Healthcare is set to add over 2 million jobs in the next decade. Here's the education and skills you need to break into the medical field.

  • Business Insider recently developed a list of high-paying, fast-growing jobs based on pre-pandemic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The jobs at the top of the list fell mainly into five different industries, with varying education and skills needed to break into each of them.
  • One of these industries is healthcare, where three different kinds of nurses made our list.
  • We looked at how to get into healthcare and why this industry is expected to see a growing need for workers. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Employment in the healthcare industry is expected to grow by about 15% from 2019 to 2029, adding about 2.4 million jobs, according to the most recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Business Insider's recently found the 30 best jobs of the future using a combination of salary and pre-pandemic employment growth projection data. Based on that ranking, the healthcare sector boasts several fast-growing jobs that pay above the US median salary.

The industry will need more workers as people retire within the field and to take care of a growing, aging population, according to Earl Dalton, the chief nursing officer at the healthcare-staffing company Health Carousel.

"The same group that will be leaving healthcare will require care in one form or another, and so what that adds up to is that healthcare is an incredibly solid choice for the future because we are expected to have such incredible turnover over the next decade," Dalton told Business Insider.

Additionally, the pandemic right now is affecting employment for these essential workers just like many other US sectors. According to BLS data on healthcare and social assistance, there were 950,200 fewer people employed in this industry in October than there were in February — a 4.6% decline from before the pandemic.

As the projections suggest that this industry will have a bright outlook in employment, Business Insider looked at how to get started in healthcare. The following is a look at some of the education requirements needed to break into healthcare.

Not every healthcare occupation requires a bachelor's degree

If you are looking for a position that requires less time in school, there are some healthcare occupations that require only a high school diploma, associate's degree, or a postsecondary nondegree award.

For instance, "home health and personal care aides" are one group of jobs that is expected to see strong growth over the next 10 years according to the BLS projections for employment growth from 2019 to 2029. It is expected to grow by 34%, adding nearly 1.2 million jobs. The job, which typically requires assisting patients with daily activities, only needs a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Some other healthcare positions like medical assistants, surgical technologists, and phlebotomists require a postsecondary nondegree award. People aspiring to work in one of these positions could attend programs at community college or vocational schools, per BLS. 

Different kinds of nursing positions require different levels of schooling

In our calculation of the best jobs of the future, based on both projected job growth and wages, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses made our top 30. Similarly to their range in salaries — from over $47,000 to over $100,000 — the minimum education required for these nurses vary.

An associate degree or a bachelor's in nursing are common for nurses, depending on the kind of job duties and responsibilities you will like to do. Some other types of nurses may need more education before starting in the field.

For instance, nurse practitioners are one type of advanced practice registered nurses, and a next step for some registered nurses in their medical career path. Like doctors, nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine and treat patients. They need a master's degree at a minimum according to BLS and will also need to pass a certification exam depending on their speciality. 

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers three certifications where exams assess different knowledge based on your speciality: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, and emergency nurse practitioner. There is also an "entry-level advanced practice board certification" per the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation, among other certifications for nurses looking to work with acute and critically-ill patients.

Nurses will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, NCLEX-PN for practical and vocational nursing students and NCLEX-RN for registered nurses. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers a practice exam based on previous versions to help students understand what to expect in the exam.

The typical path to becoming a doctor

Doctors require more schooling than most of the other positions in healthcare. These typically include attending medical school and then a residency at a hospital or clinic. The exact length of school and training varies based on what you want to specialize in.

Job-site Indeed recently mapped out the typical path of the 10-14 years of education and training required to become a doctor. It notes that doctors will need to complete four years of medical school after completing their bachelor's degree, finish a residency program, and obtain a state medical license.

The length of residency typically varies between three to seven years, where neurosurgery takes seven years and pediatrics takes three years, according to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The types of training done in each year of residency also varies by specialty. For instance, the first year in the neurosurgery residency program at John Hopkins Medicine involves rotations as an intern, getting a feel of different areas within this speciality. During the last year, people practice under faculty supervision as a chief resident performing all "patient clinical care on the three adult neurosurgery services" per the program's website.

Read our full analysis about how to break into the healthcare sector and other industries that are expected to see growth in high-paying jobs here.


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