By now we’re all familiar with the litany: healthcare is where the jobs are, now and in the future. Nursing, of course, faces a critical shortage and will thus remain as one of the most in-demand careers in healthcare, but did you know that there are many other healthcare-related positions also experiencing a dearth of qualified applicants? If you’re considering a career change and want to enter the fast-growing field of healthcare occupations, expand your options by checking out these other crucial medical positions.
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Echocardiographer. More commonly known as a cardiac sonographer or cardiac ultrasound technologist, an echocardiographer operates specialized equipment that uses sound waves to create and transmit images of the heart that will then be used to diagnose medical conditions.
Echocardiographers vary in their educational backgrounds – some finish a two-year Associate’s degree program, while others complete one of a few Bachelor’s degree programs in echocardiography available in the U.S. Other echocardiographers also receive on-the-job training in hospitals and clinics, but they generally tend to be professionals already working in a related field. Average salaries vary depending on experience, education and region, but the median salary is just under $62,000.
Nurse anesthetist. Anesthesiologists perform an essential role in hospitals and clinics, ensuring the safe delivery of anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery. Unfortunately, there remains a global shortage of qualified, board-certified anesthesiologists, particularly in remote and rural locations. Nurse anesthetists have stepped in to fill those crucial positions, but because of their extremely specialized profession and the lengthy educational requirements aspirants must meet in order to qualify, the demand far exceeds the supply.
Nurse anesthetists earn one of the highest average salaries of all the nursing professions, with a median salary of approximately $160,000. To enter this highly desirable field, a candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (or its equivalent), complete an accredited nurse anesthetist program, and pass a national certification program.
Cytotechnologist. Cytotechnologists play an indispensable role in hospital and clinical settings as well as commercial laboratories. As laboratory professionals with specialized education and knowledge in cellular biology, they review cell specimens obtained from patients for indications of disease and illness.
To enter the profession, budding cytotechnologists must complete a Bachelor’s degree in a related field (e.g., Biology, Chemistry), although some combination of education and on-the-job training may be available for those already in a related healthcare profession. Although not required, many employers prefer to hire cytotechnologists who are certified by a recognized professional association. The average salary exceeds $50,000, with some cytotechnologists earning more than $60,000.
Veterinary technologist/technician. Maybe you’re just not crazy about people but still want to work in a healthcare setting. If you love animals and can’t think of anything more fun and fulfilling than spending your workdays caring for them, consider becoming a veterinary technologist or technician. Vet techs are essentially animal-care nurses who assist veterinarians in vet hospitals, clinics, and even zoos and aquariums, with primary/preventative care, diagnosis, laboratory work, and in some cases research duties as well. Animal rescue groups, animal shelters and humane societies also often work with vets and vet techs. While some people have the impression that vet techs work only with dogs, cats and the occasional gerbil, animals of all shapes and sizes typically find their way to vet clinics, from horses and pigs to lions and bears, so vet techs must be comfortable working with both large and small animals.
Vet techs typically receive training through a two-year veterinary technology program, preferably accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, although some colleges now offer a four-year Bachelor’s degree in the field as well. The average salary is just under $28,000, so while qualified vet techs are in high demand and are projected to remain so in the future, the main source of fulfillment for most practicing technicians and technologists is the work they do, not the paycheck they bring home. Technologists in research positions tend to receive higher salaries than technicians in private clinics and other healthcare settings.