Career Guide for Health Professionals: How to Choose the Right Career

If you’re considering a career in the health care field, there are many options for you. The choice of what to do can be difficult to make. If you have an interest in healthcare, but not sure where to start, don’t worry! This helpful guide will give you some insight into what makes a great career for those interested in working with people. From the impact that your work can have on others, to the different pathways and education required for each type of health care profession, this article will help take away some of the confusion and anxiety that is often present when deciding what path to take.

What is Required for Each Types of Health Care Positions?

Careers in the health care field include fields such as nursing, nursing assistants, paramedic, and physician assistant. These careers come with many different options in terms of education, job location, and salary. When choosing a career in the health care field, it’s important for you to research what is required for each type of position.


Nursing is a career that includes both direct patient care and administration. The education requirements for this type of career can vary widely depending on which state or province you live in; however, most people will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

Nursing Assistant:

A nursing assistant provides support to nurses but does not have the same level of educational requirements as those who are fully trained nurses. A minimum of an associate degree is needed to work as a nursing assistant. Additionally, these individuals typically work within hospitals and require licensing or certification before they can be employed.


This career requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in order to enter into training programs later on in their career. This type of role typically involves working with patients experiencing critical conditions including cardiac arrest, trauma injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries. This requires significant training and background knowledge that takes place over several months before paramedic students are allowed on duty with patients.

Physician assistant:

This career requires a medical degree and a three-year apprenticeship. A physician assistant receives education from attending physicians in order to practice medicine under the supervision of an experienced practitioner, such as doctor or surgeon. As the number of patients increases, so will the demand for this specialist career path.

How to Find Your Path

As with all careers, there are different paths to take in the field of health care, including different fields such as dental care, elder care, skin care, alternative medicine, addiction recovery etc. Some paths require more education and some require less. The pathway that you choose will depend on your interests, skills, and availability. For example, if you already have a college degree and are looking for a job that doesn’t require as much education as other positions in the field, you might want to consider pursuing a role in nursing or clinical work. On the other hand, if you have an interest in healthcare administration or research then you may want to pursue one of the many doctorate-level jobs available in healthcare. Many people find it helpful to start with an entry-level position such as a medical assistant or pharmacy technician before moving up into management roles like medical assistant manager or pharmacy manager.

Different Career Paths in Health Care

A career in the health care field is not just about making money. If you are looking for a career that will provide opportunities to work with people and provide a tangible impact, then one of these careers may be for you:

Physician assistant

A physician assistant is a type of health care professional who can work in either an outpatient or hospital setting. PAs are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and usually require 4,000 hours to complete their training. They typically receive additional education about primary care medicine and have been trained for patient-centered medical homes that include preventative healthcare visits like physicals, blood pressure screenings, etc., as well as other noninvasive tests such as mammograms/x-ray.

Nurse practitioner

The profession of a nurse practitioner is one that has begun to evolve as society evolves and matures. With the evolution comes an increased demand for more sophisticated services and greater involvement in medical decisions, which is leading some professionals to consider how best to compensate for their expanded role.

As Nurse Practitioners take on responsibilities outside of nursing practice itself, they are becoming integral members with other professions such as surgeons who have new obligations related to patient care when the need arises. This understanding among practitioners has led many nurses into evolving positions within hospitals or independent practices where they can work closely with physicians while also maintaining ownership over primary provider status.

Occupational therapist

Occupational Therapy is a profession where they work with the individual's physical, cognitive, and social skills to maximize functioning. The goal of occupational therapists is to help people improve their everyday life by working on core functions that are often impaired after an injury or illness. This includes activities such as:

  • Aiding in daily tasks such as getting dressed
  • Teaching coping strategies for pain management
  • Helping with self care including dressing and bathing

Physical therapist

A physical therapist is a health professional who diagnoses, treats and helps prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Physical therapists practice in many different settings such as hospitals, clinics, private practices or schools.

Physical therapists are trained to develop and implement strategies for enhancing mobility, preventing injuries, restoring function following an injury or illness. They work with patients of all ages in many different types of settings including pediatric sports medicine clinics, children's hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Physical therapy can be provided either by a physical therapist alone or as part of the team that may include other health professionals such as occupational therapists (OTs), speech-language pathologists (SLPs) or registered nurses/physician assistants who provide treatment collaboratively with the PT (physical therapist).

Speech language pathologist

A speech language pathologist is a professional who specializes in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of communication disorders. They are responsible for providing services to children with dysfunctions in their speaking or listening skills as well as those that may have difficulties processing sounds and articulating words properly. The job also includes assessing an individual's abilities after specific treatments such as surgery or stroke rehabilitation, ensuring they can communicate effectively again by working on designing effective therapies like compensatory strategies.

Social worker

A social worker is a professional who helps people with their problems and improve the quality of their lives. They are in fields such as mental health, child welfare services or schools. Social workers can help clients by offering support to families, facilitating therapy sessions for individuals affected by trauma or abuse, coordinating financial aid to those in need and creating programs that address specific issues faced within society such as homelessness.

What's Next for You?

One of the most important things to consider is what you want to do next. Are you looking for a career with a high degree of social impact? Do you want to help people in your community, but get paid well too? Or are you interested in working from home and don't need to commute anywhere? These are just some of the many questions that will help make it easier for you to focus on finding the right profession for yourself.

Even if health care isn’t your first thought, now is a good time to think about it. Data shows that there is an increasing demand for new medical professionals, and those already in the field are retiring at an alarming rate. It’s time for health professionals across the board to take charge and start considering what they can offer their communities before other people take these jobs away from them.