4 best entry-level jobs in health care

There are many exciting entry-level jobs in health care.When beginning a career in health care, the odds are already pretty good that you’re going to find employment – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care is the fastest-growing job sector in the United States.1 However, many positions within the industry require years of education and experience, so you’ll need to know which entry-level jobs to pursue. Whether you’re about to begin college or are approaching graduation, keep these entry-level positions in mind as you prepare for the post-grad job hunt:

Medical assistant

Becoming a doctor can take close to a decade,2 but medical assistant programs generally take less than two years. As a result, medical assistants can work on the front lines of health care almost immediately, which is an exciting prospect for someone who wants to work directly with patients. This is also an appealing entry-level position because medical assistants may have the opportunity to work with physicians who have specialties that interest them. To be well-equipped to take on a career in medical assisting, you will have to be familiar with electronic health records (EHR) systems.3

Physical therapist assistant

A less traditional career in health care, physical therapy also happens to be rapidly adding jobs – employment for physical therapist assistants is expected to grow 31 percent, which is faster than average, between 2010 and 2020. Physical therapist assistants work under the direction of physical therapists and in collaboration with other health care professionals to help patients improve their movement and manage their pain after injury or illness. To become a physical therapist assistant, you will need to earn an associate degree in most states.4

Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technology can be a fantastic entry-level career because it allows for plenty of on-the-job training. Generally employed in retail pharmacies and hospitals, pharmacy technicians count tablets, label prescriptions and prepare medications. Because they work under the direct supervision of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians have the unique opportunity to continue learning while they work. You may even be able to use these skills to one day attend pharmacy school.5

Dental assistant

If dentistry interests you more than medical care, then perhaps you should study to become a dental assistant. Entry-level dental assistants work in dental offices and have a number of duties, including preparing patients for treatments and procedures, readying work areas and sterilizing dental instruments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 90,000 people will be hired as dental assistants between 2010 and 2020.6

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Employment Projections 2010-20,’ Feb 1., 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm
2 Greenwood, Beth, ‘The Houston Chronicle, ‘How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor in the U.S.,’ 2013 – http://work.chron.com/long-become-doctor-us-7921.html
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘What Medical Assistants Do,’ March 29, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-2
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Physical Therapists,’ April 6, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Pharmacy Technicians,’ March 29, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
6 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Dental Assistants,’ June 26, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-1