By Lydia Dishman
Sure the unemployment numbers are dismal but there’s one industry sector that’s looking rosier every day – healthcare. A report from the Department of Labor Statistics in the fall of 2010 showed that in the preceding 12 months (when unemployment has high), healthcare added 231,000 jobs, 27,000 in July of 2010 alone.
Though many would like to get in, few make it past perusing the classifieds, discouraged by educational and experiential requirements. Though it’s true that becoming a doctor, nurse or specialized technician demands an advanced degree, there are some positions in healthcare that can be had without a four-year college commitment and not a lot of prior experience.
But before you toss those thick course catalogs, know that many of these positions do require certification and/or a two-year associate’s degree. The good news is that much of the schooling can be done on a flexible schedule or even online – perhaps while you’re holding down the job.
Phlebotomy Technician (PBT): median annual salary $28,939
If you’ve got a high school education, an interest in science, and some health care experience, the American Society for Clinical Pathology wants to help you land a job as a phlebotomy technician, collecting and analyzing blood samples from patients. Gelasia Croom of the ASCP says these workers are in high demand due to lack of awareness about the job and retiring baby boomers.
Health Insurance Agent: median annual salary $38,205
Health insurance agents provide easy-to-understand information and access to expert advice so consumers can make smart decisions about insuring their health. Yet, Fred Adams of HSA America notes that most insurance agents don’t need an advanced degree. They must hold a license in the state they plan to do business, but that can be obtained in about two weeks, no previous experience required.
Medical Records Clerk: median annual salary $25,189
If you’re a stickler for accuracy and have great organizational skills, a career as a medical records clerk may work for you. One of the few positions that doesn’t require any patient interactions, workers assemble patients' health information including medical history, symptoms, exam and diagnostic test results and manage the data for quality, accuracy, and security. Most applicants hold an associate’s degree along with a good command of computer software programs.
Physical Therapy Assistant: median annual salary $43,655
Thanks to aging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, demand for professional physical therapy assistants is on the rise. If you have a high school diploma and good people skills, earning certification can take as little as six months. Then you can work with physical therapists to help patients exercise, learn to use crutches, and provide therapies such as traction, ultrasound, massage, and balance training.
Medical Transcriptionist: median annual salary $25,559
How fast can you type? Fingers fly when medical transcriptionists listen to dictated recordings made by doctors and other healthcare professionals and transcribe them into medical reports, correspondence, and other administrative material. Though more than half work at hospitals or physicians’ offices, many medical transcriptionists telecommute from home-based offices. Slackers need not apply – accuracy is a top priority to prevent errors in patients’ records.
Dispensing Optician’s Apprentice: median annual salary $23,600
Want to help people see better and look great? With a high school diploma, you could snag a position at an optometrist’s office and receive technical instruction on the job along with learning the finer points of office management and sales. Apprentices work directly with patients, fitting them for eyeglasses or contact lenses, while being supervised by an experienced optician.
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.