Recent laws and changes to the American healthcare system have led to some big developments in the conditions like stress levels, physical demands and environments.
#1 – Biomedical Engineer
The job with the highest ranking is not that big a surprise when some of the most important factors are considered. With an annual median salary of $86,960 – the third highest yealy wage on this list – and an approach that takes workers away from more stressful workplaces, like hospitals, there are a lot of obvious perks to becoming a biomedical engineer. It is, however, the predicted growth of 62% that helps put this profession on top, which is significantly higher that most other jobs highlighted here. Demand for the new and improved technology and equipment they create means enormous demand for technologically minded engineers to create them and this can only continue beyond 2014.
#2 – Dental Hygienist
While the term biomedical engineer may be slightly foreign, the role of the dental hygienist is much more familiar and, in many ways, a lot more appealing with its comfortable work environment, lack of workplace stress, 9-5 schedule and job security. A day of looking after people’s teeth is not for everyone but with projected growth of 38% – which some attribute to the aging population – and an average salary of $70,210, it is not hard to see why people are turning to the dental suite.
#3 – Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapy – therapy with a focus on getting people back to work through specific treatments – is another underrated option that ranks highly in this list. The appeal with this role is partly down to the variety of skills and opportunities, such as working within rehabilitation, mental health or emergency rooms, and the rewards that can be achieved with a successful case. Additionally, this job has an annual median salary of $75,400 and a projected growth of 33%.
The prospects for ultrasound technicians are also bright for 2014 and this profession shares two of the same perks as the medical careers that have been mentioned so far: it offers the chance to work with a wide variety of people in rewarding settings and there is good predicted growth of 39% from now until 2022. The reason for the lower ranking is most likely due to the added stress that comes with a hospital based job like this and the lower average salary of $65,860.
#5 – Optometrist
Much like the dental hygienist, the optometrist gets the benefits of a comfortable office and weekly routine, only instead of dealing with an increased demand for dental care from the growing, aged population, they get to keep their vision in check. The projected growth for this career is smaller than that of the dentists, at just 33%, but the $97,820 annual median salary adds to the perks.
#6 – Physical Therapist
Many people that are looking into potential medical careers may wonder why the job of occupational therapist ranks so much higher than that of the more well known Physical Therapist, particularly when the average salary is ever so slightly higher at $79,860 and the BLS has predicted growth of 39%. The downside arguably comes from the other aspects of the criteria such as the working conditions and stress levels – physical therapists often having to deal with the psychological and emotional turmoil of life changing injuries.
#7 – Chiropractor
Chiropractic methods are becoming more widely accepted as a potential treatment option, as patients look for alternatives for their joint and spinal problems than surgery or unappealing drugs, and a chiropractor can enjoy the comfortable side of healthcare with offices and social hours. The reason why this career ranks on the lower end of the list is that the predicted growth is slower than other professions at 28% and the annual median salary is moderate at $66,160.
#8 – Speech Pathologist
Becoming a speech pathologist can be a highly rewarding job for those that make the grade because of the chance to really make a difference to a child’s life and well-being; however, there are a lot more demands on these candidates than in other medical careers, such as the requirement of a license in some states, an in some cases these therapists will have to spend years in education. In addition to this, while the average salary is fair at $69,870, the predicted growth is low at 23%.
Respiratory therapy is another area that is set to see a rise in the coming years as the Baby Boomer generation reach their autumn years and demand more specialized healthcare for breathing problems. The reason why this niche role is lower down the list is that the predicted growth is relatively low at 28%, the annual median salary is much lower than other professions at $55,870 and many employers demand that candidates hold an associates or bachelor’s degree.
#10 – Physician Assistant
The final example of top medical careers for 2014 on this list is physician assistant. This may be a surprise because of the high average salary of $90,930 but it seems that this major advantage counterbalances some important disadvantages. The predicted growth is lower than other examples, at just 30%, and the role is seen as being a very demanding one with a lot of stress because a lot of assistants find themselves taking on the responsibilities of the physicians with less of the benefits.