You want to work in health care, but you don't want to go on to college. If that's the case, you're in luck. Of the 30 fastest-growing jobs in the United States, half are in health care or a closely related field such as biomedical engineering, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although some of those occupations might require advanced degrees, a few require no degree at all. A high school diploma or GED will suffice.
Medical assistants provide clinical and administrative assistance to physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists and other health care practitioners. Most states don't have formal educational requirements for medical assistants, who can learn on the job. Although their duties vary according to the location, size and specialty of the practice, typical MA tasks include taking patients’ blood pressure and pulse, assisting the physician with procedures, cleaning exam rooms or making patient appointments. Some MAs may also perform billing and coding tasks. The average annual salary for medical assistants was $30,550 in 2012, according to the BLS.
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides usually work in a patient’s home, although they may also work in small group homes or other settings. HHCAs and PCAs help patients bathe, dress and eat or provide services such as housekeeping to people who are disabled, chronically ill or have cognitive impairments. In some states, HHCAs -- under the direction of a registered nurse or other health care professional -- might be able to give medications or perform limited medical care tasks, such as checking a patient’s blood pressure. Although you might need some formal training to work as an HHCA in certified home health or hospice agency, you don't need a degree. The average annual salary for HHCAs and PCAs in 2012 was $21,830, according to the BLS.
Physical Therapist Aides
Physical therapist aides perform support tasks for physical therapists and must work under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. They may work in physical therapy offices or hospitals. Physical therapist aides usually have a high school diploma, but they don't need formal training. Typical duties include setting up equipment, cleaning the treatment area and performing clerical tasks, such as answering the phone, making patient appointments or helping patients with paperwork. Aides might also order supplies or assist patients to move from one area to another. The BLS reports physical therapy aides earned an average annual salary of $25,410 in 2012.
Secretaries work in many industries, but the BLS notes that many are in medical settings such as hospitals and medical offices. Duties vary, but most secretaries organize and maintain files, schedule appointments and type documents. In a medical setting, a secretary might also transcribe medical dictation, arrange for hospitalization or perform patient billing. Although a high school diploma or GED is sufficient education for an entry-level position, familiarity with medical terminology is advantageous. The average annual salary of medical secretaries was $32,620 in 2012, according to the BLS.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fastest Growing Occupations
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Home Health and Personal Care Aides
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.