Across the nation and throughout nearly every industry, there are few job sectors that offer as much stability and potential as health care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care occupations and industries will offer the fastest employment growth from 2012 to 2022. And some sectors are expected to add more jobs on average in certain states.
If you're considering a health care career, it can pay off to choose a profession where employment will likely be plentiful for the next decade or longer. To make your search easier, we crunched the numbers and analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data to bring you our list of top in-demand health careers for the coming decade. These jobs had a high ratio of annual job openings (2012-2022) to employment in 2012.
- Top State for Employment: Georgia
- Job Growth in Georgia (2012-22): 35.71%
- Average Salary in Georgia (2015): $260,370
Internists research and diagnose a wide range of conditions that have to do with the internal workings of the human body. This can include the kidneys and liver, along with the digestive tract and other internal organs that affect the overall function of the body. Mostly working with adult patients with acute health conditions, general internists most often treat conditions through prescription medication or hospitalization. To become a general internist, students need to earn the highest level of education possible and complete a residency, culminating in a doctoral degree.
While employment for general internists is expected to increase all over the country, Georgia's aging population makes it a prime candidate for exceptional job growth for health care practitioners. According to the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia's Area Agency on Aging, coastal regions of Georgia may experience the biggest boom of aging adults. Their figures show that Georgia's coastal areas will see 51 percent growth through 2030, with most of that growth attributed to residents ages 65 and older.
Family and General Practitioners
- Top State for Employment: Louisiana
- Job Growth in Louisiana (2012-22): 29.79%
- Average Salary in Louisiana (2015): $206,440
Family and general practitioners serve as their client's gateway into the health care industry. They see their patients regularly, performing everything from basic diagnostic checks to annual check-ups and routine care. If a patient is experiencing a condition that cannot be solved with basic, routine health care, family and general practitioners may refer them to a specialist who focuses mainly on their condition or type of ailment. Family and general practitioners usually enter medical school after receiving a bachelor's degree. During medical school, students complete an internship and residency, then go on to earn a doctoral-level degree.
Once again, Louisiana's arching need for general practitioners and family doctors ties back to its aging population. As the state's plan on aging shows, there were more than 877,000 Louisiana residents over age 60 in state of 2013, yet that figure is expected to balloon over 1 million by 2020. As the state's population continues to age, more and more family doctors and general practitioners will be required just to keep up.
- Top State for Employment: Idaho
- Job Growth in Idaho (2012-22): 32.33%
- Average Salary in Idaho (2015): $113,560
Pharmacists are charged with understanding how medicines work in the human body, then properly dispensing those medicines based on doctor's orders. They fill prescriptions, counsel patients on how to properly use their medicine, and perform wellness screenings. Some pharmacists may even give their patients general advice on how to create a healthier lifestyle. To become a pharmacist, students need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited school.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho's population is aging faster, on average, than the rest of the nation. Since older residents need more medication and consume more health care on average, it's no wonder that pharmacists remain in high demand.
- Top State for Employment: Virginia
- Job Growth in Virginia (2012-22): 47.95%
- Average Salary in Virginia (2015): $85,660
Physical therapists use patient's bodies and planned exercises to help them recover from injuries and ailments. Through the use of exercise therapy, strength training, and manipulation of certain muscles, they train their patient's bodies to work properly over time. To become a physical therapist, you must first earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. In addition, all states require physical therapists to become licensed.
According to state data, more than 1 million elderly adults will reside in Virginia by the year 2025. So, once again, the need for additional health care is pegged to an aging population. As adults get older, they need help from physical therapists to recover from injuries and muscle conditions more often.
- Top State for Employment: North Carolina
- Job Growth in North Carolina (2012-22): 55.68%
- Average Salary in North Carolina (2015): $66,910
Dental hygienists work in a complementary role alongside dentists. They perform basic and routine dental care, clean teeth, and check for problems or issues their dentist might need to address. Further, dental hygienists counsel their patients on how to properly care for their teeth and gums. To become a dental hygienist, students must earn an associate degree in dental hygiene at minimum, then become licensed to work in their state.
According to U.S. Census data, North Carolina recently became the nations' 9th largest state by population. This overall growth in numbers puts a strain on all services, including health care. Since the vast majority of the population needs dental care, this means even more jobs for dental hygienists in the coming years.
- Top State for Employment: Utah
- Job Growth in Utah (2012-22): 31.32%
- Average Salary in Utah (2015): $61,000
Registered nurses perform basic patient care in a variety of health care settings including physician's offices, clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. They counsel patients on how to take care of themselves, distribute medicine, and take vital signs. Depending on which type of health care setting they work in, they may also help perform diagnostic tests. To become a registered nurse, students should plan on earning either an associate degree or bachelor's degree in registered nursing depending on their state's requirements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for nurses will grow much faster than average. For the most part, this is the result of our growing and aging population nationally. The landscape in Utah isn't any different, and the growing need for health care at all stages means more jobs for registered nurses overall.
- Top State for Employment: Washington
- Job Growth in Washington (2012-22): 47.78%
- Average Salary in Washington (2015): $53,780
Massage therapists use their ability to manipulate muscles to relieve patient's pain and improve their overall health. Through touch and special therapies, they soothe their patient's muscles and joints, help relieve tension, and help them recover from injuries. Most massage therapists need to participate in at least 500 hours of postsecondary study and training to work in the profession. Meanwhile, most states require massage therapists to be licensed to practice as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the demand for massage therapists can be attributed to the increase in standalone spas and the increased use of massage therapy in athletics. As massage therapy branches out from health care to other industries, the demand for licensed massage therapists will only increase. In Washington, projected employment increase are expected to be higher than other areas -- up to 47.78 percent in growth from 2012 to 2022.
Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia's Area Agency on Aging, http://www.crc.ga.gov/departments/aaa/aaa.html
Dental Hygienists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015 - 16 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm
Employment Projections: 2014 -2024 Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm
How Many Seniors will Live in Virginia by 2025 and Are We Prepared? Statewide Legal Assistance Program, http://www.vda.virginia.gov/pdfdocs/Project2025Web.pdf
Idaho Age Groups Show Significant Change in Four Years, Idaho Department of Labor, https://labor.idaho.gov/news/NewsReleases/tabid/1953/ctl/PressRelease/mid/3872/itemid/2860/Default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Louisiana's State Plan on Aging, October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2019, http://goea.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/LouisianaStatePlanonAgingFinal20162019.pdf
Massage Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015 -16 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm
Pharmacists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015 - 16 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm
Physical Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015-16 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
Physicians and Surgeons, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014 - 2024 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-1
Registered Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015-16 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm