In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the health care and social assistance industry should create 28 percent of all new jobs between 2010 and 2020. And when it comes to the industry itself, heath care is expected to increase by 33 percent (that's 5.7 million jobs!) between 2010 and 2020.
Want to prepare to take your place in the health care field? Check out these five in-demand health care careers - and their educational paths.
Career #1 - Medical and Health Services ManagerIf you want to take your leadership skills into the growing health care field, consider pursuing a career as a medical and health services manager.
As a medical and health services manager, you might plan, direct, and organize health services in an entire health care facility, or a specific department or clinical area, says U.S. Department of Labor. Daily duties could include handling a facility's finances, creating work schedules, and making sure that health care services are delivered efficiently.
Growth by the numbers: The Department of Labor projects 22 percent job growth for medical and health services managers between 2010 and 2020. This is faster than average for all occupations the Department tracks. The increased number of clinics and outpatient facilities will require more managers to run them, says the Department.
Education options: Look into earning a bachelor's degree in health administration. According to the Department, prospective managers have this credential. But master's degrees in health services, long-term care administration, public health, or business administration are also common.
Career #2 - Medical AssistantIf you are interested in working in a doctor's office, consider preparing for a career in the in-demand field of medical assisting.
As a medical assistant, you could play a role in helping patients' visits go smoothly from when they first walk in the door. Your duties might include measuring vital signs, assisting the physician with examinations, recording health information, and scheduling appointments, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Growth by the numbers: The need for medical assistants should continue to expand, as the Department of Labor projects 31 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020.
Education options: Even though medical assistants can learn on the job, some employers may prefer candidates with formal education such as a certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting, says the Department.
Career #3 - Registered NurseReady to put your helpful nature to use in the largest health care field? Look into prepping to pursue a career in registered nursing.
As a registered nurse, you could work closely with patients by providing care, education, and emotional support. You might give patients medicines and treatments, observe their conditions, or perform diagnostic tests, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Growth by the numbers: But even with such a large number of nurses, the Department of Labor projects the nursing field will continue to add 711,900 jobs between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 26 percent. A rise in preventative care and advancements in technology are expected to keep nurses in high demand, adds the Department.
Education options: To pursue a registered nursing career, you could earn a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ASN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program, says the Department. From there, you'll need to take the national licensing exam.
Career #4 - Physical Therapist AssistantWant to enter an in-demand health care field where you could really play a hands-on role in helping patients restore their physical functionality? If so, a career as a physical therapist assistant could be a good fit.
Under the supervision of a physical therapist, you could help patients regain movement as they recover from injuries, illnesses, or surgery. Your role in the rehabilitation process could include assisting patients with techniques (massage, stretching) and therapeutic methods like electrical stimulation and mechanical traction, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Growth by the numbers: The Department of Labor projects the employment for physical therapist assistants will increase by 46 percent between 2010 and 2020. An increased number of elderly patients for therapy services could be a major factor in the rising need for physical therapy assistants, adds the Department.
Education options: To get ready to pursue a physical therapy assistant career, most states require candidates to earn an associate's degree in physical therapy assistance from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, according to the Department.
Career #5 - Pharmacy TechnicianPrefer a health care career that is less hands-on? Consider pursuing a career in the growing pharmacy technician field.
Pharmacy technicians can be responsible for counting pills, filling prescriptions, providing customer service, and fulfilling administrative tasks under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Growth by the numbers: The Department of Labor projects 32 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020. A continued increase in older customers who tend to buy more prescriptions could play a role in this booming field.
Education options: Although most pharmacy technicians learn their duties on the job, some candidates earn a certificate through a pharmacy technician program, according to the Department.