Medical Careers Are a Healthy Option for Job Seekers

Lori Johnston | September 10, 2010

With all the headlines about health care reform, one group of people really stand to benefit: those considering entering the health care profession.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about one of every four new jobs created through 2018 in the U.S. will be in the health care and social assistance field. In addition to health care reform, you have aging baby boomers to thank.

Hot career lists often include not just one, but numerous medical jobs. As Eileen Habelow with Randstad, a global staffing and human resources consulting firm, told CNN Money earlier this year: “The move toward universal health care – adding 30 to 40 million people to the ranks of the insured – will give rise to even more jobs than we thought, in government and elsewhere.”

A variety of career options in health care don’t require spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend medical school. Instead, some entry-level jobs, such as medical billing and coding and patient care technician, could require only a few months of training and education to get land you a position in a hospital, doctor’s office, dental office or medical firm. Institutions such as Ultimate Medical Academy, which has locations in Tampa and Clearwater in Florida, offer the specialized training to help people get quickly into one of these fast-growing careers.

Which jobs have some of the highest growth potential?

Dental assistants are expected to be the one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., from 2008-2018, with a projected 36 percent spike in jobs, according to government data. As in other areas of medicine, the focus on preventative care is attributing to the surge in jobs.

If the idea of being a medical assistant is appealing, you’re on a good path to another area where job growth is expected to be faster than average – 39 percent from 2008-2018.

When you’ve gotten a prescription filled recently, did you notice the demand for people working behind the pharmacy counter? The government projects a 25 percent increase in pharmacy technician jobs from 2008 to 2018.

These excellent job prospects can keep you focused when gaining the education and training to make a difference in the field of health care.

-Lori Johnston

Photographers may be able to capture a special moment or emotion, but even the best photographer can’t take a picture of what’s really under our skin. If you work in health care, however, you may have the unique opportunity to capture what’s inside.

Like photographers, ultrasound technicians use high-tech equipment to capture images. But instead of exterior images, these pictures come from inside the human body. And instead of using a camera, ultrasound technicians use ultrasound machines and high-frequency sound waves to produce the images.

Given the importance of the work, you might think ultrasound technician tuition would be astronomical. But at many schools, ultrasound technician degree costs are surprisingly affordable.

Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs
One of the reasons why ultrasound technician degree costs can be low is because many technicians enter the field with a two-year degree. Colleges, universities, and hospitals are the best places to look for formal training via two- and four-year degree programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has accredited more than 150 training programs, the majority of which are associate degree programs.

No states require ultrasound technicians to be licensed, but employers prefer to hire those who are certified or registered. To be eligible to sit for certification or registry exams, you’ll probably need to graduate from an accredited ultrasound technician degree program. Ultrasound technician degree programs may have earned institutional (overall) or programmatic (specialized) certification; check with each professional certifying body to which you’ll be applying to determine the type of accreditation needed.

As an ultrasound technician, you may seek multiple credentials by taking national exams from several professional certifying agencies. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography confers credentials for Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers as well as cardiac and vascular sonographers. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers credentials in breast and vascular sonography, and Cardiovascular Credentialing International credentials cardiac sonographers.

Ultrasound Technician Degree Costs
Expect your ultrasound technician tuition to run anywhere from $75 to $500 per credit. Of course, ultrasound technician degree programs at community colleges are generally less expensive than programs at four-year colleges are. Not only is ultrasound technician tuition lower at community colleges, but these schools may also require fewer credits to earn a degree.

At a public university, ultrasound technician degree costs average about $3,000 each year for residents and $11,000 for out-of-state students. Vocational/technical schools tend to charge more — about $18,000 per year.

Since some schools do not disclose their ultrasound technician tuition up front, it’s important to find out the rates before you make a commitment. Some schools raise their tuition every time a new ultrasound technician degree program begins, so you can’t rely on old literature or anecdotal experience. Call the school to get exact figures.  

Here’s the heart of the matter: the profession offers a win-win combination of low ultrasound technician tuition and high rewards. If you want a career that delves beneath the surface, become an ultrasound technician today.

Have you ever heard the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? As workers in a preventive dental care specialty, dental hygienists demonstrate that truth daily. And you can enter the profession with a relatively small down payment – just two years of dental hygienist school tuition.

Dental Hygiene Programs
In order to become a licensed dental hygienist, you must complete an undergraduate dental hygiene program. There are currently more than 300 entry-level (certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree) programs that are accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association, an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Dental hygiene master’s degree and degree completion programs are accredited by CODA as well.

An associate degree in dental hygiene requires about 86 credits (about 2,666 total clock hours of instruction) to complete, and a bachelor’s degree requires about 122 credits (about 3,093 total clock hours) to complete. The majority of dental hygiene programs are available in junior and community colleges, though four-year colleges and universities and vocational/technical schools also offer dental hygiene degrees.

The Cost of Dental Hygienist School
According to the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association , the average estimated total cost of tuition and fees for an associate degree is $30,155; for a bachelor’s degree, $40,207; and a master’s degree, $23,133. Of course, you can find a small community college that charges just $5,000 for a degree program, or you could choose a program in a big city and pay upward of $70,000 for dental hygienist school tuition.

Typical dental hygienist school fees include uniforms, lab coats, shoes, professional association dues, computer fees, malpractice insurance, and licensing board exams. Textbooks also factor in to the cost of dental hygienist school, as do room and board if you choose to live on campus.
Other essential items that may not be included in the listed cost of dental hygienist school are instruments and clinical lab supplies. If you are required to purchase supplies on your own, they may include hand mirrors, hand magnifying-glass, cart with drawers, safety glasses, clipboards, disposable gloves and face masks/shields, handpiece, radiation badges, dental typodonts, and more.

Dental Hygienist School Cost-Saving Opportunities
If you don’t want to pay bachelor’s-level dental hygienist school tuition now, you can become a dental hygienist by completing a certificate or associate degree program and enrolling in a degree completion program in the future. Your bachelor’s degree can be in dental hygiene or a related area, such as health science or health services administration. CODA has accredited about 60 dental hygiene degree completion programs.

Another way to defray the cost of dental hygienist school is to pursue a bachelor’s degree that allows you to earn a certificate in dental hygiene first and then complete your four-year degree once you’re working and drawing a salary. Some bachelor’s degree programs are designed for this very purpose, with class schedules tailored to your work schedule.

And when you do earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, your bank account can benefit from opportunities to move beyond the dental office and work in dental hygiene education, administration, sales, and research.

If you want to prevent patients’ health problems and your own potential financial distress, pay the relatively low cost of dental hygienist school. That’s certainly something worth smiling about.

Decoding Emerging College Majors

Dawn Papandrea | September 2, 2009

I love reading articles about college major trends because that’s a good way to gauge which career fields are up-and-coming and eager to hire. Lucky for us, writers at The Chronicle of Higher Education did some legwork in yesterday’s story, “5 College Majors on the Rise.”

Not surprisingly, all of the majors they list have something to do with making ourselves and/or the environment a little healthier, and finding new ways to solve problems. In fact, each field can be classified as “higher” education in some way, since they each have a higher purpose than just simply memorizing facts, performing calculations, or appreciating some type of art.

Take a look…

Sustainability — A few weeks ago, I actually had to look this up — no joke! That’s how new an idea this is when it comes to education and business. If you’re wondering what it is (which is nothing to be ashamed of), I’ll tell you. It’s the concept of making something more “green” or ecofriendly. Many businesses today are sustainable businesses. So college students, be sure to at least take a class on this because it’s the hottest buzzword in the workplace today!

Service Science — This is another buzzword that may not be what you think it is. The article describes it as cultivating “‘deep problem solvers’ who understand the economic, human, and technical dimensions of complex systems.” Yikes! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The idea is to improve productivity and encourage innovation in various service industries. In other words, these grads will help find more efficient ways of doing things. That sure is a good skill set to have.

Health informatics — The idea is to take each person’s tons of health data and digitalize it. The Feds are totally behind this initiative, and so a new field has emerged that will demand lots of technological know-how with a health care twist.

Computational science — Math meet science. Science meet math. Together, you’ll solve problems. At least that’s the gist of what computational science is all about. I’m not a techie or a number cruncher so it’s a bit beyond me, honestly, but the article says this: “Companies have used computational analysis to increase the absorbency of disposable diapers and to tweak the shape of potato chips so they drop into packages rather than fly off the conveyor belt.” OK then, moving on…

Public health – If the swine flu epidemic has taught us anything, it’s that public health is an expansive field. Students who merge the biology stuff with the public policy stuff will be huge commodities in our society.

Intrigued by any of these up-and-coming fields? They are definitely worth paying attention to for anyone interested in entering a viable industry. One day, they may even be as commonplace as English literature or psychology, so get studying!

-Dawn Papandrea