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    7 Fastest Ways To Start Your Healthcare Career Now

    Healthcare is a field that's continually growing and always expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is estimating a 14% growth rate in healthcare occupations by 2028. This means another 1.9 million jobs. So, it's no surprise that a lot of people are looking to get into the healthcare field. 

    There are a lot of ways to get into healthcare, but some paths will let you get started faster than others. We’ll cover the seven quickest ways to get started working in the world of healthcare.

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    1. Phlebotomy Technician

    What is a Phlebotomy Technician? 

    Phlebotomy technicians, also known as Phlebotomists, draw blood from patients for testing and other purposes. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, or laboratories. 

    How to Become a Phlebotomist

    Becoming a phlebotomist is a relatively fast process. While some states require a certification or license to practice phlebotomy, some facilities train their phlebotomists on the job. Certification is obtained in a one to two-semester program. 

    How Much Do Phlebotomy Technicians Make? 

    According to Payscale, the average pay for a phlebotomist is $14.50 per hour, or $32,437 per year. The top 90% of Phlebotomy technicians make $46,000 per year.

    Skills and Characteristics You Need to Work as a Phlebotomist

    Phlebotomists must work well with others as they interact directly with patients and often handle frightened or anxious patients. They should be comfortable interacting with patients of all ages, including infants and the elderly. 

    Because phlebotomy work requires accessing veins and handling blood and bodily fluids, you can’t be squeamish about needles and blood. 

    2. Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)

    What are Paramedics and EMTs?

    Looking for a fast-paced job where you can thrive on adrenaline and work under pressure? Becoming an EMT or Paramedic may be the right path for you. EMTs and paramedics both work as a part of the emergency medical services team, but the primary difference between the two lies in their education and what they are allowed to do. Both Paramedics and EMTs respond to emergency calls, perform medical services, and transport patients. EMTs can administer CPR, glucose, and oxygen. Paramedics can perform more complex procedures, including inserting IV lines, administering drugs, and applying pacemakers.

    How to Become a Paramedic or EMT

    EMTs and paramedics are certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Certification requires completing a certified education program and passing the national exam. Some states have first-level state certifications that don’t require national certification.

    Some EMT programs are non-degree programs, while others last up to two years. Becoming a paramedic requires completion of an Associate's degree program or an accredited on-the-job training program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed. Programs are offered by 

    • Technical colleges
    • Community colleges
    • Universities
    • Facilities that specialize in emergency care training

    The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs offers a list of accredited programs for EMTs and paramedics, by state. 

    How Much Do Paramedics and EMTs make?

    Job growth and career outlook is promising for both EMTs and paramedics at 7% growth. According to ZipRecruiter, the average EMT salary is $29,044 per year or $14 per hour. Paramedics make significantly more, earning $43,344 annually, or $21 per hour. 

    3. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

    What is a Certified Medical Assistant?

    Certified Medical Assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and other healthcare facilities. Typical duties include:

    • Registering patients
    • Measuring vital signs
    • Giving patient's injections or medication as directed by a physician as permitted by state law
    • Assisting physicians with patient examinations
    • Perform basic laboratory tests such as preparing blood samples

    How to Become a CMA

    All states require CMAs to be certified and skills are taught in a course that lasts from two to six weeks. These courses are often taught at community colleges, trade schools, medical facilities, or privately owned training or allied health schools.

    Most CMA programs can be completed in one year.  Most medical assistants have a postsecondary education award such as a certificate. Although medical assistants are not required to be certified by most states, most healthcare facilities require certification. Several organizations offer certification. Applicants must pass an exam and have met several qualifying factors. 

    The National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits five certifications for medical assistants.

    How Much do CMAs Make?

    According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a Certified Medical Assistant in the United States is $31,508 annually, with the highest-paid CMAs earning up to $38,000. 

    4.) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

    What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

    Certified Nursing Assistants, CNAs, are a vital part of the nursing team. They assist patients with personal care and activities of daily living in a wide variety of settings including:

    • Long term care facilities
    • Hospitals
    • Home healthcare agencies
    • Rehab facilities

    How to Become a CNA

    In order to become a certified nursing assistant, you'll need to complete a state-approved training program. These can be found at vocational schools, community colleges, and through the Red Cross, and take approximately 4 to 12 weeks to complete.

    How Much Do Certified Nursing Assistants Make?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median average annual salary for certified nursing assistants in 2018 was $28,530. But keep in mind that wages vary on industry and location. 

    Skills and Characteristics You Need to Be a CNA

    CNAs are often called "the backbone of healthcare." They must possess compassion and patience. It's important to note many nurses begin their careers as CNAs and continue their education while working.

    5. Licensed Practical Nurse

    What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

    LPNs are licensed nurses who complete an accredited, board-approved nursing program and pass the NCLEX-PN. 

    Each state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for Licensed Practical Nurses. Some duties of LPNs include, but are not limited to:

    • Administering medications
    • Performing wound care
    • Inserting catheters
    • Performing lab procedures
    • Coordinating care with patients' interdisciplinary team
    • Supervising CNAs

    Additionally, many LPNs work in an administrative and supervisory capacity. Some certifications allow LPNs to broaden their scope and job opportunities. Many registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses began their careers as LPNs. It’s important to note, in Texas and California LPNs are known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNS)

    Licensed practical nurses work in various settings:

    • Long term care facilities
    • Rehab facilities
    • Outpatient clinics
    • Physician offices
    • Hospitals
    • Home health
    • Psychiatric facilities
    • Correctional facilities
    • Schools, colleges, or universities

    How to Become an LPN

    Most LPNs programs are 12 to 18 months long and give students a certification; however, some programs are longer, and its students walk away with an Associate's degree. LPN programs can are found at

    • Technical schools
    • Community colleges
    • Universities
    • Allied health schools

    Some states allow candidates who began registered nursing programs but didn’t finish or pass the NCLEX-RN to test as practical nurses. 

    How Much Do LPNs Make?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects LPN jobs to increase by 11% by 2026. The BLS reports that the median LPN salary in 2018 was $22.23 per hour, or $46,240 per year. 

    6. Surgical Technologist

    What is a Surgical Technologist?

    Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams. Surgical techs work under the authority and supervision of the surgeon unless prohibited by state law or hospital policy. 

    How to Become a Surgical Tech

    You can become a surgical technician through either a certificate program or an Associate's degree, and then pass the national surgical technology certification exam.

    Training is available at community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military. A certificate program can take 12 months, and an Associate's degree program takes two years to complete. 

    Eligibility to take the national surgical technology certification examination requires:

    • A graduate of a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
    • Military program

    How Much Do Surgical Technologists Make?

    According to the BLS, surgical technology jobs are projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, and the average pay is $22.74 per hour or $47,300 per year. 

    7. Medical Coder

    What is a Medical Coder?

    Medical coders review patient medical records and assign codes for each diagnosis and treatment. They translate physicians' reports into useful medical codes for billing and insurance purposes. Medical coders may work in:

    • Hospitals
    • Healthcare consulting agencies
    • Insurance agencies
    • Government agencies
    • Universities
    • Law firms

    How to Become a Medical Coder

    To start a medical coding career, you’ll first need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Next, you’ll go through a training course, either a postsecondary certificate or an Associate’s degree in Medical Coding. Certificate programs can be completed in as little as 9 months, while Associate’s degrees will take two years to complete. You’ll also want to complete the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam to earn your certification.

    How Much Do Medical Coders Make?

    Medical coding jobs are expected to increase at a rate of 13% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average pay is $18.40 per hour or $41,960 per year, according to Payscale. 

    If you’re seeking a quick entry into healthcare consider one of these pathways to jumpstart your healthcare career. 

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    Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for her latest. 

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