How many times in recent years have you picked up a newspaper or a business magazine and read a headline about college graduates unable to find jobs? Or read about the vast numbers of unemployed workers? Or perhaps lived through a downturn in the economy in which your position was eliminated and you were laid off?
The health care industry is booming and expanding its needs almost daily. There are many, many choices and vast shortages of workers in numerous areas. You don't have to be a doctor, dentist, or nurse. You don't even have to like the sight of blood or have a strong desire to work with the sick to join the health care team.
Health care today is comprised of a huge team of diverse industries. Technology has brought about, and continues to provide for, tremendous advancements in areas such as diagnostics, treatments and procedures, documentation, billing, insurance reimbursement, and general health care delivery. With these advancements comes the need for many more workers to perform the associated jobs.
Health care is a team effort, and each member is vital to the success of the whole. This includes those workers with direct patient contact as well as those who may never have any contact at all with patients, such as medical librarians and information technologists. The patient is the central character, and everything that happens revolves around the needs of the patient.
The needs of the patient drive the demand for better diagnostics, better treatments, and better health care delivery systems — which, in turn, provides the impetus for technological advancements.
As the population ages, the demand for health care will increase. The baby-boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is rapidly approaching retirement age. The firstborn of this generation turned 60 in 2006. By 2012, baby boomers will be 48 to 66 years old.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the decade spanning 2002 to 2012, the number of people age 55 to 64 will increase by greater than 43 percent (by over 11 million persons). During that same time period, those in the age bracket from 35 to 44 will decrease, but those aged 16 to 24 will increase by 7 percent.
The demand for health care is going to increase for at least the next several decades, while the workforce is going to diminish. That equates to a very strong job market in the health care industry for years to come.
The U.S. Department of Labor issues a report on job opportunities and prospects for each decade. The report issued for 2000 to 2010 had to be modified by 2002 due in large part to the events of September 11, 2001, and the economic downturn that the country experienced in 2001 and 2002. Suddenly, Americans felt a strong urge to have careers that made a difference in the lives of others. The demands of an aging population and the economic factors have forced a long-term shift from goods-producing jobs to service jobs.
Of the ten fastest-growing jobs in the United States, nine are in the health care or computer information technology industry. For those who are seeking a challenging, rewarding career with long-range job security and growth opportunities, health care is the industry to choose.
The background and basic education requirements will translate to many different avenues within the industry. In health care, learning and education is a lifelong process. Therefore, the opportunities for career growth and changes as technological advancements continue are ever-present, and afford many more choices than any other industry.
Enjoy your search, and keep your eyes and mind open for many different opportunities throughout your working years. Remember that many of tomorrow's jobs don't even exist today.