Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States; however, within that broad definition, are other professions critical in the successful treatment of patients. While clinical positions are predominant in medicine and healthcare, nonclinical positions rank high in job growth, salaries and opportunities. Best Medical Degrees routinely reviews and examines healthcare careers to find some of the best careers in healthcare.
Online Bachelor Degrees in Medicine and Healthcare
The route to a career in healthcare can be varied ranging from an Associates Degree to Masters Degrees. Bachelor degrees form a solid foundation for those wanting to enter the field, as well as providing the educational background to pursue more advanced degrees. The number of online bachelor programs has significantly increased and allows the ability for students to continue working while they pursue their degree. While some programs may require internships or practical experiences, online programs will typically provide those opportunities in the student's home communities, working with qualified preceptors or trainers.
Accreditation, Licensure and Certification
Program accreditation is one of the most important values an online program should provide. Accreditation is conducted by independent, Department of Education approved, accrediting agencies and insures the program meets quality standards for that particular field. Depending on the career, many states require practitioners to be licensed or certified. This will vary from state to state and students are encouraged to check with their state regulatory boards to determine the appropriate licensure exam required. Many employers will request employees be certified in their field which will be provided by professional certification boards.
Best Medical Degrees utilized several methods to rank these careers and educational programs. They are: 1) Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the potential job growth for a profession, 2) U.S. News and World Report to discover the overall career satisfaction rates and unemployment estimates, 3) PayScale, an online employer survey company to determine annual salary ranges, 4) necessary program accreditation based on professional requirements and 5) available online programs per degree. This ranking lists careers by projected job growth in the field as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Information Security Analysis
At first glance, information security seems an odd medical degree choice; however, if you consider healthcare's growing reliance on computerized patient information, the security of that information is of vital importance. More healthcare facilities and physician offices are using computerized health records from patient records, reimbursements and compliance with state and federal regulations. Online computer science programs will focus on studies in programming, statistics, databases, web programming, software and hardware, information retrieval, etc. A bachelor degree in computer science will help information specialists to find work in hospitals, healthcare systems, physician groups or state and federal health agencies.
Information security specialists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics will see a very rapid 29% job growth between 2016-2026. PayScale, an online employer survey service, estimates annual salary expectations of $49,779-$103,418. U.S. News and World Report rates this career #2 in Best Technology Jobs, #6 in Best STEM Jobs and #32 in The 100 Best Jobs rankings.
2. Healthcare Administration
With a BLS estimated 20% ten-year job growth, Healthcare Administration is an attractive career for those with an interested in the non-clinical side of healthcare. Students can find online programs which will focus on the business side of healthcare, taking courses specific in healthcare information systems, ethics, finance and human resources. Courses may also include terminology, hospital organizational management, communications, marketing, etc. Many online programs require students participate in internships under the supervision of a qualified preceptor. Healthcare Administrators are responsible for determining overall organization or department objectives and goals and strategic planning,maintaining compliance of state and federal regulations, budgetary policies, employee recruitment and assure quality patient procedures are in place and maintained. Most Healthcare Managers work in private or nonprofit hospitals with other positions being found in long-term health facilities, physician groups or offices, outpatient clinics or with governmental agencies. Best Medical Degrees has previously reviewed 10 Affordable Bachelor Degrees in Healthcare Administration which may provide additional information.
PayScale estimates annual salaries for this career to be between $38,930-$101,432. U.S. News and World Report rates this career #65 in its 100 Best Jobs, #14 in Best Business Jobs and #24 in Best Paying Jobs in its
rankings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 352,200 working in the profession by 2026 and the career has a low 3.3% unemployment rate.
3. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
With a much faster than average 20% job growth rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career requires a minimum educational level of a bachelor degree. Many online programs are available in this field which will require not only coursework but clinical experience. Trained to evaluate patients' behavioral, physical and mental disorders, these counselors will develop treatment goals, identify patients behavior or situations which may interfere with recovery and provide resources and services to help patients reach their goals. Typical coursework for this career will include studies in addiction and behavioral causes, individual and group counseling techniques, counseling ethics, pharmacology, basic anatomy, prevention and recovery of substance abuse, health and social problems and counseling theory. Programs should hold accreditation from an approved organizations such as Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Most states require licensure for these counselors which will require successful completion of the National Board for Certified Counselors exam. Check with your state licensure board to determine what is required in your particular state.
PayScale suggests an annual salary range between $29,107-$52,851 and the career rates #8 in Best Social Services Jobs and #97 in The 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News and World Report. Counseling positions will be found in individual and family services agencies, long term care facilities, outpatient clinics and mental health, substance abuse centers, hospitals and government agencies.
4. Public Health Educator
A bachelor's degree in Public Health Education will train students to provide communities with health information such as wellness, education programs for community segments regarding wellness, vaccinations, health support systems, etc. Online bachelors programs will concentrate on studies in community health strategies, wellness across the age span, epidemiology, program planning and health communication, marketing and analysis. Additionally, studies in social and behavioral sciences, principles of management and program evaluation will typically be covered. Public Health Educators may find employment in nonprofit organizations and agencies, local and state government, hospitals or home healthcare agencies. Employers may require Public Health Educators to be recognized as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, which is offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Best Medical Degrees provides a ranking of 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor of Public Health Degrees to help with your program search.
The BLS estimates a ten year job growth at a 16% and a projected need of 118,500 by 2026. U.S. News and World Report designates this profession as #7 in its Best Education Jobs. The salary scale for Public Health Educators is within the $31,383-$60,451 range based on data from PayScale employer surveys.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) has become the preferred degree for the nursing profession. Numerous online nursing schools and colleges provide comprehensive training for this career; and, most offer a RN to BSN option for students with an ADN (see Most Affordable Online RN to BSN Programs). Students will study courses such as biology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, chemistry, communications, patient assessment, etc. These programs are hybrid in nature, requiring clinical practice which allows the student to apply coursework studies to actual patient care. Usually, students are placed in practicums in their home communities under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Nursing roles have expanded to include not only inpatient care, but careers in physician offices, outpatient clinics, home care services, schools and business and long term care facilities. BSN prepared nurses may find work in hospitals, clinics, physician offices and government agencies. Students should look for programs holding accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Additionally helpful for choosing a program is to determine the nursing exam pass rate for graduates sitting for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). All states require successful completion of the nursing exam for licensure.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job growth in nursing careers at 15% over 10 years (2016-2026) with an estimated 2,955,200 nurses needed by 2026. Nursing is rated #15 in Best Health Care Jobs #18 in The 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News and World Report and the career has received the #1 Most Ethical Profession in the U.S. according to a Gallop Poll; and, has held that distinction for 15 consecutive years. PayScale sets an annual salary range of $40,208-$87,927.
6. Social Worker
Social Workers need a bachelor degree in Social Work to work in entry level positions in hospitals, clinics, health agencies, physician offices. Many online programs are available in this field and require courses in human behavior, diverse populations, ethics, social welfare policies and processes. Bachelor degree in Social Work (BSW) will train students for entry-level social work positions working as case workers or mental health assessment and care. Students will take courses representing human behavior, policy, death and dying, geriatric behavior, generalist practice methods, issues in child welfare, substance abuse, human development healthcare planning, etc. Field practice with a qualified Social Work preceptor is typically required. For those interested in a clinical practice in Social Work, may find online programs which offer bridge programs, allowing students to work on their BSW and MSW simultaneously. Online programs are recommended to hold accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.
Social Work has a 15% job growth expectation over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. News and World Report rates Social Work #6 in Best Social Services Jobs and #71 in its The 100 Best Jobs. Salary ranges for BSW are reported by PayScale to annually range between $30,625-$63,611. The BLS expects an employment gain of over 102,100 over the next decade, with jobs found in family and individual services, government health agencies, hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc.
There was a time that physicians paid limited interest in patients' diet and nutrition, except in severe cases. Now, nutritionists are considered important team members in healthcare. Online bachelor degrees in nutrition are readily available and students will take courses in nutrition science, food science, nutritional assessment, life cycle nutrition, biochemistry and metabolism. Additional courses may be included in biology, psychology, anatomy and physiology. Nutritionists frequently find employment in residential and long term care facilities, outpatient clinics (diabetic centers, oncology, dialysis, etc.), home care agencies or hospitals. Specializations in nutrition are available in oncology, pediatrics, geriatrics, renal or genetics (focusing on metabolic diseases). You may be able to identify online programs in this field by visiting 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelors Degrees in Health, Wellness and Nutrition.
Nutritionists see a 14% ten-year growth rate projection with an estimated 68,000 positions available. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the Top 100 Best Jobs and the average annual salaries for students with a BS in Nutrition Science as cited by PayScale ranges between $29,496-$71,414.
8. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Requiring a bachelors degree in medical or life sciences, this career has a 13% job growth expectation between 2016-2026. Online programs are available which will include studies in biology, microbiology, math, statistics and chemistry. Additional studies may be required in hematology, pathology, serology and molecular diagnostics. Laboratory and safety procedures and laboratory management. Practical, clinical experiences are typically required for this career path. These technologists/technicians are responsible for evaluating and interpretation of lab results, maintenance of accurate records and performance of complex laboratory tests used in diagnosis, treatment and disease prevention. Students should verify that the program chosen meets accreditation standards such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), American Medical Technologists (AMT) or the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Many states require licensure for laboratory technologists and it's recommended students check with their state departments of health, state boards of occupational licensing for specific information.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked this profession #11 in Best Health Care Support Jobs and #94 in its The 100 Best Jobs for 2018. PayScale has determined the annual salary range for this career at between $35,522- $77,666. Jobs may be found in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, universities and research facilities, physician offices and outpatient care centers.
9. Health Informatics Specialist
Increasingly, hospitals and physicians are utilizing computerized patient records and Health Informatics Specialists for the organization and maintenance of patient health records, tracking patient outcomes, patient confidentiality, accuracy and timeliness of records and the recording of collecting, storing, retrieval and reporting of patient information. A Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management is available online and will include studies in coding and classification, healthcare reimbursement, health information technology, data analysis, health information technology, health information and ethics, medical terminology, pathophysiology, statistics and research, compliance regulations and health systems application. Students should verify program accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and may be required to pass the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam. Best Medical Degrees reviewed 10 Most Affordable Online Healthcare Informatics Bachelor Degrees to assist with your school choice.
The preponderance of jobs in this field will be found in hospitals, physician offices, skilled nursing facilities or scientific services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 13% ten-year job growth in this field. Salary ranges may be between $40,224-$91,858 according to PayScale surveys.
10. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists are responsible for assuring that patients and employees in healthcare settings are protected from a variety of hazards such as toxins, medical equipment, medical waste, biohazards, etc. Requiring a bachelor degree in Occupational Health and Safety or other scientific field (think biology, chemistry or engineering), these students may find work in government facilities, hospitals, etc. and focus on a broad range of safety issues including radiation, infectious materials, facility safety, equipment safety and more. These professionals are responsible for inspection, testing and evaluation of workplaces, evaluate safety policies and programs, education of healthcare employees and designing safety procedures and education of staff on appropriate steps. Online programs are available in Occupational Health and Safety will include emergency management, risk identification, workplace risk factors, fundamentals in radiation in the healthcare setting, safety programs development, state and federal safety compliance, fire protection and techniques in management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an average growth rate of 8% for this career with over 100,000 estimated jobs in 2016. Regulations for occupational health and safety is overseen by the federal Department of Labor in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). PayScale estimates salary ranges for this career to be an annual $38,892-$76,774.