Two Years to a Healthier Career

In the midst of the current economic malaise, there is one industry that’s managed to stay in good shape. In health care, salaries have stayed stable, hiring is strong, and the prognosis for future growth is promising.

Still, you may think a career in health care is beyond your reach. Wrong. Here are nine ways you can get your career off life-support in two years or less.

Clinical Laboratory Technician
Lab techs are like medical detectives — looking at samples of blood or tissue for evidence of disease and illness. Computer skills are a must as labs become more automated. Crack problem-solving skills and a sharp analytical mind are also called for. Most lab techs work in hospitals, though some work in independent laboratories or doctors’ offices.
Degree: Associate’s degree or certificate in medical technology
BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) Growth Forecast: 15 percent

Dental Hygienist
With training from an accredited dental hygiene program, your future is wide open. Hygienists help people to improve the health of their teeth and gums. In addition to the sizable salary that comes with this job, flexible scheduling gives you a reason to smile. Over half of all hygienists work part time, making this a family-friendly career.
Degree: Associate’s degree in dental hygiene — bachelor’s degree available
BLS Growth Forecast: 30 percent

Dental Laboratory Technician
Here’s a career that will certainly make an impression. Dental techs work with materials like ceramics to create the bridges, braces, and false teeth that are prescribed by a doctor. While it may take four years to achieve professional certification, a two-year degree is enough to land a gig where you’ll get the on-the-job training you’ll need to become fully qualified.
Degree: Associate’s degree in dental technology
BLS Growth Forecast: 4 percent

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Want to be there when a pregnant mother sees her baby for the first time? Sonographers use ultrasound technology to help diagnose illness or, in the case of obstetric sonographers, track the progress and health of a pregnancy. A two-year degree is widely accepted and you can increase your chances of getting hired through registration with an independent agency.
Degree: Associate’s degree in ultrasound technology
BLS Growth Forecast: 19 percent

Occupational Therapy Assistant
Here’s a two-year program that will get you, and your patients, back to work. Occupational therapy assistants help people who’ve been injured or ill regain the skills they need to succeed in daily life. It’s a great job if you love working with people and like getting a little exercise on the job.
Degree: Associate’s degree in occupational therapy
BLS Growth Forecast: 25 percent

Medical Record Technician
Keeping accurate and complete records is a critical link in providing competent care. Proper records can also help to hold down the burgeoning cost of care, so recent legislation requires all records to be digitized. Combined with an increased demand for coding by insurance companies, and you’ve got a prescription for big-time growth in the industry. Most medical record technicians hold an associate’s degree and computer skills are vital.
Degree: Associate’s degree in health informatics and registered health information technician certification
BLS Growth Forecast: 18 percent

Radiologic Technologist
If you’ve ever broken a bone, you’ve likely seen a radiographer in action. X-rays and CT scans help to diagnose and treat problems from broken toes to breast cancer. While training options range from one to four years, the two-year associate’s degree is the most common.
Degree: Associate’s degree in radiography
BLS Growth Forecast: 15 percent

Surgical Technologist
In as little as nine months, you could become an integral part of a surgical team. You’ll work alongside surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists and be involved in every step of a procedure — from prep to recovery. Employers are looking to hire techs with certification, which can be obtained through an accredited associate’s degree program.
Degree: Associate’s degree or certificate in surgical technology
BLS Growth Forecast: 24 percent

Veterinary Technician
The health care hiring boon extends to those who care for our four-legged friends. Vet techs are in high demand — there currently aren’t enough grads to meet hiring needs. The trend shows no signs of slowing down. Though there is a clinical component to the training, many programs offer distance-learning opportunities as well.
Degree: Associate’s degree in veterinary technology
BLS Growth Forecast: 41 percent

Finding a Cure
If you’re worried about the health of your industry or you’re just plain sick of your job, there is hope. An associate’s degree in a health care field is a sure-fire cure for the common career.

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