Are you someone who enjoys working in the lab but is also passionate about health care? Do you enjoy receiving hands-on experience as much as conducting research? And do you eventually see yourself working in a hospital, private practice, or hospice care? Then you might be interested in the newer discipline of health science, a multifaceted major that's grounded in science, health care, and wellness.
As you might expect from that introduction, a bachelor's in health science (BHS) degree can open up innumerable doors in terms of future health careers. That inherent diversification makes this a great major for those interested in physical therapy, public health, respiratory care, nursing, medicine, and other fields.
A BHS degree program combines many health disciplines into one, though students can typically select an area of concentration for study. While these courses will build on a foundation in general education, biology, and chemistry, students may have the opportunity to concentrate in disciplines like nutrition, exercise and fitness, and community health outreach. Some BHS degree holders will pursue entry-level administrative roles, however, many will go on to earn a doctorate after graduation so they can become health care practitioners.
Pros & Cons of a Health Science Degree
If you're thinking of entering the healthcare industry, you've picked a great time. While one in eight U.S. citizens is employed in this field, experts project that the industry will continue to grow. Over the next decade, healthcare employment is expected to increase by anywhere from 13 to 15 percent — or what amounts to an additional 2.4 million jobs.
Pros of Health Science Degrees
The benefits of a health science degree start with pay, of course. As you might expect, careers in healthcare come with meaningfully higher wages. The average healthcare employee salary in the U.S. is $60,976, compared to the national average of $47,060. And that is just the median, which makes obtaining a health science degree far from useless.
Job Satisfaction. Fulfillment of teaching people about health and fitness.
Flexibility. Most careers for a health science major provide a flexible schedule.
Job Options. This ranks towards the top of overall benefits of a health science degree. If you have a passion for healthcare but aren't sure about a specific job title, this will give you an entry point to multiple careers in the industry.
Job Growth. Estimated 13% job growth through 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Cons of Health Science Degrees
However, like everything, you will also find some disadvantages of health science. You can expect to study for long hours into the night, and depending on your career, burning the candle at both ends will be a common feeling. But if your passion truly lies in this area of expertise, you will find yourself surmounting any barriers in your way.
Continuous Professional Development. You will most likely need a graduate degree and more continuing education certifications to pursue higher-level jobs.
Industry-Specific Major. If you decide to work in a different field outside of health science, employers may be hesitant to hire you depending on your existing knowledge and skills.
Careers for Health Science Majors
So choosing health science is smart, but what should you do with that degree when you have it? Below are a few good suggestions.
Healthcare Administration Jobs
Most people who choose the health sciences love anatomy and patient care. But plenty of people who work in this field also have a head for organization and business. Jobs in healthcare administration let you combine those two talents.
These jobs tend to come with lower amounts of stress, as you're rarely making life-and-death decisions, and few of these jobs require advanced degrees.
Good jobs in this field include:
Healthcare Administration. In this role, you'll manage the facility you work for. You'll develop programs, create ties with your community, and protect your reputation. It's a bit like working as a CEO, but you'll be in charge of a healthcare organization. Per the BLS, you'll make around $100,000 a year.
Healthcare Accounting. Healthcare accountants ensure that patient bills are accurate and handle payments from insurance companies and private parties. They also tackle payroll for their organization and attend to incoming invoices. Every healthcare organization has an accounting department, so this is an exceptional opportunity. You'll need to add accounting classes to your health sciences degree to qualify. Per the BLS, you'll make over $77,000 per year.
Health Marketer. Hospitals and health plans rely on patients to stay afloat. In this position, you'll explain what makes your organization better than the others. You might work with outside consultants to share your story, or you might be a one-person team for a small medical practice. You can make up to $134,000 per year in this position, according to the BLS.
Health Informatics.This is a relatively new field involving digital healthcare recordkeeping. You might design an IT system for an entire health plan or organization, or you might help to implement a plan designed by someone else. You might hold trainings to help everyone understand what you've done, and you could be called in to help if the system somehow breaks or malfunctions. Salaries vary widely and you’ll need programming classes in addition to those in health care.
Interested in healthcare opportunities?
Every patient's treatment began in a laboratory. Researchers dug into how diseases worked, and they developed therapies that seemed to reverse the trauma. Then, laboratory technicians examined patient cells to determine what they had, and those results helped doctors develop treatment plans.
If research is in your blood, a lab position could be just right for you.
You could take on any of these roles:
Cytotechnologist. You'll prepare cell samples and examine them. Your results will help diagnose or treat disease.
Histological Technician. You'll prepare cells for someone else to examine. Prepping those slides can mean dehydration, incineration, staining, and more.
Medical Technologist.You'll lead a team of laboratory workers. You'll supervise their work, and you'll need to step in to tackle complex cases.
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists make about $58,000 per year, according to the BLS. The demand for this job is on the rise, and most people in this field work in hospitals.
Interested in laboratory opportunities?
When we think of jobs in health care, we immediately think of surgeons, doctors, and nurses. While the work these professionals do is crucial, it isn't done independently. Most healthcare experts are supported by a team of assistants. They may not get the power and glory that comes with supervising patient care, but they help patients feel better.
Jobs in this field include:
Health Educator.Help people understand how to maintain their good health through smart diet and lifestyle choices. You might help a doctor implement a care program for just one patient, or you might create plans for an entire community. The BLS says $53,940 is the mean annual wage.
Alcohol and Drug Counselor.Patients who abuse drugs or alcohol often need help to get better. As a mental health specialist, you'll uncover the roots of addiction, and you'll assist patients as they build up skills for a sober life. Per the BLS, you'll make about $48,000 per year. You might need a master's degree before you can get started.
Physician Assistant.You'll help doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. You may examine and treat patients, or you may assist someone else. You’ll need a master’s degree to pursue this type of work. Per the BLS, you’ll make about $121,000 per year.
Health Information Technician.Managing patients means dealing with paperwork. In this role, you'll ensure that patient data is accurate and accessible, and you'll confirm that it's protected from hackers. Some hospitals and clinics don't require a bachelor's degree, but many do. You'll make about $46,000 per year, per the BLS.
Interested in opportunities as an assistant?
Build on Your Degree
When you graduate with a health sciences degree, you can enter the workforce right away, but that's not mandatory. This degree can work as a stepping stone to other careers, but you'll need more education to get started.
For example, you could use your health sciences major to help you prepare for a career as a physician or surgeon. You have plenty of education ahead, as you'll need to attend graduate school, participate in an internship, and pass several stringent medical examinations. You'll invest about 10 years of your life in this education process, but when it's complete, you'll have total control over patient care.
You could also use this degree to help you prepare for nursing school. In some states, you're not required to have a bachelor's degree to work as a nurse. But in others, you'll need a master's degree. Your foundation in the health sciences helps you prepare for either path, so you can give your patients the best care possible.
What to Know Before You Start
Jobs in medicine are on the rise, and these are some of the most rewarding careers out there. Your work can literally mean the difference between life and death. If you're worried about choosing a job that's meaningless or inane, this could be welcome news.
But health care jobs can also be incredibly stressful.
Researchers say that doctors face higher rates of suicide compared to other professions. They also tend to burn out at a quicker rate due to the pressures they face every day at work.
If you choose this career path, you'll need to protect your mental health. That means you'll need to devote time to your passions outside of work. Your high salary and generous vacation package should allow you to travel, take vacations, and spend time with the people you love. Take advantage of those opportunities to maximize your career.
Find Your Health Care Job
If healthcare is your passion, we can help. We have open health care positions listed on our website, and we've gathered them from all across the country.
Head to our listings to start your search for any, or all, of the titles we've mentioned here. You might find the perfect position you've always wanted.