Figure Out What's Next

What Does it Take to Break into Health Care?

back to school career change encore career mark miller Dec 15, 2009
doctor with child

by Mark Miller

photo via pixabay

Health care jobs are expected to continue growing rapidly through 2016.

Here's how you can break into the field.

Health care employment continue to grow rapidly despite the economy’s overall weakness. Now, a new report on career transition offers advice on how to break into the sector.

Why is health care on the rise? The population is aging, utilization of health care services is rising and the industry received a $59 billion shot in the arm from the federal economic stimulus bill for research, prevention initiatives and a national health information technology infrastructure.

The sector is on track to open 3 million new jobs in the period from 2006 to 2016—a 22-percent increase. That according to the new report on encore career transitions from Civic Ventures, the non-profit think tank. Along with health care, the report offers advice and resources for transitions to careers in education, government and the environmental sector.

The nursing profession faces an especially acute shortage of skilled labor, the result of the health sector’s projected growth, expected retirements and a shortage of training programs for new nurses.

One recent study projects a shortage of 500,000 registered nurses by the year 2025. There are similar shortages projected in the ranks of pharmacists, and home-care aid workers. Positions also exist for people who aren’t trained medical professionals—music and art therapy, occupational health and safety and social workers.

The Civic Ventures report offers useful tips on how to explore more than 80 health career options, and steps for getting started, including:

Talk to others in the field. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask around or contact professional associations that may put you in touch with members. Another option: Post questions to online message boards related to your
 profession of interest.

Determine your commitment level. A career in the health field usually takes some type of certification or training. Becoming a registered nurse, for example, could take between one and four years full time, depending on your previous course work and the pace of the program. 

Look at area colleges. See what nearby community and four year colleges offer and ask whether the training options will fulfill your state’s requirements.

Check program availability. Many nursing programs, for example, have waiting lists. If your local college has one, consider adding your name and taking general education courses in the meantime. Or you may train in a related health care occupation (technician, aide, etc.) and continue to pursue your long-term goal.

Consider how you will pay for the training. Do you have savings or an individual retirement account? Will you need student loans? (See Question 5: How do I finance the transition to an encore career?)



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