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Healthcare jobs such as Registered Nurses, LPN’s, LVN’s and related Medical Technicians provide over 15 million jobs, and ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare-related. Most healthcare workers have jobs that require less than 4 years of college education, such as health technologists and technicians, medical records, billing and coding, health information technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, radiologic technologists and technicians, and dental hygienists. As people age they have more medical problems, and hospitals will require more staff. Wages vary by the employer and area of the county. Aside from their salary, most medical jobs include excellent benefits, as well as retirement plans.
Radiologic and MRI Technologists perform diagnostic medical imaging examinations, such as x-rays, on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases by administering radiation treatments. Nuclear medicine technologists prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients. The radioactive dye cause abnormal areas of the body to appear stand out from unaffected areas in the images. An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement for radiologic and MRI technologists. In addition, you may pursue a graduate certificate or bachelor’s degree. Training programs include both classroom study and clinical work. Courses include anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation.
The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits programs in radiography. To become licensed, technologists must graduate from an accredited program, and pass a certifying exam. Certifications for radiologic technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certifications for MRI technologists are available from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). The average salary for radiation therapists was $70,220 in May 2015. Further, job openings for radiation therapists are projected to grow 14% over the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing from a chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. Respiratory therapists need at least an associate’s degree, but employers may prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In addition to coursework, programs have clinical components that allow respiratory therapists to gain supervised, practical experience in treating patients. Average salaries in 2015 were about $57,790 per year. Employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024. Growth in the elderly population will lead to an increased incidence of respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.
Licensure requirements in most states include passing a state or professional certification exam. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) is the main certifying body for respiratory therapists. The Board offers two levels of certification: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist. CRT is the first-level certification. Applicants must have earned an associate’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapy program, or completed the equivalent coursework in a bachelor’s degree program, and pass an exam. The second-level certification is RRT certification. Applicants must already have CRT certification, meet other education or experience requirements, and pass an exam.
Surgical technologists, also called operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries. Surgical technologists typically need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. The average wage for surgical technologists was $44,330 in May 2015. Employment chances may improve up to 15 percent from 2014 to 2024. Many community colleges and vocational schools, as well as some hospitals, have accredited programs in surgical technology. Surgical technologists are trained in the care and safety of patients, sterilization techniques, how to set up technical or robotic equipment, and preventing infections. First surgical assistants may complete a formal education program in surgical assisting. Others may work as a surgical technologist, and receive additional on-the-job training before becoming a first assistant.
Certification through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting allows the use of the title ‘Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).’ Certification through the National Center for Competency Testing allows the use of the title ‘Tech in Surgery – Certified (NCCT).’ The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, and the American Board of Surgical Assistants offer certification for surgical assistants.