The health care and social service industry will produce 28 percent of the new jobs created from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is fueled by an aging baby-boomer population that is expected to live longer than previous generations. New patient treatments and medical advances also contribute to growth in this sector. While educational requirements for some health care careers vary greatly, several medical professions don’t require a college degree at all.
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides assist patients who are elderly, disabled or ill. They perform such tasks as coordinating the patient’s schedule, planning appointments and arranging transportation to doctors’ offices, in addition to taking the patient’s pulse and temperature, or changing dressings. Personal care aides, otherwise known as companions, caregivers or personal attendants, do not perform medical services. However, they assist patients with bathing or getting dressing, and perform light housekeeping chores. While there are no formal requirements to become a home health or personal care aide, the BLS reports that most aides have a high school diploma. Those employed by hospice or certified home health agencies must get formal training through elder care programs, vocational schools or community colleges. According to the BLS, home health aides made $21,830 a year, according to May 2012 salary data, while personal care aides earned $20,830 a year.
Pharmacy technicians are employed in hospitals and in grocery and drug stores. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, they obtain the information needed to fill prescriptions. They also count tablets, measure the appropriate quantities of other prescription medications, and prepare such compounds and mixtures as ointments. In addition, they label and package prescriptions, handle payments and process insurance claims. Pharmacy technicians who work in hospitals may also deliver medications to inpatients. Most pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training, but some earn a one-year certificate from a vocational school or community college. The yearly salary of pharmacy technicians was $30,430, according to May 2012 BLS statistics.
Dental assistants work with dentists to care for patients. They perform a variety of duties, including sterilizing dental instruments, and preparing the patients and work areas for dental procedures. During the treatment process, they hand instruments to the dentist and suction the patient’s mouth. Dental assistants also process X-rays, schedule appointments, handle billing and payments, and maintain records. According to the BLS, some states have no formal educational requirements. In other states, dental assistants must take a one-year program leading to a certificate or diploma. In addition, some dental assistants pursue an associate’s degree. The BLS reported the annual salary of dental assistants as $35,080 in May 2012.
Dispensing opticians fill eyeglass prescriptions and help customers choose frames or contacts. They may work in optometrist or physician offices, health and personal care stores, or department and other types of general merchandise stores. They process prescriptions written by ophthalmologists and optometrists, and take such measurements as the thickness or width of a customer’s cornea. They also adjust, repair or refit eyeglass frames, and show customers how to care for their products. Some are required to maintain records of sales, prescriptions and inventory. In small shops, they may also grind lenses and insert them into frames. Most opticians go through formal on-the-job training programs; however, some opt for a one-year certificate or a two-year associate’s degree. Dispensing opticians earned $35,010 a year, according to May 2012 salary data.