As the world changes, so do American industries.
New technologies, shifting business practices and all sorts of other variables might help or hurt any given industry in the United States. One method of narrowing down your job search is to pick a field with expected job growth.
If analysts expect an industry to create more jobs in the future, then training for it now should theoretically present you with many opportunities in the future. According to Business Insider, the health-care industry is expected to experience the largest job growth by 2020 due to an aging population and the effects of recent health-care legislation.
The Department of Labor collated the top 12 careers in the medical industry by comparing stress, physical demand, job creation outlook, pay and competitiveness.
1. Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers are tasked with solving industry-wide medical problems. If it can be fixed with a new technique, material or piece of equipment, these are the people that try to find a solution. Considering the vast breadth and depth of medicine, biomedical engineers tend to be highly specialized. Average salary: $86,960; projected job growth: 62%
2. Dental Hygienist
Most people in America have spent some time in the dentist's chair, so what they do should be familiar. The job requires an advanced medical degree, but the salary and job security tend to be worth the effort. This is a job that inherently requires good bedside manner, so if you think you can be social while scraping and poking teeth, this may be the right path for you. Average salary: $70,210; projected job growth: 38%
3. Occupational Therapist
Being an occupational therapist can be immensely rewarding. It involves training mentally, physically and developmentally impaired people to be self-reliant. The range of each patient's needs can be extremely diverse, so the job requires either a broad range of skills or a certain area of expertise. Average salary: $75,400; projected job growth: 33%
Optometrists specialize in caring for the human eye. Whether someone is developing glaucoma or just needs a new prescription for their glasses, optometrists are the professionals who ensure our eyes stay healthy and function well. Some optometrists specialize in certain areas, such as low-vision patients or postoperative care. Average salary: $97,820; projected job growth: 33%
5. Physical Therapist
Whether it's a sport-related injury or something more serious, physical therapists work with patients to regain as much mobility as possible. The road to recovery can be as simple as performing a few stretches each day, or as harrowing as learning how to walk again. Either way, physical therapists must be personable and excel at creating custom therapy regimens. Average salary: $79,860; projected job growth: 39%
Some ailments require intense manipulation of the muscles, bones and ligaments. Chiropractors treat pain and posture issues by doing just that, usually via massage and assisted stretching. Chiropractors usually operate in small groups or individually, and they are responsible for running their own business, which includes hiring employees and developing a patient base. Average salary: $66,160; projected job growth: 28%
7. Speech Pathologist
Speech is so ubiquitous that just about any speech-related impairment can adversely affect an individual's ability to function in society. Speech pathologists work with patients suffering from hearing, speech and language disabilities to communicate efficiently. Some speech pathologists specialize in working with different age groups while others specialize in specific communication problems. Average salary: $69,870; projected job growth: 23%
Pharmacists operate as medication specialists. Although they don't prescribe medicine themselves, they are responsible for understanding what drugs a patient is taking and how their prescriptions will affect them. Since doctors aren't always available to advise patients on their medication, pharmacists may be the first person a patient will contact with questions, concerns and instructions on taking their medicine. Average salary: $116,670; projected job growth: 25%
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a person's feet, and podiatrists specialize in healing them. Maybe you have a nasty case of athlete's foot, or maybe you have bone spurs in your ankles. Either way, podiatrists are there to heal all of your foot-related woes. Average salary: $116,440; projected job growth: 20%
10. Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapists perform a critical function in the medical community. The ability to breathe well is extremely important to every individual. Whether the issue is as benign as light allergy-induced inflammation or as serious as emphysema, respiratory therapists must diagnose and treat these conditions to ensure healthy living. Average salary: $55,870; projected job growth: 28%
11. Medical Records Technician
The medical field produces enormous quantities of records. Everything from forms to patient histories to letters must be kept, categorized and organized. Medical records technicians are the ones who usually sort everything, and they are responsible for procuring the right documents when needed. Average salary: $34,610; projected job growth: 21%
12. Physician Assistant
Unlike medical assistants, physician assistants are often first-line care providers. Their exact job functions differ between medical fields and state lines, but they usually provide hands-on care and are qualified to diagnose issues, order and interpret tests, and provide certain treatments. Average salary: $90,930; projected job growth: 30%
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