Where the Jobs Are: Fast-Growing Occupations

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  • One very important consideration for college students is the career they want to pursue after graduation. However, not every career is promising, with some fields such as journalism drying up.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks occupational growth and provides estimates of the fastest growing industries in the country. Not surprisingly, the medical field occupies the first five spots as America’s aging population requires more people to provide assistance. Let’s take a look at the five fastest growing job occupations projected by the BLS through 2020 and the schooling required.

    1. Personal Care Aides — The job of a personal care aid is to attend to the needs of elderly patients. Such individuals provide housekeeping services and prepare meals. Aids may prepare and maintain patient records, liaise with other medical professionals and offer advice to the family. Most aids have at least a high school diploma and may have completed some college courses including a certificate for a Certified Nursing Assistant program. BLS job growth estimates for the 10-year period through 2020 is 70.5 percent.

    2. Home Health Aides — Like personal care aides, home health aides assist patients in the home. Such aides, however, have a medical background and are trained to change bandages, cleanse wounds, apply medications, monitor and report changes to the patient’s condition, work with medical professionals and advise the family. Training programs for home health aides range from short-term programs to formal certification programs through a two-year college. BLS job growth estimates through 2020 is 69.4 percent.

    3. Medical Secretaries — Also known as unit support representatives, front office managers, health unit coordinators or receptionists, medical secretaries typically work in a medical office or a hospital. These individuals are familiar with medical terminology and procedures. Additional responsibilities include billing, scheduling, record keeping, filing reports and correspondence. Medical secretaries have at least some post high school training with managers at larger facilities having a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. Anticipated job growth is 41.3 percent through 2020.

    4. Medical Assistants — Working under the direction of a doctor, a medical assistant will handle certain clinical and administrative duties. On the administrative side, an MA may schedule appointments, bill patients, maintain records and code medical information. Medical assistants draw blood, prep patients for examination, dispense medications and check for vital signs. Training requirements vary and can lead to certification as Certified Medical Assistant through a community college. Job growth of 30.9 is projected through 2020.

    5. Registered Nurses — More than 2.7 million people are employed as Registered Nurses in the United States. Another 700,000 nurses will be needed through 2020, as this occupation increases by 26 percent according to the BLS. RNs provide patient care and coordinate with doctors to assist patients. Nurses carry out personal nursing care plans and advise patients on medical care and treatment. An associate degree is the minimum required education RNs must possess or completed training through a nursing school. Nearly 30 percent of RNs have a bachelor’s degree, the latter required by some medical facilities.  Other medical positions that should see strong growth in the coming years include nursing aides, orderlies and attendants; licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses and physicians and surgeons. Training requirements vary from on-the-job training to extensive schooling including residencies and internships.

    Educational Pursuits While each of the top five fastest-growing occupations have minimal educational requirements, pursuing a higher level of education can lead to more pay and open additional job opportunities. Medical field professionals may start in one position and then use their experience and further training to pursue better paying jobs. Review the college training programs available for your field and apply for the program that is right for you.

    Phil C. Stone writes for PCDI Canada a respected, worldwide leader in distance education. PCDI Canada offers online courses to complete professional-level training and to complete a high school diploma online

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