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Healthcare Schools in Health Care Schools in Virginia, Virginia

Health care is one of the fastest growing job categories in the country, and hundreds of thousands of new positions are expected to open up nationwide in the next several years. The Roanoke Times reported that there were over 125,000 more Virginia residents signing up for health coverage in 2015 than in the previous year. Health care schools in Virginia can prepare you for the many technical and clinical positions that will be in demand in the coming years.

Prospective students will see a healthy career outlook in Virginia. The mean annual salary for health care practitioners and technical occupations in Virginia came in at $72,310 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is about $22,000 higher than that year's statewide average salary across all occupations. While entry-level health care careers aren't likely to pay quite that much right away, entry-level jobs do tend to become advanced careers with the right combination of education and experience.

Health care specializations

According to a 2014 BLS report, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the country fall within the boundaries of the health care field. Here are a few of the high-demand careers that health care schools in Virginia can prepare you to enter after graduation:

  • Medical transcriptionist
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Radiologic or MRI technologist
  • Licensed practical/vocational nurse
  • Phlebotomist
  • Occupational therapy assistant
  • Physical therapist assistant

Some of these careers require candidates to complete as few as six months of formal preparation before they can be considered for employment. Some hospitals and other clinical facilities even have educational programs active on site, aiming to help beginners in the field improve their skills and deliver an overall better standard of care.

Health care certification and degree programs

Many of the fast-growing health care careers on today's market may not require an academic degree, but employers typically prefer candidates who have completed some sort of formal education program before applying for work. Professional certification often takes fewer than two years, and certification for some professions can even be completed entirely online.

Here's a table of some careers in the health care field and their educational requirements, as reported by the BLS:

Health care occupation Minimum education required
EMT and paramedic Certificate or other non-degree award
Medical assistant Certificate or other non-degree award
Medical transcriptionist Certificate or other non-degree award
Phlebotomists Certificate or other non-degree award
Clinical laboratory technician Associate degree or certificate
Radiation therapist Associate degree
Dental hygienist Associate degree
Diagnostic medical sonographer Associate degree
Medical laboratory technologist Bachelor's degree
Dietitians and nutritionist Bachelor's degree
Physician assistant Master's degree

Although most career-focused programs tend to concentrate their coursework on the specifics of their intended field, there are a few subjects likely to be studied on multiple degree paths at health care schools in Virginia:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical best practices
  • Laboratory skills
  • Professional communication

Programs that lead to a bachelor's or associate degree will typically also include a general education component, augmenting medical and clinical courses with an introductory education in math, science, communications, arts and the humanities.

Health care salary and career outlook

Data reported by the BLS indicates that the expected employment growth for some health care careers is downright staggering. Here are some of the fast-growing careers available to graduates of health care schools in Virginia, along with BLS job growth projections for the period between 2012 and 2022:

  • Diagnostic medical sonographers: 46%
  • Physical therapist assistants: 41%
  • Dental hygienists: 33%
  • Phlebotomists: 27%
  • Licensed practical and vocational nurses: 25%
  • Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians: 22%
  • Radiologic and MRI technologists: 21%

Some health care careers match their impressive expectations of growth with respectable salary averages at the entry level and beyond. Here are some 2013 mean annual salary figures for Virginia health care professionals:

  • Dental hygienists: $79,230
  • Diagnostic medical sonographers: $72,800
  • Radiologic technologists: $55,940
  • Physical therapist assistants: $54,870
  • Medical and clinical laboratory technologists: $54,690
  • Medical and clinical laboratory technicians: $39,570

Many factors can affect salary expectations, such as your amount of education and job experience or the geographic region where you find employment, but these averages should give you some idea of the value of certain health care careers in today's market.

Health care is a massive industry that employs nearly 8 million people nationwide, and its runaway growth in the last several years shows no signs of slowing down. Health care schools in Virginia have multiple programs that can help you prepare for a rewarding career.

Sources:

  1. Healthcare Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
  2. Health and Medical Certificates, Certifications & Licensure, Fairfax County Public Schools, 2015, http://www.fcps.edu/is/ace/medcerts.shtml
  3. Medical Billing and Coding Certificate, Kaplan University, 2015, http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/health-sciences/medical-billing-coding-certificate.aspx
  4. Pharmacy Technician Program Details, Pima Medical Institute, 2015, http://pmi.edu/Programs/Certificate/Pharmacy-Technician/LearnMore
  5. Medical Assistant Program Details, Pima Medical Institute, 2015, http://pmi.edu/Programs/Certificate/Medical-Assistant/LearnMore
  6. Fastest Growing Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm
  7. May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Virginia, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm
  8. May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
  9. The Roanoke Times, "Virginia Enrollment in Healthcare.gov", February 11, 2015, http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/virginia-enrollment-in-healthcare-gov-plans-reaches/article_c979e578-e1df-5596-afca-00e0fd6c3435.html
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