Health Science Careers

If you choose a career in health science you’ll utilize your skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The demand for healthcare providers has been on the rise for many years now and it shows no signs of stopping. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects above average growth in many segments of the healthcare employment market. This is due to the growth in patient load, a result of an aging Baby Boomer generation plus the newly-insured patients that have flooded the market since the onset of the Affordable Care Act.

To help meet the increasing demand for new service providers, colleges and universities have responded with educational programs that prepare workers for a demanding industry. Health science degrees have sprouted up to provide the market with well-rounded, yet specialized, graduates who can immediately get to work. As an interdisciplinary degree, there are many different specialties or concentrations a degree holder can attain, and an equally numerous array of jobs that they can fill.

 

What is Health Science?

Health science is a field that combines many different healthcare disciplines under one umbrella. Core courses in a health science program might cover ethics, the basics of healthcare administration or current trends in the industry. With that common base, students then pursue their desired specialties. A small list of specialties includes:

Healthcare Administration Epidemiology
Pharmacy Technology Healthcare Communications
Biomedical Engineering Medical Laboratory Technology
Occupational Therapy Physical Therapy

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the health science careers you can pursue.

 

Healthcare Administration

Every hospital and clinic relies on administrators to keep the organization running smoothly. Administrators work throughout a hospital or clinic. Some work in finance and make sure that the financial resources are well managed. Others work in healthcare informatics and see to the technological needs of the staff.

Administrators ensure their department or organization is up to date with current laws, regulations and technologies. They may also seek out inefficiencies or redundancies and work with doctors and nurses to correct problems. Ultimately, an administrative executive helps to keep the ship of healthcare afloat and on course.

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In 2015, the BLS found that median pay for Medical and Health Services Managers was $94,500 per year. This area of healthcare is also rapidly expanding, with a 15 percent increase expected between 2014 and 2024.

 

Epidemiologist

Epidemiology is a key component of public health. An epidemiologist studies how disease spreads by applying statistical models. For instance, they may study the spread of certain viruses and attempt to predict how and where it will spread next. With that information, healthcare professionals can work to find solutions.

An epidemiologist might work in a hospital to see that disease does not spread by implementing programs that halt the growth and proliferation of viruses and bacteria. Thus, they are working alongside a variety of healthcare professionals and need a health sciences degree to give them a common language and understanding.

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The BLS states that in 2015, median income for this profession was $69,450. Most of the professionals in the field hold master’s degrees and work for state and local governments, in hospitals and for colleges and universities. Their field is growing, but at an average rate of 6 percent.

 

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians are found in nearly every pharmacy in the nation. They work in hospital pharmacies as well as drugstores. These professionals usually have an associate’s degree or a certificate. Due to the expanding demand for pharmaceutical products, this field is also growing. With a health science degree, a pharmacy technician can excel in a pharmacy setting or expand into other areas of the healthcare industry.

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In 2015, the BLS found that pharmacy technicians earned a median income of $30,410. Most held a high school diploma and received a moderate level of on-the-job training. The field is growing faster than average, boasting a rate of 9 percent.

 

Healthcare Communications

If a hospital or medical center is a town, then these professionals run its newspaper. Healthcare communications specialists work to translate medical jargon into layman’s terms. They write press releases, create newsletters, and some even write grants for researchers. Communications experts keep the public aware of what is happening at the facility, including new advancements and successes in treating a variety of diseases.

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Though the BLS does not specifically track these communications professionals, they do state that public relations specialists had a median salary of $56,770 in 2015. Their profession is expected to grow at a rate of 6 percent.

 

Biomedical Engineer

This field bridges the gap between engineering and biology, all with the intention of healing patients. For instance, a biomedical engineer might work on the best stents or prosthetic limbs for amputees. Biomedical engineers also design artificial hearts, install and support medical machinery and work with any sort of machinery or device that serves to support human biology.

Biomedical engineers work in a wide range of environments, from hospitals, where they might be in charge of maintaining diagnostic equipment, to private company laboratories, where they design and test new products for market. Most often they have master’s degrees, but there are plenty who have fruitful careers with an undergraduate degree.

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According to the BLS, biomedical engineers earned a median salary of $86,220 per year in 2015. Employment is anticipated to grow at a rate of 23 percent through 2024.

 

Medical Laboratory Technician

Every doctor relies on a laboratory to send specimens to a lab for analysis. They need to know if tissues are diseased or the status of a patient’s blood. Lab technicians are also tasked with running routine diagnostic tests and maintaining sterile conditions in the workplace. Half of these professionals work in hospitals and others work in doctor’s offices and diagnostic laboratories.

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Many medical lab technicians have an associate’s degree or post-secondary certificate, but others hold a bachelor’s degree. The median annual salary for medical lab technicians is $50,550, according to the BLS. The agency also reported that the field is expected to grow by 16 percent in the years between 2014 and 2024.

 

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists (OT) work to help patients recover from any number of ailments, including stroke, addiction, dementia and even total paralysis. They may help patients re-learn how to take a shower or brush their teeth. Others may follow a social work path and help recovering drug addicts find a job.

You can find OTs in hospitals, long-term care facilities, orphanages, working in 3rd world countries and in private homes. Their job is to help people learn how to conduct the business of everyday life, so that edict takes them into a range of workplaces.

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The BLS reports the median pay for an occupational therapist, who typically holds a master’s degree, is $80,150. The field is expected to increase by 27 percent through 2024.

 

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PT) help patients recover the use of their limbs after accidents or illness. They may also assist those who have lost limbs and need to adapt to their prosthetic replacements. PTs work with patients to regain motor control and muscle tone. They also help patients re-learn to walk, run or simply sit up.

PTs often work in hospitals, but they can be found in private homes and long-term care facilities. They may also work with patients in a gym or with a sports team.

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According to the BLS, PTs earned a median salary of $80,020 in 2015. The field, along with so many in healthcare, is seeing phenomenal growth and the BLS expects a 34 percent increase in PT jobs through 2024.

Overall, the outlook for health science careers is rosy. From professionals with an associate’s degree up through the graduate level, they are commanding competitive salaries and seeing their fields grow at astounding rates. Not only that, but healthcare professionals are able to reap the rewards that come with helping others recover from diseases and injuries. Even those who work in marketing or communications are part of that process, helping to broadcast messages to those who may need assistance now or in the future.

Earning a degree can help push your personal and professional growth to the next level and health sciences is a great place to start. With so much variety in the field, there is bound to be a program and concentration that best suits your interests.

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