There’s a danger in discussing “best jobs” for college graduates or any other segment of the workforce because so much of what makes a job good or bad depends on the individual who holds it.
Finding the right job for you is as much about fit as it is about the occupational outlook, median pay, or potential for growth. The best job in the world won’t make you happy if it’s a bad fit for your interests.
That said, most of us have to earn a living, so it makes sense to consider the future when picking any career. In addition to feeding your heart and spirit, your job needs to help you keep the lights on and the rent paid. In that sense, some jobs are obviously much better than others.
The healthcare industry has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, even when other sectors were suffering from the effects of the recession. If you want a high-paying, fast-growing job that makes a real difference in the world, you can’t do better than healthcare jobs.
The good news is that not every healthcare job requires extensive training undergone by doctors. If you’re interested in medicine and willing to invest some time and money in education – but don’t feel like spending the next 10-plus years in school – one of these career paths might be perfect for you.
Best Healthcare Jobs for College Grads
Escalating and unsustainable healthcare costs suggest that professionals who can deliver cost-effective solutions to patients will be in high demand. Hospitals and medical practices are relying more and more on Physician Assistants (PA) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) to handle relatively routine diagnostic and treatment regimens.
Preparation costs for these professions are much more reasonable than for medical school and PAs/NPs can complete their programs in much less time with far less debt than medical students. Malpractice insurance for NPs and PAs is much lower than the rates for doctors given the level of supervision that they usually receive.
Median salaries hover around $90,000. Students need to have a reasonably high aptitude for science/math and a solid academic record to gain access to programs and successfully complete the curriculum.
NPs and PAs must also be patient, empathetic, skilled communicators with strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
Physical Therapists (PT) are also in great demand especially given demographic trends with an aging population. PTs must understand the mechanics of the human body so that they can safely and effectively intervene to help patients recover physical capacities.
PTs must have a sensitivity to the needs of injured patients and be able to cope with the complaints of clients who are in pain.
PTs often must push patients through uncomfortable exercises to help them regain functionality. Strong analytical abilities, competence in anatomy and physics as well as a willingness to keep up with emerging treatment modalities are requirements. A high GPA is required for admission to graduate programs. Most newly trained PTs now complete clinical doctorate programs, which take three years to complete. PTs earn median annual salaries of around $85,000.
Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA) support the efforts of PTs. PTAs complete a two-year associate's degree and earn median salaries of around $45,000.
Audiologists will be in high demand especially since large numbers of aging boomers will experience hearing loss. Audiologists assess hearing proficiency, treat hearing and balance problems, develop plans to prevent hearing loss and dispense hearing aids as well as other assistive technology.
Individuals planning to enter this field must complete a doctoral degree which normally takes four years. They should have a strong science background, relate well to those who are hearing impaired, have excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities.
It helps to be entrepreneurial since many Audiologists set up a private practice. Median salaries hover around $75,000.
Occupational Therapists (OT) serve those who are recovering from injury or incapacitation as well as those coping with physical or emotional disabilities which interfere with everyday living. Given the increased propensity for aging individuals to incur injuries and suffer from illnesses like strokes which diminish capacities, OTs will be in high demand in the years to come.
OTs focus on helping patients to regain skills needed to function effectively in school, the workplace, home, and institutions. They make recommendations on how the environment can be adapted to accommodate the limitations that their clients face.
OTs need to possess a great deal of patience, empathy, and creativity in resolving problems. A broad background in science and psychology is critical to addressing the needs of the whole patient. There are many paths to certification for OTs either at the masters or doctoral level. The median annual salary for an OT is about $82,000.
Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA) help OTs to rehabilitate patients. OTAs complete two-year programs and earn median annual salaries of about $56,000.