While many of the new jobs created since the recession are persistently low-paying retail and restaurant positions with no benefits and little chance of advancement, the growing health care sector offers career paths that lead to generous compensation and a secure future. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest ten-year projections for industry growth, dating from 2012 to 2022, it projected that the health care and social assistance industry will produce one in three of the new jobs in the U.S. over the next decade. The highest-paying of the healthcare jobs ranked by CareerCast this year:
- Pharmacist, with a median salary of $116,700 and projected growth by 2022 of 14%, according to the BLS. Pharmacists must complete a four-year “PharmD” program after getting a bachelor’s or associate’s degree with undergraduate coursework in physics, chemistry, biology and calculus
- Podiatrist. Though working on people’s feet all day seems like it could be difficult and even onerous, Lee insists that podiatrists are trained to perform surgery so they can mix up their routines. The field has also had some attrition, in part because the pay is not as high as that of specialties like radiology or neurosurgery. “There aren’t enough podiatrists to fill all the positions,” says Lee, yielding a projected growth rate of 23% by 2022. Podiatrists don’t go to medical school but rather earn a D.P.M. (doctor of podiatric medicine) which takes four years to complete including two years of clinical rotations.
- Physical therapist – with a growth rate of 36%, the highest on the list. Median salaries for physical therapists are $79,860. According to the American Physical Therapists Association, to be licensed, physical therapists must complete a three-year post-graduate Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree after earning a bachelor’s, though some allow a three-year pre-professional undergraduate program and then the three-year DPT degree. Some DPT programs take students straight out of high school, though they require students to pass some undergraduate courses as well as DPT requirements. To be a licensed physical therapist you must pass a state exam. Along with the good salary and high growth rate, Lee says people find physical therapy to be a rewarding profession. “You’re working one-on-one with people who are thankful for your help. You also can manage your own schedule.” I’m skeptical of that last claim and welcome comments from physical therapists.