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Health Science Degree: Pros & Cons, Benefits & Opportunities

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Health Science Major Overview

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 11% of all bachelor's degrees conferred in the 2014/2015 school year were in the healthcare field. That means health care came second to business for students enrolling in bachelor's degree programs.

Modern Healthcare says the health care industry as a whole will create 4 million new jobs before 2026. Most of those jobs will come in health care support occupations, the authors say, and those are the positions you can land with a bachelor's degree in health science.

Pros of Health Science Degrees

  • Job Satisfaction. Fulfillment of teaching people about health and fitness.
  • Flexibility. Most careers for a health science major provide a flexible schedule.
  • Job Options. 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 15% job growth through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cons of Health Science Degrees

  • 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.

health field

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:

  • Health care 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 close to $100,000 per year.
  • Health care accounting. Ensure that patient bills are accurate, and handle payments from insurance companies and private parties. Tackle payroll for your organization, and attend to incoming invoices. Every health care 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 about $70,000 per year.
  • Health care 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 $132,000 per year in this position, says the BLS.
  • Health care informatics. This is a relatively new field involving digital health care 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.

Laboratory Jobs

Every patient 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 $52,000 per year, according to the BLS. The demand for this job is on the rise, and most people in this field work in hospitals.

Assistant Jobs

health administration receptionist

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 health care 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (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 $45,000 per year. You might need a master's degree before you can get started.
  • Physician assistant. You'll help doctors, surgeons, and other health care 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 $108,000 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 $40,000 per year, per the BLS.

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.

References

Most Popular Majors. National Center for Education Statistics.

Healthcare Industry to Create 4 Million Jobs by 2026. (October 2017). Modern Healthcare.

Occupational Employment and Wages. (May 2017). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. (April 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. (April 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Physician Assistants. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical and Health Services Managers. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accountants and Auditors. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers. (June 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians. (April 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Concerns Grow About Burnout, Stress in Health Care Workers: New Demands Adding to Burden. (October 2018). The Nation’s Health.

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