preparing the patient treatment area, scheduling dental appointments and handling billing and payments. Under the supervision of a dentist, they also provide assistance during dental procedures, process X-rays and perform lab tasks. Through 2020, demand for dental assistants will grow by 31 percent, which is more than twice the growth rate for other careers, reports the BLS. The educational requirements for dental assistants vary by state. In some states, there are no formal requirements. Other states require graduation from an accredited program usually offered by a community college. These programs range from 1-year certification to a 2-year associate degree. The annual mean wage for dental assistants was $35,080 in May 2012.
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health data. They document such patient information as medical history, symptoms, exam and test results and treatments. Medical records and health information technicians review records to be sure that they are complete and accurate, and then organize, store and retrieve the data as needed. The BLS projects 21 percent growth in this profession through 2020, which is faster than the average growth rate projected for other jobs. Educational requirements for medical records and health information technicians range from a 1-year certification to a 2-year associate’s degree in health information technology. In May 2012, the annual mean wage of these professionals was $36,770.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacy Technicians
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dental Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: The 30 occupations with the fastest projected employment growth, 2010-20
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images