The healthcare field is projected to see above-average growth in the next ten years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health expenditures are also expected to make up roughly 20 percent of the nation’s economy by 2031. The demand for healthcare professionals will add an estimated 1.8 million new jobs each year over the next decade, making now the time to prepare for a healthcare career.
Given the positive growth projections, it’s no surprise that several healthcare careers have earned a spot on the annual U.S. News and World Report list of the 100 best jobs in America. Factors such as salary, work-life balance, and future job prospects were considered when choosing which jobs made the list.
Most healthcare positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. The University of Wisconsin offers both online competency-based and collaborative programs, allowing graduates to build the skills and knowledge that will position them for highly sought-after jobs in both clinical and non-clinical healthcare settings.
The following is a look at some of the jobs available within the ever-growing healthcare field:
Medical and Health Services Manager
U.S. News ranking: #3
Annual median salary: $104,830
Medical and health services manager was among the top three best jobs in this year’s U.S. News list, ranking higher than careers as a physician or dentist. With a rise in group practices and elderly patients in need of more options for care, the demand for healthcare administrators has rapidly increased.
Medical and health services managers are responsible for planning and coordinating services in health facilities to improve patient care at an administrative level. In addition, they may collaborate with insurance providers, vendors, and other administrators, depending on their organization. Successful health services managers should possess strong communication and problem-solving skills, along with the ability to make important decisions.
According to the BLS, health services managers will see a projected job growth of 28 percent from 2022 to 2032, which is significantly faster than the national average of 3 percent. Couple a high salary with job satisfaction, and you have one of the most in-demand professions.
For those interested in becoming a medical and health services manager, a health sciences bachelor’s degree can put you on a path for success. You can also consider the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Healthcare Administration, which gives you the knowledge to improve health facilities from within by developing skills in strategic leadership, workforce development, healthcare law and policy, and healthcare financial management.
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U.S. News ranking: #17
Annual median salary: $81,220
Registered nurses work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to care for patients. In addition to clinical care, nurses connect patients to resources and inform them of best practices for their health conditions. Other responsibilities include operating medical equipment, performing diagnostic tests, and administering treatments.
Nurses must be compassionate, have effective communication skills, and be detail-oriented to provide the best care possible for patients. Nurses can work in many different settings, and there are a number of pathways for career progression. Nurse practitioners are one of the fastest-growing jobs in the nation, with the BLS predicting employment growth to increase 45 percent over the next ten years.
To become a registered nurse, you must be licensed in your state. A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an approved program can lead to more opportunities for your career, including roles in administration, consulting, and nursing education. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program offered through UW Flexible Option will further build your critical thinking and leadership skills so you can take the next step in your healthcare career.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
U.S. News ranking: #19
Annual median salary: $63,450
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) help patients learn to perform daily tasks that allow them to live independently. Many of their patients have been injured in a traumatic accident or are experiencing a lifelong condition, so OTAs need to show empathy and encouragement in what can be the hardest periods of patients’ lives. Treatment also requires teamwork, as occupational therapy assistants provide care based on the goals established by the occupational therapist in charge.
Similar to health services managers, the job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is looking bright: the BLS predicts an employment growth of 23 percent over the next decade. The position is especially popular for nontraditional students wanting to return to school and change careers.
Occupational therapy assistants must have an associate degree from an accredited program and 16 weeks of fieldwork. If you’d like the opportunity to advance your career and become an occupational therapist, a bachelor’s degree in health sciences can help you prepare for a graduate or professional school program. The UW-Milwaukee Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences: Health Sciences program offered through UW Flexible Option features an interdisciplinary course load that will help you develop in-depth healthcare knowledge for career progression.
U.S. News ranking: #43
Annual median salary: $103,810
Biochemists study the principles of living organisms and biological processes such as cell development and disease. Sometimes referred to as molecular biologists or cellular biologists, biochemists conduct research and scientific experiments to find solutions to problems and create new products. They’re also responsible for managing laboratory teams and researching the effects of drugs and nutrients.
Biochemists who work in healthcare are responsible for researching treatments for cancer and other diseases. They help develop tests to detect infections and genetic disorders by using their research findings for new drugs and medicines. Biochemists must have analytical skills and be able to communicate effectively when sharing their research reports. They can also go on to pursue careers as professors and teachers.
A PhD is required to work in independent research and development positions, but those with a master’s degree are still qualified for entry-level biochemistry roles. In the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology students will analyze data sets to solve biological problems and learn the practices necessary to test new drugs. In the research and development specialization track, students will also learn about product implementation across healthcare and other industries. The UW Applied Bioinformatics Graduate Certificate is available for working professionals who want to learn how to process biological and molecular data from research and further their career in healthcare.
Medical Records Technician
U.S. News ranking: #48
Average median salary: $47,180
Technological advances in healthcare and the adoption of electronic health records have made medical records technicians an essential part of healthcare. Also known as medical coders, medical records technicians are responsible for pulling information from patients’ medical histories and turning them into universal medical codes, which are used for insurance reimbursement and electronic health records. All of this is completed while ensuring patients’ personal information and records are kept confidential.
The position is a great option for those who are interested in healthcare but would prefer not to work directly with patients. If you already have a degree, the UW-Milwaukee Health Care Informatics Certificate offered through UW Flexible Option will help you learn the fundamental skills to work as a medical records technician and other healthcare technology roles.
The University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology can also equip you with the tools necessary to thrive in the field. The bachelor’s completion program will help you learn about medical terminology, coding systems, and data security. The UW HIMT degree also qualifies you to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam to earn the credential.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
U.S. News ranking: #53
Average median salary: $49,710
Substance abuse affects families and communities every day. Many of those suffering from substance abuse have not received proper treatment, which for some has led to fatal results. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, deaths related to drugs have increased over the last decade, and the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids has more than tripled in the state since 2010.
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors treat and assist those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, as well as those experiencing mental health disorders. Some counselors also run outreach programs to help spread awareness of addiction and its harmful effects. The position ranks as one of the top social services jobs in the country, and the BLS predicts the role will see a growth of 18 percent from 2022 to 2032.
Many states require certification to become a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor. Mental health or human services professionals who are working toward a bachelor’s degree and are interested in this role can consider the University of Wisconsin-Madison Substance Use Disorders Counselor Certificate program offered through UW Flexible Option. The program is state pre-approved and fulfills the 360 specialized educational hours needed to become a substance abuse counselor (SAC) or clinical substance abuse counselor (CSAC) in Wisconsin.
Community Health Worker
U.S. News ranking: #62
Annual median salary: $46,190
Community health workers help others learn healthy behaviors by promoting wellness. As public health workers on the frontline, they work to eliminate the barriers that limit access to healthcare and advocate for community members who require more resources.
Community health workers serve as a bridge between the community and healthcare providers to coordinate care, and they often work in the field to meet with community members and collect public health data. Those in the role work closely with registered nurses and social workers to identify specific needs and health issues for different groups in their community. Since some groups include people who have faced oppression or experienced poverty, they also aim to provide social support by creating a sense of belonging.
Community health workers typically require a one-year certificate in wellness or other form of postsecondary education. The University of Wisconsin Sustainability and Well-being Graduate Certificate is a great option for those wanting to create a healthier and more equitable community. If you wish to progress further in the field, the UW Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management can give you the knowledge to take on more leadership roles.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
U.S. News ranking: #64
Annual median salary: $78,210
Careers as diagnostic medical sonographers come out near the top of the Best Healthcare Support Jobs section in the U.S. News ranking. Sonographers use ultrasound technology to conduct tests and diagnose medical conditions for patients. Professionals in this field are able to specialize in different parts of the body to capture images and ensure the most accurate diagnosis.
Some examples of positions include:
- Cardiac sonographer
- Musculoskeletal sonographer
- Vascular sonographer
Sonographers are often the first point of contact for patients who might be nervous about getting monitored for certain conditions, which makes strong social and communication skills invaluable. Sonographers also work with physicians before, during, and after procedures to share important findings from the images they’ve created.
While an associate degree is commonly required to become a diagnostic medical sonographer, students may seek a bachelor’s degree in order to move into management or teaching. If you want to leverage your two-year or technical degree, a bachelor’s degree in health sciences or diagnostic imaging provides a great foundation to advance to other healthcare occupations.
Clinical Laboratory Technician
U.S. News ranking: #86
Annual median salary: $57,380
Clinical laboratory technicians examine bodily fluids and collect tissue samples that physicians use to diagnose patients. Lab techs use microscopes, cell counters, and other lab equipment to analyze the samples.
Technicians need to log data from tests and enter the results into a patient’s medical record, so skills in information literacy and a strong attention to detail are crucial.
An applied associate degree is required to become a technician, but a bachelor’s degree sets them up for more advanced roles in the lab. The UW-Milwaukee Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences: Health Sciences program offered through UW Flexible Option will qualify students for positions such as clinical laboratory technologists, who supervise lab techs and perform work on more complex procedures.
Advancing Your Career Through the UW Flexible Option
If you’re seeking new roles in healthcare or looking for a career change, UW Flexible Option programs can provide you with the foundation needed to get there.
If you are at the beginning of your educational journey, you can fulfill your general education courses with the UW Associate of Arts and Sciences degree before moving on to earning your bachelor’s degree. Or if you have previous college experience, a team of specialists can evaluate your credits to obtain a bachelor’s degree more quickly.
UW Flexible Option programs feature 100 percent online courses and follow a competency-based format. For graduate Jordan Schumacher, the self-paced structure and flexibility of the UW-Milwaukee Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences: Health Sciences program helped to balance her busy schedule as a physical therapist assistant.
“You can make this program what you want it to be,” she said. “You can take it as slow or as fast as you need so that it doesn’t overwhelm your life. I never knew a format like UW Flexible Option existed, but I’m so glad it does.”
The UW Flexible Option gave Jordan more options in the future, and she was able to take what she learned in courses and immediately apply them to her work with patients. Simply put, Jordan says enrolling in the program was the “best decision” for her career.
“I have my degree and a job that I love, and now I am confident in branching out to other opportunities,” she added.