You don't have to be a doctor or nurse to reap the rewards of the expanding job openings in health care. There's a wide-ranging roster of health-related jobs that don't require years of preparation. For some of them, a certificate in proficiency will get you in the door; in others, all you need is a knack for on-the-job training.
Thanks to our fast-aging population, employment in health care–related occupations will grow 19 percent, or by 2.3 million new jobs, from 2014 to 2024 -— much faster than the average for all types of work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects. Many of the new positions involve directly providing medical care, but there are plenty of others swirling around the edges, including support jobs that often let you slice and dice your time commitments. Increasingly, too, people are starting their own entrepreneurial ventures to meet market demands.
Here are five great health care jobs to consider.
1. Massage therapist for older people
The nitty-gritty: For Michele Barie-Dale, 52, who runs her own massage practice, the Personal Touch in Pittsburgh, a typical day finds her in the homes of clients age 70 and over. She arrives with her massage table, linens, towels, aromatherapy candles and almond oil cream. "The senior crowd is my favorite," says Barie-Dale. "It's a special relationship. It becomes a friendship."
The benefits for her clients include boosting circulation, improving flexibility and providing stress relief, she explains. "But in many ways, it's chitchat — the social contact. They want to talk to me and to hear about my life, and I learn about their lives. It brings joy to me." But the work can be physically demanding. "I have to watch my back — sometimes I have to lift and move walkers and wheelchairs, and help my clients climb safely on and off the table."
Barie-Dale opted for private practice. But massage therapists also work in group practices, chiropractic clinics, nursing homes, airports, hospices and hospitals. Employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pay range: The average wage is $19.30 per hour, according to PayScale, an online salary, benefits and compensation information company. Annual salaries range from $22,318 to $94,367. Some therapists who make house calls, like Barie-Dale, charge between $55 and $125 for a 90-minute massage.
Qualifications: Most states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapy. You must get either a license or certification after graduating from an accredited training program. You may also need to join a massage professional organization for insurance coverage. The American Massage Therapy Association offers professional memberships, which include liability insurance, for $235 a year.
2. Medical biller/coder
The nitty-gritty: Skip the healing, hand me the computer. The gist of this back-office job is to convert medical terminology for everything from shingles to a torn ACL into the numerical codes that insurance companies use for reimbursement processing. You fill out electronic forms to get the claims started. Potential employers include billing companies, physician offices, hospitals, hospices, clinics and insurers.