If you are considering changing careers and want to enter the medical field, don't get intimidated by the amount of time you'll have to put in. Many medical careers require only a two-year associate's degree and offer flexible working schedules so you can effectively balance work with your personal life. Another bonus: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a better-than-average growth rate for these careers.
If helping people maintain their overall health by keeping their teeth and gums healthy sounds appealing to you, consider a career as a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists work alongside dentists performing oral examinations, taking dental X-rays, using instruments to remove plaque and tartar from teeth, administering fluoride treatments and counseling patients. According to the BLS, dental hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Each state requires dental hygienists to be licensed, though requirements vary by state. The number of jobs is expected to grow 38 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical therapist assistants help patients recovering from injury, illness or surgery improve mobility, reduce disability and relieve pain. Becoming a physical therapy assistant requires a two-year degree that combines classroom instruction with hands-on clinical training. Physical therapy assistants aid the therapists with patient exercises, therapeutic procedures, mechanical traction, massage and balance training. Employment should grow 46 percent from 2010 to 2020, the BLS reports.
Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations such as X-rays on patients. They work with patients to position them for the procedure, adjust the equipment and utilize protective devices to protect against excessive exposure. Most radiologic technologists hold an associate’s degree. Employment is expected to grow 28 percent between 2010 and 2020.
A respiratory therapist monitors heart and lung functions in patients with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema or in patients recovering from a heart attack, stroke, drowning or shock. Respiratory therapists also care for premature infants with breathing problems. This medical career requires at least a two-year degree, but there are also bachelor programs available if you choose to continue your education. The BLS expects the number of jobs to increase 28 percent from 2010 to 2020.
A registered nurse can work in a hospital, doctor’s office, home healthcare service or nursing care facility. Although some registered nurses obtain a four-year degree, entry level positions typically require an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses provide patients with care, education, advice and emotional support. After receiving your associate’s degree, you must pass a national licensing examination. Employment is expected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dental Hygienists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapy Assistant
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Radiology Technologist
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Respiratory Therapist
- Mayo School of Health Sciences: Respiratory Care
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurse
- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurse
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