Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve been hearing a lot about public health and the healthcare field. In fact, while many other industries are experiencing huge layoffs, public health and healthcare may be one of the few sectors which might be growing.
In a way, this is nothing new; health-related industries have been some of the fastest growing career fields for the last decade. You might not have considered the field because you aren’t interested in clinical roles – but if you think that only doctors and nurses work in health-related occupations, think again! There are hundreds of different jobs that contribute to the public’s health—many of which are hiring in large numbers. Here are just a few:
The role of a contact tracer is to interview individuals who have been diagnosed with a communicable disease—and who are now in isolation—and then find all the people they may have come in contact with while their illness was contagious, then reach out to each of those people to inform them that they may have been infected, help them get tested, and help them self-isolate if need be. Contact tracing is very labor-intensive, but can be an effective way to curb new outbreaks while we wait for the COVID-19 vaccine to be widely distributed. It’s a somewhat entry-level job, but good interpersonal and communication skills, persistence, some knowledge of healthcare terms, proficiency in another language, and dedication to public service are all important qualities. More information here.
Health Information Technician
Are you good with computers? Perhaps you studied IT or data analytics? Then consider a career in health informatics. Every time you go to the doctor or the hospital, someone enters data into an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. Data is also collected from medical claims and insurance data. A health informaticist can have many roles—managing and implementing a health records system, ensuring clinicians can use it, and making sure the system is making operations more efficient. This job is expected to grow much faster than average, and salaries for health IT average $40,000, with much higher salaries for those with more training or for data analysts. More information here and here.
Are you good at management, details, and coordinating many projects at one time? Perhaps you are a business or public administration major who wants to make a hospital or clinic work more efficiently while also saving costs. Careers in healthcare management are numerous and can range from entry-level patient schedulers and office managers, to high-level healthcare executives who manage health systems with multiple locations and thousands of staff. This occupation is expected to grow 18% from 2018 to 2028, far faster than the average. Learn more here and here.
Are you a computer science student that wants to contribute to social good? There are tech roles that can make an impact in the healthcare field! For example, Flatiron Health – a healthcare technology and services company focused on accelerating cancer research and improving patient care – hires internship-level and entry-level Software Engineers. At a company like Flatiron Health, researchers, data scientists, designers, clinicians, technologists and many other types of professionals all work together to take on cancer. Even if you don’t have a background in healthcare, you can bring your tech skills to the table to contribute to the field. Learn more about Flatiron Health here.
Patient Navigator/Patient Advocate
Do you like helping people? Do you have the ability to keep track of details and follow-up? If so, patient navigator may be the job for you. A patient navigator works with patients to help them stay healthy, find the right health services, remember to show up for their appointments, and understand and follow their doctor’s instructions, while also helping them get access to health insurance, financial resources, and legal and other support. This can be a nice job for a new psychology, social science, or health sciences graduate. Learn more here and here.
Were you a biology or chemistry major? Do you like being surrounded by smart people and contributing to science? Maybe you want to be on the team that develops COVID-19 vaccines or a new medical treatment, or finds the cure for cancer? Lab technician jobs may be a great fit. Depending on the role, you may be analyzing tissue samples or blood—but in a nice, clean lab setting, in case you are squeamish. Average salaries are $53,120 and the job is growing much faster than average. Learn more here.
Are you a liberal arts or health sciences major who loves talking to people and influencing them to make better choices? Do you want to help people by teaching them about healthy eating, quitting smoking, getting exercise, or using other healthy behaviors? Health educators do all this and more. In the time of COVID-19, they also help create social media and other outreach messages to help people understand about the distribution of vaccines, the continued importance of social distancing, why and how to wear masks, and how to find accurate health information and avoid rumors and scams. Average salaries are $46,910 and the job is growing 11% between 2018 and 2028. Learn more here.
Clinical Research Coordinator
If you’re detail-oriented, understand science and complex regulations, enjoy working with researchers and scientists, and have the ability to persuade people to get things done on a deadline, then managing research projects may be a good job for you. Average salaries are around $123,000 per year, but significant training is needed to enter the field. Learn more here.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
One of the top ten fastest growing occupations in the USA, occupational therapy assistants support occupational therapists to help patients recover from illness and injury, adapt to a new disability, and improve skills needed for daily living. This job does require direct patient interaction, setting up equipment, and providing therapy under the supervision of more highly trained professionals. Average salaries are $61,510, and the job is growing fast due to the aging of the population. Learn more here.
If you’re a math whiz, this is the career for you. Biostatisticians use their highly advanced statistical training to contribute to research in healthcare and public health. With statisticians being in one of the nation’s top ten fastest-growing occupations, now is a great time to consider this field. A master’s degree in Biostatistics is typically required, and average salaries are $87,780. Learn more here.
If you’ve never had an interest in clinical care or research, health-related careers might have stayed off your radar. But in the current employment landscape, pursuing a career in healthcare or public health can be a rewarding and stable path to pursue – and you might already have the skills you need to get started.
Heather Krasna is a career coach and career services professional with 21+ years’ experience in higher education, recruiting, and executive coaching, and the author of two job search books, Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service, and Job Search 2.0. You can find out more about her at heatherkrasna.com.