The healthcare industry is expected to continue growing as we head into 2022 and beyond, primarily driven by our aging population and a greater need for healthcare services. COVID-19 is also creating more demand for healthcare workers, according to the American Hospital Association.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects healthcare-related careers to grow 16% across the industry, which is faster than the national average. This growth is expected to add around 2.6 million new healthcare jobs between 2020-2030.
Here are some of the fastest-growing healthcare jobs and the educational background you need to get started in the field in 2022:
1. Nurse Practitioners (NP)
If you’re already a nurse looking to advance or pivot your career, completing your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and to become a nurse practitioner might be something to consider. Although responsibilities can vary by specialization, NPs generally provide advanced care to patients such as diagnosing and treating a variety of illnesses, prescribing medication and implementing treatment practices. They work in a variety of nursing environments such as hospitals, physician offices and outpatient care centers.
Nurse practitioners represent the second fastest growing occupation in the nation, and U.S. News and World Report ranked nurse practitioners as No. 1 in a list of Best Healthcare Careers in 2022.
2. Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
- Job outlook: 35% increase from 2020-2030 (BLS)
- Average salary: $60,740 per year/$29.20 per hour (BLS)
- Education requirement: Associate degree
- How long is the program? Less than two years (typically 20 months)
Although there are some similarities between an OTA and a PTA, they are two different careers. PTAs work with patients who have injuries or health conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. They provide hands-on therapy, observe and document patient progress and implement treatment plans under the supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs typically work in health practitioner offices or in hospitals.
In order to become a PTA, you will need to earn an associate degree from an accredited PTA program like the one at Herzing University, which can be completed in as little as 20 months. You will also need to take the National Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants (NPTE) in order to be a licensed PTA to work in the U.S.
3. Medical and Health Service Managers
- Job outlook: 32% increase from 2020-2030 (BLS)
- Average salary: $119,840 per year/$57.61 per hour (BLS)
- Education requirement: Varies by employer — typically a bachelor’s or master’s degree
- How long is the program? Varies by degree choice and experience level
Healthcare managers direct, plan and coordinate health services by managing a healthcare practice. They are responsible for staying on top of all the changes in the industry, as well as communicating and implementing these changes to smoothly facilitate the business of healthcare. They typically work in hospitals, physician offices or nursing and residential care facilities.
Most healthcare managers have at least a bachelor’s degree, but some facilities prefer or require a master’s degree. You can earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Herzing in as little as 32 months while earning credits toward a master’s degree through Herzing’s dual credit option. A Master of Science in Healthcare Administration can be completed online in as few as 16 months.
Although the typical salary is based on many factors, such as education level and experience, healthcare management could be a high paying career. In May 2019, the average annual salary was $115,160 with the highest 10% earning more than $189,000 annually.
4. Medical Assistants
- Job outlook: 18% increase from 2020-2030 (BLS)
- Average salary: $38,190 per year/$18.36 per hour (BLS)
- Education requirement: College diploma, or associate degree
- How long is the program? 10-20 months
Becoming a medical assistant is one of the fastest ways to start a career in healthcare by giving individuals a foot in the door. Medical assistants generally begin with a postsecondary degree such a diploma or associate degree in medical assisting although requirements vary by state and employer. You could complete your diploma in medical assisting from Herzing in as little as 10-12 months and your associate degree in medical assisting in as few as 16 months.
The duties and responsibilities of a medical assistant vary based on the role and what the employer’s needs. Many medical assistants will carry out both administrative and clinical tasks in a healthcare organization. Generally, their responsibilities include recording patient information, measuring vital signs, scheduling patient appointments and helping physicians with patient examinations.