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Healthcare as an Employment Leader

A lot of us tend to make New Year’s resolutions, or at least reflect on how we can make a new calendar year even better than the last. We see this time as a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning…

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Although New Year’s resolutions are often hard to keep, goal-setting, and creating ways to lead a more fulfilling life, don’t have to be. This can be done at any time of year. BUT if you happen to be in career planning or changing mode, you’ll be pleased to know the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its 2016-2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).

“The aging population also will spur an increase in the demand for healthcare services, resulting in the healthcare industry and its related occupations accounting for a large share of new jobs projected through 2024.” ~ Emily Richards, BLS’ Monthly Labor Review (December 2015)

The BLS’ OOH is arguably the employment data and information source most used across the country. It is consulted by a range of people across the United States, from career counselors, trainers and researchers to individuals looking for their first ever job.

The 2016-2017 version (released on December 17, 2015) includes information on 576 detailed occupations categorized under 329 occupational profiles.  Among the handbook’s information is employment projections (this version’s projections cover the 2014-2024 decade), as well as information on salary, job descriptions, required training and more.

Healthcare Occupations Growing Fast

Healthcare occupations stand out in the 2016-2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Here’s how:

  • Over a third of the new jobs in the United States (2014 – 2024) are projected to be in the healthcare and social assistance sectors.
  • Almost one quarter of the new 9.8 million jobs estimated to be created by 2024 will be healthcare-related.
  • Healthcare practitioners & technical occupations and Healthcare support occupations are projected to add more than 2.3 million jobs to the U.S. workforce by 2024.
  • The average overall growth rate for all occupations in the United States is projected to be 6.5% from 2014 to 2024. Both Healthcare practitioners & technical occupations and Healthcare support occupations are expected to “grow much faster than the average” with projected rates of 16.4 % and 23.0% respectively.
  • In fact, according to the BLS Monthly Labor Review’s Andrew Hogan and Brian Roberts, “Healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be the two fastest growing occupational groups.”
  • Personal care and service occupations are projected to grow by 13.2%.
  • Healthcare practitioners & technical jobs are projected to increase by 1,348,100 and Healthcare support jobs are estimated to increase by 974,200. They are the occupational groups at the top of the “Adding New Jobs” chart. The Food preparation & serving related and Personal care & service groups are in third and fourth place with 812,900 and 792,100 jobs respectively.

  • As was previously mentioned, the BLS also provides data on 819 detailed occupations within the occupational groups. “Of the fastest growing occupations, more than half are related to healthcare,” states a Career Outlook (December 2015) article.
  • The top 12 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are: Wind turbine technicians (108% growth between 2014-2024); Occupational therapy assistants (43%); Physical therapist assistants (41%); Physical therapist aides (39%); Home health aides (38%); Commercial divers (37%); Nurse practitioners (35%); Physical therapists (34%); Statisticians (34%); Ambulance drivers and attendants except EMTs (33%); Occupational therapy aides (31%); Physician assistants (30%).
  • High percentage growth rates does not necessarily mean the highest number of jobs. Between 2014 and 2024, the detailed occupations projected to have the most new jobs are Personal care aides, Registered nurses and home health aides with 458100, 439300 and 348400 respectively.
  • The BLS also provides data on job outlook according to the level of education required for each detailed occupation. For occupations that require a Bachelor’s degree, Registered nurses are at the top of the chart for most new jobs and most job openings. By 2024, it is projected registered nurses will see a total of 1,088,400 new jobs (based on growth and replacement needs).
  • For occupations that require an Associate’s degree or a postsecondary non-degree award, Nursing assistants, Medical assistants and Licensed practical/licensed vocational nurses are projected to have the most new jobs with 262000, 138900 and 117300 positions respectively. Dental assistants, EMTs and paramedics, Dental hygienists, Massage therapists, Physical therapist assistants, Medical records and health information technicians, Medical and clinical laboratory technicians and Phlebotomists are also among this same “most new jobs” list.
  • Among the occupations requiring an Associate’s degree or postsecondary non-degree award, Nursing assistants are predicted to have the most new openings between 2014 and 2024 with a total of 599,000 new openings based on both growth and replacement needs. Licensed practical/licensed vocational nurses, Medical assistants, Dental assistants, EMTs and paramedics, Medical records and health information technicians, Dental hygienists, Medical and clinical laboratory technicians, Physical therapist assistants, Radiologic technologists and Phlebotomists are also among this top 20 “most new openings list.”

What about Medical Imaging Careers?

You can look up the job outlook and salary information for each occupation outlined in the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The following is the projected job growth (2014-2024) and salary information for the various getting getting started in medical imaging occupations.

Keep in mind that the average job growth for all occupations in the U.S. is 6.5% and the median annual wage for all U.S. workers was $35,410 (in May 2014).

Occupation Job Outlook (2014-2024) Median Salary (2014)
Diagnostic medical sonographers 26% $67,530
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians 22% $54,330
Magnetic resonance imaging technologists 10% $67,090
Radiologic technologists 9% $55,870
Nuclear medicine technologists 2% $72,100

* Remember, when it comes to employment, percentage growth is not the only statistic to consider. For example, radiologic technologists have a lower growth percentage than diagnostic medical sonographers, but it’s projected there will be 54,400 rad tech job openings (due to growth and replacement needs) from 2014 to 2024, which is almost double the number of openings for sonographers.

You can learn more by consulting the BLS’ “Replacement Needs” table (Table 1.10), and also by looking up each occupation in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Note the “Job Outlook” and “Pay” tabs. New this year, there is also a “State & Area” tab that will help you find occupational information closer to home.

  • References
  • BLS’Occupational Outlook Handbook: www.bls.gov/ooh
  • BLS news release (December 17, 2015): www.bls.gov/news.release/ooh.nr0.htm
  • BLS news release (December 8, 2015): www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm
  • Monthly Labor Review articles (December 2015): www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2015/article/overview-of-projections-to-2024-1.htm ; www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2015/article/occupational-employment-projections-to-2024-1.htm
  • Career Outlook article (December 2015): www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/projections-occupation.htm
  • Medical imaging Detailed Occupational Summaries: www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm ; www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm ; www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nuclear-medicine-technologists.htm
  • BLS’ Employment Projects-Replacement Needs Table: www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_110.htm

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