Even in a challenging economic climate, the healthcare industry has been a robust generator of jobs – and that trend shows no sign of slowing over the next several years, particularly given the nation’s aging population.
From 2006 to 2010, healthcare practitioners and technical occupations such as registered nurses (RN), physicians and respiratory therapy techs saw more employment growth than any other occupational group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The growth rate is projected to be 25.9% through 2020.
In September 2012, alone, the healthcare industry added 44,000 jobs – more than twice as many as its closest rival, transportation and warehousing. That took the total number of new healthcare jobs to almost 300,000 since September 2011, the BLS reported.Within the healthcare industry, nursing is a pacesetter. Almost 712,000 new RN jobs are forecast to be added from 2010 to 2020, more than any other occupation. That represents a 26% growth rate.
For servicemembers and veterans preparing to transition from a nursing role in the military to a civilian career in healthcare, it may be wise to consider the advantages of earning an advanced degree. Among all education classifications, jobs that require a master’s degree will grow fastest (21.7%) through 2020, the BLS reports.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that about 13% of RNs nationwide had at least a master’s degree in 2008. However, demand for nurses with advanced degrees is outpacing supply in disciplines such as teaching, research and clinical specialties.
Financial Assistance Available to Servicemembers
With regionally accredited schools now offering Master of Science Nursing (MSN) degree programs 100% online, veterans and military personnel have greater opportunity to advance their educational qualifications and career potential while juggling the demands of family, work and active duty.
Numerous education benefits are available to servicemembers and veterans, including Tuition Assistance (TA) and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In addition, colleges and universities that are members of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium offer military-friendly credit transfer policies and academic credit for military training and experience – two hurdles servicemembers can face when seeking to boost their qualifications.
The rewards of earning an advanced degree can be substantial, both in terms of employment opportunities and salary potential.
Attaining an MSN can open up executive and administrative positions such as chief nursing officer, nurse educator and director of nursing.
According to the BLS, postsecondary nursing instructors in specialty hospitals nationwide earned a median annual wage of more than $99,000 in May 2011. For health services managers, the median wage was $86,400, with the top 10% earning more than $147,800.
Servicemembers and veterans seeking to build upon their military training and experience in healthcare roles may find an array of advantages in earning an MSN degree. Those include: developing advanced strategic, analytical and problem-solving skills; boosting leadership and management abilities; and staying up to speed on the latest medical technology and trends.
The bottom line is simple: the healthcare industry continues to provide a buffer against economic uncertainty, and an advanced degree may further solidify employment opportunities for military personnel and civilians alike.