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11 Entry-Level Healthcare Jobs Employers Want to Fill NOW

Entry-Level Healthcare Jobs

Healthcare has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, thanks to advancing medical technology and the aging baby-boomer population. You don’t need this article to tell you about the opportunities in the field—you know the opportunity is out there!

But we’ve all heard the horror stories of friends and family who have worked hard to earn a degree, only to be left with limited experience and technical know-how in the job interview. But when it comes to healthcare, getting a degree seems to be a relatively safe step.

Not only is the field booming, but we found several healthcare positions that require very little previous field experience—making the transition from undergrad student to healthcare professional a fairly smooth one.

Keep reading to see for yourself. You might be surprised at the prestigious positions available for qualified candidates who are new to the scene.

Top 11 entry-level healthcare job openings

We used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 1.5 million entry-level healthcare jobs posted over the past year.1 The data helped us identify the top positions for candidates with two or less years of experience.

Here’s what we found:

1. Registered nurse

  • Median annual wage (2015): $67,4902
  • Education needed: associate or bachelor’s degree; nursing license
  • Entry-level job postings: 647,6421
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 16%

Registered nurses (RN) work closely with the patient and their families, providing emotional support and coordinating the appropriate care for their patients. RNs can work anywhere from a hospital, to a school, to nursing care facility, depending on how they choose to differentiate. Though the level of education needed varies, more and more RNs are choosing to go after bachelor’s degrees because of the greater job opportunities and higher earning potential.

2. Critical care nurse

  • Median annual wage (2015): $67,4902
  • Education needed: associate or bachelor’s degree; nursing license
  • Entry-level job postings: 81,4901
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 16%

Sometimes called ICU staff RNs, critical care nurses are registered nurses who work closely with those in critical or life-threatening situations. Like an RN, they provide direct assistance and care to their patients, often working long hours in challenging scenarios. ICU nurses often choose the career for the rewards that come with working directly to help save lives.

3. Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

  • Median annual wage (2015): $43,1702
  • Education needed: 12-month practical nursing program; nursing license
  • Entry-level job postings: 81,1101
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 16%

Licensed practical nurses, sometimes called vocational nurses, work in a variety of settings including nursing homes, clinics and even private residences. They provide the basic nursing care a patient needs as directed by doctors and registered nurses.

4. Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

  • Median annual wage (2015): $25,7102
  • Education needed: state-approved education program
  • Entry-level job postings: 71,4411
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 17%

Certified nursing assistants are sometimes referred to as “orderlies” and they often work in nursing homes or hospitals to provide basic care to elderly and highly-dependent individuals. Nursing assistants dress and bathe patients, serve them meals, check vital signs and dispense medications. CNAs typically have the most contact with their patients out of the entire health-care staff. In many cases, they become the primary caregiver of their patients.

5. Medical assistant

  • Median annual wage (2015): $30,5902
  • Education needed: post-secondary program certificate preferred
  • Entry-level job postings: 45,3301
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 23%

Medical assistants generally complete the administrative tasks needed to keep a physician’s clinic, chiropractic office or other healthcare facility running well. A medical assistant may be in charge of answering phones, scheduling appointments and even helping with minor medical tasks such as taking a patients’ temperature or blood pressure.

6. Medical secretary

  • Median annual wage (2015): $33,0402
  • Education needed: high school diploma; some employers require certification
  • Entry-level job postings: 32,0071
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 14%

Medical secretaries  duties range from answering the phones to schedule appointments to greeting you when you walk in your clinic’s doors to working diligently behind the scenes to ensure medical records and insurance information is up to date. Wherever healthcare is, medical secretaries are there also.

7. Medical laboratory technician

  • Median annual wage (2015): $50,5502
  • Education needed: associate or bachelor’s degree; some states require licensure
  • Entry-level job postings: 31,9161
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 16%

Medical lab techs analyze and test bodily fluids, such as blood, urine and tissue samples. They also operate lab equipment, perform tests, log data and discuss test findings with physicians. Sometimes lab techs will be the ones to take the fluid or tissue sample themselves. They generally perform more routine tests and work under the general supervision of a medical laboratory technologist.

8. Patient service representative

  • Median annual wage (2015): $31,7202
  • Education needed: high school diploma; many employers require degree or certification
  • Entry-level job postings: 30,3001
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 13%

Patient service representatives are similar to service reps in other industries, in that they work directly to field any concerns or needs of the patient. These reps are often the first people introducing a patient to a new medical procedure and often act as the go-between for patients and medical staff. They may field complaints, track-down medical records and explain procedures.

9. Health information technician

  • Median annual wage: $37,1102
  • Education: postsecondary certificate or associate degree; many employers also require professional certification
  • Entry-level job postings: 29,8201
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 15%

Health information technology (HIT) professionals are in charge of documenting, classifying and tracking patients’ health information to ensure accuracy and quality. Though HIT pros do not work directly with patients, they often work with RNs and other healthcare personnel to gather additional information and ensure accuracy for patient documentation. 

10. Pharmacy technician

  • Median annual wage (2015): $30, 4102
  • Education needed: high school diploma, many employers require certificate 
  • Entry-level job postings: 23,5221
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 9%

Pharmacy techs collect information from health professionals to fill prescriptions, measure amounts of medication, package and label prescriptions, process payment for medications and work with customers. Pharmacy techs typically don’t answer medication questions and will redirect patients to the pharmacist for additional information. They generally work under the supervision of pharmacists and may work in hospitals, other medical facilities, or drugstores.

11. Home health aide

  • Median annual wage: $21,9202
  • Education needed: high school diploma; formal training and certification 
  • Entry-level job postings: 18,5861
  • Job growth (2014 – 2024): 38%

Home health aides typically assist clients in their own residences with daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing. They may provide basic health-related services, such as giving medication or checking vital signs. Occasionally, they may help with general household work like laundry and cleaning. They also help clients organize their schedule, drive them to medical appointments and assist them in shopping for groceries. They tend to work under the direct supervision of nurses or other medical professionals.

A sunny outlook

The world needs people like you who are willing to take the leap and enter the world of healthcare. Now you know there are a variety of paths you could follow and the opportunity is waiting for you as soon as you're qualified.

Do you feel encouraged after reading about these in-demand careers? If one of these 11 entry-level healthcare jobs sounds like a good fit for you, download our Healthcare Career Guide to start mapping out your future today! (Analysis of 1,541,859 entry-level healthcare job postings, Aug. 01, 2015 – Jul. 31, 2016)
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published July 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2016.

Lauren Elrick

Lauren is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She enjoys helping current and potential students choose the path that helps them achieve their educational goals.

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