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How Can You Help Your Career With An Advanced Degree in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is constantly growing. With over 4 million jobs expected to be added between 2012 and 2022, this sector has surpassed all other industries in growth prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (BLS). Providing services in treating illness, maintaining health and fighting diseases, getting people back on their feet is the main purpose of this industry.

Healthcare Industry Prospects

Growth in Enrollments - With the passage of time, more and more people are enrolling in advance level degrees in healthcare.

For undergraduates, health professions and related programs come in at number four on the list of most popularly enrolled majors.

The number of associate degrees awarded in this field has also gone up from 82,400 in 2001-02 to 218,000 in 2011-12.

Similarly, for master’s programs, the number of degrees awarded was at 43,600 in 2001-02 and within 10 years, it grew to a high 83,900, an increase of nearly 100%.

Growth in Jobs - Healthcare occupations are expected to grow by 28% from 2012 to 2022. This growth figure is higher than any other service occupation. Employment in this sector largely remains unaffected even under adverse economic conditions. The upward trend is driven by several factors:

  1. Aging Population - As the baby boomers reach old age, the average lifespan in the US is rising. The elderly, due to their weakened immune systems, are more prone to diseases. They often have chronic illnesses that require consistent medical attention. Problems such as high blood pressure and heart diseases result in a constant need for medical care. Besides, there is a growing number of healthy senior citizens seeking preventive care methodologies, adding to the already rising demand for healthcare and fitness products.
  2. Growth in Healthcare Information Technology - Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) is the mechanization of medical procedures. It speeds up medical processes, reduces errors and improves overall patient care. To be able to understand and operate complex new machines, skilled personnel are required. This opens up more opportunities for people wishing to enter the healthcare industry.
  3. Growth in Obesity Rate - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese. Not only is obesity a medical issue in itself, but it also results in other health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, etc. This will subsequently increase the demand for healthcare professionals and medical knowledge.

To simplify, the employment data has been divided into five sectors. In 2013, there were over a total of 15.8 million jobs in these sectors, with the highest percentage being in private, federal, state and local hospitals.

Industry Sector Total Employment Percentage
Hospitals, private, federal, state and local 6,110,000 39%
Offices of health practitioners 4,057,000 26%
Nursing and residential care facilities 3,238,000 20%
Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services 1,194,000 8%
Home healthcare services 1,238,000 8%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Healthcare Degrees

You can enter the healthcare job market with different levels of education. A simple, 2-year associate degree, a diploma or a certification might be enough to land you entry-level positions. These basic level qualifications will focus on general education courses with a few specific health care management courses.

For most healthcare jobs, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement. This will take almost four years to complete and will be more complex than a 2-year qualification. You will be required to pass a set of core courses along with specialized courses according to your specialization.

A master degree in healthcare management focuses on specialized courses of a more advance level. It typically takes 2 years or more to complete this degree.

Doctorate degrees in healthcare management involve intense studies, a large amount of research and an extensive thesis, taking typically three to five years to complete.

A professional degree is an alternate to a doctorate degree. It provides you with a more profession based approach instead of a research based approach.

How do Different Healthcare Degrees Pay?

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this one question:

What exactly will you be earning with your healthcare degree?

According to the United States Census Bureau, the following will be your work life earnings estimates according to your educational qualifications:

Educational Attainment Work-life Earnings
Bachelor’s Degree $2,288,000
Master’s Degree $2,757,000
Professional Degree $5,435,000
Doctorate Degree $3,511,000
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Getting a master’s degree after your bachelor’s will result in an increase of nearly 21% in your work-life earnings, whereas getting a professional degree after your master’s degree will give you a nearly 97% raise in your work-life earnings. If you go for a doctorate after your master’s, your earnings might go up by over 27%.

What do Different Healthcare Jobs Pay?

The healthcare sector is vast in terms of the sort of jobs it offers. With an advance level degree in medicine and healthcare, all of these occupations might open up for you.

Occupation Projected Job Openings, 2010-2020 Median Salary, 2012 Work Experience
Child, family, and school social workers 128,300 $41,530 None
Clergy 79,900 $44,060 None
Mental health and substance abuse social workers 69,400 $39,980 None
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists 52,100 $57,580 None
Directors, religious activities and education 44,500 $37,280 1 to 5 years
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 37,300 $48,190 None
Health Educators 36,900 $48,790 None
Dieticians and nutritionists 35,400 $55,240 None
Occupational health and safety health specialists 25,700 $66,790 None
Recreational therapists 11,900 $42,280 None
Athletic trainers 11,900 $42,090 None
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Advancement

With an increasing number of healthcare management graduates in the market, the competition is intensifying. Everybody wants a piece of the ever expanding industry. In addition to that, the industry is becoming more and more complex in nature with a constantly shifting landscape. So how do you stay ahead and differentiate yourself from the rest of the potential workforce?

Around 960,000 people hold a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. Less than fifty percent of these go on to get a master’s degree. More people go for a professional degree because of the high earnings associated with it. Only around 255,000 people end up getting a doctorate degree in biological sciences. This could be attributed to the fact that a doctorate degree is strongly research based and not everyone enjoys extensive research. With such strong competition at the bachelor’s level, the advance degrees seem to be significantly attractive options with less competition and more earnings. No degree guarantees employment. However, getting an advance degree in healthcare might just be the nudge that your career needs.

An advance degree in healthcare not only helps you in terms of potential salary increases, but it also contributes greatly to developing your personality and mindset. It prepares you to take on more responsibility and fulfill leadership roles in different healthcare settings. The healthcare industry is not just restricted to taking care of patients. There is a back end to this picture as well. Professionals who work in healthcare administration and management supervise operations, doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities. They are in-charge of the human resource required at their facility, the administration, pharmaceutical requirements, keeping check of the stock, dealing with lawsuits against their facility and so on.

So when you are thinking of going to college for an advance degree in healthcare, don’t only consider how much you will have to spend for it; think about how much you will gain from it.


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