Though US job growth is still in need of resuscitation in some industries (like home-building and real estate), the outlook for jobs in the healthcare field is continues to look rosy for the foreseeable future. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry.
Baby Boomers are Fueling Job Growth
Actually ten of the twenty fastest-growing occupations are related to healthcare, with jobs opening up as a result of growth and the Baby Boomers retiring, leaving a slew of vacant jobs behind them.
The Boomers impact the growth in other ways, too. As they age, this largest generation in US history will be in need of more health care services. Advances in medical technology will continue to improve the survival rate of severely ill and injured patients, who will then need extensive therapy and care. New technologies will continue to enable earlier diagnoses which often increases the ability to treat previously untreatable conditions. There will be a shift from inpatient to less expensive outpatient and home healthcare because of improvements in diagnostic tests and surgical procedures, along with patients’ desires to be treated at home—all these factors will cause growth in the healthcare field.
Healthcare Job Prospects
Over the 2008-18 period, total employment of home health aides is projected to increase by 50 percent, medical assistants by 34 percent, physical therapist assistants by 33 percent, and physician assistants by 39 percent. Even jobs outside the inpatient hospital sector will see explosive growth, like pharmacy technician jobs and personal and home care aides.
Many job openings should arise in all employment settings as a result of employment growth and the need to replace workers who retire. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants, and home health aides are among the occupations adding the most new jobs in this industry between 2008 and 2018, about 592,200 combined. Another occupation that is expected to have many openings is registered nurses. The median age of registered nurses is increasing, and not enough younger workers are replacing them. Though healthcare workers at all levels of education and training will continue to be in demand, in many cases, it may be easier for jobseekers with health-specific training to obtain jobs.
Wage and salary employment in the healthcare industry is projected to increase 22 percent through 2018. Projected rates of employment growth for the various segments of the industry range from 10 percent in hospitals, the largest and slowest growing industry segment, to 46 percent in the much smaller home healthcare services. Average earnings of non-supervisory workers in most healthcare segments are higher than the average for all private industry ($20.38 per hour as opposed to $18.08 per hour), with hospital workers earning considerably more than the average and those employed in nursing, residential care facilities and home healthcare services earning less.
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