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Fastest Growing Jobs in Health Care

Anthony Balderrama, writer

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In the two years since the economy began its downward slide, health care has been one of the few industries that continued to rise. Because we're living longer than ever and the baby boomers are aging, demand for health care is growing.

Understandably, many people think of health care as all about doctors and nurses. After all, when you go to the hospital or have your annual check-up, your interaction is usually with a nurse and then a doctor. All the lab tests and other work are done behind the scenes, so these positions get overlooked. The health care industry will continue to grow in the coming decade and the jobs won't just be in the operating room, though many will.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these 11 jobs in health care will see growth in the coming years. Here are the jobs, their expected growth in the next decade, education requirements and annual mean salary*:

1. Physician assistants perform many of the same tasks of a physician -- such as treating injuries and supervising medical assistants -- but are under a physician's supervision at all times.
2008-2018 increase: 41.3 percent
Education: College degree and relevant experience
Salary: $81,610

2. Medical secretaries perform administrative duties in health-care facilities and rely on their knowledge of medical terminology and procedures.
2008-2018 increase: 27 percent
Education: Varies, but college degrees are increasingly common requirements
Salary: $30,800

3. Physicians and surgeons treat patients for existing medical conditions and also advise them on preventative care. Surgeons concentrate on operations rather than the non-surgical approaches of physicians.
2008-2018 increase: 26 percent
Education: Medical degrees, residencies and licenses
Salary: Surgeons - $206,770, general internists - $176,740

4. Registered nurses address some health problems of patients as well as collect and maintain their medical records.
2008-2018 increase: 23.4 percent
Education: Varies between college degrees requirements and certification, depending on state and employer
Salary: $65,130

5. Counselors work in various health-care facilities to help clients overcome physical or mental health obstacles they are encountering.
2008-2018 increase: 22.6 percent
Education: Varies by state and facility, but college degree and certification are typical
Salary: Mental health - $40,270, rehabilitation - $34,600, substance abuse and behavioral disorder - $39,670

6. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses provide care for injured or ill patients in health-care facilities and private homes.
2008-2018 increase: 21.9 percent
Education: Nursing license from an accredited school or institution, other requirements vary by state
Salary: $40,110

7. Billing and posting clerks and machine operators assess the cost of a patient's health care, draw up the bill and send it to them.
2008-2018 increase: 19.7 percent
Education: Varies by institution, but a high school diploma and basic computer skills are common
Salary: $32,120

8. Social workers provide emotional and mental support to patients who have substance abuse problems or suffer from medical ailments.
2008-2018 increase: 19.5 percent
Education: Bachelor's degrees and often advanced degrees are required, in addition to state-mandated licenses and certifications
Salary: Medical and public health - $47,560, mental health and substance abuse - $39,630

9. Receptionists and information clerks work in health-care facilities and address customer or patient questions or concerns and direct them to the appropriate department or personnel.
2008-2018 increase: 16.1 percent
Education: Minimum requirement of high school diploma, although some employers require more education or relevant experience
Salary: $25,400

10. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work in medical laboratories to perform tests that help diagnose, treat or prevent illnesses.
2008-2018 increase: 14 percent
Education: Technologists need a bachelor's degree in a related subject and technicians need an associate degree
Salary: Technologists - $54,050, technicians - $44,310

11. Pharmacists dispense medicine to patients based on the diagnoses and prescriptions of physicians and other medical professionals.
2008-2018 increase: 14 percent
Education: A Doctor of Pharmacy degree and license
Salary: $104,260

*All information based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at

Last Updated: 01/04/2010 - 6:19 PM

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