Health Care Professions in Demand: Beyond 2013

The youngest people of the baby boomer generation turned 65 in 2011, which means they started retiring. This generation is currently the largest segment of population and means that the number of careers in the medical field will need to increase to meet the demands of this aging population.

This does leave many health care professions in demand for the future. The fastest growing is home health and personal care aides, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase in the number of jobs is expected to tally more than 1.3 million by 2020.

But heres the problem: A home health and personal care aide requires less than a high school education and does not pay well. Eighty percent of these aides earn between $16,300 and $29,390. This is not a sustainable job for many of us.

We need to look at medical fields in demand for the future but pay well and offer advancement, too. All positions listed below require a minimum of an associates degree and have an average median salary of $45,000 per year.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 44 Associates $64,380
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides 41 Associates $47,490
Physical Therapists 39 Doctoral $76,310
Dental Hygienists 38 Associates $68,250
Audiologists 37 Doctoral $66,660
Veterinarians 36 Doctoral $82,040
Occupational Therapists 33 Masters $72,320
Optometrists 33 Doctoral $94,990
Physician Assistants 30 Masters $86,410
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians and Vascular Technologists 29 Associates $49,410


Diagnostic medical sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonographers are also known as ultrasound technicians. They use medical imaging equipment to direct sound waves into a patients body. The waves, which will be represented on a computer screen,will help diagnose medical conditions.

These technicians currently occupy 53,700 jobs, but are expected to add another 23,400 positions by 2020; this is a 44 percent increase. An associates degree is required and passing certification exams, too.

Their median annual salary is $64,830 $30.95 per hour with 80 percent earning between $44,900 to $88,490.

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupation therapy assistants and aides assist patients fill out billing and insurance forms. They also assist occupational therapists, who helps patients gain the necessary skills for everyday life.

Although an associates degree will train you for this position, you may gain the experience working in a clinical setting.

With more than 36,000 jobs, occupational therapy assistant and aide positions are expected to increase 41 percent by 2020. That means 14,800 more jobs.

Their median annual wage is $47,400, which is $22.83 per hour. Most earn between $33,110 to $70,790.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists develop rehabilitation programs for patients, which assists them become mobile after an injury, illness, or surgery.

This position does require a doctoral or professional degree. This is a good option if you already have a bachelors and are looking for a career change.

Because physical therapist positions are expected to be fast growing, you should have no issues finding a job or starting your own practice. The BLS expects this position to increase 39 percent by 2020, adding 77,400 more positions.

A average yearly wage for physical therapists is $76,310.

Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists do the dentists dirty work: They clean teeth, check for oral diseases, and educate patients about maintaining oral health.

Despite the dirty work, they earn a good wage: $68,250, with 80 percent earning between $45,000 to $93,820.

Dental hygienist positions are a fast growing medical career. There are currently 181,800 of these workers, and there are an expected 68,500 more needed by 2020. This is a 38 percent increase.

An associates degree is needed.


Audiologists are doctors trained to diagnose and treat hearing- and balance-related problems. They also sell and fit hearing aids, along with teach coping skills to deaf patients.

Although this does not require medical school, it does require a doctor of audiology degree.

The BLS expects 37 percent growth in this heath care field, but there are 13,000 of these workers at current. This means growth of 4,500 new positions.

Audiologists earn a median annual salary of $66,660, which is $32.05 per hour. Most earn between $42,590 and $102,210.


Veterinarian positions are expected to grow 36 percent by 2020. These are animal doctor jobs which involve examining, diagnosing, and treating pets, livestock, and zoo animals.

Veterinarians earn an average annual wage of $82,040 $39.44 an hour. Most animal doctors earn earn between $49,910 to $145,230.

A doctorate degree is required.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists help patients regain daily life skills, which may have been lost due to a serious illness, injury, or disability.

Although a masters degree is needed, occupational therapists position is a medical career that pays well, with the annual median at $72,320. Most make between $48,290 to $102,520.

There are about 108,800 workers who hold this job currently. There are an expected 36,400 more needed in the next decade, which gives it a 33 percent expected increase in positions.


Optometrists examine and diagnose vision issues, including diseases of the eye. An optometrist prescribes eyeglasses or contacts.

A doctorate degree is needed, but once you start practicing, you can expect a median annual salary of $94,990 $45.67 per hour. Many optometrists earn between $49,630 to $166,400 per year.

Although the BLS lists a 33 percent increased need for optometrists, there are only 34,200 positions currently. This means an increase of 11,300 positions.

Physician Assistants

A physician assistant examines, diagnoses and treats common maladies under the supervision of a physician. But the physician may not be in same building.

Physician assistants often serve as a primary care provider in rural, under-served areas. Expect about 24,700 more PAs needed by 2020, which is a 30 percent increase.

A masters degree is required, but 80 percent earn between $57,450 and $117,720 with the median wage at $86,410 or $41.54 per hour.

Cardiovascular Technologists

Cardiovascular technologists operate medical imaging equipment, such as an electrocardiograph, to map out heart and blood vessels in a patient.

Many medical imaging workers transfer into this position. An associates degree is required. The annual median salary is $49,410, which is $23.75 per hour.

With about 49,400 current employees, the expected amount of growth is 29 percent about 14,500 more workers.

I hope this information about health care professions in demand will help you.