Unemployment rates may still be high and the opportunities out there in specific careers might be waning, but there is one job sector that may be promising -- healthcare.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that 3.2 million jobs will be created by 2018 in the healthcare industry. Other forecasters say that with an aging population who will provide the demand for healthcare workers, jobs in the health sector make sense as a stable career option. Plus there are more opportunities for hire.
But what healthcare jobs are out there for those who don't currently have a medical degree nor the time to devote to a long education or much additional schooling? As it turns out, plenty.
* Dental assistant: This career is one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare, according to industry experts. While formal schooling may not be needed and some dentists train on-site, there's better opportunity for those who have completed a training program. Some dental assistant diploma or certificate programs can be completed in as little as a year. The median expected salary for a typical dental assistant in the United States is $32,969.
* Registered nurse: Nurses are often the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. Though doctors may get all the glory, it's often nurses who provide the much-needed, behind-the-scenes care that complements a doctor's expertise. Applicants can consider earning a 2-year associates degree in nursing to get started in the field and then continue their education and certification as they advance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a registered nurse in the United States is $67,720.
* Pharmacy technician: The world of pharmaceuticals continues to grow. A 2009 story in Forbes magazine indicated that 11.6 prescriptions are issued per person in the U.S. each year. West Virgina is the state with the highest number of scripts per capita. With so many prescriptions issued each year, the demand for pharmacy employees is increasing. Assistants can generally complete a certificate program which may be as short as 6 months. Pharmacy techs earn an average salary of $32,600, according to Salary.com.
* Hospice care worker: Whether providing home hospice care or working in a facility, these workers provide support and assistance to the elderly or individuals with illnesses that restrict their ability to care for themselves. Hospice care is often end-of-life care and requires a special level of devotion from workers. Depending on the program, a bachelor's degree in nursing and a state certification may be all that's necessary to become a hospice technician. Salaries can range from $35,000 to $60,000.
Students who have just begun college and are not yet in the job market may want to consider fine tuning their majors to coordinate with a career in healthcare.