Health care is the largest industry in the United States, contributing over fourteen million jobs to the workforce. It's an industry that is not going to be growing smaller any time soon - if ever - because of the aginig of our population and the increasing demands our seniors will be putting on the healthcare systems. Seven of the fastest growing careers in the country are in healthcare, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

A number of those jobs that will be proliferating do not require an M.D. or doctorate of any other sort. Some require master's degrees and some require only an associate's degree. You may be in the same boat as millions of Americans - you need to change careers because your former employer has gone overseas or gone under.

There are a number of options in the health care field that don't require many years of training, that will have a significant increase in employer need and that can lead to steps up the career ladder if you choose to continue your education once you are hired.

This is a partial list of jobs in the health care industry, all of which will be growing between twice as fast and five times as fast as the average for overall growth for all jobs – which is about 11%. This data is from the Department of Labor’s last decade-long projection study, which is for the decade 206 – 2016.

Dental Hygiene
Medical Sonography (Ultrasound)
Medical Assistant
Cardiovascular Technician
Pharmacy Technician
Social and Human Service Assistants
Surgical Technician
Physical Therapist Assistant
Home Health Care Aides

All of these jobs require at the most an associate's degree for employment, although the home health aide position requires no more than a high school diploma and a little training. Several of these positions require licensure however, so the degree is important. But it is a degree that you can obtain in two years or less, and in many cases through an online health care degree program.

There are a few points to make about this assortment of health care careers. Dental hygienists can obtain a bachelor's or even a master's degree, but many are still opting for the associate's degree and that is acceptable in most dental offices. Because many hygienists work in more than one dentist's office, they keep their own hours and to a great degree, are working for themselves.

Social and human service assistant is a generic term for individuals who may become human service worker, case management aide, social work assistant, community support worker, mental health aide, community outreach worker, life skills counselor, or gerontology aide. They work for psychiatrists, nursing departments, in rehabilitation or physical therapy, and in various psychological treatment facilities.

Cardiovascular and surgical technicians are usually employed in hospitals, and often find themselves assisting physicians in examinations or treatments. A good surgical technician often becomes part of the surgical team in an operating room.

A medical assistant is another trained professional who may find a job in a doctor's office, in a hospital, a public health clinic or an extended care facility doing anything from administering medication to answering the phones; taking vital signs to taking down medical histories given orally by a patient.

They won't be sending health care jobs offshore and there certainly won't be a shortage of patients. For further information on job projections and academic requirements, consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook issued by the federal government. You'll find salary information there as well. If you are looking for a career change that you can accomplish fairly quickly, investigate the options that are out there and begin looking for a school that can meet your needs.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Hartzell writes on careers and education for a number of websites