Online Healthcare Degrees

Recessions have the destructive power of not only limiting the job growth but also ruining lifelong careers. Professions in healthcare, however, have withstood many recessionary onslaughts. Health care professions, matter of fact, have grown under hard times.

The US healthcare system consists of personal care specialists, support staff and most importantly, health care practitioners. The system is solely focused on:

  • Diagnosing, fighting and treating illnesses
  • Preventing diseases, illnesses and injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a boon for healthcare jobs from 2012 to 2022.

Some of the most in-demand jobs of the future are laid down below.

Physical Therapist Assistant
Online Healthcare Degrees

Physical Therapist Assistant

Also called PTAs, physical therapy assistants help patients manage pain and regain movement while recovering from illnesses and injuries. PTAs work under the supervision of physical therapists, mostly in offices of audiologists, and physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Traditionally, PTA’s have been high school graduates with on-the-job training. However, most states now require them to hold at least an associate degree in a related program from an accredited institute. In order to find out about the accredited programs, visit the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education’s website.

A 2-year associate degree in physical therapy education is a combination of classroom-based knowledge and clinical experience. Students take courses in psychology, physiology, anatomy, and English. Educational qualification alone however is not enough; PTAs need to be licensed or certified to work (with the exception of PTAs in Hawaii).

The BLS reported that PTAs earned a median annual income of $52,160 in 2012. Their job numbers are expected to grow at the rate of 41% from 2012-22.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

These are one of the most important members of the support staff team of a healthcare system. Diagnostic medical sonographers operate special imaging equipment to conduct tests or create images for physicians to diagnose medical conditions. A majority of these professionals work in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories and physicians’ offices.

Diagnostic medical sonographers need to hold at least an associate degree or a postsecondary certificate. Professionally certified sonographers have a better chance of getting hired. For example, a sonographer can get certified in abdominal sonography by passing a specific exam.

The BLS reported in 2012 that diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual salary of $65,860. Their job numbers are predicted to increase at the rate of 46% faster than the average job growth for all other occupations from 2012 to 2022.

Registered Nurse

No healthcare system can work without the presence of qualified nursing staff. The importance of this fact can be gauged from a facRegistered Nurse - Online Healthcare Degreest that there were over 2.7 million registered nurses in 2012.

RNs provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public alike about health conditions. Their job may entail communicating with patient’s family in providing them with emotional support, etc. An overwhelming majority of RNs work in hospitals, while others prefer to work in physicians’ offices, home health care sector and nursing homes.

RNs need to have at least a diploma in nursing to take the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. All potential RNs must pass the examination to be licensed; all RNs must be licensed. In addition to attaining a diploma in nursing, potential RNs may also hold the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

In 2012, RNs earned a median annual income of $65,470, according to the BLS. This is the national statistics, however, in some states RNs earn much higher than this figure. The job outlook for the RNs is great too – BLS predicts 19% growth from 2012-22.

Dental Hygienist

They provide preventative dental care, examine patients for oral diseases and clean teeth. They are not dentists but work closely with dentists.

Dental hygienists must possess at least an associate degree in dental hygiene and must also be licensed to practice. Dental hygienists, who intend to teach or conduct research in the field, must complete a master’s degree in dental hygiene.

As per the BLS figures, dental hygienists earned a median annual income of $70,210 in 2012. Their job growth is expected to take place at the rate of 33% faster than the average growth for all other occupations from 2012-22.


Commonly known as doctors, both physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Physicians, unlike surgeons, do not operate on patients. They perform and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, take medical histories and examine patients. They may also provide their expert opinion on preventive healthcare, hygiene and diet.

Physicians are graduates of medical school, who have spend 3 to 8 years in internship and residency programs. They are also licensed to practice; licensure requirements vary by state, but all states require physicians to be licensed. Some physicians are also certified, although such requirement is not mandatory.

Physicians work in clinics or private offices, some practice independently as well. According to the BLS, physicians (providing primary care) earned a median annual income of $220,942, and physicians providing special medical care earned $396,233 in 2012. Physicians’ and surgeons’ jobs are expected to grow at the rate of 18% from 2012-22.

Online Healthcare Degrees

The abovementioned educational qualifications are also offered online. These are specifically designed for working individuals. For examples, RNs with a nursing diploma may enroll in an online BSN degree and study from the comfort of their home.

Online healthcare programs are often not offered completely online, since laboratory work forms an important part of many healthcare programs. Hybrid degrees are useful for working individuals since they can complete the theoretical part from home and only attend on-campus laboratory work, as required.  Checking the accreditation of both the school and the program is necessary. It is imperative for students to check the accreditation before enrollment.

The US health care system is a large industry, employing millions. Health care related professions are relatively stable and have withstood economic hard times, unlike professions in other industries. The health care however is heavily regulated, requiring potential candidates to be academically qualified and licensed to practice.