Healthcare is expected to be a leading driver of the U.S. economy in 2013, continuing its strong performance over the past 12 months. Regardless of the outcome of the November elections, there are several underlying forces propelling this sector forward: the aging of America, healthcare technology advances, a growing emphasis on wellness and preventive care strategies and increased access to medical services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
According to monthly reports by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare has been adding new jobs throughout the year. In July, for instance, 12,000 new positions were created, although that total was down prior months.
Looking ahead, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that 10 of the 20 occupations expected to grow most quickly from 2010 to 2020 are in the healthcare industry, including personal care aides and medical secretaries.
Currently, positions in high demand include nurses, nurse practitioners, primary care physicians, family practice physicians, physician assistants, billing and coding specialists and information technology (IT) professionals. Many of these healthcare jobs require less than four years of college, although formal training and certification is usually needed. Most healthcare IT positions require at least a two-year technical degree, and jobs like dental hygienist or radiological technologist usually require an associate’s degree of completion of a certification program.
If you are considering a healthcare career, one of the fastest growing sectors today is primary care. Under the changing healthcare landscape, primary care physicians and clinics will play an increasingly greater role in providing diagnostic, treatment and follow-up services, along with patient education, support and prevention services.
Another growth sector is elder care, which is driven by the aging of the Boomer generation. Demand is rising for home health nurses and aides, as well as physical and occupational therapists. Changes in reimbursement structures are also likely to lead to more care delivered in the home rather than a more expensive office or inpatient setting. In any case, choosing a healthcare career makes a great deal of sense in today’s economy.