In order to define precisely what constitutes a "best job" for any college graduate a thorough assessment of that individual's values, skills, interests and personality is required. However, it is possible to suggest some options worth serious consideration in various sectors of the job market.
For those college students with an interest in medicine and health there are a number of options which offer the prospect of job satisfaction, job security and a viable income. Aging baby boomers will require a high level of care as their bodies and minds deteriorate with time.
Best Health Care Jobs for College Grads
Escalating and unsustainable healthcare costs suggest that professionals who can deliver cost effective solutions to patients will be in high demand. Hospitals and medical practices are relying more and more on Physician's Assistants (PA) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) to handle relatively routine diagnostic and treatment regimens. Preparation costs for these professions are much more reasonable than for medical school and PAs/NPs can complete their programs in much less time with far less debt than medical students. Malpractice insurance for NPs and PAs is much lower than the rates for doctors given the level of supervision which they usually receive.
Average salaries range from $90k to $100k. Students need to have a reasonably high aptitude for science/math and a solid academic record to gain access to programs and successfully complete the curriculum. NPs and PAs must be also patient, empathic, skilled communicators with strong analytical and problem solving skills.
Physical therapists (PT) are also in great demand especially given demographic trends with an aging population. PTs must understand the mechanics of the human body so that they can safely and effectively intervene to help patients recover physical capacities. PTs must have sensitivity to the needs of injured patients and be able to cope with the complaints of clients who are in pain.
PTs often must push patients through uncomfortable exercises to help them regain functionality. Strong analytical abilities, competence in anatomy and physics as well as a willingness to keep up with emerging treatment modalities are requirements. A high GPA is required for admission to graduate programs. Most newly trained PTs now complete clinical doctorate programs which take 3 years to complete. PTs earn $80,000 per year on average.
Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA) support the efforts of PTs. PTAs complete a 2 year associate's degree and earn average salaries around $45,000.
Audiologists will be in high demand especially since large numbers of aging boomers will experience hearing loss. Audiologists assess hearing proficiency, treat hearing and balance problems, develop plans to prevent hearing loss and dispense hearing aids as well as other assistive technology.
Individuals planning to enter this field must complete a doctoral degree which normally takes 4 years. They should have a strong science background, relate well to those who are hearing impaired, have excellent analytical and problem solving abilities. It helps to be entrepreneurial since many Audiologists set up a private practice. Average salaries range from $70k to $90k per year based on whether they practice in schools, hospitals or industry.
Occupational Therapists (OT) serve those who are recovering from injury or incapacitation as well as those coping with physical or emotional disabilities which interfere with everyday living. Given the increased propensity for aging individuals to incur injuries and suffer from illnesses like strokes which diminish capacities, OTs will be in high demand in the years to come.
OTs focus on helping patients to regain skills needed to function effectively in school, the workplace, home and institutions. They make recommendations on how the environment can be adapted to accommodate the limitations that their clients face. OTs need to possess a great deal of patience, empathy and creativity in resolving problems. A broad background in science and psychology is critical to addressing the needs of the whole patient. There are many paths to certification for OTs either at the masters or doctoral level. The average salary for an OT is about $74,000.
Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA) help OTs to rehabilitate patients. OTAs complete 2 year programs and garner average salaries of about $50,000. Review the Occupational Outlook Handbook for other viable healthcare career options.
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