How to pursue a career in the health sector


The health sector is regarded as one of the most attractive areas in which to build a career in the US. With growing demand (the fastest-growing sector in America), high resistance to automation, and an impressive salary to education ratio, there’s much to recommend health-related fields of study and career paths. Many gravitate toward it out of a desire to feel like they’re giving something back or making the world a better place.

The average age of the American population is trending upward, and the demand for aging-related health services is certain to go on increasing. There’s also a strong popular movement toward wellness and investing in personal health and well-being that is supporting the growth of ancillary and elective health services. As an essential service, health sector jobs weather economic and social changes well.

While many industries are experiencing rapid change due to the inroads technology is making into areas like AI, and other types of automation, it is possible to automate or outsource relatively little in the healthcare field. Continued demand for human-mediated services and problem-solving skills means the strong demand in the healthcare sector isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Demand and resistance to automation, as well as specialized essential skills, fuel the higher rates of pay that many healthcare jobs offer when compared to work by employees in other sectors with comparable levels of education and experience.

Whether you’re a medical administrative assistant, medical equipment technician, registered nurse, a caregiver for seniors, doctor, or surgeon, there are rewarding opportunities for every personality, skillset, and education level. Part of what makes healthcare sector work appealing to many is the sense of personal satisfaction it brings, and the value to society that it provides. Going to work everyday and feeling like you’re helping people and contributing to a better society is rewarding and purposeful.

With such a wide variety of opportunities in the health sector, it can be hard to know where to start. You’ll want to do some research and examine your options before heading down a specific educational or career track.

Think about what personality traits you could bring to a career and what your ideal lifestyle would be like. Doctors and surgeons take home great salaries, but can have demanding schedules and long, expensive educational tracks. Caregivers and medical administrative assistants tend to experience more flexibility in their schedule and require much less intensive schooling.

If you enjoy hands-on interaction and a more social type of role, a caregiver or nursing position might be a good fit. If you’re less sociable in nature and more technically minded, health sector jobs abound in areas that require high attention to detail and an analytical approach to problem solving. They include programming and coding for hospitals and clinics, maintaining or operating medical machinery like MRI or ultrasound equipment, or research and development positions in pharmaceuticals and innovative medical treatments.

Once you’ve identified the type of roles that could be a good fit for your personality and desired lifestyle, you’ll want to look into educational requirements. Some jobs require relatively little formal education and may offer on-the-job training or be attainable with a brief course or associates degree. Other roles, such as pharmacists and specialized doctors and surgeons, require a great deal of post-secondary investment.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you don’t have a specific goal or the means to dive into years of education, you can start with a more accessible position. Take a shorter program and get a job that allows you to gain first-hand familiarity with a variety of healthcare careers, save some money, and then upgrade your education as needed once you’ve identified the right path for you.

Starting your career as a medical administrative assistant opens up many possible outcomes. You might find yourself gravitating toward the business side of things, and move into a healthcare management role, or specialize in technology and systems design, or invest in the training to help care for people’s needs directly as a care provider, nurse, or doctor.

Sometimes it’s also possible to join the healthcare sector from a different educational or career background. Jobs in medical programming and technology, for instance, are often staffed by people with a degree in computer sciences. If you have a degree or notable background in any STEM subject, it may be transferrable with a less-focused education.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the health sector, take some time to identify your own personality traits, skills or natural capabilities, interests, and goals. Research the types of medical jobs available and consider a shorter educational track and some on-the-ground experience to gain familiarity with your options, then upgrade your education to achieve a rewarding, purposeful career.

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