The thought of studying for years only to wind up struggling to find a job is a terrifying prospect, especially considering the fact that many degree programs can take several years to complete.
While there are never any guarantees in life, certain careers provide lower unemployment rates and more job opportunities than others. By doing your research beforehand, you can ensure you don’t spend your time earning a degree that won’t be lucrative in the long-term.
The medical field has plenty of job positions that are in high demand due to ongoing shortages of nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. To simplify the process of choosing the right degree, check out this list of the top 7 most in-demand medical careers as of 2020:
Here are a few summarized reasons why nursing made the top of our list:
• Helping to Alleviate the Nursing Shortage – There’s currently a significant shortage of nurses due to the fact that baby boomers are retiring by the horde. In fact, the shortage is only expected to get worse over the next 5 years.
• Entering the Workforce in Just 2 Years – Since a basic nursing degree can be earned in just 2-3 years, anyone who enrolls in a nursing degree program this year is practically guaranteed to enter into a field that will welcome them with open arms.
• Fully Online Degree Programs – You can earn your degree online through a distance learning institution, and you don’t need to be in the same state as the online program you’re enrolled in. So, you could live in New York City and be enrolled in an online nurse practitioner school in Virginia.
It’s also worth noting that the unemployment rate for nurses has dropped all the way to 0.7%, which means 99.3% of nurses are currently employed.
The demand for new physicians is expected to increase by 13% over the next decade, which means there could be more than 90,000 new jobs added. However, the rate of new enrolments in physician degree programs simply doesn’t match the demand, so the shortage is expected to worsen before it gets better.
While inexperienced physicians may have to settle for entry-level position in hospitals and clinics, any credentialed physician shouldn’t have a problem finding a job in today’s world. Of course, most physicians will go to school for 6-8 years before they can enter the field, and that long study path is one of the limiting factors that scares many students away.
3. Physician Assistant
While earning a degree to become an assistant might not seem like the most ideal path to embark upon, physicians’ assistants are actually well-paid, with an average salary of more than $100,000. This is because you’ll be responsible for the same kind of tasks that a physician would handle including:
• Providing an appropriate plan of care
• Recognizing early signs of physical and mental problems
• Educating patients on disease prevention
With that said, expect at least 6 years of education before you can enter the workforce in this position. Fortunately, you can study to become a physician while working as a physician assistant.
4. Physical Therapist or PT Assistant
Physical therapy is a good field to choose if you want to help patients recover from injuries and chronic illnesses. The number of jobs available to qualified physical therapists will increase by about 30 percent over the next decade.
However, in order to make entry into this field as a therapist, you would need to first have a doctorate degree. The growth for the number of PT assistant jobs will see similar growth, as every new therapist will need an assistant. Although the job of an assistant pays less, it also offers a much faster route to making entry in the field.
Benefits of becoming a physical therapist include:
• Wide range of workplaces to choose from
• Improve your science and health knowledge
• You can expect a good salary
• You can start your own practice
Not surprisingly, the world desperately needs more surgeons in every specialization as there simply aren’t enough people who are interested in this challenging and burdensome career. But if you’re confident in the stability of your hand and the soundness of your mind, you might have what it takes to become a surgeon.
It goes without saying that surgeons are also some of the highest paid medical professionals due to the level of skill and responsibility involved in the job. If “challenging but highly lucrative” is what you’re after, becoming a surgeon is one of the loftiest and most prestigious options in healthcare, not to mention the high levels of job satisfaction:
“I have never regretted going into medicine. I’d do it again tomorrow, and I tell that to any youngster who is considering it. Medicine is a calling. It is more than a business. One can make money doing other things. But I chose medicine–surgery–because it combined a quest for knowledge with a way to serve, to save lives, and to alleviate suffering.”
C. Everett Koop, MD, FACS, Pediatric Surgeon
6. Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapists help patients who have been injured or who have fallen ill due to on-the-job hazards. You’ll also be helping patients continually stay in shape and avoid injuries through certain practices and activities in their everyday lives.
Occupational therapy is a commonly overlooked sector in the medical field, but it’s also one that can guarantee almost any qualified therapist a job. Like physical therapists, occupations therapists will also see an increase of about 30% in the number of new jobs that will become available during the next decade.
7. Home Healthcare Professional
Out of all the medical careers, the demand for home health aides is expected to increase at the highest rate – with an expected growth of more than 45% in the next 6 years. However, while this job is definitely in high demand, it doesn’t pay very well.
On the bright side, this is the only option on this list that doesn’t require you to earn a degree to be qualified. With this job, you’d be providing medical care and assistance to patients in their homes. If you’re looking for a medical job that you can get quickly, this could an ideal option if you’re prepared to take care of the elderly and disabled.
Choosing a Job That Provides Stability and Benefits
Ultimately, nursing was ranked number one on this list simply because it is the fastest, easiest, and most widely applicable route for most students. The majority of people who are comparing careers would rather opt for a shorter educational path if possible.
While there’s no right or wrong way to choose your own career, a popular course of action is to get a nursing degree first and then study to become a physician or other higher-paid medical professional while you’re employed as a nurse. Nurses receive virtually all of the same benefits as physicians because they often work for the same employers.