How many times has someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? You might have had a solid answer to that question as far back as elementary school. Most likely, you're in high school or early college, interested in medical careers and wondering which fits you best and if you have the time and resources to go for it. Or perhaps you're looking for a career change with decent salary and job growth but without extensive schooling.
The medical field is as varied as many other professional careers. Some career paths require as little as a couple months of training before you're able to work. Others offer reasonable programs of two to four years and result in professional licenses as well as college degrees. There are also advanced careers in medicine, which require more schooling but offer higher salaries and better job availability. With these degrees, there's typically greater room for advancement, which does mean more schooling but also leads to higher pay. Some of the best medical careers, such as registered nurses, medical laboratory technologists and dental hygienists, balance education requirements, job availability and decent pay. You can also read our articles on medical careers to gain more insight into selecting a job in this field.
As with any career field, you want to consider factors that will affect you when you're preparing to enter the career and while you're actually working. For one, you want to consider your current resources. Medical careers require various levels of education requirements. You also want to look at the average salary ranges for each position. Keep in mind that the higher the salary ranges, the more intensive the education requirements will be. The best health care jobs for you will likely be a balance of both great salary and acceptable requirements. Consider the following as you decide between the different careers:
When looking at any career, one of the major questions is what type of salary you can expect. Like any job, salaries vary according to what city you live in, how much education and prior experience you have, and who your employer is. However, the national average for salary estimates in the upper 10 percent and the lower 10 percent and the median average can give you a general idea. The upper 10 percent estimate can give you an indication of what your long-term career goals could be, while the low wage shows you about what you can expect to be making in an entry-level position.
Medical careers typically require a minimal level of training and education. Usually this means applying to and completing programs that last anywhere from one to four years. You generally need at least a high school degree or equivalent education level to apply for the programs. Each program differs on whether you receive an associate, bachelor's or postsecondary degree or certificate at its end. A career field that lets you get into the field quickly but with a college degree means you can start working sooner and leave yourself opportunity to go further into your schooling.
Medical careers in general tend to have a higher demand and therefore lower unemployment rates, better growth rates and higher projected job openings. You need to consider all the numbers, though. A job that might have an amazing growth rate might only have several thousand jobs across the nation, which might make it more difficult to find convenient employment. You also want to consider job advancement, as many higher-paying and in-demand positions may require specialization or advanced job titles.
You want to consider both workplace opportunities and scheduling flexibility when selecting a medical career. Some careers offer positions in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools and laboratories. These types of careers mean that there's a better chance of finding a job that works for you. You also want to consider scheduling. Because health care is a 24/7 necessity for many people, these medical careers often require staff around the clock, even on holidays and weekends. With entry-level positions, be prepared to work the least desirable shifts until you gain seniority.
Like every major life decision, choosing a career from the medical field can be a daunting task. Not only will you have to devote a great deal of time and resources into gaining education and training, once you've got the degree and entered the field, you might be working in the field until retirement. However, a job in the medical field can be a rewarding career well worth the effort.