It's been reported by Forbes Magazine that healthcare is now a $3 trillion dollar industry and with that comes hundreds of thousands of career opportunities. Hospitals and healthcare systems are expanding to meet unprecedented growth as more Baby Boomers age and more patients have access to healthcare insurance. Part of that growth includes not only clinical professionals, but ancillary, or support, personnel to provide quality patient care with hundreds of thousands of careers and professions over a ten year period.
Online Masters Degrees in Medicine and Healthcare
There are many roads to a satisfying healthcare career from Associates, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degrees. Master degree programs will usually require bachelor degrees in science, management or clinical programs. As healthcare grows, schools and universities are increasing the availability of online advanced education programs, allowing students to continue working while achieving a higher degree diploma. Depending on the program, students may be required to complete capstone projects (identifying an issue, completing research and presenting a formal paper), internships or clinical practice experiences. Typical masters programs take 1-2 years for completion.
Accreditation, Licensure and Certification
Online programs were once considered "iffy" in terms of the education provided. That has radically changed as online programs have adjusted curricula to meet specific accreditation standards. The Department of Education recognizes independent organizations which provide accreditation for specific fields. These organizations set educational standards and monitor schools and programs to assure they meet those standards. Many healthcare careers require state licensure and often employers require certification in a particular field. State licensing boards may require specific criteria and not all online programs meet all states requirements. It's the student's responsibility to make certain their program will meet their specific state's requirements.
To determine the best medicine and healthcare online professions, Best Medical Degrees considered five factors: 1) Job growth projections and work environments as provided by Bureau of Labor Statistics 2) Career satisfaction rates as provided by U.S. News and World Report, 3) PayScale (an online employer survey company) is used to posit annual salary ranges, 4) Program accreditation standards required and 5) Online, accredited program availability.
1. Physician Assistant
Physicians are in short supply in the U.S., as there is a dramatic increase in demand for healthcare, partially caused by the aging Baby Boomer population and the greater access to health insurance. To ease this shortage, Physician Assistants (PA) are fulfilling a greater role in providing patient care. Physician Assistants work under the supervision of physicians, surgeons or other healthcare professionals in providing direct patient care. Requiring state licensure, PAs are qualified to examine and treat patients, order clinical tests and prescribe medications. Physician Assistant programs are accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and will typically require a bachelor degree in nursing or other health related field for admission into a two-year program. Study to become a PA will include subjects such as clinical medicine, pharmacology, pathology, human anatomy, physiology, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics. A key component in PA studies will also include clinical rotations in family and internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine and pediatrics. Rotations for online students will be conducted in the students local community.
The number of online PA training programs is increasing annually and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth for this profession at a rapid 37% over a decade, with most jobs found in physician offices, state and local health agencies, outpatient clinics or employment services. PayScale estimates salaries for Physician Assistants to be between the $72,560-$117,568 annual range; and, U.S. News and World Report ranks this career as #2 in Best Health Care Jobs and #3 in The 100 Best Jobs rankings. State licensure is required to practice and students should verify that the educational program chosen will meet state requirements and qualify the student to sit for, and pass, the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Best Medical Degrees has reviewed 30 Most Affordable Physician Assistant (MSPA) Programs which provides additional information on online PA programs.
2. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Ranked #3 in U.S. News and World Report's in Best Health Care Jobs and #4 in The 100 Best Jobs, Advanced Practice Nurses (APRN) such as Nurse Practitioners are in great demand. These professionals are similar to Physician Assistants in that they take patient histories, perform physical exams, order labs, analyze lab results, prescribe medicines, authorize treatments and educate patients and families on continued care. What's the difference? Primarily in educational programs. Online FNP programs are designed for working nurses who wish to advance their career and most will take clinical experience into account. Studies will include advanced courses in pathophysiology, health assessment, pharmacology, anatomy, evidence based practice, research and clinical rotations in local health facilities. Students should verify that the online program chosen holds accreditation from either the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Best Medical Degrees ranks 10 Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees and a Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Degree Programs 2018 to help with your school search.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for Family Nurse Practitioners to grow at a faster than normal rate of 31% between 2016-2026 and PayScale cites annual salary ranges from $72,750-$115,884, depending on location and place of employment.
3. Master of Science Nursing (MSN)
It's been well publicized the United States is experiencing a critical nursing shortage. While you can certainly obtain a nursing education through a community college or four-year program, a Master of Science in Nursing provides a wider range of career opportunities. Students with a MSN degree may become clinical nursing directors, Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) professionals in oncology, neonatology, geriatrics, etc. Additionally, masters prepared nurses are in demand to become nursing instructors. In 2015, over 78,000 students were turned away from nursing schools for lack of qualified instructors. Many Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) programs offer bridge programs allowing students to accelerate their graduate degree program. Additionally, several online programs offer a dual degree in the MSN and MBA (Master of Business Administration). Specializations are typically offered in MSN programs. Best Medical Degrees has ranked several schools offering online MSN degrees (including Nurse Practitioner specialties) in its Best Value Online Master's In Nursing Degree Programs 2018 and 30 Most Affordable Online MSN Degree Programs to help with your school search.
Standard MSN programs will incorporate studies in research, evidence based practice, nursing theories, quality management, epidemiology, healthcare informatics, statistics; and, clinical practicums and internships practiced in the student's home community. The nursing profession has been ranked #15 in Best Health Care Jobs and #18 in The 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News and World Report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the career will grow at a rapid 15% between 2016-2026. Salaries for MSN prepared nurses are reported by PayScale to range between $$89,102-$92,117 annually.
4. Nurse Anesthetist
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) are responsible for providing anesthesia before, during or after surgical or other therapeutic, obstetrical, diagnostic, or pain management. Online CRNA programs are available and may require advanced studies in pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, anesthesia principles, research methods, as well as clinical practicum. These online programs may be hybrid in nature, requiring both online coursework and some classroom and lab work, too. To be eligible for admission to CRNA programs, students must be registered nurses with a minimum of one year critical care experience for admission to programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs and CCNE or ACEN accreditation is also helpful. To become board certified, and licensed, students must pass the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Best Medical Degrees ranked online Nurse Anesthetist programs in its 20 Most Affordable Nurse Anesthesia Degree Programs.
Highly rated by U.S. News and World Report, the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist profession ranks #11 in Best Paying Jobs, #17 in Best Health Care Jobs and #22 in The 100 Best Jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the demand for CRNAs will grow at a rapid 31% rate between 2016-2026 and the average salary expectation, according to PayScale, ranges from $96,492-$182,760 annually.
5. Nurse Midwife
Midwives have served key roles in childbirth for centuries. Now, a respected healthcare profession, Nurse Midwives are graduates of accredited masters degree programs. Online programs are available for currently practicing nurses, which will require studies in diagnostic methods, advanced anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, primary care for women, antepartal and perinatal care and clinical practicum experiences. Students should look for programs which hold accreditation from Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN). Graduates must sit for, and successfully pass, the American Midwifery Certification Board exam. Most states require licensure and certification to practice. Online program degrees and certificate programs were researched by Best Medical Degrees and may be found on 10 Most Affordable Online Nurse-Midwifery Certificates and Degrees .
PayScale estimates Certified Nurse Midwife salaries to be between $72,333-$109,626 depending on region and experience. U.S. News and World Report ranks this profession at #35 in The 100 Best Jobs category; while, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a job growth rate of 31% for this profession.
6. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Approximately 6% of Nurse Practitioners, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2016), specialize in pediatric patient care. Students may choose between either Pediatric Primary Care or Pediatric Acute Care tracts. Online programs for Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) focus on the study of infant, child and adolescent care, evidence based practice, pediatric and neonatal pathophysiology, anatomy, pharmacology, physical assessment and diagnostic techniques, healthcare informatics and will involve clinical experiences. Academic programs should hold accreditation from either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Students entering PNP programs typically are required to hold a current, unencumbered nursing license. State licensure is required for this profession and students should verify their specific state's requirements. Successful students from a PNP program will sit for exams provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCP).
U.S. News and World Report ranks the Nurse Practitioner field at #3 in Best Health Care Jobs and #4 in The 100 Best Jobs and PayScale estimates the average salary for this profession at an annual $86,773. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates salary ranges from $74,300-$175,710 depending on locale and employment area. Job growth in this field is considered to be a rapid 31% over ten years with jobs working in physician offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics and educational facilities. Best Medical Degrees ranks 10 Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees and a Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Degree Programs 2018 which includes programs with pediatric specialties.
7. Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
Baby Boomers, one of the largest American demographic, are rapidly aging and are requiring more specialized care. Gerontology Nurse Practitioners are specially trained in the health needs of this aging population to meet the demands placed by this particular group of patients. Online graduate nursing programs offer studies in advanced pathophysiology, advanced anatomy, aging and healthcare, primary care with a gerontology focus, chronic clinical care, diagnosis and disease management, epidemiology, clinical pharmacology, ethics and, typically, a clinical practicum. These specially trained Nurse Practitioners nurses assess mental status, acute and chronic health issues, educate patients and families on falls, incontinence, changing sleep patterns, etc., understand medication adjustments/compliance and help families and patients identify local resources when necessary. Best Medical Degrees has ranked Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Gerontology Degree Programs 2015, Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Degree Programs 2018, 10 Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees and Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Degree Programs 2018 which will provide information on graduate nursing programs with gerontology specialties. Be certain to look for online programs which are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
With an average of over 46 million Americans reaching the age of 65, the job prospects for Gerontology Nurse Practitioners is growing rapidly at an average of 31% between 2016-2026. These nurses may find employment in hospitals, long term and assisted living facilities and physician offices. PayScale cites annual salary ranges for this profession between $72,723-$114,369. U.S. News and World Report includes this specialty in it's Nurse Practitioner rankings as #3 in Best Health Care Jobs and #4 in The 100 Best Jobs category.
8. Nurse Educator
In 2015, over 78,000 students were turned away from nursing colleges and schools because of a shortage of instructors to teach them and 7% of nursing faculty positions remain unfilled. Schools are developing online Nurse Educator programs to help ease the strain. Best Medical Degrees researched 30 Best Value Online Master's in Nursing Education Programs that offer programs for students to become nursing instructors either in nursing schools or in hospitals/healthcare systems (maintaining staff competencies, professional development and delivery of improved clinical standards). Students will cover coursework in instructional design, concepts of disease management, research, advanced clinical concepts, curriculum design, advanced nursing issues, informatics, advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology and anatomy. Some programs may require a capstone, thesis or practicum experience for completion. Accreditation credentials for online Nurse Educator programs should include the American Association of Colleges and Nursing (CCNE) or The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN). Qualified Nurse Educator students will want to sit for the Certification of Nurse Education (CNE) following graduation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a faster than average job growth for Nurse Educators at 16% over a decade; and, PayScale reports salary ranges from $52,120-$96,828, dependent on employment location.
While clinical psychologists typically require a doctoral degree, many psychology positions are available for masters prepared students. Typical, online graduate psychology degree programs will include studies in measurement and evaluation, development psychology, psychopathology, alcohol and chemical substance abuse, assessment, ethics, standards, child and adolescent psychology, group psychology, etc. Many online programs will also require clinical experience with a qualified preceptor. A Master of Science in Psychology degree prepares students to work in schools, health service agencies, industry; or, work under the supervision of a clinical psychologist in clinical, research or counseling settings. It's recommended that you find programs which hold accreditation of the Standards of Accreditation (SoA); or, at the very least, hold regional accreditation from an organization such as the Higher Learning Commission. Best Medical Degrees ranked Best Value Online Master's in Psychology Programs 2015 to provide a start on your online school search.
PayScale estimates salary ranges for various psychology professions: School Psychologist $43,007-$88,179, Mental Health Case Worker $26,690-$59,850, Psychology Associate $45,009 and Industrial Psychology $39,639- $115,442.
10. Public Health
Masters of Public Health (MPH) professionals are remembered each year when flu season rolls around, when the country experiences health scares such as the U.S. Ebola cases in 2015 or the ongoing Flint, Michigan water crisis. Specializing in the identification of public health concerns, development of safety plans and implementation of preventative methods, graduates of Public Health programs are on the front line of community, state and national health safety. Online masters programs in Public Health study health and policy management, principles of epidemiology and biological foundations of public health, social and behavioral aspects of health, biostatistics, health information, public education concepts and theories, mass communication theories, policy decision making, etc. There are several online Masters of Public Health programs available and Best Medical Degrees identified Best Value Online Master of Public Health Degree Programs of 2015which will give you a starting point for your school search. The school chosen is recommended to hold accreditation from Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Most states will require licensure and certification to practice; and, the National Board of Health Examiners offers the Certified in Public Health (CPH) certification. Masters prepared professionals may find careers as Occupational Health & Safety Specialists, Public Health Educators, Emergency Management Directors, Health Development Specialists or Social and Community Service Managers. Some of these careers may require position specific certification.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide information for Public Health per se; but, the job growth rate is between 8-16% in public health related fields. PayScale estimates salaries for public health workers (dependent on specialty) at: $46,500 for public health nurse, $36,645-$93,164 for emergency management specialists and $51,248-$106,117 for health and safety managers.
As hospitals, healthcare systems, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities and physician groups grow, the role of a healthcare manager is increasingly important. While entry-level positions are available for bachelors prepared students in business, the gold standard for this career is the Master of Business with a healthcare concentration. Many colleges and universities offer online MBA-healthcare specific programs which may be completed in approximately two years. Coursework in these specialized MBA programs include studies in management and organization, healthcare financial management, business and healthcare ethics, healthcare law and regulations, financial management, healthcare informatics, quality assessment, human resource management, economics, marketing theory and practice and typically conclude with a capstone project prior to graduation. Accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB) is desired for a MBA, quality online programs should, at least, offer regional accreditation from a Department of Education approved accrediting organization. You may want to review Best Medical Degrees ranking of Best Value Online Master's in Healthcare Management & Administration Programs 2015.
Nationally, PayScale estimates salaries for healthcare managers to range between $38,662-$95,272. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 20% job growth for this profession between 2016-2026 with job opportunities existing beyond hospitals and health systems in insurance, digital health, medical devices, venture capital, etc.
12. Healthcare Administration
At first glance, the titles of Health Care Management and Health Care Administration seem like the same side of the coin; however, there are subtle, but distinct differences between the two. Many graduate programs use the terms interchangeably; but, if you're looking to become a Healthcare Administrator, you may want to carefully look at the topics you'll study. In general, Healthcare Managers perform a wide range of general management responsibilities. Healthcare Administrators have a multifunctional job needing an understanding of areas administering proper clinical requirements, federal and state regulations, quality assurance, marketing, insurance and reimbursement. Master of Health Administration (MHA) online degrees will concentrate on healthcare economics, healthcare delivery systems, health information and informatics, human resource management, health law and ethics, interpersonal communications, strategic planning and often, a capstone project or internship. Several colleges and universities offer online MHA programs and Best Medical Degrees has ranked accredited MHA programs on its 10 Affordable Online Masters of Healthcare Administration website.
Depending on location and facility, PayScale sets the salary range for this career between $39,042-$101,746 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics sets job growth at 20% over the next decade. U.S. News and World Report estimates students with a masters degree in this field earn approximately $20,000 more a year than those with a bachelors degree.
13. Occupational Therapist
Following a catastrophic injury, a stroke chronic illness or other physical conditons, many patients require help in regaining use of muscles and brain functions to resume a better quality of living. Occupational Therapists, working closely with physicians, physical therapists, social workers and other other healthcare professionals, to evaluate, plan and implement rehabilitative services to help patients regain muscle strength, relieve pain and understand their particular situation. The most important goal of occupational therapy to to allow the patient to regain the ability to conduct day-to-day tasks of everyday living. Online Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) programs are available for students wishing to enter this profession. Best Medical Degrees has ranked 20 Most Affordable Master of Occupational Therapy Degree Programs, which provides information on available programs. Students will be required to complete studies in physiology, anatomy, occupation and rehabilitation science, program assessment and development, evidence based practices, musculoskeletal evaluation, theory and practice, as well as extensive fieldwork (typically completed in the student's home community). Programs take approximately two year to complete.
The need for Masters of Occupational Therapy professionals is expected to grow over the next ten years by a rapid 24%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with job opportunities found in hospitals, skilled nursing homes, VA hospitals and outpatient clinics. U.S. News and World Report ranks this career as #9 in Best Health Care Jobs and #11 in The 100 Best Jobs in the U.S.; and PayScale employer surveys provides salary ranges of $49,575-$84,790 annually.
14. Speech Language Therapist
This specialization career assists patients who are hard of hearing, dyslexic, recovering from traumatic brain injury or stroke and other speech disorders. The National Institute of Health estimates that 1 in 10 people have some sort of communication disorder. More than 8% of children have a speech disorder according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Online masters degree programs are available for this course of study which will also require intensive internships, working with qualified speech-language therapy professionals. Studies may include coursework in major speech disorders, speech science, cognitive language disorders, aphasia and voice disorders, neurology, anatomy and rehabilitative audiology. Job opportunities exist in state and local education services, hospitals and healthcare offices specializing in physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists. Accreditation standards are set by ASHA and implemented by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). As you search for speech language programs, be certain the program holds this accreditation. All states require licensure to practice and graduates are expected to pass the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology. Certification in this field is offered by ASHA's Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC).
With an 18% faster than average job growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a need for over 25,000 qualified speech language therapists by 2020. This profession ranks high as U.S. News and World Report's #22 in Best Health Care Jobs and #38 in The 100 Best Jobs in healthcare. An average salary range for this profession is $40,356-$80,267, according to employer surveys conducted by PayScale.
15. Dietician and Nutritionist
While many dieticians and nutritionists enter the field with a bachelors degree, a masters degree will provide you more options and a better salary. Working in hospitals, healthcare systems, outpatient care centers, assisted living or long term care facilities. These professionals assess patients nutritional and health needs, develop patient meal plans and educate on healthy eating habits, evaluate efficacy of the meal plan and adjust as needed to meet patient nutritional goals. Physicians are increasingly relying on professional nutritionists to partner on overall patient care. For instance, patients undergoing chemotherapy have specific nutritional needs and require specialized dietary interventions and will work with nutritionists to meet those special needs. Online nutritionist programs are available on the graduate level which require coursework in food and nutrition, chemistry, nutrition science, psychology, biology, metabolism, food laws and regulations, etc. Several hours of an internship will be required prior to graduation and several states require licensure and/or certification. Many employers may require dieticians to hold the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) certification offered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration; and, nutritionists may need credentialing from the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. Students should find online programs which hold accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Average national salaries for this career is shown to be $39,289-$77,877 annually, according to PayScale. U.S. News and World Report ranks this profession #73 in The 100 Best Jobs and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 15% job growth rate between 2016-2026. Best Medical Degrees previously ranked 10 Most Affordable Online Masters Degrees in Health, Wellness and Nutrition.
16. Health Information Management
Patient charts are critical to the quality of care patients receive. Increasingly, patient health clinical health data is being digitally recorded at the patient bedside. Electronic medical records are becoming the norm in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Accurate maintenance of these records are vital and health information managers are responsible for that record keeping. Healthcare Informatics managers (HIM) or directors are critical in developing secure methods of security and accurate records to obtain the best outcome for quality patient care. Online masters programs for HIM offer coursework in healthcare administration, foundations of information technology, legal aspects of healthcare administration, application of information technology in healthcare, financial management of healthcare, health data management. Many of these programs require capstone projects for completion. Students should look for online programs which hold accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). There are no licensing requirements for professionals working as a HIM.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't rate HIM specific careers, but it does rate Computer and Information Systems Managers as experiencing a 12% job growth over the next ten years. PayScale surveys show a salary range from $42,993-$118,961 annually. Best Medical Degrees ranked 10 Most Affordable Online Masters Degrees in Healthcare Informatics to help with your online program selection.
17. Clinical Trials Manager
Clinical trials are often misunderstood. Trials are conducted to determine the effectiveness of a medical procedure, pharmaceutical or other treatments. Patients enrolled in clinical trials are provided the standard of care with additional procedures to measure efficacy for a larger group of patients. While possible to work in this profession with a bachelor's degree in healthcare management or other clinical degree (such as a BSN). Online masters programs exist which will provide more concentrated studies. Online degree programs include courses in clinical research methods, regulatory fundamentals, scientific and research methods, statistics, quality assurance, technical writing, pharmaceutical risk and safety management, medical device regulation and development and the program will typically require a capstone project. Clinical Trials Managers will communicate with clinical staff and patients and good communication skills are recommended. Most Clinical Trials Managers will hold licenses in nursing or other clinical licensure. Students should look for programs which will allow them to become certified by The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) or Certified Clinical Project Manager (CCPM). Online programs should hold accreditation from a regional accrediting organization such as Higher Learning Commission or other Department of Education approved agency.
PayScale publishes salary expectations for Clinical Trials Managers between $64,815-$129,707 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics evaluates this career under its Medical and Health Services Managers category with a rapid 20% job growth between 2016-2026. Jobs may be found in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physician offices and long-term care facilities.
18. Master of Social Work
Generally taking two years to complete coursework, the MSW allows students to become Clinical Social Workers and prepares students to provide individual assessment and counseling for clients. It's not necessary to have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) to enter a MSW program; but, it is however, recommended that undergraduate studies include courses psychology, sociology, political science and economics. MSWs are trained to identify people in need of help, by assessing clients' needs and situations such as family crisis, mental health emergencies (such as domestic, elder or child abuse); and, identify solutions to those issues. Clinical Social Workers are able to research and refer clients to social programs to help their particular situation in areas such as healthcare, childcare, applying for state and federal assistance programs as in food stamps, low-income housing, etc. Some online programs offer specialization tracks in families and children, military social work, planning and administration, community organization, health, etc. Most programs require core coursework prior to a two-year, supervised training and experience before obtaining licensure (referred to as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW); and, educational programs should hold accreditation from The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Courses may include studies in social policy, welfare, human behavior, psychopathology, social justice, psychology, social work research, etc. Online degree programs in this field will also require fieldwork experience which is arranged through the school for your local community.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a high 16% job growth between 2016-2026 and PayScale surveys show salary ranges between $30,657-$63,762 across the country. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Clinical Social Work as #5 in Best Social Services Jobs and #63 in The 100 Best Jobs.
Epidemiology is a public health specialization that researches and examines data to identify health issues. For instance, in the event of an outbreak of disease, it's the role of the epidemiologist to determine how the disease is spread, analyze information gathered and work with officials to quell the spread of the disease to a larger population. Online programs are available in this field through epidemiology masters programs or Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a specific epidemiology concentration. Responsible for collecting and analyzing health information through observation, surveys, interviews or collection of bodily fluids or blood samples, epidemiologists use that information to develop and manage public health programs. Epidemiologists communicate their findings to physicians, public officials and those responsible for setting public health policy. Coursework in biology, public health, physical sciences, statistics, medical informatics, survey design, math, biomedical research and healthcare systems. Most online epidemiology programs require fieldwork experiences. Students should verify program accreditation by Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH). Following graduation, careers may be found in local, state and federal governments, the Centers for Disease Control, laboratories, scientific research services, hospitals or universities.
With an average ten year growth rate of 9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, epidemiologists earn (according to PayScale and average $61k a year) with the salary range of $42,929-$99,303. U.S. News and World Report rates epidemiology/medical science to be #1 in Best Science Jobs, #12 in Best STEM Jobs, #52 in The 100 Best Jobs rankings.
20. Family and Marriage Therapist
It's been stated by the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly half of all marriages in the United States ends in divorce. The reasons for this statistic are many, but includes the age at the time of marriage, education, economic situation, religious beliefs and/or premarital pregnancy. The role of the Family and Marriage Therapist (FMT) is to allow patients to express emotions and feelings and work toward solutions and behavioral skills. Online programs in this field are available and will offer coursework in family therapy, alcohol and drug dependency, applied psychology, cognitive and behavioral therapies, treatment planning, psychopathology, counseling techniques, human development, professional ethics, etc. Fieldwork practicum is required, working with a licensed Family and Marriage Therapists, before being licensed (all states require MFTs to be licensed by passing Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Board). Programs in this field should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, (COAMFTE), Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Employment for Family and Marriage Therapists may be found in family counseling services, outpatient centers, healthcare practitioner offices, self-employed or by local and state agencies. Best Medical Degrees ranked Best Online Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy which will help you identify potential degree programs.
PayScale estimates annual salary ranges between $34,257-$66,884 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a much faster than average 23% job growth. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #4 in Best Social Services Jobs and #59 in The 100 Best Jobs.