The Most in Demand Health Careers
Medical jobs are almost always in demand, but these jobs were the ones with the most expected growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational projections report.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides are projected at the highest rate of growth, with a 47 percent growth expected in the 10-year period ending in 2026. While the pay for home health aids can be just above minimum wage, the plus side is the availability of jobs and the fact that no college degree is required.
Physician assistant (PA) is high-paying healthcare career that is expected to grow 37 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026. Physician assistants must have a bachelor’s degree plus a master’s degree from a physician assisting program.
A growth rate of 36 percent is expected for nurse practitioners. This is a high-paying field, similar to physician assistants. These advanced practice nurses have a high responsibility for assessing and treating patients.
Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistant careers are expected to grow 31 percent by 2026. These professionals work with physical therapists, assisting them with implementing the rehabilitation exercises and therapies. It does not require as many years of college as a PT career. It is also a great stepping stone to a career as a physical therapist. In addition, physical therapy aides are expected to see a growth rate of 29 percent.
Medical assisting is another health career that does not require a college degree, Its growth is expected to be 29 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026. Medical assistants assist nurses and doctors with basic tasks such as drawing blood, giving injections, taking the patient’s vital signs, prepping exam rooms, and assisting with minor procedures. While there are certification programs for medical assisting, most medical assistants are trained on the job.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
The need for occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow 29 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026.
The outlook for physical therapists is a growth rate of 28 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026. Students entering the field today are required to have a doctorate level degree.
Registered nurses (RN) were third on the list for top growth in medical careers, but the growth rate (while still high) is slowing. Looking forward, a 15 percent growth rate is expected in the 10-year period ending in 2026, adding over 400,000 jobs. Registered nursing requires at least an associate’s degree, which is the most common education level for RNs according to the BLS, but many RNs also have a bachelor’s degree as well. Because they have some college-level education, RNs are paid higher than medical assistants and home health aides.
Physicians and Surgeons
Demand for physicians is expected to grow by 13 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026, with the addition of about 91,400 jobs. This is an alarming statistic, as physicians are already in such high demand, and some experts estimate that as many as one out of every ten physician openings goes unfilled. Due to the high level of education (medical doctorate) required to become a physician or surgeon, these professionals are among the highest paid in the healthcare industry.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
LVN/LPN jobs have a projected growth rate of 12 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2026. The rate has growth is still faster than average but has slowed somewhat. Becoming an LPN or LVN doesn’t require as much college as becoming an RN. Therefore, the pay for LVNs & LPNs is typically less than that of RNs. LVNs and LPNs are a “step above” medical assistants in terms of pay grade and education level requirements, however.